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Thread: 'Advice for (future) Iron Dog riders'.

  1. #1
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    Cool 'Advice for (future) Iron Dog riders'.

    Hello everyone.

    I'm looking for an experienced teammate for the Iron Dog Trail Class 2015. I'm hoping for someone who has driven (and finished) either the Trail or Pro Class.
    I need such an experienced teammate, because I'm not... I'm from the Netherlands, where 2 inches of snow is considered a lot.
    I've been dreaming of entering the Iron Dog for a while, ever since I first drove a snowmobile for a few hours, and 2015 seems like a good target date to try and make my dream come true.
    So please help.

    If you are interested, want more info, know someone who might be interested or can help in any other way, comment here or PM me.
    Thanks.
    Last edited by Icebear; 01-26-2014 at 12:56.

  2. #2
    Member Jimw's Avatar
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    i would add a little more data about your self. age, years riding, ability level, machanical skills, i take it you have your own sled (make model)
    2005 20' Weldcraft Sabre XL 350 MP
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  3. #3
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    I didn't, because I thought it might scare people off...

    I'm a 33 year old woman, I'll be 35 by then.
    In 2010 I first drove a snowmobile for 5 hours in Banff (Canada). I liked it so much, I wanted to go on a long tour. In 2012 I went to Lapland in Scandinavia (Finland mostly) and did a 5-day snowmobile safari, driving about 430 miles. Again I wanted to go on a longer tour and this year it was Lapland again, mostly Sweden, and did a 7-day tour, driving about 520 miles. I'll be going on a long trip again next year (this season, early 2014).
    If I look at experience levels on this site: http://www.togwoteelodge.com/play/winter/snowmobiling/trail-riding.aspx , I guess my ability level is between intermediate and advanced. Trail, I enjoy high speeds (these snowmobiles unfortunately didn't go over 75mph), can maneuver corners, but I don't really do corners at high speed. Off trail I've been in deep snow, I can make a wide turn, but I can't do tight turns. (As you can see in this short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7xsHOgkFbo , I go more straight ahead instead of actually making a turn... (I'm the one with the cam)). I also did a bit of side hilling, but not on very steep hills and no real hill climbing.
    I have a degree in mechanical engineering, but I'm not 'active' in it. I'm not a mechanic. However, I do think if someone would show me how to replace the drive belt I would be able to do so in the field. I would probably also manage if I read about it in a manual. So the mechanical skills are present, just not 'active'.
    I don't have my own sled (because with just 2 inches snow, for just a few days, it's a waste of money), so I would need to buy or rent one for Iron Dog. I'm thinking it'll probably be a Polaris, because most drivers seem to be riding them. Not sure on which type would be best, though. Maybe the 800 Switchback Adventure?

    So all in all my experience is little, but I'm a fast learner and I really want to go for this. Maybe 2015 is still too soon, but I figured 35 would be a good age. After that, with 40 nearing, I just don't know...
    So far the daily average has been 85 miles, with about 120 miles as top, but I do know I could drive more than that. And that it is needed to be able to finish the Trail Class.

  4. #4
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    Call iron dog and talk to Laural Hickel she can take your info and is very nice. She is your best option to help you find someone.(907)563-4414

  5. #5
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    Best wishes to all!

    I'm sure most riders are enjoying some snow by now, but I'm still looking.
    I would really like to get into contact with either an experienced Iron Dog rider, or someone who can help me to get into contact with them.
    Without an experienced teammate my dream of ever riding the Iron Dog (even if 2015 might be too early) is just impossible.

    Any help or tips is welcome.
    Thanks.


    (I tried contacting Laurel, with no luck yet.)

  6. #6
    Supporting Member AlaskanSD's Avatar
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    First off, great dream!! I think you can do it, but I think you will need to find teammates in the Netherlands, and practice a LOT. Please take anything I say here as being realistic, not discouraging. Also, if you haven't already, please search youtube for irondog clips so you can better see the terrain you will be crossing. The irondog does not have "good" snowmobiling conditions (deep powder, visiability, varied terrain), it's a CHALLENGE of the course and the poor conditions.

    I may be mistaken, but on the video clip you linked to, it appears you got stuck on a flat surface trying to make a turn. This a VERY elementary stuff - learning to carve into turns and countersteering. My 4 year old daughter can do that. Also, there are many, VERY experienced riders who come to Alaska looking for a team to join to ride, and are rarely successful because the synergy within a team take a while to establish. You might be trusting your team mates with your life (break through water at -40 in the dark, etc), and most people won't take that risk unless it's someone they know very well, have a relationship with, trust, and have trained with.

    So again, I think you CAN do it - keep the dream, but practice (2,000+ miles a year) and put together a team (3+ people for safety), then travel over here together, buy some sleds, run the trail class, then sell them when you're done.

  7. #7
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Very sound advice AlaskanSD.
    I have been trail riding by myself and with friends since I was 7 years old and am now in my mid thirties.
    I have very limited mountain riding experience but ride trails and go icefishing a lot.
    Personally I do not feel I have the experience to ride and complete the Irondog even in the trail class.
    I certainly can do basic maintenance like changing a belt. But I know most Irondog sleds require much more than basic maintenance.
    When the Jamaican Newton Marshall decided to run the Iditarod he moved to Alaska to train with his mentor Lance Mackey.
    Can you move somewhere even temporarily to train for the race?
    Sneeuwscooter I wish you the best of luck finding a partner. And don't forget which brand has one the last couple of Irondogs. If I were riding in the race I think I would opt for a yellow sled. But then again I own four Skidoos already so I may be biased.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

  8. #8
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    AlaskanSD and kasilofchrisn, thanks for your advice.

    It would be impossible to find a Dutch teammate and practice here. There just isn't enough snow. Ever. The 2 inches of snow I mentioned earlier is considered a lot and is not very often (not even once a year). The only way I 'practice' now is to go on snowmobile holidays in Scandinavia. If I would try to reach 2000 miles in one year that way, I would have to do it in a holiday of about a month, which would probably cost around 20,000 Euro = 27,250 USD...
    Finding a mentor and train locally in Alaska for the race would be a good way, but it would also have to be in a holiday type of way. Only for a few weeks. I guess it would be a good start to at least arrange a snowmobile holiday in Alaska instead of Scandinavia, also to experience differences.

    Brand of snowmobile doesn't matter much to me yet. I have limited experience with the different brands. So far I've ridden a few Skidoos and a Lynx.

    I understand that there must be trust and synergy between teammates, that's one of the reasons why I've started to ask for one quite early, so there is time to get to know each other.

    I do think my maintenance skills can come quickly to the required level, by learning from books (manuals), by watching (perhaps youtube?) and by learning by doing. My education in mechanical engineering will help with that.
    Besides, give me a hammer and I'll fix anything...


    I will keep the dream. Maybe 2015 is too early, but it would still help to get in contact with experienced Iron Dog riders, who can tell me more about what is needed and what to work on to get ready and finally be able to enter the Iron Dog.

    BTW, the clip I like about Iron Dog is this one, it gives me an idea of terrain and difficulty.

  9. #9
    Member mjm316's Avatar
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    Have you tried going to the Iron dog website and contacting then that way?
    Tomorrow isn't promised. "Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey." E. Hemingway

  10. #10
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Don't give up on your dream.
    Try to find a team in Scandinavia perhaps. That might lower your holiday costs also. Worth a chance asking around.
    }:>
    Live life and love it
    Love life and live it

  11. #11
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the uplifting words, bullbuster. Finding a team in Scandinavia might be a bit easier, but then it's guaranteed no-one has actual Iron Dog experience.
    I have been in contact with Iron Dog staff, they let me know that from Europe (or maybe it was from outside USA) there has only been one other team once (or twice) from Iceland (they have snow, a lot).
    The Iron Dog staff unfortunately (so far) couldn't help me to get in touch with experienced Iron Dog drivers. They have a e-newsletter, and I will ask if my request could get 'posted' in there.

  12. #12
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    I would go to the Women outdoor forum ( you will need permission from a moderator) and ask if there any women that would be interested in going. I think an Alaska women would make a better partner because she would be better prepared.

  13. #13
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    MacGyver, one question: Why?
    Why would a woman make a better partner? Why would she be better prepared?
    And why would I have to go on a special women forum, are the women blocked from this forum? I think the women that like snowmachining are on here anyway.
    Besides, there are hardly any experienced female Iron Dog riders, so the chance of finding one is even lower.

  14. #14
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sneeuwscooter View Post
    ...there are hardly any experienced female Iron Dog riders...
    Hmmm...wonder what's up with that? Why aren't there more experienced female Iron Dog riders?
    "Grin and Bear It"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sneeuwscooter View Post
    MacGyver, one question: Why?
    Why would a woman make a better partner? Why would she be better prepared?
    .
    To start with I assume you were looking for a woman partner. An Alaska woman would know what to do to prepare for the weather condition along the trail and where to stay than someone from say Finland.

    [QUOTE=Sneeuwscooter;1356762]And why would I have to go on a special women forum, are the women blocked from this forum? [/QUOTE

    No there not blocked......... I don't think they are into reading every post, every day like guys are. They have a Life. LOL

    [QUOTE=Sneeuwscooter;1356762]
    Besides, there are hardly any experienced female Iron Dog riders, so the chance of finding one is even lower.[/QUOTE

    That true.
    Again, I did not know you would also be interested in going with guys.

  16. #16
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    I think I read something into your post that wasn't there, that you didn't mean.

    Yes, I'm open for a male teammate.
    And indeed I think someone locally (AK) will know the conditions, etc. way better than someone from Scandinavia (plus, for me, English is easier than Finnish... )

  17. #17
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    scooter- I will chime in and offer my thoughts as a past ID rider, baby steps, would be my first thoughts, but keep your dream.
    when you can get out and ride 5 to 800 miles a weekend and not be sore, then its time to start thinking ID. start slowly as it is going to take you LOTS of time and LOTS of money. in your case even more so, than someone who has a ride and snow to ride it in. wrenching does not come from books or u-tube, it comes from hands on experience and doing it wrong so many times you do it right.
    start with trips that can take you on rides that are not in extremly remote palces, enjoy them but keep your dream. There are organized rides across Michigan and Minnesota, long rides that end up at lodges every night, Try the trek over the top here in AK. supposedly there is a ride that follows the Cains Quest in Quebec.
    By doing these types of things you will have a better idea of ID, and perhaps meet someone that would like to share your adventure,
    keep your dream, but start smaller, it will be much easier.
    And then tell yourself how much fun you are having and what you could have bought with the 70 - 80k that you just spent, while you are rubbing your chapped, raw hiney,with bag balm just so you can keep going without crying

  18. #18
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    Thanks Pole bender. I will look into some other long rides.


    Perhaps a strange question, but would driving a motorcycle in the summertime help with some of the endurance build up? Not with the extreme conditions of course, but with riding all day long.

  19. #19
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    certainly will, however many here will attest there is not a machine in any gym that will replicate riding. good conditioning is a wonderful and helpful thing but true seat time, cannot be beat.
    just for an example, we had a little over 10k miles in the year prior and year of the race when we ran, many training runs lasted 24 hrs+,
    when it came time for the race we were ready

  20. #20
    Member Sneeuwscooter's Avatar
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    I asked if the title of this thread can be changed in something like 'Advice for (future) Iron Dog riders', because after all your advice and looking at some more clips online I don't think I'll be ready in 2015 (or maybe even never). There is some good advice in here, and I would still like to learn more on how to get ready ro be able to ride the Iron Dog one day.
    Thanks all.

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