it's cold out it's always a good idea to dress
warm. No doubt your dear mother told you that,
but it's true anyway. Dress warm, or you'll
freeze your sorry ass off in the winter. However,
there's a method to dressing warm that you
must know about.
FOOD & DRINK: When it's cold, really
cold, like way below zero, it's important
to remember to drink lots of liquids. We're
talking good old water here. Why? Because,
in Alaska and the Yukon, when it's cold, it's
a dry cold. Inside your car, what moisture
there is will condense and freeze on the windows.
In short, believe it or not, you'll begin
to dry out. Anyway, drink lots of water
or juice and you'll feel better (but remember
coffee is a diuretic!). If you wear contact
lenses, make sure you bring along your regular
eye wear; contacts don't work all that well
in the north country in the winter. If you
should happen to find yourself in a situation
where you've had lots of exertion or your
rally car has "passed on", then it's important
to remember to take on as much water as possible.
You may not feel thirsty, but in the dry air
of the frozen north, you're drying out as
fast as you would in Hawaii. Strange, maybe,
but true. Bring along plenty of food
and water. Junk food is great for rallying;
we call it "Road Food". Fats in the morning,
carbohydrates the night before. Official US
of A Army C-rations are great for staying
alive in a pinch. When you ain't in a pinch,
eat as you normally would. Just don't skip
meals. Carry more than you think you ought
to, or you'll find yourself in the middle
of the Yukon Territory coming to Serious Negotiations
over who gets the last Bit-O'-Honey.
- Dress in layers. In other words, you
should dress in layers from the inside
out. Three layers is a good rule to follow.
The first layer should be of something
like your long underwear, known to some
as a "union suit," in case you are lost
already. The second layer should be some
nice loose-fitting pants and shirt, and
your third should be a good pair of ski
pants and parka. Actually, very simple.
No? Note: Official Alaska Rally Team union
suits must come equipped with flaps, two
button only. These flaps are for-well,
if you don't know, you are too young to
run this rally. Read your general instructions,
or call Satch Carlson.
- Head gear is very important, and we
do NOT mean hash pipes and beads. Say,
for example, that you've fallen off the
road in a big way, and it becomes necessary
for you to be outside in the wind and
cold for an extended period of time. .
. like more than 30 seconds, maybe. Anyway,
if you should happen to be outside for
any time at all, remember to have on a
good hat to put on your head. Head. Remember
that. OK, anyway, it's a little known
fact that you will lose more heat out
the top of your head faster than anyplace
else. Don't worry about why, and all that,
just remember to put on your hat! Another
choice, a good full-face ski mask, ain't
a bad idea.
- Hands must be kept warm. You can screw
up your hands quicker than anything if
you're not paying attention. First, always
keep your gloves handy. If you have to
change a tire, or open the hood or something,
always put your gloves on first! If it's
cold enough outside, and you grab onto
a metal object (rally car, for example),
chances are good that you'll stick to
the damn thing, just the way you did when
you licked that flagpole at age ten. You'll
look pretty stupid running down the road
during a regularity, holding onto the
door handle (which your hand is stuck
to) because you forgot to put on your
damn gloves! Hope Isuzu gets a picture
of it ! Mittens are much warmer
than gloves, but if you've got to work
on the rally car, then you need gloves.
If you're just out there trying to stay
warm, mittens are the answer. Bring
both on the rally.
- Feet must be taken care of. Keep your
feet warm and dry. If you should happen
to get your feet wet, dry them off, change
your socks and shoes, boots, or whatever.
Don't wait for your feet to go numb. Take
care of your feet as soon as possible.
It's not necessary to wear two or three
pairs of socks. A single good pair of
ski socks will do just fine, as long as
your foot gear fits properly and you keep
- Some last words on clothing: Make sure
what you have fits loosely. Tight duds
may look good in the ski lodge, but you'll
freeze your buns off in real winter weather.
This ain't no fashion show! What happens
is that loose-fitting clothing allows
a layer of warm, insulating air between
the layers of clothing, thus keeping you
warm(er). Clever, no? Anyway, that's the
way it works. Trust us. Also, make sure
that what you've got is clean and in a
good state of repair. Clean things are
warmer than dirty things. Finally, inspect
all your garments for tears and rips.
Fix or replace. Simple enough.
- And more generalities: Stuff filled
with feathers is warmer than other stuff.
Stuff made of wool is warmer than most
other stuff. Polar fleece and its generic
equivalents are very good, but most such
synthetics have a reputation for odor
absoprption - if that's a concern try
the new Capeline. Finally, weigh the fact
that natural fibers like wool are much
more fire retardent than synthetics.
EQUIPMENT: By this time you will
have already set up your car as you see
fit; some people favor block heaters, headbolt
heaters, battery blankets, and such, which
work well--if you have a place to plug them
in. Get a circuit tester also since many
vehicles with such a gadget collection start
tripping 110 circuits, making bad AM neighbors.
Another plan is to carry your battery into
the hotel with you at night. Thin oil is
a must; like 5-W-30. It's also available
in synthetics which seem to stay skinny
at about a million below. Naturally we favor
Red Line. Perhaps any mention of antifreeze
would seem a little redundant---but remember
that pure antifreeze turns into a gelid
glop at very cold temperatures; ask Gene
Henderson! A fifty-fifty mixture should
be fine. Photographers: cameras are known
to freeze up in extremely low temperatures.
If your gear requires batteries,
carry spares in your inside pockets.
In blowing snow, amber fog lights work well.
Fog lights ain't worth diddly in any other
situations, including fog. Remember
pencils - a pen will quickly freeze up and
be useless while you're outside writing
down times for the ice races.
TIRES: The debate over hydrophilic
compounds versus studs goes on and on and
on. The Alaska Rally Team is unanimous in
recommending studs. Ask Susie Fouse about
the brand-new red 944 she wiped out on glare
ice with hydrophilic tires, all because
John was so smart. (However it's worth noting
that an Olds Bravada without studs kicked
everyone's butt on the last ice race in
1996, so these are improving!). Other
than that the cardinal rule for tires is
that skinnier is better, about 2 sizes narrower
than standard (replace a 205/60 or 215/60
with a 195/65, and a 30x10.5 truck tire
with no wider than a 235/75, for example).
It's no mistake that a Group 4 RS2000 Escort
or 911RS Porsche used to run a 165 section
width tire for the Monte Carlo Rally and
a 205 or larger for the RAC.
IN AN EMERGENCY: Don't panic. No,
really: DON'T PANIC! IT'LL BE ALL RIGHT!
THEY'LL FIND US WHEN THE GLACIERS MELT!
Remember, you're on the main road. Hell,
you're on the only road! With little exception,
you can feel reassured that somebody will
be along quite soon. Of course, this somebody
is likely to be another rallyist, so we
have a bit of the blind leading the blind
- The first rule is to stay with your
car. This is because everything is farther
away than you think it is. And it's colder
than you think. And your brain doesn't
work when it's cold. (Of course if your
brain worked in the first place you wouldn't
be out here swearing at Jerry Hines).
- The second rule is think first. We
know the immediate reaction to hitting
a snowbank is to throw open the doors
and run around the car in your shirtsleves,
but now both you and the inside of your
car are cold and full of snow, and there
is probably some other nut about to find
the same bad corner. Even if it takes
a checklist, try the following: don warm
jacket/ hat/gloves, grab flare(s), get
out (closing door), place flare, and survey
the situation. If you're stuck give
it your best try the first time and if
it looks like you're just making things
worse hook up a tow strap and get back
in the car to radio for help. It's a also
a good idea during the transits to pair
up with other rally cars; besides, the
miles just seem to fly by faster when
you're jawing away on the radio.
- Another cardinal rule of the North
is that you never pass by a stopped car
without stopping to ask if you can help.
Chances are somebody has merely stopped
to take pictures or wrestle frigid fingers
through several layers of clothing in
order to find that pesky little thingie
that's shriveled up to nothing. (And if
you want to know why women really hate
us, watch one of them wrestling her way
through even more layers while nestling
in a snowbank behind the bushes, especially
when there ain't no bushes. Oh, yeah.
Woe to the fool who lets even the slightest
hint of a smirk crawl across his features.)
And finally, HAVE A
GOOD TIME. Why else would anybody go
through all this nonsense?