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Iditarod Bike Winner has Hefty Goals

Jay Petervary on the Iditarod Trail. Courtesy photo
Jay Petervary on the Iditarod Trail. Courtesy photo

Endurance cyclist Jay Petervary blew up the recent Iditarod Trail Invitational by breaking the previous 22-day record by completing the race in 17 days, six hours.

The annual event is limited to 50 racers who may choose a mode of travel (bike, ski, or hike) to race 350 miles to McGrath, Alaska or 1,100 miles to Nome.

“It was pretty epic for sure,” Petervary said. “It was the best year ever with favorable weather as well as good riding conditions.”

The 2011 event was the fifth year Petervary raced his snow bike in Alaska. Last year Petervary completed the 1,100 mile northern route of the Iditarod Trail with his wife Tracey, who also set the women’s course record this year and in 2010. Petervary is one of only 33 riders to ever complete the route to Nome by bike.

Petervary’s record ride didn’t come without a few mechanical issues, most notably with his pedals. Near mile 300, Petervary’s right pedal exploded, which forced him to ride on a narrow piece of metal until he reached McGrath — 50 miles away — to get a replacement. Then, Petervary broke another pedal 250 miles from the finish line after having to walk through icy trails.

“I had to hold my foot in the right position, but the bumpy trail made it difficult to keep my foot on,” Petervary said.

Other highlights for Petervary included sleeping next to the trail while the Iditarod dog sleds passed by and getting to experience a blow hole.

“Fifty-mile-an-hour wind that you just fight to get through to the other side – holy powerful. I had to lean into the wind at about a 30-degree angle the entire time, ” Petervary said of the blow hole section.

Petervary, meanwhile, continues on his No Idle Tour, a 7,000-mile effort to raise awareness about riding bikes more and driving less. Petervary said that in the U.S. alone, idling vehicles waste nearly 3.8 million gallons of gasoline each day while emitting 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. All funds raised through the No Idle Tour will support the Willie Neal Environmental Awareness Fund.

Neal, who was a standout Nordic ski racing star in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, died June 2009 when he was struck by a car while training in Maine.

Race Across America (RAAM) is Petervary’s next cycling challenge. The  June race will be Petervary’s first attempt at the 3,000-mile RAAM, which starts in Oceanside, California, and ends in Annapolis, Maryland. To qualify for this year’s RAAM, Petervary took first at the Adirondack 540 in 2009.

“Maybe people will see my win and record in Alaska and take what I’m doing a little more seriously,” said Petervary.

Petervary’s final race of the No Idle Tour will be the 2,745-mile Great Divide race from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the U.S./Mexican border. In August, Petervary will attack the Great Divide bike route solo and self-supported in hopes of accomplishing a personal best time. In 2007, during the Great Divide Race, Petervary set a course record of 15 days, 4 hours.

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