Wednesday, March 4, 2009
photo by Eric Parsons
I'm starting to remember (from last year), that I can never stay up late enough to see Mike's last point for the day. Sure, it's two hours earlier in AK, but the sun still went down hours ago, and Mike is still riding. Last night he rode until about 10pm AK time.
That's ~3 hours of night riding. And he calls it 'touring.' (!)
Mike passed Skwentna today, and is now about 100 miles into it. He's actually nearing the same spot he camped last year on the second night. That's a little hard to believe because last year's conditions were reportedly in the 'best ever' category. So far the racers have been struggling with the fresh snow, but Mike seems to have chosen a good time to start.
He's certainly got no hurry to make it to the Alaska Range (Rainey Pass crossing) as the racers are getting seriously stalled there. We still haven't received any word that the leaders have reached Rohn.
There are a couple things that might be contributing to Mike's pace despite slower trails. Mike's total bike weight is down from last year, a product of gear refinement and meal/fuel optimizations. His body weight is also a fair amount lower than last year. You might remember his theory on starting 'fat' from last year. I guess he didn't like that idea much, citing a sluggishness and feeling of doing 'extra work' throughout the first week+ of the trip. So this time he is starting light and if he makes all the way "it won't be pretty and I won't be winning any arm-wrestling contests at the Nome Nugget."
At any rate, things appear to be going well thus far. There is snow and possible warm temps (even rain!) in the forecast, though, so it might get interesting very soon.