Y'all, covid sucks.
Even though I've been able to keep training pretty consistently on my rig this season, dryland mushing isn't super fun. It is fun for short fast sprints, it is fun for curvy single track bikejoring. It is not bad on my heavy fritz rig, where standing and holding the handlebars is pretty comfortable.
But on the lightweight racing rig I've been using this season - which I need to use since the fritz is too heavy for just 3 dogs at these distances - gets uncomfortable. I have to lean forward to hold the handlebars, and I have to hold the brake levers the whole time. I lock my elbows unconsciously and then my hands start to tingle and fall asleep. I have no room to shift position so I am locked in for the whole run. My back hurts, my hands hurt, my feet hurt. I hardly move the whole way since pumping with my feet isn't safe on this rig (not to mention the dogs hardly need help, they're so strong now). The wind chills my fingers no matter how many layers I put on, the mud soaks through my pants and splashes in my mouth. Locking my muscles for 17 miles makes them sore. It's cold and getting out of the warm car after a 40 minute drive to the trailhead is impossibly difficult.
The training that we have been doing isn't fun.
I don't know I've managed to keep up the training. A lot of it is momentum - as long as I don't take too long of a break, its easier to stay on schedule. It makes the dogs happy, and that makes me happy. The lure of the trail, of what lays beyond the turnaround point we have seen so far drives me too. But usually the thing that drives me the most is racing. The chance to get on a sled and experience a new trail and a new adventure. Being on a sled is insanely fun and its what I look forward to through all the dryland.
This season, one by one, every single one of my planned races has been cancelled. Even the ones I looked at later on as the earlier ones cancelled. I commend the decision, since I know it is difficult when you are going to be disappointing a lot of people. And honestly, every time one cancelled, I was relieved - someone else was making the decision so I wouldn't have to weigh my safety versus my desire to race.
I was completely content not racing this season and instead challenging our own team's records, and seeing how far we could go. But then the North Country Mushers organized a pop up race this next weekend that is a perfect distance, and best of all, I can compete with just my 3 dogs. It is so impossible to find races longer than 5 miles that allow a 3 dog team or 4 dog class. This race is 12 miles and 2 days. Crow, Radar, Legend, and I would rock that.
But of course, travel is nearly impossible right now. It would be a nearly 13 hour car trip, which I can do in one day, but there are so many points of contamination along the way, when stopping for gas, food,, and restrooms.. Not to mention staying at a hotel brings a whole new host of anxiety inducing points of contamination. The race site itself doesn't make me nervous, but the travel has me scared shitless.
I am still undecided, but I highly likely will not go to this race. The risk of the bad things that can happen outweigh the benefits on such an uneven scale that its insane that I'm still even considering it. But I am still mourning the loss of our race season, and more importantly, our sled season. We will get back to those adventures eventually...but it is just not meant to be this year.