Well prepared for Cain’s Quest

Derek Montague
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Team Goose Bay predicts first place finish in 2014

Mark Simms (left) and George Rodgers of Team Goose Bay say they are fully prepared to come in first place at this year’s Cain’s Quest.

George Rodgers is more prepared than ever to race in Cain’s Quest. He feels so confident over this year’s preparation, that he’s willing to make a bold prediction.

“We’re going to place first,” Rodgers exclaimed, without any hesitation.

“We’ve always had some good fellas running, but this year it seems like we’re putting it together a little bit better, we’re a little bit more organized.”

Rodgers and his racing partner, Mark Simms, make up Team Goose Bay (Team 5). The two partnered up for the first time during the 2012 Cain’s Quest. That race would end in bitter disappointment for the two men, who bowed out following mechanical problems.

“Basically, last time it was our own shortcoming because we had a factory flaw with our clutching,” recalled Rodgers. “Once we got that repaired, we were running way too hard for what we had done to the suspension.”

“(It was) absolutely heartbreaking,” added Simms. “One of the worst days of my entire life.”

It’s easy to have to leave Cain’s Quest early if a team is not fully prepared. The race is a true test of endurance that spans 3,300 kilometres throughout Labrador. The 2014 Cain’s Quest, which begins March 1 and features 29 teams from all across Canada, will begin and end in Lab West.

Rodgers knows the race well. This will be the fifth time he participated in Cain’s Quest and only once did he and his partner manage to cross the finish line.

But Rodgers and Simms feel that they have covered all of their bases this year. They spent five months preparing their Yamaha Vipers for race condition, including some of their own modifications to the undercarriage and suspension.

“They’re awesome machines. Everything seems to be really, really, put together well; what few little issues (we had) we got corrected,” said Rodgers. “We’ve changed a few things on them. As far as we’re concerned now, they’re good to go.”

“This year Kevin, our welder, put a little bit more time, more effort, into the suspension. It seems like he’s putting the package together really well. So we’re more pleased with the way it is.”

Perhaps more important than the ability of the snowmobiles, is the ability of the partners to work together. It’s a long race, and the two men must rely on each other in order to succeed.

Even though they have had only one prior Cain’s Quest together, Rodgers feels confident in having Simms at his side.

“It’s the utmost (importance). You have to operate on the same level,” noted Rodgers. “You have to think the same. You got too support each other big time because, when I’m frustrated and down and out, he’s got to pick me up, and the same for him.”

For the younger Simms, it has been a valuable experience racing alongside a Cain’s Quest veteran like Rodgers.

“It’s always a laugh; a very determined partner I got there,” said Simms. “He’s 100 per cent all the time, very knowledgeable, very experienced. I mean, it’s the absolute best way for me to get comfortable with the race, in racing with someone like George.”

Rodgers and Simms will also be benefitting from a large support group, who will be working behind the scenes to deliver supplies and gas to the two racers. This year, they have a dozen people volunteering to be their support group, compared to just three or four in 2012.

“We’ve got an extremely good support team,” said Rodgers. “We’ve got men placed to pretty near cover the whole race. I think we got the support part covered.”

Organizations: Lab West

Geographic location: Team Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada

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