As I rode up the valley to Rainy Pass I felt as if I were flying. I reached landmarks rapidly that in previous years took hours upon hours: "did I really just pass that hill that took 10 hrs to reach one year.... Wow I remember these willows were so deep with snow I just wanted to curl up in a bivy ball...". Unfortunately, after a few hours I started feeling nausea and my riding, although riding, was painful. I turned around and could see a light in the distance making some ground on me-- I think this was Jason or Brian. It kept me moving into the rainy approach but I was not feeling well here. I rode all the way to the "bobsled" gulley (as I call it) and then pushed up to the plateau and kept riding through the willows to the top of the pass-- I can''t remember the time exactly but accoring to my GPS above it took about 6 hours to the top (10-11am). On the other side I was running the bike down through the fluff and then saw a group of bikers up ahead. Excellent, I thought! As I caught up I saw it was the Curiak Gang, darn! We chatted a bit then saw Jason or Brian coming up and I took off. The trail turned bomber and I rode with glee at a break neck rate of speed. After a couple of spectacular crashes into snow I thought I needed to just let off the brake and let it roll. Eh, I think the glucose was absent from the brain because I happily thought the moose holes were an obstacle course. I rode into Rohn a bit recharged and greeted Rob. It's always a pleasure to see him and commended the Rohn group on spectacular ice bridges. Bill K and I were the only ones there, all the leaders already took off 3 hrs ago. I was somewhat bummed and ate food. I went through my drop 3/4 of which I left. Amazing, considering that last year I ran out on all my drops and spent over $200 in candy, alone, at the checkpoints.
As I was prepping for the long run to Nikolai, the Curiak Gang rolled in and Jason and Pete were also into Rohn. I packed up after due diligence in the outhouse- taking care of the worst most painful butt chafing rash I've ever had the pleasure to experience. It hurt so bad, it was only alleviated by IBu. Jasper gave me a token Rohn pin and I was off.
I wiped out huge on the ice last year and took the glare ice gingerly. Once in the buffalo tunnel trees I was not feeling good again. I stopped to fiddle with my crap-- a sign of ride procrastination that is a massive time waster. After a few miles of this I turned around and saw Pete motoring. I was surprised and also rejuvenated to see him. He looked strong and appeared to have the mojo back. We spoke a few words of encouragement and he was off!! Go Pete! This motivated me, I realized my tires were too low and I aired up rock solid. There we go, now I was riding but I was still sluggish and believe I bonked here....well till Nikolai.
I was cold, my feet were cold as the evening wore on and I had to run a bunch. I added my puffy coat. A bad sign of bonk-age because, while I know it was on the colder side of -20 ish from the farewell lakes till the Buffalo camp it shouldn't warrant all the clothes. I bombed down the hills, no brakes. Over and over-- it was fun but once I hit the flats after the last burn hill (other side of the buffalo camp) I was crashing. The moon was spectacular. I rode, crashed, slept, crashed, rode, crashed, stopped to procrastinate and then I was overtaken! It was Team Curiak. I was surprised but we chatted, or at least they said stuff and I was speaking Breek (Bonk Greek). They moved in front but I soon passed where they cruised into the BLM cabin. I was tempted but moved on.
I know know know this section is horrible and endless but I kind of like the place it takes me in the mind. I actually thought I was getting good at snoozing on my bike while riding and then waking up before I crashed. In reality I have no idea if that happened all I know is I was in a sleep deprived state where the law of diminishing return applies. I find I like it. I just keep moving.... the wind is blowing a bit through the tree sections as the trees thin out.... and then... I see a really nice welcoming group of trees. I swear it calls out to me... before I know what I am doing I place a pile of pine boughs at the base of a tree, stomp off a small spot and sit down back against the tree. I try to snooze, my snoring wakes me and the wind found its way into my back. It is bone chilling. Time to go. 10 minutes of snooze and 40 minutes wasted will have to do.
I kept riding. Then comes the aspen tree sections, followed by the swamps and the swamps and the hunting cabin and then more swamps and then the tree islands.... on and on. A little bit of wind, I put my goggles on. I just ride. The goggles and puffy coat make me feel like I am looking out of the window in a house at the weather. Insulated. Poof!! What happened?? I was face down in a powder hole that was bottomless, bike on top, boots clipped in.... um I couldn't move. I started losing it and laughing-- exactly like this guy . I couldn't get out. Finally after a very comical 20 minutes or what seemed like 20 minutes I swam to the trail and laid there looking at the awesome stars. The wind blowing snow over me. Ahhh just to lay there. No wonder I lost 4 hours on this section.
I rallied and mounted my bike. IBu wearing off and I lost my thermos. Dang. It was my wife's thermos and I spent time digging in the powder. I lost her nice leatherman in 2008 race so I know I was going to get a talking to. Couldn't find it. Moved on.
The endless swamps finally plopped onto a river then the Nikolai road and on to the checkpoint at 7am! The house was empty-- leaders left from 1:45am to 3:45 am. I was already 3-5 hrs behind. I had to sleep. I ate (the petruska's checkpoint was awesome!) and lay down and was out- my alarm after 20 min went off then it was 40 min. I got up, dressed and was out the door by 9am. I knew it was too late to catch anyone so it was just me and the trail. Get there as fast as I can.