Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Slow trails

I've noticed a significant drop in speed since Ophir, as predicted by the trail reports from McGrath. Looking at speeds from the SPOT points is an estimation, at best, but the speeds we do have are almost as slow as Rainy Pass.

What does this mean for Mike? Well, as of last check, the "Trail Breaker" icon on the Iditarod Ion Tracker* was right on top of him. If it hasn't already passed him, it will soon. The trail breaker is a snow machine, so that should mean much improved conditions. I won't be surprised if we see a jump in speed tomorrow, or perhaps later this evening (Mike seems to usually ride until about 10pm, so he has a couple hours yet).

What this means for the leaders of the human-powered race is less sure. They have likely been dealing with wind blown trail for days now, but the breaker should catch up with them by tomorrow.

Weather continues to be a factor, with snow falling and very warm temperatures. Tatalina (between Takotna and Ophir) is currently reporting 28 degrees -- almost above freezing. Not much change in the forecast -- more snow and near freezing temps projected. That means soft, perhaps unrideable snow.

I'm anxious to get a report from the race leaders in Ruby.

* I wanted to make a note to anyone following the dog sled race with the tracking system: they are using a different satellite network (and units) than what Mike is carrying. It is likely that they will have positions near the coast, whereas Mike's coverage may run out. Iridium has worldwide coverage while Globalstar is more limited.

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