The thrill of racing is peppered with a bit of danger at the annual Pole Pedal Paddle. Isn't that part of the fun, anyway? A mad pack of downhill skiers jostling like pinballs down the slopes? Racing as fast as a sports car down Mt. Bachelor on the skinny wheels of a bicycle—and gravelly pavement? Some past winners recall their most memorable (read: traumatic) moments over the years.
My first year doing it (2005), I was second. And the guy who was behind me, Andy Fecteau, was gaining on me really quickly in the boat. He got out of the water about 15 seconds behind me. I was using a boat that made my legs numb, and so, I got out of the boat (and) just fell over on my face and was just hobbling for the first half of the final sprint. Andy was gaining on me quickly, and after about a minute or so, I got feeling back in my legs and could actually run. I was just staggering along. (He was) about 10 seconds behind me (at the finish line).
In my final year (2004), I passed Andy Fecteau in the boat. It was a new course with swifter water. And he jumped in right behind me and followed me all the way to Riverbend Park. He came up alongside of me in the sprint, and both of us were stumbling along, because it's an awkward thing—to paddle in the boat and then attempt to sprint. He came up alongside of me and said, "Do you want to tie?" And I looked at him and said, "You gotta go, man. You can win this thing."
He took off running. It's between 600 and 800 yards and takes at least two minutes. A minute or so later, when we're cresting the hill, I'm about 30 meters behind him. And I think to myself, "I still have a chance." That was, to me, the most memorable of the six years I did it.
I don't think there's been a finish closer than that (2004 race).
It was probably '91; it was on the Alpine ski leg. I was coming down, and it was a snowy day and the snow had stuck to my boot, so when I clipped into my Alpine skis, it wasn't a solid connection. My ski came off going over a pretty fast rise, and I took a really hard fall.
I lost my ski and broke my thumb, so I was pretty far back. I know that I'm a good cross country skier and that I could make a lot of the time back. But I was a little concerned, because my thumb really hurt. It did come in to play later on—I couldn't change the gear on my bike...So, I had to reach across with my other hand to change gears.
The whole race, I was just taking it as it came and had a lot of pain through the whole race. I definitely didn't think the race was lost, but I knew I had to make up a lot of time on the cross-country leg. When I got to the paddle section, I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew I was going to have to improvise and I wanted as much of a lead as possible going into that leg.
I was probably at 80 percent of my capacity, as far as power I could put into the blade and the whole paddling effort.
I won the race eight years in a row—so I had a pretty dominant grip. A lot of that was from the cross country skiing and the bike—those are my two strongest events. Those two legs, I had to put the hammer down...It was by far one of the most difficult (races)...It is one of the most memorable—maybe just not in the most fun way.
Pole Pedal Paddle
9:15 am, Sat., May 17