LABRADOR – The Northern Peninsula and the Labrador Straits fielded three teams in Cain’s Quest 2020 beginning March 2.
And at the end of five days of snowmobile racing all across the Big Land of Labrador, all three were among the 17 teams out of 41 in total who made it across the finish line.
The Northern Pen spoke to the three teams – two from the Labrador Straits and one from the Northern Peninsula – about their experiences, highlights and challenges.
Rough and Wild (Team 2)
The rookie team from Port Saunders had one impressive run as Tyson Ryan and Boyd Lavers crossed the finish line in sixth place.
But it didn’t come easy for them.
On the third day of the race, Lavers had a busted track on his machine. And after they finished, they discovered Ryan’s was busted too.
Despite the hobbled snowmobiles, the team pushed through to the very end.
“We never nursed her along, we give ‘er,” said Ryan. “We said if we’re going out, we’re going out with a bang.”
Once they got to Churchill Falls, however, they realized how bad the situation was.
“We were in sixth place, we were happy with that,” he said. “Better than we expected.
“If nothing else, over the rest of our days we’ll be able to say we did Cain’s Quest 2018. That in itself is a big accomplishment.”
For Lavers, 44, the highlight was the support from the people – both the fellow racers and the local communities.
“Even though you were battling it out for five days and five nights, there was no one there that wouldn’t help you,” he said.
He says he earned a deep respect for the Labrador towns and their people.
“They were out cheering you on, little kids were out 3 or 4 in the morning with their iPads, videoing you when you were coming in,” he said. “It was just mind-blowing.”
Ryan, 37, says it was hard to call any single thing the highlight of the experience for him.
He agrees with Lavers that “the people were amazing,” adding the trail itself and its surroundings were another highlight.
“The race alone, coming down through the paths and out on sea ice and different locations, it was amazing,” he said.
One location that stood out for him was riding through Mealy Mountain Park, on their way back to Goose Bay.
“It was really beautiful – the scenery, the snow conditions, the trees and the mountains,” he said.
Other than the track issues, Lavers says one of the biggest challenges for them was finding their way around.
“We had problems getting in and out of towns,” he said.
He explains they followed their fellow racers’ tracks but once you got into the towns, the racers’ were mixed in with other tracks.
“There’d be tracks going everywhere and we got messed up a few times,” he said.
Ryan says visibility was an issue. A number of days were overcast and it was difficult to pick out the “bumps and the knobs” in the trail.
Their visors were also frequently icing up as it was a bit misty, particularly on the south coast. They would have to lift their visors and the mist hitting their faces would be hard on the eyes and their vision, he says.
Ryan felt that while conditions were good for high speeds, that didn’t necessarily make the race “easier.”
“It’s so cutty and I flipped my ski-doo a couple times,” he said. “That was challenging itself.”
Lavers and Ryan are both looking forward to giving it a second go in 2020. Lavers says they have “unfinished business,” believing they can improve on this year’s performance.
Along with confusion in terms of direction, Lavers says their snowmobiles were overloaded and they weren’t as familiar with the country.
He thinks they can do better after learning from these mistakes and experiences.
Lavers says Port Saunders was really supportive and there may already be some plans to do fundraisers for the next time.
Both men wanted to thank their families, supporters and local sponsors, as well as the Cain’s Quest committee and all the volunteers.
Lavers says when they got a chance to check Facebook, it was all “abuzz” with support for them.
He even had 214 messages on Messenger when he checked it after the race.
“When you’re after not sleeping for days and days, I tell ya it really keeps you motivated knowing people are watching you and cheering for you,” he said.
They also thanked their support crew, who Lavers says got even less sleep than he and Ryan.