North to Alaska… on a bike

Former Olympian to take part in Iditarod


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Lindsay Gauld is running out of cycling challenges, but he may have found one worthy of his efforts.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/02/2012 (3823 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Lindsay Gauld is running out of cycling challenges, but he may have found one worthy of his efforts.

How about the longest and hardest winter bike race in the world?

A former Olympian who tracks his distance every time he gets on the saddle — he pedals about 30,000 kilometres a year and is closing in on one million kilometres for his lifetime — is currently plowing his Fatback bicycle through snow and ice in the 2012 Iditarod Trail Invitational.

submitted photo Lindsay Gauld has biked close to one million kilometres.

The 1,609-km race follows the northern route to Nome, Alaska, and will take the better part of a week.

“Doing long events is something that is exciting and challenging and, much like other addicts, we adrenaline junkies find we need to continuously push the envelope,” the 63-year-old Gauld said in an email to supporters.

The former owner of Olympia Cycle & Ski, who keeps in shape these days as a bicycle courier, considers the Iditarod as somewhere between a race and a long adventure ride. He estimates it will take him between five and six days to complete, so pacing is important.

“This means having enough food and gear to go as long as it takes to get to the finish,” he said.

So, what does he need? His diet will consist of homemade “power balls,” balls of cookie dough, breakfast bars, Triscuits — for when he craves something salty — and electrolyte capsules.

“I’m looking to consume about 300 calories per hour. I’ll no doubt burn more than that, but that’s all my body can handle and assimilate,” he said.

There are numerous checkpoints along the way, but he expects he will have to sleep in a tent at some point. That’s where his sleeping bag, which will keep him warm even when it’s -40 C outside, will come in handy.

His bike weighs 29 kilograms and his gear will add several more kilograms. That’s more than half of Gauld’s current weight of 129 pounds (58.5 kg). His gear includes water, a satellite phone, a small stove and a pot for melting water, crampons, “high booties” to cross streams, goggles, several balaclavas, a first-aid kit and leukotape for any blisters that may develop on his feet.

“We are not meant to go for about 20 hours a day for up to a week, so I will take Aleve to limit muscle and joint inflammation,” he said.

Gauld had hoped to participate in a 217-km race recently but came down with food poisoning so he had to skip it. He was a little uncertain of his condition heading into the Iditarod, but he was optimistic his training, which included pushing a fully loaded bike uphill at Springhill Winter Park, will carry him through.

Gauld expects to hit the magic one-million-kilometre mark sometime early next year. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to cycling to the moon and back and then partway back to the moon again.


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