Monday, February 9, 2009

Quick Change Runners?!

After years of using Chlan wooden sleds (which I love, adore and would never change for anything!), I got finlly fed up with the one type white glued on plastic runners. Our dogs work always very hard and honest and this year they have the best fall training we ever did, behind them. Yet they seemed slow. The runners wouldn´t glide smoothly at temps lower than -10°C and basically training in lower temperatures was like driving on a sand paper. Words like "slide", or "glide" were not to be found in my dictionary lately.

So we ordered aluminium rails to screw on the wooden runners, and QCR yellow plastic to put on. And here is where the story begins :)

On Saturday, January 31, our friends Richard and Ingela with kids and dogs arrived for a two week visit, from Stockholm. The original plan was they would help us pack for the Femundlopet race and take care of our dogs and house, while we would be at the race. Even we had to decide to withdraw from Femundlopet this year unfortunately, we still thought it would be cool to spend some time together, and they would help out at the kennel while we would go to Roroslopet (a small 90km race that follows part of the Femund trail.
On Sunday I thought it would be cool to screw the new runner system on my Chlan tobogan, as the temps dropped to -25°C and I wasn´t interested in even one more suffering and struggling run.

We started around 10:00 am. Many bad words and about couple hours after, I gave up and called fellow musher Karsten, screaming for help. After discussing and confirming a few things, we decided to screw off whatever we have managed to screw on, fill up the holes with silicone and start all over again, with our own European screws, which we had bits for.

About an hour later, the first rail was on and we (Jachym, Ingela, Richard and myself - that is) managed to put the plastic on with a bit of wrestling. Uf. I wondered how would I manage to change the runners in a checkpoint on a distance race, all by myself.

Knowing that now things will go all by themselves (yeah, whatever), we optimistically went on to work with the second rail and runner. In the meantime we needed to refil energy and had a quick dinner. The first thoughts of postponding the training for the next day started crossing our minds.

The rail went on beautifully. We managed to screw it on even more precisely and nearly perfectly straight. Oh, that was smooth and fast, I thought, and we talked enthusiastically about a night run.
But the grand finale came with pulling the yellow plastic runner over the rail. The so called Q.C.R. (quick change runner). Whatever.

The &*?=%!"@$#!^&* runner decided not to go on the rail and it got out of the profile a few times. Four strong adults pulling, pushing, hanging onto the runners, pressing against the kitchen wall (yes, we do take our sleds for repairs and such into the kitchen), swearing and sweating, managed to pull on 0,5cm at most at a time. I even used a hammer for smashing the runner over the rail, which helped just tiny bit. After about 1,5 hours of work, we finally had the runner plastic on place. Pheeew! We were totally exhausted.

Now I don´t even dare to try imagine changing the runners ever, not mentioning in a checkpoint, under race conditions, and all by myself, without an F1 technical team.

When I compare with the aluminium Rex runners I have on my hi tech racing Bewe Ultra Racer sled, and the FCP runner plastic, which takes about 5 minutes to change on both runners, outside in the cold weather, there is simply no comment.

Quick change runners? - Yeah, right! Mabye time is a very relative measure. Or the word "quick" can be interpreted in lots more ways than I ever thought. We actaully renamed the QCR to SCR (slow change runner) or even NCR (never change runner system) GDR was also mentioned among others... :)

On the brighter note, I took the team out for a run on Monday and we cut nearly 40 minutes of our usual trainings! F-O-U-R-T-Y M-I-N-U-T-E-S !!! The sled basically flies now and I really enjoyed the latest trainings, when the whole team loped for nearly 45km!

I came back from the training with a huge grin on my face. The next day I called my friend and sponsor Roar Wolden, owner of Troll Hundefor company and told him about the difference the runners made on the performance of my team. I said I felt like a rookie in this "hi tech" business regarding sleds and runners. He just smiled and said "but you are a rookie" :)

So after all, the suffering had brought the desired fruits! Big thank you to all the co-sufferers! Your sweat and blood and loss of cool wasn´t meaningless.



Anonymous said...

But afterwards I tink it´s quite funny! To read about it feels very funny :)//Richard

Anonymous said...

They are hell if they dont slide right away.(they actually can sometimes...) Been there done that. A tip from my boss who sells them, was to put a oh whats that in english, *skive* flat round things you have under screwheads for them not to sink into the wood...put one between ski and rail under each screwhole. This create some space. To loosen the screws can only be done to a certain level since head of screw sticking up also might stop the plastic from sliding good. and one usually have those annoying screws that came not straight....also keep the plastic warm before attatching. they schrink in the cold.