Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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Continued from the previous page.

I caught up to Jim just beyond Tahneta Pass as he was riding down past the lakes in the valley:

My first crew stop was at a long paved turnout on Eureka Pass, which has great views of Nelchina Glacier in the Chugach Mountains to the south.

I walked the dogs back and forth while we waited for Jim to come, and took photos of the glacier and surrounding mountains:

Four cyclists ahead of Jim ride by on the Glenn Hwy. while I wait at the pull-off.

Above and below:  views of Nelchina Glacier

It was much easier to crew today with just the truck than it was a couple weeks ago during Jim's training ride because I was hauling our 36-foot 5th-wheel camper that day and my options for good pull-offs were much more limited.

Today I stopped eight times during the race to offer Jim fresh drinks and food. There were only three aid stations for his event. He bypassed two of them to save time. I saw Jim a few miles before and after the turnaround so he could blow through it, too. He did stop there to ask for potato chips but they didn't have any.

In retrospect Jim probably should have taken in more protein, fat, and salt during the ride. He relied mostly on Heed, Dr. Pepper, a Clif bar, an egg salad sandwich, and some strawberries. Afterwards he had some pizza in the race tent at the finish line at Sheep Mountain Lodge.


Above and below:  Pretty fireweeds and clouds at my second stop farther down the road


Here comes Jim again. It's a good thing he kept that lime green jacket
with him all day because he needed it for several rain showers later in the race.

The scenery is just gorgeous along this stretch of road.

I'm glad Jim was aware of it as he was riding. I made a few additional stops for photos. I got photos of glaciers and rain in the distance as it moved through the valleys to the south of the Glenn Hwy.

In addition to hunting places to wait for Jim that would be at reasonable distances apart and at tops of long grades or on flat stretches, I also looked for places where I could walk the dogs a little bit. One spot even had a little pool of water they could splash around in.


Above and below:  This stop was at the top of a hill as Jim was riding outbound.
Several other crews were using motorhomes during the race.


I used this spot to wait for Jim before and after the turnaround since he didn't use that aid station.
Casey's peaking out the window. She got all excited every time she saw Jim coming.

It rained between here and the turnaround while I was waiting at that spot;
I knew Jim had gotten wet before he came back this way on the return leg of the race.

While waiting for Jim to come back the second time, I walked the dogs on this little road.

It was fun to talk with some other crews and cheer the riders on who were in front of Jim.

During most of the race the order of riders within a few miles of Jim in the non-competitive 100-mile event stayed pretty consistent so I could tell approximately when Jim would be arriving.

This couple on a tandem bike was usually a few minutes ahead of Jim,
so when I saw them I knew he'd be coming along soon.

At the last two overlooks where I stopped to crew for Jim I talked to a man from Austin, TX who was crewing his son, Ben LeFevre, in the 400-miler.

Ben, who lives in Anchorage, finished the 400-mile solo event a few minutes after Jim came in. In the seven or eight times he's done this event he's DNF'd only twice. He was walking around the campground with no limp on Sunday morning. He's young. <grin>

There were some other crew vehicles behind our truck at Eureka Summit on the return.
Note the rain to the west, the direction Jim was heading.

Above and below:  More pictures of Nelchina Glacier that I took in the afternoon.

I took the next three pictures as I was driving toward Tahneta Pass, the last place I would crew for Jim today:

Gunsight Mountain

Above and below:  lake reflections and blue ridges

Jim's last major climb was up to Tahneta Pass, where the views of the mountains and lakes are phenomenal even on a rainy day:

The long and winding road up to the last pass in the race


Jim encountered more rain from the pass to the finish line but at least it was mostly downhill the last six-plus miles.

The coolest terrain feature in this section is the view of the unusually-shaped Lion's Head formation:


Jim saw only a couple other mountain bikes in the event and only one tandem bike. Everyone else had road bikes.

Jim mostly had fun. He wasn't nearly as tired or beat up as he was after the high-altitude, part off-road Leadville 100-miler two years ago. He finished the Fireweed Century in 8:10 hours at speeds ranging from 4-31 MPH over the mountainous terrain.

I took a few photos at the finish line:





Jim was happy to be done but not wiped out by the ride. He got some pizza and Coke at the finish tent, relaxed, and talked to some other riders who finished before and after him.

In retrospect Jim said he doesn't feel like he got his $80 worth because he could have done the same thing on the same course with me crewing for him. He didn't use the aid stations much (his choice) and didn't get a finisher's award in the recreational division. He did get a handsome blue cotton short-sleeved t-shirt, a nice blinking bike light, and a water bottle.

Jim doubts that he'll sign up for any more races this year. He's looking forward to doing one or more "epic" rides alone at Denali National Park and other places where we travel.

Next entryforest and glacier scenes from the trail at Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Area

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil