More Racer Profiles: Vern’s Burger Strategy and Pete’s Homebuilt Bike

Vern Nelson


Age? The big Five-0

Hometown: Winnipeg

What inspired you to enter the Actif Epica bike challenge?

For years I’ve sat and listened as the Icons speak of legendary feats performed on the Arrowhead Trail. Their stories of inconceivable suffering and incredible endurance get larger every year. The listeners nod their heads at times, agreeing in a murmur, “Yes, yes, that part was very hard”. They are demi-gods. Comparable to survivors of the Shackleton or Karluk expedition. My mind starts racing: If only I was single, without a wife and two wee children to support, perhaps I too could sign up for such an adventure…. Yeah, well, the Arrowhead takes a lot of time and money. This one seemed do-able. It’s close. It’s safe. And best of all – It’s cheap! I can work on earning my Icon badge another year.

Can you tell us something interesting about how you are preparing, or something interesting you have experienced while preparing?

I have some experience with winter riding. I’ve commuted to work year round for the last couple years. However, my commute is an hour at its longest. That’s completely different from 10-15 hours out in -20C. My prep has involved longer rides with different clothing and gear. I find that I’m not as good at performing in the cold as others are. My feet get really cold. I’m wearing down filled camp booties inside of NEOS overshoes, and they are tolerable. I have a pair of electrically heated insoles I am testing out. I’m finding it difficult to balance breathability and windproofability.

What would you like to say to everyone who thinks you are crazy for attempting this challenge?

Imaginations run wild and before you know it, people are thinking about losing all of their toes to frostbite. Reality check: You are never more than a half a mile from a road in southern Manitoba and you can almost always see a farm house. With a cell phone or an FRS radio, you could call for help. With a sleeping bag and a bivy sack, you could hunker down for hours. You could pair up with someone and keep an eye on each other. You could dry out at all the checkpoints. You could stop at restaurants and eat burgers. There is very little risk involved in this adventure if you are properly prepared. It will be hard. It will be physically demanding, but it’s not crazy.

Pete McAdams

Age? 38

What inspired you to enter the Actif Epica bike challenge?

An epic winter race in my back yard I got to do it.

Can you tell us something interesting about how you are preparing, or something interesting you have experienced while preparing?

I am building a bike for the race. [Editor’s note: wait till you see Pete’s bike in person – it is really something else…]

What would you like to say to everyone who think you are crazy for attempting this challenge?

If you think I’m crazy now, take my bike away.

Posted in General Information.

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