Taking advantage of ever better trail, Idaho fat-tired cyclist Jay Petervary looks on his way to a third victory in the Iditarod Trail Invitational.
He was closing on the McGrath finish line to the 350-mile race on Wednesday afternoon with rookie Neil Beltchenko, defending champ Tim Bernston, and challenger Clinton Hodges III now well back.
Stephanie Petruska messaged from the village of Nikolai that he looked “tired but good” when he arrived at the Petruska family home for breakfast. Petervary didn’t stay long before hitting the trail out.
He’d opened a lead on the pack overnight as the trail rolled across solid, snowmachine packed trail north of what was once the Farewell Burn.
Bill Merchant, the Invitational trail boss, described the trail from that area through Nikolai to McGrath as a highway. The Nikolai-McGrath stretch supports a regular stream of traffic between the two communities. Their snowmachines beat in a firm trail.
Merchant left Nikolai on a snowmachine just before Petervary arrived and said he could have done 100 mph to McGrath if he’d had a sled capable of that. He expected the fat-tired cyclist into McGrath by midday.
A GPS tracker on Petervary’s bike showed him rolling down the Nikolai-McGrath trail at 6 to 8 mph his fat bike.
“Those top guys make me feel like a little girl,” said Merchant, an aging and now-retired Iditarod Trail competitor.