Monday 28 February 2011


Following the race from home with no real news is so incredibly difficult. Finally at about lunch time today the leaderboard displayed that Shaggy had arrived in Yentna at 10.20pm and left heading to the second checkpoint at the Skwentna Roadhouse a couple of hours later. He's making good time - not in the first, fast group, but hopefully riding smart as there are many more miles to go.
It's impossible for me to guess what is going on in his head, whether he is finding things hard or taking things steady.
So it begins! The constant refreshing of the leaderboard, worry, excitement, jealously (more for the scenery than the race).
It's going to be difficult to concentrate on anything else for the next few days...
If I hear anything direct I'll post it, otherwise follow the race here.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Iditarod trail invitational.

Well in time honoured fashion my laptop died at the most inopportune time. Consequently here's an abridged version of what I've already typed once. Bus leave in 12hrs so need to sleep...
Tomorrow is my 31st birthday. This happens to coincide with the 10th annual ITI. Looks like, this year, there are 44 racers, 38 of them on bikes. It looks like Pete Basinger, the defending champ won't be racing. He lives in McGrath, where my race will finish. However the weather is too bad for him to get a flight out to the start! Mike Curiak is about. He's riding the 1100 miles to Nome and shooting a film at the same time. My bike and kit is stripped down as far as I dare. Not been able to eat much today as I've been really nervous. Just want to get going now! Right- bed time.

Monday 21 February 2011

Off again. At last.

My second ride on the Iditarod starts on Sunday, my Birthday. If I tell people what I’ve got planned, I get a, pretty much universal, response- Confusion, disbelief and perhaps questions about my sanity. Why do I want to travel half way around the world to race through ice and snow? It must be the prize money, right? No. The winner simply gets free entry for next year. So why then? I haven’t got a good answer. Hillary’s famous “because it’s there” adage doesn’t even really hold true- The Iditarod Trail isn’t a “thing” as such. It’s a constantly changing line that has been pretty much invented for racing. People will talk about the mushers, who in 1925 rushed to get vital Diphtheria serum to Nome, a truly impressive feat. The trail honours them, but it doesn’t follow the route those brave men used. The trail is in fact a marketing tool for Alaska. It’s a line on a map that doesn’t really correspond to anything on the ground. A line that was sketched out in the ’70s as an attempt to pull in tourists to Alaska. The dog race draws in a large number of tourists to the starts (for there are 2) and, I’m sure, the “Legend of the Iditarod” has helped romanticise the vision of Alaska. I find this pretty funny, yes, it’s “tricked” me in to visiting, but out there on the trail it’s a different story. It’s somewhere that you average tourist would never visit, and that’s part of the charm. The weather is brutal, but the scenery is amazing. The people are, without fail, characters. I think you have to be to live in rural Alaska. The racers are a lovely, unassuming, softly spoken, tough as nails bunch of people from all walks of life. Everyone is different, but with a certain common string. Perhaps we are all missing the same screw? The riding is tough. Why this is a positive, is the hardest element to explain. If you aren’t of the mindset of simply doing something because it is hard you may well never understand. It all adds up, and while I can’t really justify it, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

People have been asking about following my progress. Obviously communication is pretty limited while on the trail, but if Mel hears anything hopefully she can post it here. Spot Trackers are banned so there will be no satellite tracking. However there should be regular updates on the ITI website.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Drop bags finally sorted

ITI 2011 Drop bags

The ITI lets you have two drop bags. This is what I put in mine this year. The only thing I forgot when I took the picture is sachets of chamois cream, but they are in there now. I won't eat all the food but it's good to have a bunch of variety.

See the picture on Flickr, there are a few notes on the items that aren't too clear.