Author: Ryan Petersen
As my employee and friend, Brek Boughton of Cycling Into the Dark, continues his 8000km journey from New Westminster to the Arctic and back, I’ve recently become fascinated with snow bike riding. In our bicycle shop we sell the Surly Pugsley, a fine piece of craftsmanship that I often pitch as a great choice for the Iditarod Invitation in Alaska. Well over the holidays I’ve been researching this bizarre adventure race and thought I’d share my findings…
Alaska Ultra Sport’s Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world’s longest human powered winter ultra-marathon. The race begins in Knik, Alaska and follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath, Alaska for the finish of the three hundred fifty mile “short race”. Racers competing in the eleven hundred mile version will continue up the trail to Nome, Alaska.
The only support provided to the racers is two snowmachines in front of the leaders as far as McGrath insuring a broken trail once and seven checkpoints where food and lodging are available. We supply three food drops along the route:
Fingerlake (mile 130) Rohn (mile 210) and in Cripple(even numbered years) or Iditarod ( odd numbered years) for the Nome racers. Between checkpoints racers have each other. Racers continuing to Nome are completely on their own except for one food drop provided by the race between McGrath and Ruby. They use village stores or send packages to the village post offices to re-supply with food and fuel for their stoves. Schools are often the only place to spend the night inside a building along the route to Nome.
There are no material prizes for winning or finishing these races and the personal rewards of finishing three hundred fifty or eleven hundred miles of the Iditarod Trail human powered can only be truly appreciated by those who have “been there and done that.” We believe there is something to be said for living life in its simplest form when all that really matters is eating, drinking and the ability to take the next step..
Carl Hutchings , 1100 mile winner 2005 on bike
“Riding the sea ice was what captured my imagination.”
Mike Curiak, 1100 mile record holder on bike
“For the challenge, the isolation and raw beauty that you get to experience. ”
Bill Merchant, 6 time finisher 350 mile
“We go into the Alaskan backcountry to look for cracks in ourselves. We go back a year later to see if we have done anything about them.”
Elliott McAllister, bike competitor 2005
“I think part of it is seeing everyone again. The friends you meet on the trail are friends for life.”
Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News
“Forget the Eco challenge, the X-Games, the Raid Gauloise and the rest. They pale in comparison to this race. Those races are merely dangerous, this one is potentially deadly.”
Allan Tilling, competitor on bike 2004
“I’m not sure if anything else exists that provides such a challenge and the opportunity to meet such a great bunch of people.”
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