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Female Frontiers QuestChat Archive

Date: January 28, 1999

Featuring: Libby Riddles
Musher, Author, Lecturer
Wasilla, Alaska

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 10:40:57 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Female Frontiers chat with Libby Riddles. Today's chat will begin at 11:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. Be sure you have read Libby's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/riddles.html before joining this chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 3 - 10:41:28 ]
Once the chat begins, Libby will attempt to answer as many of your questions as she can, but please be patient. We may use "moderation" during the chat if Libby falls behind with our questions. This means that only a few questions will be posted to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on your screen immediately during moderation. They will be held in our chat queue and posted as Libby answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 10:41:53 ]
As a reminder, remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided. Once you've done this, please let us know that you have logged on for today's chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 10:42:13 ]
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to let us know what you thought about it. For your convenience, you may use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 10:59:42 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Female Frontiers chat with Libby Riddles! Libby Riddles is a champion dog sled racer who is the first women to win the Iditerod. The Iditerod is a gruelling, thousand mile dog sleg race across Alaska. Today she continues to race and also conducts lectures, produces films, and writes about her adventures.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 11:00:02 ]
And now, here is Libby Riddles to answer your questions.

[ Libby - 11 - 11:01:30 ]
RE: [Pat-Mrs.Haverty/HolyRosarySchool] My students and I noticed that you were born in Madison, Wisconsin, we live 60 miles from Madison and wonder how long you lived there and if you ever raced dogs in Wisconsin?
Hello Pat Trying to figure out this chat room, hope I have this reply in the right place. I lived in Wis. but the only time I ran dogs there was in 1986 training for the John Beargrease sled Dog Marathon in Minnesota. They have races there in Wis. as well.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 15 - 11:06:36 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Hello Libby and Oran. My students are unavailble to chat live because they had to return to class, but Danielle and Amber (6th Grade) are going to enter their questions.
Welcome back, Mrs. Mock. We're glad you can join us today!

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 20 - 11:11:27 ]
RE: [HolyFamily-Ms.Botero/HolyFamilySchool] Are the books you write mainly for kids or adults?
Raised Across Alaska, is for young adults and adults. Storm Run is for 5th to 7th grade and Danger the Dog Yard Cat is for small children on up.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 24 - 11:14:12 ]
RE: [Landon5grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Who is your favorite dog? How many dogs do you have? Do you get nervous? Do you like dogs?
My favorites are usually the oldest dog, like Inca, who is almost 17, and the "killer beast" who is my house dog/sled dog. I have 49 dogs. Of course, I get nervous. Of course I like dogs, but I like all animals.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 29 - 11:15:15 ]
RE: [HolyFamily-Ms.Botero/HolyFamilySchool] Hoe do you determine when you have to retire a dog?
Every dog is different. I know the dogs so well, I can see when they change. When the dog's start getting slow, I put them in a old dog team until it's time for them to be retired.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 35 - 11:17:29 ]
RE: [David5grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Do you like math or science and why? My favorite is math. Will you race 20 dogs 50 dogs? Is it hard to race in Alaska?
Yes, I do, and I use both a lot with my sled dogs. We have the sciences of nutrition for the dogs, the veterinary work, the psychology of training them, and a lot of inventions involved in coming up with gear for the sport.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 36 - 11:18:12 ]
RE: [Jason5grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Would you rather race your dogs or a ferrari?
Actually a Lamborghini!

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 38 - 11:19:47 ]
RE: [mrsmcdsamanthaelisabeth-mrs.mcd] How did you get into dog racing?
At first I didn't race. I wanted to use dogs for fun and for work. I did that for 2 years. A friend convinved me to run in a small race and then I won that race then I started thinking about the Iditarod, which is the ultimate in my sport.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 39 - 11:23:51 ]
RE: [HolyFamily-Ms.Botero/HolyFamilySchool] How much does it cost to feed your dogs?
Every year it's different. Most of the time I have a dog food sponsor for the dry food. Right now I'm using Nature's Recipe. We get a lot of fish excess from canneries; right now I'm feeding halibut heads. Here's an example of how we use science with our dogs: Sometimes sharp metal hooks remain in the fish heads; and I just figured out that I should buy a really strong magnet to check the food for hooks remaining in the cooked food. The cost for 50 dogs for a year could vary from $5,000 to $20,00 depending on what we feed.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 40 - 11:24:29 ]
RE: [Pat-Mrs.Haverty/HolyRosarySchool] Is Libby your real name? If not what is your real name?

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 41 - 11:26:52 ]
RE: [Pat-Mrs.Haverty/HolyRosarySchool] What city are you in Alaska today? Do they delay or call off the race for any reasons?
I'm in Kinik, Alaska. The Iditerad has never been delayed as far as I know. But there was just a 300 mile race that delayed because of high winds and bad weather. The year I won the Iditerad, the race was stopped 2 times because of bad weather.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 42 - 11:28:00 ]
RE: [HolyFamily-Ms.Botero/HolyFamilySchool] What type of facility do you use to house all of the dogs?
The dogs have wooden dog houses with straw with a bowl built in to the top of the roof for feeding and watering. In areas where weather is more severe, they use dog barns.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 44 - 11:31:27 ]
RE: [Martin5grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Do you keep the same dogs every race? Whatdogs do you use to race?Why? Do your dogs enjoy sled racing?
Some dogs can translate over in to different races, speed races or long distance races, depending on how they're trained. Every year I look at the dogs in training and pick the ones best suited for the race I'm doing for that year.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 45 - 11:32:06 ]
RE: [mrsmcdcaitlinolivia-mrs.mcd] How long did it take you to finish your longest race?
18 days, and that was the year I won.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 46 - 11:32:54 ]
RE: [HolyFamily-Ms.Botero/HolyFamilySchool] Did you have any idea when you were young that you were going to sled as part of your career?
No, but I always wanted to have a lot of animals.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 47 - 11:34:54 ]
RE: [Pat-Mrs.Haverty/HolyRosarySchool] What are your dogs names? Are you running the 1999 Iditarod?
Inca, Vinnie, Pal, Sting, Greyling, Mudshark, Muchacha, Indie, Ida, Indigo, Iris, Icky Bug, and more. I'm going to run a women's race in a small native village.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 49 - 11:36:35 ]
RE: [Jennifer-Ms.FultonSecondarySchool] Hi Libby!! I HAve several qquestions for you; Did you find it difficult to be a woman in a race that is male dominated?
Not really. There had been women in the Iditerad for 10 years when I ran it. Also, Alsaka is the kind of place where everybody, men and women, have to prove themselves.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 53 - 11:37:57 ]
RE: [mrsmcdjoneric-mrs.mcd] Do you breed your own dogs?
Yes, but I usually just breed one or two litters every other year, and usually just for my own purposes (not aimed toward selling).

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 55 - 11:41:24 ]
RE: [mrsmcdstefanmegan-mrs.mcd] Hi, our names are Stefan and Megan. We would like to know how physically greuling was the race?
You can't imagine. The start of the race is very, very tough. The trail is rough, mushers are usually too excited to sleep even of they have the time. You're more exhausted and tour body is more sore than you can imagine. After you get into the race, if things go right, you start feeling ptretty good and you get more in shape. But we still hardly ever sleep. That combimned with the cold, makes it really tough. Some people lose up to 20 pounds in the race--the most expensive diet plan in the world.

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 57 - 11:42:27 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Thanks for answering our questions? We need to be dismissed now!
Thanks for joining us today. Come back later and see the rest of the answers in the archive.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 59 - 11:43:37 ]
RE: [Pat] We read that when you ran the 1985 Iditarod that you ate seal oil and chocolate after crossing Norton Sound. Is this correct?
This is correct. I wasn't really hungry but I knew I must need food, so I are the most condensed foods I had. I ate a lot of the native foods on the Iditerad because they're the best for cold weather. I lived in an Eskimo village for 6 years when I won the Iditerad, and used they're type of clothing and food.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 60 - 11:44:02 ]
RE: [mrsmcdkennyvidal] Have you ever gotten injured during a race?
Yes, mostly from crashing.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 64 - 11:45:48 ]
RE: [mrsmcdstevenbrittanyry] How many races have you been in?
I've run the Iditerad 6 times, also raced in the European Alps, done sprint racing and mid-distance racing.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 67 - 11:48:01 ]
RE: [Jennifer] Did you have any mentors that helped you to win the Iditarod?
I had a friend who was a woman racer, Patty Friend, who I got some of my first dogs from. Also, reading about the Arctic explorers was inspirational to me.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 69 - 11:49:13 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Is it more diffcult on you or the dogs?
We go through everything together. The dogs do harder physical work, and I do more brain strain.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 72 - 11:51:31 ]
RE: [Tish/NASAChatHost] What kind of physical training do you do to get yourself in shape or stay in shape for racing? What type of food do you eat during a race?
Mostly, I do stretching to keep from getting injured. I also like to dance. Running is good if you like doing it, but I'm not much of a ruuner. But I like to bike and swim. The better in shape you are, the more advantage you have in racing. You stay warmer and get less stressed.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 74 - 11:52:29 ]
RE: [Jennifer] I lived in Whithorse Yukon, and as I child my parents brought me to the Yukon Quest. Have you ever done that race?
No, but it's a good race, and it should be starting in a few weeks.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 76 - 11:53:03 ]
RE: [mrsmcdmelissajasmean] When did you first start working with dogs?

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 78 - 11:55:04 ]
When you run the Iditerad, you start preparing as soon as you finish the last Iditerad -- lining up sponsors, planning, maybe buying dogs, staying in shape, making money, all thouse things.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 79 - 11:55:41 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] How long have you been doing the Iditerod race?
My first Iditerad was 1980.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 83 - 11:59:26 ]
RE: [WoodsideElem.] I know there have been numerous movies made about the Iditerad but am wondering if you can recommend one aimed at kids that you think depicts the race itself.
The best one to get would be through the Iditerad headquaters that the media people have put together, which includes clips about the race. The number is (907) 376 5155. There is a movie called "Spirit of the Wind," which is a 16 mm movie about George Atlas. That's fantastic and is my favorite one.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 84 - 12:01:20 ]
RE: [MrsMcdAmyandKayla] What do you like most about your job &/or do you dislike anything about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I get to have all these dogs. I like working for myself because I get to pick my own schedule and I get to be the boss. But, being self- employed can be more stressful because of the responsibilites than a 9 to 5 job.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 86 - 12:02:21 ]
RE: [Pat] Can you have two mushers on one sled during the Iditarod?
Only the very first 10 miles of the race when we race through Anchorage, and that's for safety. But we do train our dogs like that.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 90 - 12:04:58 ]
RE: [Jennifer] Do you have any pointers for girls wanting to enter a career that is traditionally a male dominated?
Whatever career a person decides to go intothey should hopefully have some passion for what they're doing. Regardless of what career, that should be your main concern because that's where you'll do your best work. I think it's important for women to know how men do business but that women have they're own ways of contributing as well.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 92 - 12:05:51 ]
RE: [Pat] When you ran the 85 Iditarod and your dogs got loose, how long did it take you to get them back and in the harness ready to continue?
The dogs were still in the harness. It took less than an hour to catch up to them an be going again.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 95 - 12:06:59 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] During the race do you need to camp out in specific place?
At the check point, there's a specific area for mushers to stay. When you're on the trail you can pick where you stop.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 96 - 12:09:12 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] As a musher, have you invented any device to help the dogs race faster?
I don't think ther are too many devices that will make a dog run fatser. What I try to do, is select dogs with the genetics of running fast and try to train them to stay fast. But my favorite new invention is Martin Buser's giant hamster wheels for his puppies.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 97 - 12:10:17 ]
RE: [Pat] We read that you entered the 1987 Iditarod and had to drop out. Could you tell us why?
I think it was because the leaders I was using were getting and the young ones weren't as good. So it just wasn't working out--my team was in chaos. But I learned that year. You can learn something even in disasters.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 101 - 12:12:27 ]
RE: [Pat] Can anyone run the Iditarod or is there an age limit? What is the entry fee?
Yes, the entry fee is $1,749. You have to be 18 to run the Iditerad, and you have to complete qualifying races. But there is a junior Iditerad of 200 miles for 14-18 year olds.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 103 - 12:13:22 ]
RE: [Jennifer] What do you think was the thing or things that helped you the most to succeed in your accomplishments?
Being focused on a goal, and being willing to work hard and make sacrifices.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 106 - 12:15:24 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] You say that you produce films, what kind are they?
I worked with Steven Segal on a film called "On Deadly Ground." I was a stunt double on a film called "Cold Heart of Killer." I've also provided sled dogs for some video films, and I do television commercials for Alaska Dodge dealers and others.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 107 - 12:15:55 ]
RE: [Pat] Besides dogs, do you have any other pets or animals?
2 cats and 2 giant goldfish.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 108 - 12:16:46 ]
RE: [Jennifer] Do you know Cowboy Larry Smith? I ask because my family sponsored him in 1983.
I sure do, I raced with him. He helped unwrap my sled from a tree one time.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 111 - 12:18:40 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] How many more years do you plan on racing?
I'm winding down on my racing because I'm doinng a lot of other things. But every year I decicd what to do with the dogs I have. Sometimes that will include racing and sometimes other things. I'm also running dogs all summer long doing tours with the dogs up on a glacier outside of Juneau.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 114 - 12:19:35 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Our librarian wants to know if you know Gary Paulsen or if you have read any of his books?
Gary Paulsen was in the Iditerad the year I won it. Yes, I've read his books and he is an excellent author.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 115 - 12:21:33 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] What college did you go to?
I went to the "School of Hard Knocks." I'm kind of self- educated. I have a G.E.D. and I read a lot . Both my parents were professors. You have to pretty self-motivated to be educated this way, but that's why I think reading is so important.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 118 - 12:22:41 ]
RE: [Pat] In the 85 race your brake broke. Were you scared?
Yes, I was worried, my dogs were prtty wild. Anything that happens is going to be a time delay. So it can be pretty stressful Fortunately, it all worked out.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 122 - 12:25:00 ]
RE: [Pat] Is this your job, racing dogs, or is it a hobby? Do you have another job? How do you earn a living?
My business says "musher, author, speaker." I have to be versatile to make a living with my dogs. That's why I do film work and tours, write and lecture. I also try to live fairly inexpensively because a lot of my money does go straight to the dogs.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 123 - 12:25:38 ]
RE: [Pat] How does it feel during running of the Iditarod?
Read my book.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 124 - 12:26:38 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Do you like having all this fame or does it get annoying at times?
Most of the time it's nice. Every once in a great while it's pesky. But most of the people I meet are nice.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 126 - 12:27:20 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Do you think the show "Northern Exposure" exemplifies life in Alaska?
Sometimes more than others but I still like it.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 127 - 12:29:44 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] How did you feel when you won the race?
I felt an amazing sense of achivement and great sense of comaraderie and pride with my dogs. I also felt like it wasn't just a victory for women but also for the people in the native village who had sponsored me in the race. It was a great feeling to have them believe in me and come through.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 128 - 12:30:40 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Do you enjoy living in Alaska? If you didn't live there, where would you live?
Most of the time I love Alaska. I'll probably always live here. But I love travelling to the tropics. After 20 years of dog mushing in Alasaka, that's my new hobby I've taken up.

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 130 - 12:33:24 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] Do you ever get tired of this or have second thoughts (doubts) about racing again?
Yes, racing has been really fun for me. I've had some of my greatest experiecnes of my life racing. But there's always so many things to do that I think I'm ready for a change besides just being totally focused on racing. On the other hand, I'm hooked on racing so who knows?

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 131 - 12:34:39 ]
RE: [HolyFamily] How could we get in touch with you about possibly getting you to speak at our school?
Libby Riddles P.O. Box 872901 Wasilla, AK 99687

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 132 - 12:35:08 ]
What a terrific chat! I want to thank Libby for her extra time, and for the students who obviously did some terrific research before joining us! We hope you'll continue to join the Female Frontiers chats. The schedule is at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html

[ LibbyRiddles/Alaska - 133 - 12:36:57 ]
I'd like to thank everyone for their interest and questions and encourage everyone to follow the Iditerad and dog race on the Internet and wish good luck in what you do.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 134 - 12:47:01 ]
We would very much like to thank Libby Riddles for sharing her personal experiences with us online today. Be sure to share your thoughts about today's chat with us at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. Be sure to check our Female Frontiers schedule of events at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html to learn about upcoming chats with our experts.


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