It’s been non-stop adventures these past months and I can guarantee many more to come. My last Pinkbike update was from early September when I was racing at the World Cup finals in Schladming Austria. That was one hell of a trip. I found that course to be the most fun out of any that I’ve raced. I definitely want to get back to Austria to ride. From there my amazing summer of fun was shattered into a million pieces. It was one simple email that brought me from Austria to the Artic. My two Revelstoke hombres Aaron and Andrew Clark(e) had made some shady plans with me weeks before over few beers. “Sure, ya it’s super fun, ah! We get to ride in choppers and swing an axe…” So I told the boys I was in. “Just email us when you’re coming home from Austria and we’ll set it up.” …Right on man!Highlights from the Schladming WC DH race in Austria:And now for the reality of what needs to get done in order to enjoy a season on the World Cup circuit as a privateer:
So the boys came through. A quick trip back home to Nelson for a cool 12 hours. Unpack… while doing laundry and re-packing, sleep for few hours and wake up to my new job in the high North. I made my way to the Northwest arm of Great Bear Lake high in the Northwest Territories. My new job is in the exploration industry. I am now, what the guys that writes the cheques calls "a prospector". Basically I am claiming land for mineral rights. I get dropped off by chopper in the absolute middle of nowhere with my gear and walk through the bush all day swinging my axe while daydreaming of riding my bike. Adventurous?… you bet yer ass! This job is definitely not for the soft. We are currently working in -30 with a wind chill of about -40. I sure am glad that I grew up in northern Ontario and learned to be bush smart. Life is short in the north for a good reason. When it’s harsh, it’s harsh
. Each and everyday I need to pack my bag in case I need to stay in the bush overnight. So far I’ve been in one helicopter crash and have had to rescue 4 people from the bush by snowmobile in -35. DEFINITELY not for the soft. Call me stupid, but I kind of dig it. I’m actually really enjoying it. Lots of fun everyday and it keeps me on my toes.
Way too close
My chopper crash was psycho. Engine failure at 1100ft, one autorotation and then we dropped like a stone and crashed on the edge of a small lake in some sweet ass muskeg surrounded by trees. Man do I love muskeg, I most likely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for it’s sponginess. My door and seatbelt blew open upon impact. Luckily nobody died. I walked away uninjured and the rest of the crew had minor back injuries. Needless to say I’m one lucky mofo… I don’t need to go into the gory details of what happens when a heli crash goes wrong.
The other night it finally happened. A crew of four guys managed to get left out in the field overnight due to bad ice fog. Choppers can’t fly in the fog or at night. The helicopter blades ice up losing all lift and then the helicopter simply drops from the sky like a stone. At this time of the year most small lakes are fully frozen in the NWT, but Great Bear lake has been fighting the process with it’s ocean like appearance for about a month now. During that time it has created way more fog than usual. Making my job a lot more dangerous than it should be. Good old Great Bear finally did it. 4 guys just missed the tiny window of opportunity to come home for the night and sleep in their own beds.
Yep I'm on a lake in September
Our top gun pilot came home with his head down in shame. He had to make the worst call a pilot has to make. Leaving 4 guys in -35 weather overnight in the bush due to dangerous flying conditions. We all hoped that they packed all their gear and that this storm doesn’t stick around for more than a day. One of the guys had the “Colville Lake bug” in his system and definitely is weaker than usual. It’s a bit like the flu… but it comes and goes in waves. Not cool. And we all knew we had to do something to help the guys out. I offered my services to the Indian Chief who happened to be a part of the local Search and Rescue. We rounded up 2 other local guys and 4 snowmobiles and started our journey. We knew from the pilot that the guys were about 30 nautical miles from camp and we had about a 10-mile radius on where they might be. The guys were on the move. They had a 16-mile walk north to a small trapper’s cabin. They knew they needed to get as close to it as possible while they were still strong, because this storm could hang around for days and that cabin was their only hope if they got left out for more than a day. Myself along with 3 locals, including the Chief decided to head out by snowmobile to find the guys and bring them home. 10 hours later and 4:00am we were all home and safe and sound. I hope they come get me if I’m left out.
My plan for 2007 is to continue racing on the World Cup circuit and writing stories about my adventures. When I’m finished this work in the Arctic, I’m thinking of heading south to Mexico for some pre-season training… mmmm, ya, that sounds nice.
I’ll let you all know how it’s going.
My shout outs:
DAMO at Physio
Ludvig Roost for additional pics and being a partner in crime.
James Goss for the sick pics too.Maat Capital
(Trevor)www.santacruzmtb.comwww.nrgenterprises.comwww.ogc.cawww.smithsport.comwww.dainese.comwww.troyleedesigns.comwww.freeride-entertainment.comwww.magura.comwww.osonegrocoffee.comHave a look at my whole album here:Derek's Album