beardsicle at the Skwentna
(Photo from Iditarod
Trail Invitational's Facebook gallery.)
The first three racers have reached McGrath in the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Not surprisingly, Pete Basinger won the 350-mile race for the fifth time.
He was dominant from the midpoint of the race, leaving several checkpoints hours ahead of his chasers. He finished in 3 days, 6 hours and 30 minutes, which was less than an hour off his course record.
You’d think that with a record like that, the Daily News could have found a more current photo of Pete for this morning’s edition, instead of publishing that old standby from his historic Dreadlock Period.
Jeff Oatley turned in a fast ride, and narrowed the gap enough to finish only 25 minutes behind Pete. But damn, how about that rookie who took third place?
OK, calling Greg Matyas a rookie is a little weird but, hey, he was a rookie in the ITI even if he has raced bikes for decades. Greg allegedly told people he’d be “touring,” but 3 days, 12 hours and 20 minutes is a damn fast tour, if you ask me.
I think Greg just scoped out his chances and then hauled ass to secure the top three spots for Fatbacks. Whatever his motivation, it was a hell of a ride for an old dude in his 40s. Congrats, Greg.
Speaking of age, here’s a little nugget that sometimes bounces around my brain this time of year when I’m impressed by Pete winning the Invitational:
Long-distance cyclists commonly peak in their 30s.
Pete is only 29.*
*The Daily News says he's 30, but I'm going with 29 based on the age he gave me during an interview a few years ago.