Pugsley and I had a happy reunion at Speedway Cycles yesterday. He is in the best shape of his life ... a new freehub, fully winterized, a single speed hub and cog on the front wheel in case I have any trouble with the rear drivetrain, new crank, new cassette, new brake pads, new chain, new computer mount, all lovingly put together and adjusted by the great mechanics at Speedway. We went out for an eight-mile ride on the precariously icy bike paths of Anchorage. Everything felt amazing. I can only hope I'm in as good of shape for this ride after my long rest. I feel pretty good. I'm so nervous now that my hands shake a little when I think too much about it, but I am excited. The weather forecast looks promising to say the least. If the weather holds up even close to what they're predicting for the next week, the race to McGrath could see some of the most comfortable conditions it's had in years (a little cold along the Kuskokwim, but it nearly always is.) Trail conditions are a different story, but even the potential shape of the trail is holding a lot of measured optimism from the people who know what they're talking about. This may even be easy. Just kidding. It won't be even close to easy.

We were able to meet many of the racers at a party at Speedway Cycles last night and an official race meeting this afternoon. It was a lot of fun to put faces to names. There is one man from Japan who speaks very little English, knows nobody in Alaska, and just showed up to run the 350 miles to McGrath. A really cool guy. He smiled more than anyone else I've met this weekend. He never stopped smiling. We kept trying to tell him how brave he is, but he didn't understand brave.

I have most of my gear set up and am nearly ready. We're burning a little time at a coffee shop because the woman whose house we are staying at is throwing a Vietnamese New Year party tonight and is currently in the process of trying to make 1,000 pork dumplings. (Literally : One Thousand). She put Geoff to work building a big barbecue and chopping cabbage as I mounted my front rack and sorted my gear. The place is in chaos right now and we're just a little hesitant of the rager that awaits us when we return. Luckily, we will be able to carbo load on dumplings before heading up to the relative quiet of Palmer tonight to try to sleep before the race. Everything starts at 2 p.m. Sunday.

I'm hoping for time to type up final thoughts before the race start, but in case I don't, here are a few more race links:

Iditarod Trail Invitational message board
Wasilla weather forecast
Skwentna weather forecast
Puntilla Lake weather forecast
Nikolai weather forecast
McGrath weather forecast


  1. vw Dave5:27 PM

    Jill ~ Thanks for the last minute posting. Your dedication to your blog (and all who follow it) never ceases to amaze me. As I've said in the past, you spoil us!

    Thanks, too, for letting us come along for the ride of your life. It's really a treat.

    Best of luck out there to the both of you. I know you're going to do well. You are ready. Geoff is ready. Enjoy~

  2. Dave said that perfectly- you do spoil us! It's really appriciated and I am excited along with you. I grew up on the Yetna and the Deshka, right around the bend from the Yetna Station- it is beautiful and hopefully the trail is in good shape. Your SO ready! Geoff is So ready!Have fun and enjoy! You guys ROCK!!!

  3. I'm wishing you and Geoff the best of luck but you two have put in so much work and have displayed such great generousity in sharing your preparations and adventures that I know you have all that you need to deal with whatever hand fate chooses to deal you. Have a great adventure.


  4. If you don't win you are a failure.

    Just kidding. Rock it hard next week. I'll be following along.

  5. You are going to Rock It! Stay safe (& warm) and Best of Luck to you & Geoff!

  6. god damn, girl, good luck!

  7. Go Jill! and also all the other amazing people who are doing this race either by foot, bike or sled. Good luck to you all. I think the word for "brave" in Japanese is pronounced i-sa-ma-shi.

  8. Anonymous2:07 AM

    Good luck with the race! Can't wait to read your reports! Have a blast!

  9. I know you're going to do well! Best of luck to you and Pugsley. Oh, yes, and Geoff, too.

  10. Anonymous3:46 AM

    A little constructive insanity never hurt anyone, you go girl!!! It's not every morning a girl gets up and takes on 350 miles of the Alaskan wilderness. God bless you and keep you.

  11. I looked at your blog today not expecting to see anything new and was pleasantly surprised. Your loyal following most definitely appreciates it.

    Good luck. I'll be following along with the race links. You are amazing and I'm sure you'll be successful out there.

  12. Good luck out there!! Ride well Jill and best wishes to the entire field of racers. I'll be on the edge of my seat checking for updates.

  13. Micheline7:05 AM

    Good Luck Jill! I too was surprised and happy to see a new posting.....dedication...and that's what will allow you to have a great ride over the next 10 days. Wishing you, Geoff and the other racers all the best.

  14. Happy trails! Have fun - good luck!

  15. DrCodfish10:07 AM

    I've been folloing the Tour of California. Some of the riders complained after stage 4. It had been rainy and chill; they'd had a lot of climbing and had to ride nearly 7 hours! Over 200K!! Some said it was the hardest day of riding they ever had.

    I thought of you: Pro's suffer in rainy, 50 degree weather when they have to ride for 7 hours, I hope that inspires you.

    Remember that success is often no more than continuing on after others have given up. you've got that in you.

    Yr Pal, DrCodfish

  16. Good luck! As you know, the temps in the Valley have been quite warm but the temps dropped back down and things froze up overnight. I glad for that. You go, girl!

  17. You are officially my hero. Good luck, Jill!

    Here's a bumper sticker I saw today that made me think of you: "My best vacation is your worst nightmare."

  18. Anonymous2:35 PM


    Great luck to you out there. Be safe but most importantly have fun! It is about having fun!
    All the best,

    Pat Rodden

  19. Best of luck! I'll be following your progress, as will tons of other people ... I can't wait to hear what happens.

  20. Good luck Jill! You're an inspiration. I've been reading your blog for a while now. I think I googled "bladder or bottle" so something silly to find out about Susitna and there you were. And now I'm hooked, reading the adventures of Pugsley. Glad you got him back!

    Sending you warm thoughts from Washington!

  21. Anonymous9:12 PM

    I just posted, on my homepage, a picture of Jill at the start of the race Sunday.

  22. Some pics of Jill and Geoff here:

    you may need to become a member to see photos - but is worth it

  23. I'm probably just misunderstanding something, but how does the singlespeed hub on the front wheel help? If you have to move the front wheel to to the back, what do you do for a front wheel? It's probably just my cold(virus, not temp)-induced dizziness right now...

    Anyhoo, good luck out there! I'll be following along to see how both you and Geoff are doing.

  24. Holy crap - just checked race updates and you are already kicking some bootie! I do not think anyone who follows your blog finds that difficult to believe. Keep on rockin it!!

  25. According to the latest news...
    Jill - first woman to hit checkpoint 1, on course to possibly break record to McGrath!
    Geoff - first runner to checkpoint 1.
    This is so exciting!!!

  26. You are riding a mighty fine race, Jill. Thinking about you often and cheering loudly (can you hear me from Seattle? :)).

  27. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Jill, however this plays out for you...YOU ROCK! Have a really amazing time out there.

    -Cross racer

  28. Anonymous1:37 PM

    Fellow Readers -- I live near the start of the Iditarod Trail so I got to leave the blogsphere and go watch Jill and Geoff start the race. It was a perfect day, so warm I forgot to even bring a pair of gloves! It was very exciting to see them go! My admiration swelled. You would have enjoyed what I saw (but couldn't catch with my camera) -- especially Jill's determined pedaling out across the ice of Knik Lake, pulling away. Those two are amazing. JGP

  29. Jill, you are amazing. Looks like good weather today. Saw the update at 9:15 so I am now slightly less sick to my stomach. Will you hurry uop and finish so I can relax?

    Best, best thoughts your way!

    Craig in Seattle

  30. Anonymous2:58 PM

    All of us that follow your blog are rooting for you. Get rested and get to McGrath! You are an inspiration to me and many others. Can't wait for word you are safe and finished.


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