Sunday, 28 November 2010

The detail

This is a direct copy and paste from an email from Gaynor to explain how she ended up with a fractured knee:

Milos has been training 16 dogs for his race (La Grande Odyssee – in January and has had to be doing two sessions during the strength training stage which involves a lot of weight and brake pressure to make them pull for long periods.  He started out with a quad bike which was manageable as you have the mechanical power and weight of the bike to slow them down, however, since the snow came and winter temps have dropped to –20 and –30 he’s had to take the sled out with all 16 dogs. It’s pretty impossible as you can’t get enough weight on the sled to slow them down so although he’s now switched to speed training (intervals of gallop and brake induced trot) he needs help to train two teams at the same time.  I was supposed to be that help!!

First day was fine and although I hadn’t trained in a while, it wasn’t too bad.  The dogs are so strong though as they’ve been training for a month or so already so it was a bit of a baptism of fire.  The second day was going really well, felt great, the dogs were responding to commands and I felt confident, but as I was coming around a corner at quite a speed (normally not a problem as you can kinda ‘skid’ your way round) I saw someone through the trees around the corner and then heard a yelp!  I thought there had been a pile up on the trail where Milos had met someone coming the opposite direction, so like a rookie  my instinct was to brake... Well, I was going too fast, breaking on a corner, and with absolutely no weight in my sled which meant the tiniest imbalance tipped the sled sideways.  

Now you’ll know that that doesn’t necessarily mean you come off but I my left foot got ‘caught’ by ice on the ground which twisted it to the side and I found myself running for a few steps before the 6-dog team took off without me!  I went head first into the snow.  

When I got up I realised Milos had passed the girl coming in the opposite direction and she was ‘parked’ having to hold on to her lead dogs in order for anyone to pass (that’s badly trained dogs for you... I guess they’re not used to dogs coming the other way!).  She said nothing to me and I just looked at her as I passed noticing how she had practically zero control over her dogs just then.  But to be fair, the whole thing was my error, a rookie mistake as I was just getting into the swing of things again, and you have to remember these are race dogs, almost race ready, running about 24kmph so it’s easy to get flung off – there’s no room for error.

Luckily the dogs were fine and that was my first concern.  Losing your team is every mushers worst nightmare!  Luckily Milos saw them coming from behind but didn’t know how to stop them, bearing in mind he had the other 10 dogs on his sled!  But as a testament to how well trained his dogs are, and in slight desperation, he shouted at Falco in lead to “stop!!!”.  Falco looked around at him (they were now infront) and then came to a stop.  That is unbelievable really.  Bless Falco, he likes to play, but this season he’s really proving to be a strong runner and good part of the team! 

As for me, I was hobbling after them as fast as I could with what I thought was a twisted knee.  Getting back on the sled was a really painful experience, and slightly precarious as I was basically sledding on one leg with no use of the brake.  

That night my knee swelled to double it’s usual size and the next day I went to the hospital A&E (quite another story!).  After an MRI scan and some pretty cool xray photo mementos, I was plastered from ankle to thigh and sent home with crutches with a tibial plateau fracture (top of the shin bone fracture that has been plastered to stop it being displaced).  Ooo, and you must mention the crutches... With flip-down studs to stop me slipping in the snow and ice!  I’ll see if I can send you the picture we took on the camera... Most dangerous adventure I’ve ever had? Walking down a snow/ice covered street at minus 30, on crutches!!!!!  ;o)

I see the orthopedic surgeon next week to find out how long I’ll be off my feet.  :o(

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