Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Past McGrath

Photo by Mike Curiak, bikes in front of the Takotna Library, March 2008

Well, it appears that Mike crossed a major crux point of his journey, passing through the town of McGrath, Alaska, without stopping for Mancakes. At about 6:30 p.m. Monday, you can see a spot on the map through town where Mike took 10 minutes to travel 750 feet on a packed road. You have to wonder if he paused for a few moments near the junction of the driveway of Peter and Tracy Schneiderheinze, wondering whether he should stop in to say hello to his old friends; wondering at the encompassing warmth of a wood stove when the temperature outside was nearing zero; wondering whether or not anyone would really notice or care if he darted inside and ate a big stack of the hearty pancakes Peter and Tracy's house has become famous for.

He didn't linger long, because 20 minutes later he was outside town and pedaling west. At 10 p.m. Monday, he was about five miles away from Takotna, which is the last community on the Iditarod Trail for nearly 200 miles. For the next few days, Mike has only a ghost town, an Iditarod checkpoint and the approach of the leaders of the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race to look forward to. You have to wonder if the dearth of civilization will make things harder or easier on Mike. This can be a bewilderingly remote section of trail, but at the same time, the temptations of the human world are vastly reduced. I mean, seriously, how does anyone voluntarily pass up Mancakes? Some mysteries of the mind will never be understood.

— J.H.