An interesting discussion is happening over at MTBR.com. Mike Curiak has called into question some of the decisions made by the people racing the Arrowhead 135. This year the temps were extremely low, and conditions rather dangerous at the race.
So, where do we draw the line? In what situation does personal safety trump personal accomplishment? When is the reward less than the risk? And what responsibility, if any, do random people out on the course have in helping us get to safety?
It is a dicey question, but one that needs discussion I think.
Part of my plan for last year’s KTR was a bail out option. My little brother was down there, and if I needed to, I could call him and arrange to meet him somewhere along the route. That way I would not be burdening any recreational riders or ATVers who I encountered on the trail. Thankfully I didn’t need to call him.
A situation arose early on in the race where one rider crashed hard and broke his collar-bone. Another racer sacrificed his own race to help him. They were in a bad spot, high up in the La Sal mountains. They found a camper, he drove them to a spot they could get cell phone reception and they phoned in for help. Under the circumstances it was an appropriate action to take.
I know from talking with the people involved, that the camper was not in the mood to help these bikers. It was about 3 AM. He was asleep, and was woken up by people intentionally putting themselves at risk. The racers were polite and were ready to move on, when he relented to their plight.
More important than having the best gear and fitness, is having an exit strategy. Ask President Bush “) I am far from an authority on this subject though.. But it has been on my mind lately. Mike’s argument is that to ask for help from people on the course defeats the spirit of being self-supported. I agree with him. His exceptions are when the situation is something that you cannot possible remedy on your own, as he says in his KTR description, “a broken leg or a broken frame.”
But the line can get grayed rather quickly. Is running out of water 15 miles from Westwater a life and death situation? Do you need to take water from an ATVer? or can you leg out the remaining miles to a water source? The answer is probably different for everyone.
It’s an interesting topic, and one that was inevitable. Hopefully we can keep this discussion pre-emptive, and not retro to an accident or other misfortune out on these remote routes.
Use your brain out there as well as your legs. Easier said than done in some cases.