Extreme Cold Endurance Mountain Biking

February 28th, 2010

This afternoon 50 hardy endurance racers will be heading out into the Alaska wilderness for the Iditarod Trail Invitational. The majority of them are racing the first 350 miles of the Iditarod dog sled race course to finish at McGrath. 9 of them have the goal of going the full 1,100 miles to Nome.

The racers get to choose whether to do the race on bike, ski or foot. Nearly every year it is won by someone on a bike. This year there are 30 mountain bikers, 18 runners and 2 skiers. I’m not sure why so few skiers do it. Any ideas?

Those on bikes use snow bikes. Snow bikes are basically mountain bikes with more clearance for wide tires. Not only are wide tires used but the rims can be twice was wide as normal mountain bike rims. This gives a lot of tire volume allowing tire pressure to be around 5 psi and a large contact area to spread the weight over the snow.

The last couple years I’ve been keeping track of Jill Homer during the race but she’s not doing it this year. This year I’ll be most interested in how my friend Chris Plesko is doing. Of couse I’m also interested in the other racers too.

Chris and I did a moonlight hike of Pikes Peak a couple years ago in the winter. Ok, it started in moonlight and turned into a blizzard in the wee hours of the morning. Since then Chris has finished the brutal 2745 mile Tour Divide from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, NM. Not only did he finish it but he was on a single speed.

The Iditarod Invitational leaderboard is kept updated throughout the race along with some commentary on the blog. I imagine Jill will also be writing some about the Iditarod Invitational on her blog. It looks like Craig Medred plans to be tweeting updates on twitter.

Men’s 350 Mile Records

  • Peter Basinger – bike – 2007- 3 days 5 hours 40 minutes
  • Jim Jaeger -ski – 200 – 4 days 8 hours
  • Steve Reifenstuhl – foot – 2005 – 4 days 15 hours

Women’s 350 Records

  • Kathi Hirzinger-Merchant – bike – 2005 – 5 days 7 hours 48 min
  • Gail Koepf – ski – 2005 – 7 days 6 hours 18 min
  • Loreen Hewitt – foot – 2008- 7 days 14 hours 40 minutes

1100 Mile Records – Northern route (even numbered years)

  • Mike Curiak – bike – 2002 – 17 days 2 hours
  • Roberto Ghidoni – foot – 2002 – 22 days 6 hrs 6 min
  • Women’s Record Kathi Hirzinger-Merchant – bike – 2008 25 days 12 hours 58 minutes *** first female cyclist to Nome***

1100 Mile Records – Southern route (odd numbered years)

  • Carl Hutchings – bike – 2005 – 22 days 47 min
  • Tim Hewitt – foot – 2009 – 25 days 9 hours and 29 minutes

- UltraRob

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Congratulation to the Iditarod Trail Finishers

March 2nd, 2008


Photo from Iditarod Trail photo page

20 Iditarod Trail Invitational racers have made it to McGrath after 350 miles through the snow. For several this is their planned finish. Several others are heading on to Nome another 750 snowy miles away.

Jay Petervary won the leg to McGrath in 3 days, 14 hours and 20 minutes. He is now on his way to Nome. Most likely he’ll be passed by the sled dog teams that started yesterday. This summer while we were in Alaska, I talked to a musher and asked him if he had seen the mountain bikers when he was racing the Iditarod. He had and said they were a pretty strange sight.

Jill, who has on a record pace early on, began having trouble staying awake. She spent 17 hours at the Rohn checkpoint. The long stay was partly to dry out a boot that got wet from a bad decision. Most likely that bad decision was from lack of sleep.

She wrote in an update from the Nikolai checkpoint

I bivied again last night at Sullivan Creek when I kept literally falling asleep and falling off my bike. I woke up after three hours and set out to pack up, but it was so, so cold. Everything was frozen solid. My chemical warmers had turned to ice bricks and I couldn’t make them go. I crawled back into my bag and waited another couple hours before attempting again. Again, couldn’t quite handle the cold. I finally just decided to wait until daylight and stayed in my bag until 10 a.m., but didn’t sleep much.

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Iditarod Trail Invitational

February 26th, 2008

Jill Homer

The Iditarod Trail Invitational started on Sunday. It follows the Iditarod sled dog route. Racers choose whether to do it by bike, ski or foot. They also choose whether to go 350 miles to McGrath or 1,100 miles to Nome.

The weather has been good and the snow conditions have been good. Although the trail conditions have been good, there have been several reports of angry moose being on the course. It sounds as thought the leaders are now also running into softer snow.

The good trail conditions had people wondering if Pete Basinger could break his record from last year of 3 days 5 hours 40 minutes. Unfortunately, one of his pedals broke and he had to wait for a new one to be brought in by plane. Amazingly he caught back up to the leaders today. I raced with him at the 2004 Fireweed 400.

A couple weeks ago, I used my cycling and outdoor gear search to raise money for Jill Homer. She is having a great race and is on pace to break the women’s record. Her boyfriend, Geoff Roes was leading the foot division but a bad ankle has forced him to turn back.

Currently the leaders are near Rohn 210 miles into the race. It’s so remote that there aren’t many updates available.

Here are several links to track the race

Also Mike Curiak is again attempting to ride to Nome without using any of the checkpoints along the way. He won’t accept any kind of outside help. He’s carrying a transmitter that allows him to be tracked. Scott is posting regular updates on Mike’s blog.

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Helping Jill Do the Iditarod Trail Invitational Race

February 8th, 2008

2007 Susitna 100 Race

Courtesy of Jill

In a couple weeks, Jill from Juneau, Alaska will doing the Iditarod Trail Invitational Race. If you don’t read her blog, you really should. She’s an amazing writer and posts really great pictures.

The race starts Sunday, February 24th, 2008 and uses the course that the dog sled race uses a week later. Jill is doing the 350 mile division of the race that finishes at McGrath. There’s also a 1,100 mile division that goes all the way to Nome. Jill is doing it by bike but some are running or skiing it.

I know first hand that doing a race like this isn’t cheap. I wanted to do something to help Jill out. The traffic to my cycling and outdoor gear search has been steadily increasing. I started it to help me be able to afford to attempt the Race Across America again. I get paid a small commission when someone makes a purchase after clicking through from my site.

Monday and Tuesday of next week I’ll be donating all commissions to Jill’s race fund. If you’ve been considering buying some cycling or outdoor gear, now you can buy it and support an endurance athlete. You can also go to her blog and donate through PayPal.

If you have a blog or website, you can also help out by getting the word out about what I’m doing to help Jill.

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