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The world might get blowed up, but I'll be on a ride

canadmos

Cake Tease
May 29, 2011
15,499
13,249
Canaderp
Isn't he James H? Either way... :headbang:


Hopefully the weather is good for them and no rain or anything strange.
 

canadmos

Cake Tease
May 29, 2011
15,499
13,249
Canaderp
I guess on the plus side for them this year, they don't have to make that climb twice and go back over the shitty portions of trail a second time.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Volunteer at Rohn Cabin checkpoint put the dead squirrel in the outhouse. They also put one in the Iditarod dog-race volunteer's tent (dog race is this weekend).
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Way too much detail write up:

Sunday

Everyone was worried about the long-term warm temps that Alaska had been experiencing. It was thought that trails might be real soft and more importantly, there would be water on lakes and at creek-crossings. The new (for 2021) Butterfly Lake checkpoint requires a lot of “choose-your-own” navigation by way of many trail and route options, using snowmachine trails, mushing trails, ice-roads on lakes, hard roads, but the downside with so many options is that some of them were not going to be optimal or at worst, impassible in the warm temps. The only slight glimmer of hope was that overnight temps appeared to be dipping below freezing on most of the route for the days of the race. A backwards weather pattern with a super-high over Canada was blocking any western storm track and tropical storms were riding up the BC coast and backwards into the Gulf of Alaska. This was bringing warm temps and rain and it was not forecasted to change, but at least it appeared that the race would be far enough inland to still get some freezing temps.

We all got fed burgers and fries at the Broken Boat Bar and set off at the race-start time of 2pm. The first part of the race went good, it was warm, above freezing, but the trail was firm. There was a lot of dog-shit from mushers, so you didn’t want to follow the guy in front too close, for fear of kicking that stuff up into your face.

At the trail intersection that takes you on the most direct route north to Gonder Road, Big Lake and the hard roads, the trail did not look very set, one or two snowmachines and no real packing. This is a big concern because in my experience the 2nd half of this trail is worse than the first, so this was an obvious no-go. We kept on, all racers so far staying in the peloton, but looking back, several went South for Point Mac Road and Ayshire Rd. That has been the traditional bike-route when we didn’t have the Butterfly Lake checkpoint and everyone was heading out to Flat Iron Lake, but with the new checkpoint, this route puts you pretty far south. The next choice, at least in my mind, was to take Burma Road to South Susitna Parkway, although this included some backtracking and more miles, then you would ride the old railroad grade (no tracks) to re-intercept the most direct route to Butterfly Lake. This is what I did. There weren’t many racers ahead, but most of them continued straight to intercept the railroad grade from a more Southerly location. It was kind of neat, because as I was intercepting the railroad grade, I was doing it at the same time as other riders that had taken a totally different route. They said they had experienced real soft snow up to axles where they intercepted the railroad. At the point I did, it was decent and pretty soon I was on my way on the snowmachine trails out to Butterfly Lake.

One good decision I made was to switch out my pogies last minute, my revelate expeditions for my dogwood designs. The dogwoods can be rolled up so you have no pogie at all over your hands in the arm and this was a huge advantage at times. Although you can take the liners out of the revelates, it doesn’t compare with being able to roll up and I don’t even consider using the expeditions unless it’s going to be below 0F. I can manage with the Dogwoods there, but it’s harder. The coldest temp I saw was 1F. I also brought two base layers, a thin synthetic and a thicker wool. I wore the thin synthetic most of the time and that was a good call, easier to stay dry. I have two saddle-bags in the PR panniers. One is my dry bag for gear I bring into a checkpoint, the other is my cold-weather gear. I never used any of my cold weather gear, save for the down sleeves I keep in a feed-bag, but I never got into my cold-weather-gear bag, never had to use a down puffy, mountaineering pants, mittens, heavy masks, etc. I also ditched my dogwood designs overboots, that’s something I only consider wearing over my boots when it’s -20 or colder.
On the last trail to Butterfly, it got real soft and was barely rideable, difficult effort and likely result of little traffic again with all of the warm temps. I got to the checkpoint and was back out pretty fast. The route most of us chose from here was to get to Little Cow Lake and take Trail 6, which is a real tricky turn if you aren’t familiar, because as you come out on the lake, it’s almost behind you, but I was familiar and this wasn’t a big deal. On trail 6, we intercepted the Iron Dog snowmachine race course, which was a snowmobile race on the Iditarod Trail a week prior. This was hard packed and although there were a lot of whoop-de-whoops, additional traffic had rounded them out, but there were still a LOT of these little bumps. More on that later. Otherwise, the trail was set up firm and concerns about warm temps were unfounded here.

I ran into a problem though, because I had watched the Iron Dog before the race and it looked like they took a well known Northerly trail out of the Big Swamp area and on to the Susitna and Yentna rivers. When I followed the track they (and other riders) took though, it wasn’t adding up. My GPS was telling me I should have been further North and the trail we on was taking us almost due South. Eventually, if you go South enough, you do get to another river entrance, but this isn’t what the Iron Dog did. I spent about 10 extra miles out here going back and forth. A few trail intersections that should have been there were non-existent. I eventually concluded to follow everyone else and if it went further South, so be it. What ended up happening is it intersected a single-track type snowmachine trail the Iron Dog took that went through the woods and dumped on the river. It was very similar to the Northern trail that does the same thing, except this went through private property and next to someone’s cabin. It was the “only” trail, there wasn’t any connection to the Northern trail. When I got here though I realized that the Iron Dog didn’t go where I thought they did and there was another trail that did basically the same thing. So this put me back, probably kept me out of a top 5 or 10 finish, but I was doing the race this year for the iconic finish in McGrath, the traditional route vs. last year and the fact that it’s more of a competition against your body than other people.

By this time, it was well into the night. Most people try to get to the 2nd checkpoint the first night, with most coming in after midnight. It kind of serves as a wake-up call, if you aren’t comfortable riding at night in these conditions, etc. It’s also about 55 miles with the most direct route, which wasn’t available this year, and even in good conditions rolling resistance on snowmachine trails is very different from your local packed snow trails. All this on a 60lb or more bike and it’s a good push…sometimes a good way to weed out some riders. When I dropped on the Susitna and Yentna rivers, I felt much better, knowing it was just a matter of clicking out some miles while riding in night-mode. It was funny, I got on the Yentna river, nothing around me, well after dark, and all of a sudden there was a heavy marijuana smell. Unmistakable, but nothing in sight.

I got into Yentna Station sometime around midnight, which was pretty good considering. Got some food down, got clothes up to dry. Got a room for a few hours of “sleep”. In my experience, it’s damn near impossible to “sleep” while doing this. The different variations are just some rest time being still letting muscles reset, eventually getting so fatigued that you might be able to get a couple hours a few days later at a checkpoint, or a bivy on the side of the trail. The last one can work well, but the moisture it can induce into your sleep system can be a killer later on. So I got some “down time” and planned to get up early enough so that I’d at least get some solid-trail on the way to Skwentna. I had been to Yentna Station a few weeks back on a practice run and I really like coming this way, it’s super fun to hang out there with people.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Monday

Back on the bike on the way to Skwentna, almost everything went well. Trail was good, speed was decent. Another lodge had made a “short cut” for racers that went by their lodge and bypassed an oxbow in the river, but I’m not sure this really saved any time. I didn’t stop on the way and there was a little section of overflow around the turnoff to Skwentna that I had to navigate around, but it was relatively easy to do so. There was also miles of moose post-holed trail. Rough, but still a firm trail and the holes weren’t so big you couldn’t ride over them.

Getting some food at Skwentna, the idea was to have a slow meal, take time to digest, let stuff dry, but push on to Shell Lake the same day. Shell Lake is not a checkpoint, but it’s right on the way, open in the winter for us, and they will let you stay in a cabin for free, which is pretty badass. Skwentna on the other hand has a reputation of nickle-and-diming you for everything, like if you want hot water…or want to use the inside bathroom, it all costs money. And that’s not so bad, but the attitude can get a bit annoying. While I was there, a racer got yelled at for “you better not be sleeping” in the main lodge area (as in, they need to buy a room). Knowing what to expect, I wasn’t put off, I got my lasagna, some cookies for the road, and I was on my way.

The next segment is up to Shell Lake and consists of a giant swamp and then uphill snowmachine trail, or a mine-road that adds some miles. After having done both now (and the snowmachine twice), I greatly prefer the snowmachine trail. The mine road still has some significant climbs and you don’t really get anything more out of it, as in it doesn’t cut time. There is also a local guy on Shell Lake that has been working on grooming the trails and setting the trails, advising us of overflow on the lake and generally trying to help out the ITI racers. His efforts were greatly appreciated and he did a lot of work to smooth down the Iron Dog bumps that were everywhere on this trail. It did get a little soft despite all of this, since it was in the afternoon now and the trail had seen the sun under warm temps for a while. It wasn’t horrible, but up higher it was definitely getting soft and harder to ride, having to air way down, etc.

It was good to reach Shell Lake in plenty of time for dinner (they close at 8pm). It was also nice to get there early enough to get a burger! He didn’t have all that many and thought he’d probably run out soon. Not a problem since they got other good food, but the burger looked great and went down well. Other friends showed up at the location and I decided to head to the cabin for some more “reset”, before attempting the next segment. At this time, some of the racers got further ahead of me, but I was trying to make sure to get decent rest periods so my problem knee wouldn’t swell up bad like the two years past. With surgery and a cortisone shot, I was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but I wasn’t going to try and push my luck to far. The other part is wanting to head out at night when the trail is firmer.

So I did that, I headed out a little later and made the push up to Finger Lake. There were some trail options here. The previous mentioned mine-road kind of parallels the Iditarod Trail…but I’m not sure where the last intersection is where you can get back to the Iditarod Trail and the same guy above had put in some cuts to help connect things, but at night when faced with a trail you have on your GPS, with a GPX file, and one that might get back to where you need, you take the safe option IMO. Even though I did this segment pretty fast for an ITI segment, 3hrs and 30 min, the small sections of mine trail I did encounter were super fast and much better condition than the Iditarod Trail here. The Iditarod Trail was fairly soft and possibly so due to the tendency of this part to get wind-blown. The Iron Dog bumps were getting worse too. Still, my time was not bad and while I encountered some breeze, nothing like the winds that can rip through the last few meadows before Finger Lake.

Finger Lake checkpoint was a sh*tshow. They are supposed be doing a thing where if you come in and are going to rest, they will kick out other people already there and send them on their way, except the only spots available were on the floor near where everyone was constantly walking in hard wolfgar boots for coffee and other stuff. It was impossible to sleep and they weren’t really enforcing the kicking people out thing. One of the things that tends to happen to me is I tell myself I’m going to get “x” hours of rest at a checkpoint, but I end up leaving early because of this kind of stuff. Still, the burritos were good and I took one for the road.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Tuesday

I got about 1.7 miles into the next trail segment and realized I was “light”. I was light because I forgot my camelback. Oops. I went back and got it, not too many extra miles. One big change from the last two years for me is to completely get rid of metal flasks. Not only are they heavy, but they require you to mount or strap somewhere, require you to get hot-water all the time, which becomes a PITA, etc. The camelback doesn’t care, pour cold or hot water in, it won’t freeze. So I ride with one plastic water bottle, drink from that first before it freezes, then move to the camelback. While it is weight on my back, it’s a minimalist design and the only weight on my back, so it’s not bad in my opinion. I have my methods that keep the hose from freezing, even when it’s double-digit negatives. I also didn’t re-fill the camelback at many places, since I often had plenty of water for the next segment.

So now with the camelback, at 1.7 miles, I ran into a new obstacle. Moose-destroyed trail. It’s a bit hard to convey in words the level of destruction, as I’m use to moose going through and post-holing trails, like before Skwentna, on local trails, etc. This was somehow magnitudes worse, the size of the hooves way bigger, the depth going down feet, as in 3 feet, giant holes there was no way you could even think about riding. So it was real tough bike pushing for 5 continuous miles, where the moose had constantly gone up and down the trail. It’s hard to say how long this had existed for, it didn’t look like it had been there all the time, but this is an example of something that can just come out of nowhere when everything is looking fine. The ace up my sleeve was that I knew the mine-road intersection and waypoints for this section very well. The same mine-road described before hits an intersection on this trail, takes an easier route down to the Happy River, then takes an easier route next to the Iditarod Trail, until you get to Shirley Lake, where you need to make sure you take the right turn-off back to the Iditarod Trail…else you aren’t heading to Rainy Pass anymore. Luckily right before the mine-road intersection, the moose decided to abandon the trail and the mine-road was hardpacked goodness at night. The problem was this hiking over destroyed trail really took a lot out of me and this section also many steep hike sections and the infamous “happy steps”. There is a fairly extended 30+% grade climb that is an absolute bear to push your bike up. All of this left me pretty exhausted for this section and the snowmachine bumps were again getting bad towards the end of the trail. I had left at night and it got light as I was doing this section. I got to the Puntilla Lake (Rainy Pass Lodge) checkpoint, but pretty tired. This segment seems to drag on a lot longer than it should.

The Puntilla Lake checkpoint is great. No burritos, but there’s virtually unlimited Top Ramen and other goodies you can recharge with, plus a good arrangement of bunk beds where you might be able to get some significant rest. This checkpoint isn’t really manned by volunteers and racers usually start to get a little more spread apart, that last section helping to spread people out. It was absolutely beautiful up here though, partly cloudy/sunny, good snow coverage, etc. I got some rest before heading out again. I had decided I would do Rainy Pass at night, since I had done it at night the year before and was comfortable with the route and my GPX file.

So I headed out for Rainy Pass and the Rohn checkpoint early enough that I still got a little bit of light while I was in Ptarmigan Pass, with the light finally gone as I reached the Rainy Pass trail proper. This was nice though, because both time I went this way last year, I was not able to see Ptarmigan Pass because it was at night. I did have one pass through Rainy in the daylight last year, the other was at night. Overall, trail conditions were good. This section tends to get wind-blown and the wind effects were not that bad. It wasn’t very windy, it wasn’t very cold, etc. The trail did get a little too soft in between the Rainy Pass trail turn-off and where you actually start working through the pass. I was able to ride most of this, passed a rider that was walking, but it was a pretty short section and pretty insignificant. I kept riding up through the pass…hoping around every turn that my headlamp was finally showing the pass, haha. I did go with a better expedition type headlamp as my primary this year, taking 4 AA batteries, which is the same type as my GPS, so I don’t have to carry as many battery types. That headlamp helped and the ability to throw up to 800 lumens when necessary was helpful. It’s not really necessary to have that many lumens, but what was happening with the lesser headlamps was they would slowly die over time all of a sudden, they are barely working and you wouldn’t notice it getting worse until it was too late. With the better headlamp, I was able to use a low to moderate setting for much longer with no degradation. That was the real benefit. You do have to push the last few hundred vertical up to the pass, but it was no big problem. I thought I might need to put on winter stuff due to the downhill cold-soak effect, but it just wasn’t that cold, crazy. There were some slightly wind blown or softer areas, but everything was pretty firm and ridable on the way down. Super fun to do, worked great at night. There were a few water crossings though where I had to use my Wiggy’s waders, lightweight waders you can put on to cross creeks. I have never had to do this before, but they did their job fine and it wasn’t too much of a hassle. Once I had done it once, the waders were easier to get and out of and I just kept them lashed to the outside of my bags incase I needed them again. This is also the section with the infamous “Dalzell Gorge”, a steep gorge where you criss-cross back and forth over ice-bridges. It’s short, but spectacular. I could see the steep walls a bit with my light, but obviously not as good as if it was the day time. Then the trail kicks you out on the Tatina River, which had a few over-flow/water sections, but nothing bad. The one thing that did kind of surprise me was it took almost 7hours to do this segment. For some reason I thought it would be quicker. There was some light snow through the pass, but out on the Tatina everything was totally clear. There are few things like turning off your lights on the Tatina and looking at the night sky. It’s absolutely amazing how much you see.

The Rohn checkpoint wasn’t much better than Finger Lake…except the volunteers were great. They were cooking up brats at midnight. One of the volunteers had put a dead squirrel in the outhouse looking at the user sitting down. Hilarious. The sleeping accommodations were pretty bad though, there was of course a guy just chain-sawing while no one else could sleep and the same issue with room, no room really. I eventually laid down stuff and be dammed if it touches other people, but I needed to rest a little. It was pretty windy outside and wouldn’t have been great to bivy outside at this point.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Wednesday

So after some rest, I decided to head out. I went about a half mile in the wrong way up the Tatina, it wasn’t hard to figure this out with the GPS and I quickly corrected and got on the “right” route, but there was some sketchy ice on the Kuskokwim and ice that had frozen over a layer of water, with ice below the water. I spent a while walking around trying to find a “safe” path, all the while ice beneath me cracking and fracturing. I eventually figured out that some others had just let themselves punch through the top layer and that explained some tracks I found, so I did the same and it was ok. It took a while to do this though.

This is where the race dramatically changed. The previous sections of trail had some additional snowmachine traffic and the temps were at least cool enough that it wasn’t going through melt-freeze cycles. The dynamic had now changed. The Iron Dog snowmachine race had come through here in wet-slush conditions and due to an effect like washboard, every 15 feet or so there was a abrupt bump, 1-3 feet high, with abrupt transitions, there would also be a trench in between the bumps, about 1.5’ wide, halfway in between, this would be up to a foot or more below the “level” of the trail. The extreme sides where the snowmachine runners went were only a couple inches, so while it was occasionally possible to try and ride “around” a bump, you’d find yourself on a few-inches skinny and branches and trees on the side of the trail would often not be enough to pass by. These bumps were not as rounded as say a pump track, with abrupt transitions. And yes, you could do a few of these in sequence, lofting your front wheel, bunny hopping, etc., but we are talking thousands and thousands of bumps, never letting up, on all sorts of grades. The only place they didn’t exist was flat swamps or lakes, but those were rare on this segment. We were dealing with the bumps the entire race, but this was dramatically different, where they had frozen in place due to the temps when they were ridden and no other softening. This created problems of all kinds. Damage to bikes like bent derailleurs, etc. There wasn’t much you could do, you could sometimes ride for a while, but any hill, it was taking a massive effort to keep riding up a significant grade with obstacles the entire time and this just never ever let up. Eventually I started working into the lower terrain, but the sun was up and it was getting warm. There was a tailwind, and that combined with trying to get up the steep sections just made it too hot to deal with. This was just wrecking my body, knees, joints, everything. I found a few riders on the trail and everyone was in the same boat. At that point, it was just too warm for me. My plan was to get 30 miles in, leaving about 40 to go, and just sleep for a while until closer to the evening when it’s colder and more riders had passed through. Some riders, including myself, were trying to ride in the thin runner sections on the side of these bumps, trying to widen them, but there were lots of branches and things to throw you. Still, with more traffic, things generally improve, so I thought it’d be a good idea to find a place to sleep for a while and let other people fight it out. There was also a safety cabin that most people stopped at, but again, it was too warm and I had everything I needed to stop and sleep, so that made a lot more sense to me than pushing on another 10 miles.

So I did my sleep, got up, made some food, ate. A few other riders came by, they thought I had enough and was going to sleep, but I was just getting ready to go again. One glimmer of hope was there were two riders that came FROM McGrath that said the conditions get better in about 10 miles near the cabin. I got back on the trail and I felt like superman comparted to a few hours before. Even though there were those bumps, I was pumping and riding, avoiding “hero-climbs” though. This was still taking a toll on me, but I felt a lot better and went a lot faster. Then, around the cabin, things DID get better. I had a stiff tailwind and there were many open-swamp sections! This led to some super-fast sections where I was just flying. I got water at the Sullivan Creek, even though I didn’t really need water and I had to literally get in the creek, since the water-bucket was missing/gone. Fresh clear water was great and a must-do on the route. I got about 10 super-fast miles, but then it was back to the stupid bumps. Not as bad as before, but still pretty bad. There are some amazing birch stands in this section. I wasn’t able to see them in the day, but I could still tell they were pretty impressive at night. Things again took a turn for the worse as I made the turn for Nikolai at the end of the stretch. A bit more than 10 miles into a stiff wind. My body was starting to shut down at this point from the constant battering of the bumps, my knees, my butt, my respiratory system. It takes a significant amount of effort to just move a heavy fat-bike and keep it rolling on these surfaces and then you add wind and all of a sudden the amount of energy it takes is just ridiculously over the top. I was having to pedal out of the saddle most of the time for all these reasons and into the wind, progress was painful and slow. I was really counting down the miles at this point and wanting it to end. It had been a real crappy day and absolutely the worst trail sections of the race. No one had a good time on this section. The race director and media support usually zip back and forth during the race, checking on racers, taking pictures, etc. They could not travel south of Rohn due to these conditions. No snowmachine traffic was able to travel on it. There is a big concern that this may screw up the dog race significantly, which kicks off tomorrow. It doesn’t seem like the dogsleds can deal with these bumps. Mind you, we dealt with normal bumps the entire race and not even other snowmachines could pass through this trail section now.

Luckily, the Nikolai checkpoint was great. They make you burgers, for free. The burgers were great. During this type of situation, you are expending so many calories that it’s pretty much impossible to eat too much and good base meals are important. I had two burgers and they were great. The accommodations are not fancy, an old school, but a lot of floor space and easy to spread out. I got some rest in and then in the morning had a PB&banana made to go. That turned out to be awesome later on, kind of like banana-PB ice cream. George has been working this checkpoint for years and he was concerned that it was going to again get real warm and the trail would fall apart. He was urging travel at night and avoiding the mid-day. I was going to leave in the morning, in the light, but with at least several hours before it might get “warm”.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Thursday

Heading out of Nikolai, I felt a little sick. I was drinking from my water bottle. I emptied it out and realized the water was yellow. That was what I had gotten in Nikolai. I had gotten some water in my camelback, but luckily it was boiled water. This is why it’s good to have backups. At the worst case, I could have melted some snow, but no need. The trail conditions were excellent. There’s an option for an overland trail and a river trail, but the river trail wasn’t really there and the choice was already made. Everything was great. Trails were firm, there was a point where it got so firm I felt like I was going 20mph. A look at the watch confirmed it was only a little over 10, but that is still flying for any ITI segment. You are usually lucky to be making 5mph. This didn’t make up for the day before, nothing ever really does, but this was the best and most consistent conditions I encountered on the whole ride. This was a 49 mile segment, which is pretty lengthy, but the trail conditions made it very do-able. No snowmachines were encountered, so the trail was firm from the previous tracks. Just a little bit of traffic near McGrath where they had churned it up. I had gone to “ludicrous pressure” as in way higher than you would ever usually run on the firm section, so I had to lower a bit, but I was within a couple miles at that point. There was supposed to be an overland trail for the last little bit, but it didn’t seem to be in and the path dropped us out on the river, which added a few miles, but I don’t think anyone really cared at that point.

Getting into McGrath, it wasn’t nearly as emotional for me as last-years finish. My body had held together a little better, although there were still effects and issues cropping up that I had to be careful with. I had more confidence this year, having experienced much worse weather conditions and being prepared for “anything”. Even though the Rohn to Nikolai segment was brutal, there was a part of me that thought “now the race has started” when I got on that part, as in you have to be ready for anything on this race and on these trails, whether it’s pushing for 20 miles (or more), high winds, extreme cold, or whatever. Ultimately, my bike and my body held together. My Race Face BB had started squeaking the first day, but there wasn’t anything I could do for that and I figured that a new-2-months-ago BB would have been able to last through this…but evidently not without some complaint. But my gear all worked pretty well, no complaints. The dropper post was brilliant, not only on the bumps and steeps, but also just to get on and off the bike. It’s hard to convey in words the cumulative damage you are doing trying to get on and off a fat-bike at mile 200 in these conditions. It becomes very difficult and every one of them starts to hurt more and more. The dropper helps a lot here too. It worked flawless. I felt pretty good getting into McGrath, but the section that day was a big emotional lift, so it was pretty easy to be in good spirits and looking pretty fresh.

The ITI is using new accommodations in McGrath, the historical supporter of the race has passed the torch along, but everything worked out well and I was able to get some good rest. They had the post-race socializing and beers ready, man-cake pancakes in the morning. The race crew was getting flights back organized like clockwork and everything just flowed really well here, the ITI crew and support did a wonderful job.

I still have some issues I want to work out, maybe for a future race, maybe or maybe not next year. I need to find a better seat-setup. This year’s WAS better, but still has a ways to go. One of my chamois just grinds me down like an angle-grinder, luckily the one I had for extra padding did not, but still one of the reason my knees get bad is because my butt is hurting. We also took a brutal pounding on that one segment, so that was a contributor. I didn’t have the uncomfortable reach issue this year, one of the primary reasons I used my Carbonspeed CS-197 bike, because it fits me well. I was able to pedal a lot easier in the saddle this year, but again, I still need improvement here.

It was a good race. A lot of people finished this year. The weather was generally good, if a bit warm. It did get cold enough that we weren’t overheating most of the time…except for that one bad stretch. I’m glad I did it and it was a great experience. Time moves so much slower when you do something like this. When you are at a certain point on the trail, it seems like years ago that you were 3 or so checkpoints back. That’s one of the most amazing things, the time-compression that you experience. The other part is so much of the navigating in the darkness solo. It’s amazing to do this confidently and successfully. The two best pieces of advice for anyone doing this is: Be prepared for anything. Keep moving forward.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
14,871
6,359
AK
Jesus, bare ground and shit snow, I feel for ya
That area gets scraped by high winds, also in a precip-shadow on the lee side of the mountains, so coverage gets back to normal after a few miles, but it can be pretty crazy. There's also bison-poop everywhere. Like way way too much bison poop for the amount of bison visible (which was zero).

The real problem was the snow-machine frozen slush-bumps, see Wednesday.