He lives in Willow but he is from Kotzebue, neighbor to Shane and Tammy Barber, he ran the Iron Dog with Cliff Johnson, he is a die hard Grasshopper racer, he can use a wrench with enthusiasm, work on sleds just like he showed us today on the Polevaulters of Team #10 and #2.
I am sitting in the garage trading stories with Brad George of Team #6 and I ask him “Who is Micah Huss?”…..he totally cracks up, turns out there is a bumper sticker with that very same question…….I don’t know the back story, but I am astounded I asked the right question…..he is a brand, a commodity, he worked the pit crew like Frankie Harris did last year…….I can honestly say I don’t know him today like I know a couple other Iron Dog racers, but I could feel his worth to the many teams that accepted his knowledge today.
That’s what is so special about Iron Dog, they all know each other in a way that we may never experience, but I get to at least witness a specialness that is unique to Iron Dog. I think it has something to do with the fact that most of these racers are in it for the camaraderie, it isn’t about the money except for the amount a racer is willing to spend every single year….because this isn’t a payback event……the scale is definitely tipped to the debit side of the accounting column.
My morning started with this story…….Team #2 Ryan Sottasanti wads up a spindle between Shaktoolik and Unalakleet, Shane dashes to Shaktoolik hoping to track down parts, Ryan is going to limp it into Shaktoolik, on his way, he finds a guy walking in misery, turns out he was the last guy out to help Team #8 and his machine breaks down, they are out about 5 miles and Ryan says “Hop on”, the guy says…..”No, you are in the race, keep going, I will be fine”, Ryan insists,,,,,,hop on….I am just limping in…..no problem……they have a nice little chat about the picture of Faith that Ryan carries with him in every Iron Dog and we decide only in Iron Dog…..there are stories like that all day long, but Laurel said it best this morning when we jokingly told Ryan HE needed to start a taxi service and WE needed to change his racing number to 911.
Today, there were parts flying and then there were literally parts flying. The Polevaulters were waiting on the last commercial plane to land in Nome tonight to deliver the carbides that all three needed. The garage was finally quiet around 6 PM so the racers could enjoy a meal at the banquet to celebrate the Trail Class reaching Nome, and to award a whole lot of dough to various winners of ½ way money.
So today was all about wrenchin, I have to say I won’t be missing the smell of garage fumes for a very long time……it isn’t so much that I hated it today, but my eyes are burning, my nostrils are filled with a combination of oil, gas and dust……lots and lots of dust.
Racers worked in bunny boots, tennis shoes and there were even a couple youngsters running around in what I would call hipster clothes and shoes. An interesting mix of styles and personalities. There were blisters, bruises, bumps, tired blood shot eyes, dry skin, welted cheeks, chapped lips and probably some sore backs, knees, thighs, and the buzz in the ears that just won’t go away until sometime next month. The rustle of a palm tree fantasy sits in the back of the many minds that promised the honey…..”Oh sure, we can go to Hawaii after I finish the Iron Dog”…..
Times on the clock were counted in minutes and seconds…..I heard some were as low as 5 and some as high as 32 minutes……There were several teams still having to do work tonight, the garage will be busy until well past midnight for sure. I saw oil that should have been black that was a soupy mess of white stuff that looked like the oversteamed milk of a Latte. There were more skis replaced than were needed to outfit the Iron Dog field of 1984. Almost every team had work to do on skis in some way if it wasn’t totally replaced, there were carbides or alignment and spindle work…….
Belts were flying, a steering column, windshields being sewn with wire that is, grease oil wd40 brake fluid and fuel were the lubes of choice today. Racers talked non stop about how rough it was from White Mt. to Nome, how they almost all hit the X on the trail harder than they should have, they described each bump and bounce, the strong winds, cold temps and admitted they sure enjoyed the first site of lights in Nome.
Airport Pizza was hoping crazy this morning, Iron Doggers in every corner, note pads and cell phones, not nearly enough coffee to keep us all going, but we somehow made it through Wrenchin’ Wednesday. Full Tilt Boogie Thursday will probably begin for the first racing team at the 8th hour. The times will be posted by Iron Dog sometime after the racers have all completed their clock time work later tonight……race team #33 arrived in time for the banquet – their turn time will be adjusted so that they can leave sometime in the daylight hours tomorrow…..those details will be negotiated tonight by the race marshal committee….
It was another fun day of work as a volunteer for Iron Dog……I love what I get to do, which still amazes me that I can learn so much……everyone is willing to help me understand just a few more details about strategy and abilities how important they are to a racing combo. In this this event, just when you think you know it all and you have made a plan,,,,,,time to accommodate a change, it is necessary to be flexible and loose because nothing is concrete, except for the floor in the Nome Public Works Garage which is where all the dust is from.
Race is on sometime in the morning……take it from me, even though they all complained and said they were slowing it down, the splits are pretty darn close to last year when they made some course records……I have come to appreciate that you have accept a racers embellished story as the gospel truth!!! Gotta love their enthusiasm……just like Micah Huss’ ability to wield a wrench…..with totally unabashed enthusiasm!!!! P. S. I want the bumper sticker!!!!!