After napping for a few hours, we got up and got going around 11 pm. We had some oatmeal for "breakfast" and another cinnamon roll before leaving the cozy cabin. On a funny side note: As we were preparing to leave, the phone rang. Cindy was outside helping another racer getting comfortable in the bunkhouse, so I answered the phone thinking it must be an emergency if someone was calling this late.... Oh no, it was just a friend calling to chat about Cindy and Allen's upcoming wedding the following Saturday. Allen was taking the snow machine to Willow "airport" to help his elderly relatives get on a bush-plane to fly out for the wedding. He then was turning around to drive the snow machine the 60 miles back- in horrible weather off course. They had planned on getting married on the frozen river, but with the storms and snow where going to have to change plans and get married inside. Surreal!!!! I hope they had a fabulous wedding!!!
Anyway, Eric and I got back on the bikes, happy to only have 12-14 miles to Skwentna. Part of the trail was ridable, but it was challenging with the "powdered sugar" snow and lots of tracks from walkers. My right leg was really starting to protest and I had to use my arms to lift it every time I got back on my bike. Eric's knee was also hurting from all the uneven walking... Sometimes the foot-steps in the snow were wide and sometimes it was like walking a tight rope and pushing your bike way out to the side!!
After a while I couldn't really put any pressure on my leg when getting started on the bike. Luckily, Eric is trained in high velocity, low amplitude SI joint mobilization (in addition to being a general contractor he is a great physical therapist :-) In the dark, I laid down on my stomach (since my camel bak was under several layers of clothing, and impossible to get off) in the snow and Eric popped my SI joint back in place by pulling on my leg. What a relief, I was able to walk and ride again!!!
We reached Skwentna roadhouse around 4 in the morning. After an enormous plate of biscuits and gravy we decided to sleep for a while before making up our minds on whether or not to continue on. After a few hours of sleep we got up and started chatting with Jeff, Heather, and Jay. The weather prognosis called for more snow and we found out it had taken Pete over 12 hours to get to Shell Lake, only 2o miles away. We were all tired of pushing our bikes though the snow and the thought of continuing to push for several days was not very appealing. We also knew that the further in to the race we got, the harder and more expensive it would be to fly out. Cindy at Skwentna called a bush-plane service but they weren't sure if there would be a window in the bad weather to come and get us. As we were having pancakes they called back and said they would be at the airstrip in 30 minutes. We quickly packed up our stuff and rode/walked to the airstrip!
Me and Jay in the back seat of the 4 seater plane
Packing up the bikes in the back of the plane
Not exactly the outcome we had hoped for, but it was still a memorable adventure, as always!! Congratulations to the 18 racers that did finish the Iditarod Invitational this year. Pete Bassinger won the race to McGrath for the 6th time, Anne ver Hoef won the women's division on foot, and Ausilia Vistarini was the only woman to finish on a bike this year!!! Geoff Roes (current record holder of the Western States 100) won the walking division!
Thanks Bill and Kathi Merchant for making this race possible and for all of your hard work before and during the event!! A big thank you to all of the volunteers, especially Cindy and Allen for opening up their home and taking care of all the racers!!!