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Support the races. Support the sport. Support the sponsors.

“Fast women and slow horses. Of all the things to do me in. I certainly hope it isn't because I caved and ordered take out from Spike's during a pandemic.”

I did it. I ordered take-out from Spike’s Keg of Nails on Saturday night. It was fantastic. Maybe it’s the fact that the world is a giant snow globe being tossed into disarray. Or it could be that I haven’t interacted in real life with a human being outside of my immediate family in 10+ days. But today, I decided it was time to start taking a few chances. It was time for Spike’s. First off, let me walk you through how you can reduce your risk and get your delicious Spike Burger in as safe a manner as possible. I’m not a medical expert. But I stay in a fair share of Holiday Inn Express hotels. Proceed at your own risk, and feel free to chime in with any suggestions. If you have a mask, the CDC is recommending you wear one. Even a cloth face covering at this point is being recommended. Take that bandana, buff, or even an old race shirt and cover yourself. Or, if you’re me...dig out the 3m respirator that you used with the really cool Zombie Apocalypse costume from years back. Regardless, cover the face. It’s quick, easy and simple. When you pull into the parking lot, maintain good social distancing practices and stay away from other people. Take your time getting into the building. No need to rush or crowd. You’re going to need to pull two doors open. If you’ve got a box of nitrile gloves, the gloves make this move a piece of cake. Or you can do what I did because I forgot the gloves in the truck and use the sleeve of your jacket. Not a CDC approved maneuver but I chuckled to myself when I did it. And I could use a laugh. Inside the building, once again maintain that safe distance. I paid with a card, which was not a pro move. Pro-tip: Pay with cash, have the correct amount already ready + tip. Drop money on the counter and step back. After paying I snagged a couple squirts of their hand sanitizer on the bar and waited for my grub. If you use the cash route, the hand sanitizer is pointless, as you haven’t touched anything that wasn’t yours. I guess it’s pointless too if you’ve got the nitrile gloves on. The exit is simple, as you’re pushing the doors outwards. Foot, elbow, your choice. Knee maybe. Other appendages if you’re creative or genetically blessed. From there, take it home, put it on your own plates and ditch the styrofoam. Dispose. Wash hands a few times. 20 seconds. Sign whatever song you like. Dinner. “May you live in interesting times” - as the old apocryphal curse goes. Now, you’re probably wondering why Bill caved for Spike’s? Support the races, support the sport. Support the sponsors.

Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails sponsors the prelude race before the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. The Spike’s Challenge race weekend signals the start of ARCM race week, as such it draws an incredibly dynamic competitor field from all points of the globe. Paddlers sprint for starting position on city park pond Saturday morning. There’s a C1 race Saturday night on my home course from town to Burton’s landing. And then Sunday the LeMans style start, a shorter dash complete with a run on the boardwalk before launching yourself into the river for a canoe race which finishes at McMaster’s Bridge. After the race, lunch (courtesy of Spike’s) back at City Park. Complete with Moomer’s Ice Cream dessert. And who doesn’t like Ice Cream.

The race promoters John and Cheryl Lucey put countless hours into making this race happen each and every year. It’s a large lift coordinating timers, a qualifying process, awards and of course the flipping sweet competitor’s shirts. A large lift might be a slight understatement. But none of that matters to the Lucey’s. They do it for the racers, the fans, and for the proprietors Jeremy and Darcy Bowers.

I sent a text to Cheryl as I was putting this piece together, asking for her for a picture from when they won the Harry Curley Award, an honor bestowed upon the race voted as the “best” on the MCRA circuit. Fortunately for me, Pete Mead bailed me out and found the photo.

Cheryl’s response says everything.

Putting on Spike’s Challenge is a daunting undertaking that has culminated in the Lucey’s and the race winning the MCRA award for best canoe race. But none of that matters to the Lucey’s. They do it for the racers, the fans, and for the proprietors Jeremy and Darcy Bowers.

Support the races. Support the sport.

There wouldn’t be a Spike’s Challenge Canoe Race if there wasn’t a Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails. If there wasn’t a Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails, there wouldn’t be a “rowdy table” where the Mahaffy’s and the Lucey’s tie one on from time to time on a Saturday night. There wouldn’t be a “meeting place of the North”, where friends from down the river and the other side of the pond gather to share friendship and camaraderie.

So there you have it...on this Saturday night...It was time to take a calculated risk. A time to support a local business that supports the sport that I love. Star fries. Wing Dings. Chicken Wrap because welcome to quarantine...where you eat everything but cut the carbs by going with the wrap instead.

As we navigate these “interesting times” me a solid...and support the sponsors.

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