Mike seems to have finally gotten a break with the trail conditions, covering over 50 miles on Sunday. That puts him at Guitar Lake and only a day behind his 2008 pace. That year he faced very strong winds that drifted the trail into post-holing fun.
photo by Mike of drifted snow from 2008
He made up some serious ground and I think his relief/enjoyment at it can be seen by him riding a little later than usual into the dark -- until about 10pm AK time.
Last year I called him out for doing excessive amounts of night riding on what he calls a 'tour' pace. Focused touring is the more accurate term, but he still claims that his night riding is pretty minimal. He usually rides until around 9pm, which is well beyond sunset at 7pm. Twilight does last longer in AK, but there's no doubt he logged a fair amount of night riding last night.
The weather looks cold with more snow forecasted this afternoon / evening in the McGrath area. We'll see if that impacts the trail conditions, which have been good according to race reports.
If all continues well, Mike should make it to McGrath sometime on Monday. McGrath will be a key indicator of how things are going thus far. If he is able to pass Peter and Tracey's house without stopping we will know that everything is peachy. The last two years he has stopped. In 2008 he stopped to deal with broken tent poles and stove issues. In 2009 he stopped and ended his trip there.
Even if things are going fine, it will be a serious test of his resolve in sticking to the self-support credo. I have heard and read many times from Mike about how amazing Peter and Tracey's house is. Pete Basinger summed it up well in an email to me this morning:
"Their house is like your best childhood memory of home, warm cozy, lots of food, parents taking care of you. Pretty much what I think about during the whole race."
That's gotta be hard to pass up after over a week of being outside and in the cold. But let's hope we watch his SPOT dot keep moving right on past...