The move from sprint distance to medium distance mushing is taking its toll. The sheer amount of time and distance travelled while training is getting to me. It would, perhaps, be easier if training the dogs was all that I do, but I try to train myself as well (Anna is my personal whip in that area), carry out my part of the family errands, perform my job and have a resemblance of a social life as well.
The environment here in Koskenpää is great for training. At a glance, so is the weather. It was just -12°C (10°F), but thanks to windchill, it goes down to -19°C (-2°F). Today, while training, I was wondering how come the dogs seemed to be struggling a bit until I gave the dogsled a push myself. It was like trying to push it on the sand, instead of snow. After weeks of sub-zero temperatures, there is no moisture in the snow, and the powder snow does not lubricate the skis at all.
Weeks of increasingly heavy training, slow snow conditions and post-heat anxiety took over Windy today, and she lashed out on Poju, resulting in a tiny wound just under his right eye. It looked bad at first glance but turned out to be a minor issue.
I was already on edge. The training did not start out great today, as I had just released the safety rope and applied the brakes on the first downhill when the steel ring on Remu’s harness snapped, leading to the plastic neckline connector to break, too. So Remu was running wild, which did not go too well. Apparently, he likes to keep bumping sideways into lead dogs, for reasons which I cannot begin to fathom. Five minutes later I was back where I had started, fixing the lines, and cursing Non-Stop. Unfortunately, this was not the first steel ring to come apart from our last batch of harnesses, which is starting to annoy me.
It took a lot of willpower to try and stay calm and cheerful. I cannot say that I succeeded at every turn. Of course, that did not make the dogs’ job any easier. I was scheduled to go 35 kilometres (21 miles) today but decided to call it a day after just 23 km (14 mi). And that’s when Windy attacked Poju. The only good thing was that I was just a few hundred yards from home, where I could give Poju a proper check-up and give everyone some chow. Poju got some extra love, today.
Anyways, sorry for the rant, but it’s been a long day and it was not a good one. I suppose every error I make, every mistake I come across and every challenge that needs to be overcome is better to experience here, in training, than in competition. Knowing that, however, does not make it any easier on a day like this.