Sunday, February 25, 2007

Go Jay!

My stone cold homie JayP is up in Alaska dropping the hammer as I type this. The Iditarod Trail Invitational began Saturday afternoon at 2pm and leaders haven't slept much since the gun went off. The race website is doing a great job so far with leaderboard updates and my man Jay has climbed from 7th at the first checkpoint to 4th at the third checkpoint. The three guys ahead of him are veterans of this race and have many wins between them. The current record to McGrath is 3 days, 6 hours set by Mike Curiak but that record could be in danger this year.

As of Sunday afternoon there is still a lot of racing to go. The leaders are riding on very little sleep and are about to head into the Alaska Range, at night, in below zero temps. I hope the trail over Rainy Pass is somewhat rideable for everyone unlike last year when it took racers 12 hours to push their bikes through deep snow over the pass. Lo temps at the finish line in McGrath have been averaging -33F over the past few days and it doesn't look like they will warm up much. The tradeoff to the cold temps is the firm conditions in the first 130 miles of the race. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone attempting this race and even more for anyone who finishes it. It takes a lot of inner strength to race alone, through several nights, in below zero temps with minimal support.

We are getting lots of snow right now so I wasn't sure a snow bike ride would happen but the Horseshoe trail was just firm enough to give it a go. It snowed another 1/2 - 1" during the ride which made the return trip even tougher but it felt great to be out on the bike after a fun ski day at the Ghee yesterday. The changing snow conditions make riding familiar trails interesting every time. I witnessed the huge advantage of having low body weight in soft conditions today. Michelle, at 120lbs, crushed me on every hill as I struggled to maintain float and traction. She is also getting stronger by the week and is really diggin' the Pugs so I better keep training. Days like today make me think we could use even wider rims and tires and I think the snow bikes will continue to evolve into lighter and more efficient designs.
After a somewhat easy week last week I am looking forward to ramping it up a bit this week and logging some hours in the saddle. With a chaotic work schedule I think many of those hours will be at night on the snow bike.

1 comment:

Jill Homer said...

Jay is tearing up the trail right now! He's managed to stay right with Rocky and Jeff, who are both very experienced and strong cyclists, and this is his first year! He's giving all the top Alaska cyclists a run for their money. I can't wait for the GDR. Look out, Jay's coming.