Snow cyclist Jill Homer reached the Nikolai checkpoint yesterday at 4:20 p.m. That puts her about 50 miles from McGrath, Alaska, the end of the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. Homer had set a blistering pace early in the race, fast enough to put her within reach of the women's course record.
Then she slowed down, way down, and the only news was that she hadn't slept to speak over the first few nights. Later, she was found in a bivvy sack napping beside the trail to Nikolai. You could practically hear everyone on the race's message board let out their breath when Homer posted an account at Nikolai. It's pasted in full after the jump.
From Jill Homer, as posted on the Iditarod Trail Invitational message board:
Sorry to everyone for the concern.
I am doing the best that I can. It probably seems that I have slowed way down but that has mostly been my way of dealing with the cold and being out here in Interior Alaska by myself, which is causing some anxiety and has made it hard to sleep even when I am stopped.
I took a hard fall at the Post River waterfall (the trail actually goes up a waterfall) and pulled my right hip flexor muscle. This has made it really painful to push my bike uphill, and my pace over the millions of small hills before the Farewell Burn was downright glacial ... take three laboring steps and stop, repeat. Luckily, it is pretty flat from here on out. Hopefully I can get through this without further injury.
Cold weather has been a struggle. I bivied just below Rainy Pass one night as I pushed my bike through the knee-deep snow for 45 miles. My thermometer bottomed out at 20 below. I bivied again last night at Sullivan Creek when I kept literally falling asleep and falling off my bike. I woke up after three hours and set out to pack up, but it was so, so cold. Everything was frozen solid. My chemical warmers had turned to ice bricks and I couldn't make them go. I crawled back into my bag and waited another couple hours before attempting again. Again, couldn't quite handle the cold. I finally just decided to wait until daylight and stayed in my bag until 10 a.m., but didn't sleep much. I woke up to a 35 mph headwind and single digit temperatures. Ground blizzards were out of this world. Again, glacial pace.
So that's my story. I am definitely a rookie out here, but I am learning tons, and having good times along with the bad. The Farewell Burn is surreal, and I can't believe I actually rode a bike out here. I didn't even realize until I read this message board that I was challenging Kathi for a record time. Believe me, that was never my goal. I am trying to finish. And survive. I am warm and full of moose stew, with 50 miles to McGrath that I should be able to complete in one push unless I have a problem. (And I do plan to keep moving, because I have no problem staying warm on the bike.) I am hoping to be finished by Saturday evening. Thanks to everyone, love to my family. I will report again soon.