Pro Rider, By Cory Davis
In recent weeks I’ve had a couple interactions with new people over some adult beverages, and a few of those have landed on the same topic: Iron Dog. No matter what, after we talk sleds or prep eventually the questions comes, “So how is it?” That seems like a broad question, but what they mean is, “How does it feel bouncing your butt off a seat for 40 hours?”
It’s a complicated answer but in short, I can tell you this: It is freaking miserable.
The first time I raced the Iron Dog was with my dad, Scott Davis, who I doubt I have to introduce. I had no idea what to expect sitting on the starting line my first time — I had all of 300 miles of practice under my belt. That summer I attempted to rip my foot off riding dirt bikes so I was on the mend. Very quickly I learned what a gnarly race the Iron Dog actually is. It was all sun and fun until about 20 miles past Skwentna, and once we reached Puntilla it was a full whiteout. If it had been my rookie year with another rookie, I can only imagine how stressful this would have been, but fortunately my dad was there and has been through it all. I wasn’t exactly relaxed but I followed my dad — he’s ran this race more times than I can count and won it seven times, so I knew I was in good hands. With the exception of vision, I was basically out for a Sunday cruise; all I had to do was keep up and not crash.
Up to this point I had done lots of shorter cross countries, like 100- and 200-mile short course loop races, It wasn’t until Rohn that the magnitude of this race kicked in, and it was sinking in how much riding this was actually going to require.
The second day we ran into snow, a lot of snow, and I could walk about as good as a pirate with a peg leg. The snow definitely didn’t help my mobility. I could take up every page in this magazine if I recounted the entire race but I can summarize the race in two words: snowy and cold.
Running with my dad, I ended up in the same houses and B&Bs as a lot of the other veteran racers. We’d be sitting around on the couches b-s’ing trying to relax and they would always tell me “you’re hooked,” implying that I’d be back to race the Dog again. I would sit there in silence and think to myself, “You are out of your mind if you think I’m going to pay to do this again!”
Crossing the finish line with my old man in third place after all the times getting stuck, riding all night on no sleep and so thirsty all I could think about was a bottle of water was such an amazing feeling.
So much work goes into the Iron Dog race and I really think that’s what keeps people coming back. You dedicate so much before the race and once you’re out there it takes all you have mentally and physically to run 2,000 miles with no lapse in concentration.
The finish line is what makes it all worth it. And since I haven’t won, I’m hooked.
Until next time hope you all are getting out there and riding, and remember, always carry a beacon, probe, shovel and pack every time.