Cain’s Quest – Journey to the Starting Line (part 2)
By Dustin Boyd – part 2 of a multiple part exclusive Sledworthy piece.
Now that our registration was paid and we had a moment to analyze the bite marks in our wooden spoons; it is time to prepare machine, body and mind!
The next ten months leading up to race day on March 2nd were by far the hardest part of this entire endeavour. The first month of preparation had me feeling lost; not knowing which direction will lead us towards complete preparedness for CQ. My teammate, Dane Philips, and I spent HOURS texting, calling and emailing ideas back and forth about everything from sled reinforcements to how many pairs of underwear we will take.
Dane and I soon realized, to make CQ feasible, we would need sponsors in some way, shape or form. We quickly found that you cannot simply “ask” for free stuff, or discounts. Companies look for a win-win agreement before they sponsor a team. With some thought, a value proposition was created and presented to companies that could help us with equipment and gear needed for the race; our team offered promotion of products, social media advertising (oh the power of a hashtag!) and product reviews in exchange for discounts, equipment, tools and other forms of sponsorship from companies like Klim, Powermadd, Central Cycle & Recreation, Monster Performance Suspension, Vision-X, Ultimax Belts, C&T Powersports and Auto Trim & Design (to name a few). This took the edge of the financial mountain we were piling up. 50/50 raffles, “Grand in Hand” draws were held, as well as a cold plate sale by a family member to raise money for the race. With the sponsorship and fundraisers up and running; time to focus on man and machine.
I lost track of the hours spent swinging wrenches on my machine after the first month. I did however, remember every single minute I spent torturing my body while I forced myself through fitness and conditioning routines at the gym! Our sleds were completely dismantled, upgrades installed, tuning done, testing done and a couple slick wraps draped over the machines to showcase our team name, number and our sponsors. Every nut and bolt had a wrench on it. Mind you, I had to condense the sled building process here. We could write a book on XM chassis sleds now. It took us right to the last day to finish our sleds, and I’m sure there are still traces of blood from our knuckles sprinkled around the frames.
Being in a state of what we thought was readiness, we pack our trucks and headed off to the Great Northern Peninsula to catch the ferry. I’ll admit, the drive was nice. It was an eight-hour moment to decompress and switch our minds to some variation of competition mode. The delightfulness of the journey was short lived when we got word of ice blocking the ferry from running. Making lemonade from lemons, we managed to get some more work and testing done on our machines while in St. Barbe (NL) for two days. Once the ferry crossed, it was full steam ahead to Lab City. If you’ve never done the drive from Blanc Sablon to Lab City, I’ll sum it up for you; it’s a 1300 km journey across the moon. Pack lunches and take fuel.. DON’T FORGET FUEL! Making only one stop in Charlottetown for a few hours rest, we made it to Lab City, with one whole hour before registration closed for the day.
THIS IS IT!! WE’RE HERE!! We found ourselves immersed in what seemed to be a sledder’s utopia. Snowmobiles, team trailers, semi-trucks and racers could be seen everywhere in the town. “HEAVEN!”, I thought. An almost overwhelming feeling of intimidation loomed. Meeting veteran racers, past champions and seeing the huge support crews and infrastructure some teams had really made us believe we were in over our heads. The following few days were filled with racer meetings, a “fan night” at the arena and, of course, more wrenching on the sleds we THOUGHT were ready! We managed to hook a berth with a relative who had a garage. We logged many hours there.
March 2nd; Race Day. The sun was shining, breakfast was on the table; yet, all I could think was “well, what a beautiful day to be frightened to death!”. As breakfast was finished, we grabbed showers and geared up. We had our sleds ready the night before, so after a quick photo op with one very excited little guy we were staying with, we donned our helmets and headed to Elm Avenue where we joined 80 fellow racers. I can’t describe the feeling I had being there. Sitting at the starting line with our team number on my back and chest, waiting for 11:52 am so we could squeeze the flippers. I was beyond excited, but I would be lying to say I wasn’t somewhat afraid of what the coming days would throw at us.
Part 3 – Join Dustin as he unpacks this journey of competing in the 2018 Cain’s Quest Race.