Mike has seen a steady uphill trend in overall speeds over the course of the last several days. Conditions have been getting cold, and I have not seen any high winds or evidence of big storms. The Iditarod dogsled race and associated snow machine traffic might be helping as well.
The upshot of all this is that he's caught up to his 2008 pace, which is most definitely a good thing considering how tight his food and fuel margins are.
Here is little SPOT replay video I put together showing comparing 2008 and 2010. You can see how much slower things were in the beginning, and even though 2008 stays in McGrath for some time, it isn't enough to catch up. The "Endless Innoko" stretch of 2008 is where Mike really started gaining ground, whether from better conditions or avoiding the mental fog / demoralization that plagued him that year. He then continues to gain or hold ground throughout the Yukon river stretch.
Reviewing some of Mike's older posts, I came across this post talking about the dangers of the 'sledneck' traffic and how he has festooned his bike all sorts of reflective tape and fabric. In 2008 he recounts some interesting encounters with locals on snow machines, mostly out watching the dogsled race come by. One person he met even claimed to have run over and killed an entire pack of wolves. His post is well worth reading and can be found here.
He ends the post,
The night passes as a series of brief, anxious 'sleep' episodes, each abruptly ended by the imagined scream of approaching snowmachines. In reality not a single machine passed in the night.
I noticed that he was stopped for over 12 hours last night (perhaps a little less than that given the latency between receiving SPOT points). That's his longest snooze yet. Let's hope it was from needing a big rest from all the pedal mashing on solid trail, not from fear of being run over by a snow machine in the middle of the night!
At this writing Mike has passed Kaltag, which means he has turned off the Yukon River and is now heading for the coast. He is about 85 miles from Unalakleet, which is the furthest he has made it on any of his trips. He should be there in about 48 hours, then it is on to new ground!