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  1. #1
    Bill M
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    Nome Sweet Nome

    I guess most of you have had enough of this year's race but had to post a short summary of a great ride/push/carry. After the best trails and weather I have seen in my 10 years on the trail and 8 hours of sleep every night Kathi and I arrived in McGrath feeling more rested than we had in Knik at the starting line. The one story that does stick in my mind on that stretch is when Kathi, Rok and I arived at the Post river glacier. It is a very gentle grade but quite slick. The rock next to the trail is very crumbly so while Rok and I were slipsliding up the ice Kathi just grabbed a couple of hands full of the loose rock, scattered them on the ice and walked across with no problems. Them girls---- always looking for an easier way! From McGrath to Ophir was mostly riding but on to Ruby we took our bikes for a long walk. The Iditarod Trail breakers caught us just before Cripple and soon the walking was better but riding mostly out of the question. Anytime we began feeling sorry for ourselves we only had to look at the tracks left by the leaders as they pushed through unbroken fresh snow with no trail. It made our walk seem pleasant by comparison. After hearing it took the leaders 32 hours from Ruby to Galena (52 miles) we took a long break in Ruby to give the trail time to set up a bit. We cruised to Galena then were on and off the bikes until we got off the Yukon in Kaltag. The trip over the Portage to Unalakleet was beautiful and we rode probably 75 percent of the 90 miles. The Blueberry Hills between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik were great riding on a blue bird day. Then------------ we dropped out of the hills and into the wind that was to be our constant companion for the next 6 days. We began calling the 25 to 35 mph winds our normal little breeze after the real windstorms and blowholes we experienced almost daily. With 50 foot visibility on Norton Sound and not being able to see from one trail marker to the next we did the unthinkable and bivied for 7 hours on the sea ice. We woke up drifted under and warm with the visibility good enough to get on to Koyuk. From Koyuk to Elim we pushed our bikes over some of the most amazing sastrugi I have ever seen. With temps between -15 to -30 and wind that at times threatened to take our bikes out of our hands we had to cover every speck of skin. At times there could be no eating or drinking and the only option to keep moving. As we reached the bottom of "Little McKinley" just before Golovin Bay the wind dropped momentarily as the sun came up. We were pulling off balaclavas, opening our windshells and commenting on what a beautiful morning it was. Kathi looked down at her fun meter and it was -30 F. Goes to show everything is relative out there. After breakfast of pancakes, hot cereal and black muktuk with a local family in Golovin we rode across the last stretch of sea ice and into White Mountain. Hosted by a teacher and his family we fueled up on Caribou roast and dried Bearded Seal dipped in Seal oil. The last 77 miles to Nome took us over the Topkok hills in our faithful 25 to 35 mph breeze. At the bottom of the descent from the hills is a shelter cabin where we stopped to eat and make water for the final 40 miles into Nome. Just as we opened the door to leave a snowmachiner setting trail for the All Alaska Sweepstakes dog race stopped by. He said he had been nearly blown out to sea in the Solomon blowhole and that we shouldn't leave the cabin. We could see a solid wall of white a short distance down the trail and decided to take his advice. Sitting in the cabin reading short accounts(written on the walls) of folks stuck here for 3 or 4 days at the time we waited for the wind to drop a bit. After 3 hours the winds slowed and I could see the white curtain had dropped. We quickly headed out hoping for a couple of hours to make it safely through the blowhole. Not to Be. The white curtain rose back up in front of us. Before we entered the swirling ground blizzard I half joked with Kathi about she wouldn't be the first female cyclist to Nome if she lost her bike 40 miles from the finish. We found if we leaned the bikes over at a 45 degree angle with the saddles against our hips they worked a bit like a spoiler and didn't try to sweep us out to sea in the cross winds. After 5 miles the winds dropped back to our friendly 35 mph breeze just as suddenly as it came up as we put the blowhole behind us. On and off the bikes the rest of the way into Nome we arrived at 2:58 am just 58 minutes too late to have that beer that I wanted sooooooo badly. We checked into the Nome Nugget, had one last dehydrated meal and took a nap. The story would not be complete with out mentioning the get together at Phil Hofstetter's house with a group of his friends who played music and gave us a warm Nome welcome. We are back in Chikaloon now looking forward to the rest and relaxation of cutting and splitting next winters firewood.
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  2. #2
    is buachail foighneach me
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    hehehehehehehehh...... topkok....


    great story and photos bill! we were with you guys the whole way in spirit.

  3. #3

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    the last picture looks kind of like AK Bubba

  4. #4
    Caveman
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    Bill and Kathi - Real Alaskans folks, when they arent biking to Nome they chop wood.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the photos, they are fabulous, more please! I can't wait to go!

  6. #6
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    Speaking as a competitor/participator of this race you always imagine on the trail that others are having an easier trail then that of yourself.Pushing hundreds of miles days ahead of the iditarod trail breakers i imagined you guys riding a trail days later we didnt have.Its almost comforting to read you pushed also.When reports came through of your Yukon progress it was gutting to think we struggled so much and you guys had something to ride.Its hard to be amongst 3 racers and make the call to stop and wait 2 days.No way was anyone of us going to propose that,what a whole bunch of sense that would of made.Its hard to describe the dynamics with our group of 4 ive labelled the Ruby 4.In Ruby Rocky paid off the post master to open the post office at 10 in the evening allowing Jay and himself to hit the trail at 7 am i guess the following morning whilst Pete B and myself had to wait till 9am to access out drop packs.I had to laugh as it reminded me of the cartoon "wacky races",Rocky and Jay were Dastardly and Muttley.During the 4 odd days of pushing and making camp Pete B was firemaker and along with Jay was first up being productive.I felt like i was in the company of trail guides who made my fire and set up camp.I sat and watched the fire one night and it was in need of stoking and i just sat there looking at it,i was so tired i couldnt bare to move anymore.A nice quote from Rocky one night in camp in reply to something Pete must of said that i missed was "If im still alive when you get to my age then come tell me how you feel".Pete broke most of that Yukon trail all by himself.I couldnt keep up with him even pushing in his tracks.

    I think it was Elim when i learnt some bad weather was brewing on the coast.The weather in white mountain was so tranquil it was hard to imagine that the wind could blow.I was so happy to arrive ahead of what you experienced but theres something that says alot about us that travel that trail.....i wish i had a blow hole.I almost feel short changed.I dont plan to write a story i just wanted to share a few reflections after reading your post.I hope you took advantage of the 20% senior discount in the stores along the way Bill.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    In Ruby Rocky paid off the post master to open the post office at 10 in the evening allowing Jay and himself to hit the trail at 7 am i guess the following morning whilst Pete B and myself had to wait till 9am to access out drop packs.I had to laugh as it reminded me of the cartoon "wacky races",Rocky and Jay were Dastardly and Muttley.
    I have to laugh too.

    If I have the choice can I be Dasterdly, he was more the leader and not the follower.

    When will people learn they should not assume. Who paid who? None of us.

    People should research there avenues. When I got to Ruby I called my race director and he said " do you need the post masters #, she said she would get you your drops anytime"
    I only immediately followed through to get my drop at no additional exspense at 10pm.

    This is the second time I've been dubbed on doing something I actually did'nt do during an endurance event and the person likes to advertise it. Remember the wierd story about me blowing by the lady during the construction zone during the GDR, not, only I know what happened and I always feel good about what I do. I like to be a smarter racer.
    Sorry for the venting but people should get there stories straight before assuming and spreading rumors.

    Bill, this is your thread and thanks for the post and pics good on ya and Katie. Congrats!

    The time I had was incredible and you can count on me coming back year after year.

    I hope to bump into my winter friends sometime in the summer. Enjoy all, all the time.
    Jay

  8. #8
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    That wasnt meant to be a slur on anybody.It was something i was told had happened and i had no reason to believe otherwise.For the record i phoned the post master and she assured me that the first opportunity we would have to collect our drops was 9am in the morning after she dropped her kids at school.Bills race for me is like the wacky races and i dont think this type of thing happens often enough .Bill hates rules,so do i.I did genuinely think it was a cool thing.
    Again no offence meant to either Rocky or Jay P.

    Carl

  9. #9
    Fatback
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    best thread of the season

    Congrats to all who finished, and also to those who attempted the Ultra this year. Great stories. Bill and Kathi, you are one of a kind. Love your perspective Carl. I also like the crafty racing by Jay. Looking forward to seeing all of you next year, but as Jay said, maybe in the summer? Soggy Bottom maybe?
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  10. #10
    Bill M
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    My Own Blowhole

    Carl expressed how many of us feel out there on the trail. If someone gets their butt kicked out there by some temper tantrum of nature you sometimes feel relief not to be caught in it but at the same time a bit jealous you missed that experience. I wouldn't trade our coastal storms experience for a new Moots titanium wheel chair.
    On the Ruby Post Office------- Tim Hewitt, and Kathi and I had our PO packages magically sitting in front of the Community center at 1:30 AM only to hear later that a snowmachiner had come in and said we would be coming in late that night. You just never know and I like it too!!!!
    Here's a few more pics:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
    Mr.Secret
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    WOW !! I haven't been here in a while but what fantastic pics and story. Thanks Bill and Kathy, I'll be seeing you soon...
    ...think we'll ever get outta' this world alive ?...

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