ITI 2012, Fingerlake to Nikolai

This video is going backwards a bit but my friend Mike shot this at the start poking a little fun at me. And below are a few shots I borrowed from Tim Bernston that I thought were neat. 

Filling up water bottles (photo by Tim)

A common theme, us pushing and getting passed by walkers (photo by Tim)

Fingerlake to Nikolai

Be warned I'm going to talk crap on this one. A lot of crap. 

I had to get some sleep in Fingerlake and thought when I woke Pete would be long gone.  The checkpoint was really busy and someone did shake me awake at one point because I was snoring too loud.  That didn't really faze me, poor souls.  I was surprised Pete was still there after 4 hrs of solid sleep.  We ended up leaving together around 5 am.  I don't know how anyone can ride hard at 5am but Pete took off.  I lagged a bit and (seeing his track) was in awe at the steep hills he was cleaning.  I finally got a little mojo going and knew I was going to catch him, um... not by riding but I knew he was going to take a crap soon.  Yep, that's how I could keep up, the secrets out, I am a faster crapper than Pete.  Sure enough... after going potty (as it's called in our house) we rode together and were really moving. It was fantastic.  Aired up tires steep hills and we started passing walkers. Life was good.

The best part of the day, maybe even the whole race, was rounding a sharp bend and catching a walker in full spiderman mask (he shall remain nameless but he did wear a ski mask) scream  a little bit b/c we caught him with his pants down, yep you guessed it, crapping.   That was some funny s$*%t !!

It took about 9 hrs to Puntilla, there was quite a bit of pushing the last 5 miles in to the checkpoint. In Puntilla was where I started noticing Pavel. He arrived about 1-2 hrs behind us and has been doing that regularly, keeping pace.  In Puntilla I slept about an hour and Pete and I left together around 4:30pm to go over the pass. Surprisingly we could ride portions to the pass entrance, it was technical & slow with the hard packed sastrugi but it was very similar to Nome's riding.  Eventually we had to walk up the pass and right at the start of going up I bonked... hard.  I felt sleepy drunk and could barely keep moving.  It was a slugfest.  We rested at the cabin up top for 45 minutes but only got colder.  We kept moving, topped over and started the descent.  I was struggling here at 1-2 am. Images of 2009 came to mind but all of a sudden the trail turned hard packed.  It was the best trail I've seen in a while.  I was magically wide awake.  The headlamps turned on high and we rode like mountain bikers almost all the way to Rohn.  It was fast and awesome. We passed Tim Hewitt in a bivy 6 miles outside of Rohn but no sign of Geoff. Once we popped out onto the Kuskokwim the ice was blue/green and slick. This is where Pete fell asleep riding and the bike slid out.  I mentioned this in a previous post but the crash was spectacular.

It took about 12.5 hrs to get to Rohn, that's on the fast side for biking.  Usually there is much more pushing.  Geoff, the leader of the race and in the foot division was in Rohn since midnight. He also took 12hrs over the pass, that is impressive.  We arrived around 5am.  I slept about 2 hrs and got my stuff together.  Pete was already off and I left about 20 minutes later. It was cooling off, probably around -20.  The first 2 miles on the ice I slid out and slammed my hip pretty good. Once I cleared the ice the trail went back in the woods and for the next 20 miles was very fast.  I passed Geoff in a bivy a few miles out of Rohn so Pete was in the lead.  For the first time I felt like it was race on.  It wasn't till about 1pm I encountered Pete again and soon after the hard packed trail went south (not literally) right at the burn.   Riding was possible but barely, almost fully aired out. It was another grunt to get passed the Buffalo camp. No one other than Bill was through here with a snow machine.  We pushed / rode sort of to the BLM Bear Creek cabin turn off around 10 at night.  I would never think of going off trail a mile to hit up a cabin but the section to Nickolai is deceptively long especially in these conditions.  We ended up drying out in the cabin and sleeping a few hours. About an hour or so later Pavel arrived at the cabin too.  We left Pavel sleeping at 2am and continued on to Nikolai, both riding and pushing through junky snow.  Finally, at around 5pm we rolled into Nikolai plowing through soft snow the last 5 miles. Pavel arrived 20 minutes later.