First off, I want to thank those that made this race possible for me, my wife Becky, my parents, and 9:ZERO:7 fatbikes. Becky understood when I had to leave for roughly 2 weeks while her and the kids suffered from pneumonia. My parents would watch my children everyday as Becky would go to work, tiring them out as well in the process. And lastly, 9:ZERO:7 makes the best damn fatbikes out there and made my trip a reality. If it was not for the help from these people I would have poured over pictures on the Internet like I have for many years instead of taking them myself. I was also riding gear that made the race easier including Wolftooth's GC 42 tooth cog on the cassette and the Cold Avenger mask for my asthma. I appreciate their support immensely.
I took all of these pictures. The far majority of pictures on the trail were taken while I was riding.
One word would sum up my feelings in the start area, surreal. I have dreamed about this race, studied it, drooled over it, and been scared crapless by it. And there I was, ready to ride/push 350 miles into remote Alaskan wilderness. The tough veterans were traveling the full 1,100 miles to Nome, though the 350 seems to get the most attention.
|Bill and I at the start. Bill is co owner of 9:ZERO:7 and a great guy that let me stay at his place.
|They had this stand at the start, the drive out was a decent distance, so hell yeah I had a reindeer sausage before the start.
|Official start line.
|And we're off.
|Only course rule is you need to check in at different points. The fastest way to CP #1 would be to hop on this gravel road for a bit.
|Then onto pavement. Where we were going though, you are not able to drive. Only fly or travel on the trail. We were quickly down to 8 or so riders on the front.
|We had groupies following us as we headed out. Jamie (other co-owner of 9:ZERO:7), Will (1st loser behind Ned Overend at the Fat Bike Nationals), and Dilly.
|I was told this was the "pipeline" trail. I only assumed there was an oil pipeline under us, just one of many firsts for myself.
|Coming across Flathorn lake, roughly 30 miles in. Made bikerumor.com's pic of the day.
|Hitting Yetna river it was down to Kevin Breitenbach, Tim Bernstom, Alec Petro, Todd McFadden, and Myself on the front.
|Leaving Yetna station after having some really good chicken noodle soup and being creeped out by the kid in a side room playing Nintendo 64.
|Leaving Yetna at 59 miles in I backed my pace down as my asthma flaired up. I would get into Skwentna after the other 4 at 90 miles and see Kevin casually sipping coffee with his feet up. I was confused at this point.
|I followed everyone's lead and set out my clothes to dry. Meanwhile I ate and put my legs up. 10 hours in and I was starting to feel it.
|We were in the middle of nowhere, watching piped in motocross. More confusion.
|They had a dog.
|Todd and I would leave together once again. He would soon leave me as I struggled to breath in the now hilly terrain. My asthma seemed to take 15-30 minutes to settle after each stop.
|Looking down part of the Happy River Steps. This was a big struggle just to push up as they were quite steep.
|I am not sure what lake this is, the pilots here called it Helicopter Lake as there was a downed helicopter there. I spoke with them a bit as one of their sons came over with the treasure he found in the wreckage.
|Looking back at Helicopter Lake.
|I don't think this was a normal tree.
|Puntilla lake, home of Rainy Pass lodge about 165 miles in.
|The cabin was used for hunting and quite old. I slept under Pumba.
|At roughly 3am Todd would wake us. We would fine dine on cans of soup heated over the stove before departing.
|The outside. Leaving the cabin my asthma suffered along with my butt as the skin was worn away. Both got better after 30 minutes, both would be problems after each checkpoint.
|The trip over the pass went more up then down, but this guy walked almost all of it. We would pass him, making sure he was alright.
|Damn you Todd, you said we would see the pass in the light! Eric and I would enjoy the top together as Todd had moved ahead.
|The downhill was awesome for the most part. Some flat, some sketchiness, some bushwacking, and lots of all out 2 wheel drifting downhill radness. There was lots of hooting and hollering from both of us.
|Eric in part of Dalzell Gorge.
|Just one of many stream crossings that would make me think.
|We came out onto this frozen river. Whole thing was glaze ice except where the trail had packed down snow.
|There were plenty of moose tracks, but no moose.
|There is a cabin, but it was being prepped for the dog sleds to come. We got a nice heated tent.
|Last year someone whipped out a satellite phone and updated Facebook. Seriously.
|Just crossing more glare ice. There was a reason almost everyone had studded tires this year.
|Looking down the steepest part of the Post River Glacier. It took me a long time as my studded boots were not working at all.
|I rode most of the rest.
|In the Farewell Burn, a million acre area decimated by fire years ago. This picture is looking back at what we had just gone through.
|Just one of many lakes we crossed.
|This was possibly the biggest lake we crossed after Flathorn. The trail was way off in the distance and I just followed the few tracks I could find all the way across.
|The rolling hills of the burn would give way to flat, straight, and snow.
|This is Bob going out to hunt Moose. He would tell me Francis was 2 miles up. Can you say motivation? At this point we were going into a headwind and lots of open area. It hurt some.
|I think this was "fish cabin" I could be wrong and someone will probably correct me in the comments.
|The finish, complete with bikes.
|The only way back is to fly or turn around and take the trail. Despite the tiny airline check in, we still had to check in 2 hours early. Funny.
|Eric, Todd, Francis, and I would eat at the Iditarod Trail Cafe where they have a autographed picture of Ron Jeremy and bacon cheese burgers for $18. Food is expensive when it all has to be flown in.
|The guy in the truck stopped and asked us if we "smoked marijuna." He assumed to do the raced we had to be stoned and proceed to tell us how he had been high for the last 20 years. I believed him. For the record, no I do not despite my face here.
|Eric got yelled at as he rode his bike because they assumed he was a terrorist.
From Anchorage we would go our separate ways. What an amazing trip with amazing people. I have never met a finer group of people at a race.