Sunday, March 08, 2015

2015 Iditarod Recap Part 2 of 3: I stand, Ben falls

Part 1 can be found here.

So, I left Winterlake Lodge with a bit of sleep just behind Lackey, about 45 minutes or so behind Andrew and Logar.  Kevin and Ben would leave soon after me.  Through the darkness and up and down the now quite hilly terrain I went, occasionally seeing a light behind me, but not often.  Down the Happy River steps and up the wall of a climb out of Happy River; pushing my bike up, braking, pulling myself up, repeat.  Kevin would catch me towards the top of the climb and we would speak for a bit before he would come by.


Those damn moose kept post holing the trail.  I only like to #ridegroomed cause that is what is cool now.


I am not sure, but you might be able to see Kevin way up there if you squint hard enough.


Looking to my right.


Such a cool section.
Last year Criag Medred made me famous by saying I "pussyfooted" an icy overflow.  This year it had much less ice and I rocked the heck out of it.


Puntilla Lake, approaching Rainy Pass Lodge on the other side.

I arrived into Rainy Pass Lodge not far from the rest of the clan, my rear end becoming progressively more painful.  Ever since the "sting of a thousand needles" I felt when applying chamois butt'r at the last stop my rear end had been getting worse.  Ben would roll in soon after I arrived, Jay a bit after him.  We had all hung our clothes to dry.  Well, almost all of us.  Andrew took off rather quickly to the surprise of the group.  We had heard the climb up Rainy Pass may not be in great shape, and as a rookie it seemed a little foolish to spearhead the charge through this section as it is easy to get lost of go the wrong way towards Hell's Gate.  I wanted to wait until Kevin and Lackey went out for that very reason.  

Ben is sooooooooo dreamy.  Not sure why, but he took one look at the deer and called dibs on this bed.
So I left after Andrew, Lackey, and Kevin.  I was set to leave with Jay, but a visit to the outhouse was in order.  Logar and Ben would still be at the cabin upon my departure.  This is where my race took a downward slide.  Most of the main climb up Rainy Pass is the type you need to be seated and power up.  My rear end was in a severe amount of pain, and initially I thought I could sit on it enough to numb it up like last year, but the pain was much worse and not subsiding at all.  So for most of the climb I would push while others rode; their ascension up the mountain was much faster than mine for this reason.

Heading out of Rainy Pass Lodge


This brush caught my pedal, stopped me dead cold in my tracks and I found myself swimming in a few feet of powder on the side of the trail (which is not easy to get out of).

Yeah, the view ain't too bad.


No one wanted to walk with me.


John Logar coming up to see me.  On the trail I thought he was being really nosey about my health, afterwards I found out he is an ER doctor.  Just another great guy on the trail thinking of others.

Ben Doom coming to say hi and then bye.


Lots of sketchiness on the trail this year.
The trail would soon level out a bit and the terrain a bit more rolly.  This allowed me to actually ride out of the seat, which besides pushing, was my only way to move forward at the moment.  I would catch back up to Ben, riding a good long ways with him.  Into and out of Rohn.  Well, I guess Ben wasn't always ON his bike.


DOOM GO BOOM!


What happened Ben?  Did you fall down again?


Look Ma, I am on top of the world!  Passed this sign without seeing it last year, but it was dark at the time.

Seriously Ben, this is getting old.


This icy corner was preceded by a really fast section,  sub consciously I think I was hoping to get Ben falling again.


The descent down this year wasn't nearly as fun.  The top was much slower where last year it was like a full on mountain bike enduro fest.  Once down into the gorge things got a bit more prickly as the crossings where harder to put in, leaving some bushwhacked trail and sketchy crossings.


Lots of this in Dalzell Gorge


Ben and I are coming back to do some ice climbing.

Pretty much all the ice including this river we rode on to get to Rohn after the gorge had obvious freshly frozen sections.  It was nerve racking as I was sure I would fall right through, pulling Ben in with me and then using his body to crawl on to get out of the water.
Ben and I would pull into Rohn about 6:30pm.  Jay and Lagor would be laying down trying to catch some sleep, Lackey and Kevin had already left, with Andrew having stopped for only 12 minutes and leaving with a brat in his hand.  He seemed unstoppable at that point.  Ben and I munched on the brats the volunteers brought in (which were awesome).  I would clean my back end with alcohol (OOOOOOUUUUCCCCHHHH!!!!!!) and apply Neosporin and we would soon lay down to rest.  I set my timer for 1 hour, planning on getting out of there and riding through the night.  I laid there, thinking about the fluid now in my lungs causing me to hack uncontrollably.  Also, the last 35 miles of only standing or pushing my bike had really worn on me (plus we were 200 miles in at this point).  Then my thoughts went to the fact we had close to 90 miles of terrain, much of it difficult, on the way to Nicolai and how I would probably need to stand for the entirety.  With that in mind, I said screw it, and turned off my timer.  I was dreading the effort that the next section would now require from me because when you are forced to stand, there really is no rest.  I could not sit for downhills.  I always had tension in my legs.

Ben and I would wake a bit before midnight, having tossed and turned with little actual sleep, to the sound of Jeff Oatley applying his squealing brakes.  Jay was getting ready to go, and I told Ben I was heading out which he took as he was heading out as well.  So at a bit past midnight, on our second night of little sleep and with 200 miles in our legs, Ben and I set off for the next 90 mile section into the wilderness that is "the burn", me out of the saddle once again.

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