Third-time charm?


Anchorage’s Clinton Hodges III on the fast trail into Nikolai/Craig Medred photo

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.


4 replies »

  1. I wonder if we should be concerned that it kind of looks like Jay is off course…a few miles south of the trackleaders ‘marked’ course that more closely follows the river. I guess we’ll see if Neil follows him that direction. I know maybe the trackleaders line might not necessarily be ‘the’ course, but still…

    • I guess as long as he’s going 5mph in the right direction, it doesn’t really matter…

      • Huh, looks like Neil is taking the river route, while Jay came across a road to McGrath…almost like Jay knows where he’s going 🙂

      • FYI, last year I did see more than a couple of riders last year on the tracker turn the wrong way and go up the road/trail to the Poorman landing strip instead of crossing the creek. It’ll be interesting to see if that happens again this year.

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