Thursday, February 28, 2008

2008 Leadville Loppet Race report

You know, I am not the only one that raced. Just sayin... As your punishment, I will not truncate my report at all. Hah!

Anyway, here is the (apparently) long awaited leadville loppet Race report.
On Friday morning Paul and I drove up to the thin air of Leadville for the Loppet.

After a smooth drive and delicious coffee and sammiches at Bongo Billys in Buena Vista, we arrived in Leadville. We first stopped at the course at the Colorado Mountain College. We skated for about an hour through the soft yet pliable trail system and then up the well groomed mineral belt trail. Conditions: great! The sun was out, it was just above freezing. The air, she was clear and the trade winds were blowing.

Me up there on the mineral belt trail

We skated up and down and took pics and enjoyed the crazy downhill on the mineral belt trail followed by the step turn happy woods, a harbinger of things yet to come.

Me and then that Paul guy up at the Leadville overlook

Afterwards we checked into the residually smoky super eight motel just across from the mountain college, got some grub at the Tennessee Pass cafe, and then headed back to the race site to pick up the numbers race numbers.

Also at the hotel were the sled dog teams.

We turned in early and then had what probably should have been a predictably crappy nights sleep at 10,152 feet altitude. Clay and Dina perfidiously stayed in Buena Vista at a more oxygenated 8000ish feet. Fiendishly clever they.

Got up at 7 ish and headed into town for some breakfast at the exquisitely signed Golden Burro cafe. Our lovely moppet of a waitress used her well honed urchin charm to steal Paul's heart. Not me though, she looked like she had done some hard time in juvie and I was wary of getting shanked with a rusty butterknife, but we got our breakfast without incident. I should have ordered the miner's platter. The pancake platter was lacking promised hashbrowns. After breakfast I supplemented the watery burro coffee with a cuppa from the newly opened and quite excellent Proving Ground Cafe. Well caffeinated at last, we departed for the race site.

Best neon sign in leadville, an ominous harbinger of breakfasts to come

Got to the race and strapped on the gear and did the warm up skate about. I was in the 22k skate, Paul, Dina, Clay and Denny all in the 22k classic, Ken and Jessica in the 45k classic and John in the 44k skate. I think that makes 8 club members total all bespeckled with official club gear. Go team!

Your humblest scribe in full on prerace dork mode!

The 44k skate/classic started off at 10am. I skated over to watch and noticed that the old mountain guy standing next to me was holding a big ass rifle. It took me a while to figure out that he was the official starter. I backed off a safe distance away and watched the field set off. John B got an excellent start.

I warmed up a bit and discarded excess layers as the morning was relatively warm and got on the starting line. The race is an out and back, so there is some overlap where we will be skiing back on the racers behind us. I am a bit nervous about this as the return skiers will be heading down hill and the outbound skiers will be going up. I sense trouble. After extensive instruction that Paul missed completely our race started. The race was a combined start for the classic and skate skiers. Deviously, I lined up way on the left behind a couple of women I knew to be very fast skate skiers. I figured that I could skate around all the classic skiers who were stuck in their multiple sets of classic tracks and get a good start ahead of the crowds in the sketchy beginning of the race.

Nope. Mountain man fires the thirty/thirty rifle into the air and in the nanosecond it takes me to get across the start line, I realize half the classic field is up the road and ahead of me. Hot damn. I skate like mad trying to make up some ground and make a bit of progress before the course necks down into a series of downhills of ascending severity. The first two are OK, but I am stuck in the bunch losing ground to the fast people pretty quickly. Then there is a steep downhill with a sharp left turn. As we are in the midst of the hill, I note there are two skiers way off the course neck deep in snow trying to dig out as they completely missed the turn. I start snowplowing hard and manage to make it around the turn without crashing or swinging wide and taking out everyone around me.

We hit the first uphill and I start passing people. The trail is not wide. Classickers on the right in the tracks, skaters on the left and the passing lane seems to be a double pole sprint betwixt. I try it and quickly get maxed out, but I get by a bunch of slower skaters and classickers. The trail goes through some undulations before we hit the lower portion of the mineral belt trail. The Mineral Belt Trail is a nice multiuse paved bike path laid over the grades of a number of old mining railroads. In the winter it is snow covered and well groomed. As it is a rail grade it offers a slow steady climb, but it is one of those sneaky old rail grades that is pretty steep in places.

As we get into the steady climb I feel I am among my racing peers. There are a number of classic and skate skiers ahead of me. I note that the classic skiers, including clay up in the distance are kick-poling up the grade. The skaters around me are V2'ing. I try this and quickly hit my limit. I go back to a managable V1 and get into a groove. Things seem to be going well, or so I tell myself, until I try to pole to the right and do that amusing plant-the-pole-on-the-inside-of-the-ski-and-faceplant-hard thing that the girls find so cute. As I dig myself out of the crater I have created (crated?), a train of four skaters zoom by me. I get back up and my heart rate is pegged. The front of the race is out of sight up the road and I get my rhythm back. I note that the pesky little skaters ahead of me are still V2ing up the grade. Damn them and their little 150 lb bodies. I plow onward keeping them in sight.

John B with an excellent 44k skate

At some point which I can't remember, we get into the woods and do an insanely fast downhill section through tight twisty little turns, all alike. I manage to use my superior gravitational attraction to the earth and catch back on to the train. Two fellows fall off the pace and I follow a woman in pink who can descend like a demon. This part of the course is really quick. There is barely a chance for V2 alternate mostly just skating and step turning and powering out of turns. Whee. Anyone still reading? Uh oh, maybe another picture.

Clay pacing Dina toward the end of her 22k classic race

At some point the fun ends and we go up. And up and up, and then rolling hills with sharp downhills and sharp up hills. I am losing my focus. My group of skaters have left me behind a bit. But then, salvation, a 10k sign, that means I have 12k to go and only 1k to the turn around. Or so I thought...

We hit the mineral belt trail again and climb a steady grade for a bit, and then awhile, and then longer. I sort of catch up to the woman in pink and off in the distance, but getting a bit closer I see Clay skiing along. I get some momentum from that. Maybe, just maybe I can catch Clay?

As we skate along up what seemed like an easy grade the day before I am getting really tired and slightly unnerved that we have not hit the turnaround point yet. How long is 1k? We ski over a peak into a little valley and then begin to climb more on an endless railroad grade. I am starting to fade again, I feel the bonk coming on slowly and I am regretting the fact that I did not eat during the race. I feel around wildly for the ClifShot I stashed sticking out of my water pack but I can't find it. Damn. Why am I still climbing. Why are none of the faster skiers doubling back yet. Woe woe is me....

At this woeful point we are skiing past neat historical mining stuff like these trailside hopper cars

At this point a synapse fires in my oxygenless brain and I realize that perhaps the out is longer than the back, and maybe since we are climbing so much, the back could be mostly downhill? As if in answer to my febrile ruminations a purple cow tight clad skier is streaking down the hill. Directly at me. Uh oh. I move out of the track as the race leader whizzes by me. A short time later we ski around a turn and ahead of me is a long gentle slope followed by a little groomed cul-de-sac with skiers heading every which way. I am renewed. I V2 madly to the turning point.

As i arrive at the not mipoint turning point, coming out of the turn around is Clay. I'm like, "sup". And he is all, "nothin" and then he's like,"I am only skiing this slow as I was a bit over my max for a while, now I intend to hammer down and catch that guy way way in front of me just before the finish line" And I am all, "whatever" and he is like, "Oh and this will be the last time you see me until the finish line" and I am like, "whatever! be that way loser!" and he is like, "Oh yeahs, I am classicking and I am still torquing your slow skating monkey buttocks" and I just make the W symbol with my skis and poles and make that cool "cha" sound and skate on through the roundabout.

And sure enough, I get through the turnaround and Clay has vanished. Sneaky fast people. But the lady in pink is still there just ahead of me. We ski up and down the trail a bit passing the people behind us coming the other way. I am pleased to note that there is no one really that close behind me who is skating. We get to the last high point on the course and start the fast descent. Just as we are picking up speed, pink lady does that cool faceplant thing and I ski on by her. Now the tables have turned and gravity is on my side.

I use my skating prowess to power through the downhills at speed with explosive poling and strides coming out of turns. Despite my near bonked state I am having fun. The only issue is all the people behind me in the race who are going the other way up the course. Some are in the tracks classicking, some are classicking not in the tracks, some are skating in the lane, some are skating on the tracks. I am going really fast and most people are nice and yielding the lane to me. Except a few minutes down the hill, one skater will not move. He has his head down and is taking the entire skating lane. I yell "heads up" and he sort of moves over and says, "you are on the wrong side". I did not realize the idiots who don't yield the trail to you even though you were lapping them in a mountain bike race also ski. It is simple people. If someone much faster than you is passing you, get the hell out of the way. I am 10 minutes up on this guy and he gets all semantic on me. I hope one of the 30 skiers between him and me demonstrated the result of failing to yield to downhill traffic.

Ken skis like a tired tired man at the end of his race.

Anyway, I zip down the Mineral Belt Trail in quick order and enter the woods with its tight twisty little turns, all alike. I am feeling pretty good at this point. Poling hard in V2 alternate, V2ing the flats and having a blast. Then we hit a couple of short hills and I realize I am getting sucked back into the bonk with every uphill effort. I come off the uphill and in short order I am feeling OK and powering along. My quads are starting to really feel the effort of the V2 and I am concerned about cramping, but I can do well and I keep the hammer down worrying that the pink lady will catch me in the technical sections.

Paul G all casual at the finish

Finally I emerged from the woods and past the start line with a short 1km loop to go. I can see one skater and one classiker just ahead so I try to chase them down. The last loop has one mean nasty hill and a demoralizing uphill finish stretch. On the big hill I can see the two guys ahead of me at the top and I try to sprint up it. As I do so, I can feel my vision starting to tunnel and my quads twitch. I back off a bit and then boom, I am on the last hill watching the two in front of me finish just ahead.

As I cross the finish line I see clay cheering me on and I am all like whatever dude, fast and a good teammate too, who do you think you are Clay? this is a ski team, not the girl guides. Sheesh. It turns out I finish in 1:35 for an 11 minute half marathon PR. Although it could have been an even faster average time as the last half I did was a "21k" and this one was a "22k". I suspect some sort of rounding error.

I finished 15th overall in the 22k, 8th among skaters and 2nd in my age group. Unlike previous races my skis were appropriately waxed and the trail was really well groomed so I eschewed controversial skating techniques like drunk monkey and duckbutt and somehow managed to skate pretty smoothly and appropriately all the time. Take that drunkmonkeyduckbutt.

It was a banner day for the SWnordicski team as well. Clay took a hard fought 4th in the 22k classic, sure as his words, pipping another skier at the last bit. He won his age group. Dina took second in her age group. Paul took second in his as well. Denny missed third in his loaded age group by a handful of seconds. In the 44km classic, Jessica and Ken both won their age groups and finished very well overall, with Jessica in 4th among classic skiers closing fast on a fading Ken in third. Finally, John B. had an excellent 44km skate finishing 7th overall and third in his age group. Go team!

Dina, way too spry at the finish

After the race ended, we headed to the loyal order of water buffalo lodge for an excellent stew and soup feed and awards ceremony. There may have been 30 different crockpots of sweet nourishing stews donated by kindly miner folk. Delicious. There were nice prizes for the top three in each age group. I got a nice Mineral Belt Trail shirt with a map of leadville and the trail on it. Pesky nice fast guy Clay got a cool bowl for winning his age group. Then there was a raffle with really nice prizes. Pretty much everyone who stuck around won something, ranging from ski hats and waxes to ski passes for the local alpine and nordic areas. Good job organizers!
All in all it was a fun day up there in the ionosphere. The course was well groomed, the race well organized. The prizes and feed was great. I recommend the event.

After the awards we head back to the still excellent Proving Grounds cafe and caffinate for the long drive home. The drive is pretty uneventful. We saw some mountain goats, lots of elk and just outside of salida we saw a woman blow by us in a minivan get pulled over almost immediately by a cop. Well done cop sweeper.

Arch nemesis San Antonio mountain. Why? Damn you! Why?

When we hit Antonito we stopped at the dirty Shamrock gas station for some water and snacks for the last stretch home. As we get out of the cars a couple of NM staties pull up behind us. One of them asks me if we are heading down to NM on 285. I say yes. He warns us to be careful as the road conditions are bad. I think his exact words were, "its bad... bad bad bad bad bad". Apparently its blowing around San Antonio mountain and the roads are whited out, and he was right. It was bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. We were crawling along at 10-25mph for 15 miles almost all the way from the mountain to tres piedras. Why does the mountian hate me so. Last trip we hit white out drifting on the way up and 12 inches of unplowed snow amidst a blizzard on the way back.

Despite San Antonio mountains best efforts we made it home safely. The end.

The rest of my pictures and the race results here.

Leadville Loppet Pictures (not race report really)

Actually, I only have two pictures, but since Tarik is still working on his long awaited race report I thought I'd post them in the interim.
This one is Paul and Tarik wearing their newly won hats while enjoying coffee after the awards ceremony:

And here is Clay reading to some kids in the coffee shop - apparently they asked him to read to them... Its ok, really, their dad was right there in line, grateful for a break.

Conditions 2/28/08

Skied at noon today. The two feet of new snow from last week plus all the grooming area making for fantastic conditions. Ken did a superb job on the whole system with skate and classic grooming on Monday which was holding up well and was nicely refreshed by someone (John B?) last night. The skiing is just great up there!
AND the warm dry conditions in town are fooling everyone into staying in town and resulting in low ski crowds! :) Go up and enjoy!
By the way, I was actually up there to meet with Karen Hill of the downhill ski club who is doing a lot of great things that will promote backcountry and nordic skiing in our area. Specifically today she was up there to take pictures of the farthest part of the meadow that extends into the Valles Caldera land. Karen is going to propose a gate in the fence and the long coveted permission for us to groom and ski that part!! Here is a picture of her taking pictures:

and here is the current turn around - if Karen succeeds we will be able to groom farther left over the Valles fence for a few more kms of nice flattish terrain that is protected from the wind!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Uphill / Downhill" race at Pajarito's Skiesta

Rumor has it that the Skiesta will have an "uphill/downhill" race that will circumnavigate Pajarito Mountain. Skiesta is March 15.

If this is actually true, the course will be to go up the east service road, cross over Evershine Ridge at the radio towers, head to the back side of the mountain and continue up the service roads all the way to the very top at the terminus of the Aspen lift. At that point it will head back to the front side and down to Porcupine, angle back up to the pick nick tables at the top of Pussycat, continue up to the top of the Mother lift, then down Rim Run to I Don't Care. It will then go all the way down I Don't Care to Salamander Gully, which dumps out at the bottom of the Spruce lift. At that point, it will then hit the Camp May road just above the SWNSC equipment shed and finish just before the parking lot on Camp May road.

They'll have to start it early, 8am or earlier. There will probably be a couple of feed stations near the top, one at the radio towers, and one at the pick nick tables at the top of Pussycat. Skis must be used, but any type of ski is allowed, as are skins (ski ascension devices).

More details to come later -- check the Pajarito Mountain website: At this point, it is still in the planning/approval stage, so stay tuned. This should be fun if it happens.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Conditions 2/26/08

This courtesy of John Ullman:

I ski'ed just after noon, expecting ungroomed trails, and found the

Phantom Groomiandero had struck.  Good job - it ski'ed very well.

There were two van loads of skiers from the Albuquerque senior

center (??) enjoying it, too, plus lots of others.  The front hill was

getting full sun, though, and turning to slush.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Conditions 2/25/08

It has snowed off and on over the past several days up at the trails, with warmer temps. Some of us went up yesterday to find a lot of new, heavy, wet snow that hadn't been touched by a groomer. So, Ken Kisiel pulled out a machine and the Tidd and went over about 2km. It was snowing by the time we all left and Denny Newell headed out with a drag to knock some of the heavy snow down. He got a little stuck in the meadow in white-out conditions, so it was going to need some more work.

It snowed a lot more overnight; we don't know how much just yet. The wind also blew, so it'll be interesting up there. No word on any new grooming at this time, so I'll wait until I hear something before posting again.

Until then, break out the back-country touring skis and sense of adventure and go enjoy the new snow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Just got back from the leadville loppet. There was an excellent club turn out and we did pretty well. I am working up a race report. But in the meantime, enjoy these photos of Ken K. and John B. enjoying the fruits of the 44km race.

The rest of my pictures from the trip are here

Friday, February 22, 2008

Conditions 2/22/08

New snow ~3" on Wed./Thur.

Dave Wykoff just couldn't stand it any longer and got out the Tidd to freshen up the skate lane. He left the classic track alone. There is a very firm base under the new snow and in places the new snow doesn't adhere to the base. The classic track is firm with some new soft stuff in it. Not sure if he groomed the lower road.

The whole trail system could use a thorough regrooming job, but it'll do for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This is a general ‘Thank You’ to all of the [SWNSC] Nordic club supporters and volunteers. This has been a good season…we’ve seen better in terms of snow, but snow isn’t everything. The success of the Nordic club is really what has made this season so great, and it is in most part due to the generous donations of the trail users and club members that has kept the club viable and actually successful this year.

In years past, there were several of us club members wondering how we were going to continue making things work. It seemed that we were all bailing water out of a sinking ship and that there wasn’t a whole lot of hope to continue the operation. That would have been sad, as the ability to cross-country ski on this system of trails in this location in the world is a very special, somewhat transcendental experience. There are so many other places to cross-country ski, but there is an intangible quality to being able to ski here, almost right out our back door.

I realize we could still “ski” on the trails if the club didn’t exist, but it wouldn’t last for long, nor would anything other than rugged back-country skiing and snowshoeing be possible for much of the winter. In fact, it would only be possible for short periods after snowstorms. First of all, many, MANY trees fall across the trail system and must be cleared away to permit free passage through the trails. Secondly, the snow would be so uneven and rutted out from the various types of traffic and weather that it would be quite treacherous most of the time. Eventually, Mother Nature would reclaim the trails that the club has so painstakingly created, improved upon, and maintained all of these years. The Forest Service allows the club to maintain the trails, year ‘round, for the purpose of winter xc skiing recreation. It just so happens that it works for many recreational purposes such as mountain biking, hiking, running, horse-back riding, and hunting as well.

So, the club’s existence is critical to the survival of the trail system and the process of grooming for safe and fun skiing that is so abundant during the winter. The club’s existence is only possible through the support of the generous members and donors that have grown in number. The level of support has also grown. The club as a whole is a sum of all of these great people. You should all be proud that you have supported the endeavor and go enjoy the skiing as often as you can…it truly is special and belongs to all of you.

Because we have seen a general rise in the level of support, the club’s operations have improved quite a bit since the “restructuring” occurred in 2000/2001. The club has been able to improve on the machinery and implements used for the grooming and maintenance chores, plus we have a great little shop in which to store and work on equipment when necessary. There are still some major improvements needed in this area, but we’re better off than before, that’s for sure!

Additionally, when a machine breaks down, as we had happen twice this year, and a rather large part is needed to repair the ailing machine, we are able to jump right in and purchase the part with only a short turn-around time to get the board of directors’ collective approval and get the part ordered and delivered. It works that well now, thanks to the club’s improved structure and financial status. Like I said, it happened twice this year, and we were able to keep grooming operations running without much of a gap in continuity.

Now, this is not to say that the club is operating on much more than a shoestring, but at least the shoestring can keep the shoe tied now. We still must be extremely careful with the very old and fragile machinery and equipment that the club owns, and we will be in need of something more modern in the not-too-far-off future. We still experience an inordinate amount of breakdowns and it would be nice to improve in that area…less time spent fixing stuff means more time grooming and keeping the trails nice.

We also still need more volunteers. I know everyone’s time is precious and we all have lives, but this won’t work without volunteer efforts. It takes a few hours several times a year, but it is SO very gratifying and it is good public service. It is a personal thing that won’t get a lot of public attention, but it is something that helps build a legacy and is good for so many others…whether they know it or not.

Anyway, the main point of this ramble is to say THANK YOU! to all of you who have helped out. It wouldn’t work without you.

Go ski, because life is good!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Great Ski Day! Training TT #2 results

Charlie's Angels warming up

Chilly conditions on the trails today. Our timer, Dina was happy we started and finished at sunny Point A. Trails were groomed out nicely and were very fast, except for the occasional tree debris. At one point I was getting a little cocky and thinking I was skiing so well and then suddenly stepped on a stick or a piece of bark and found myself on the ground in an instant. Otherwise, the course was very nice to ski and we all had a blast.

Here are the results, in no particular order =)

Clay M. 22:11
Gene D. 24:26
Tarik S. 27:37
Paul G. 30:03
John U. 48:34

Poor John Ullman decided to classic the event on a new pair of classic skis. The kick zone hadn't yet been prep'ed and he lost virtually all of his klister! He ended up having to skate quite a bit by the end. It was "freestyle," after all.

Dina took some pictures. Don't we all look super fast in the fancy club gear?
Clay starting at point A -- minute later, Gene doing the same

Tarik Saleh at the start -- Clay on the finish hill at point A

Gene Dougherty at the finish -- Paul Graham at the finish

John Ullman overcomes no kick! -- Tarik Saleh (very fast today...)


Our beautiful timer Dina, at the Valle Grande fence

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Grooming Pix 2/16/08

Actual grooming report posted below this post. Scroll down to read.
Got some pictures of Clay earlier today while he was setting classic track. All that work sure make for a great day of classic on a nice fresh track!!
Here he hit a sideways drift in the lower meadow that was just too steep to be able to drag the track setter up it.

Here I asked him to pose, but I think he is saying he cant hear me because he has his headphones in - good enough!

Going around upper meadow loop:

And a few shots of him coming back down. Doesnt Kermit look GRRR?!

Fun TT info, and grooming report 2/16/08

We'll meet tomrrow just before 9am for the training time trial. This time, it'll start at point A, go around the loop to the top and back down to point A. We'll be done quite quickly. The course is in good shape for it both classic and skate.

I got up to the trails at the crack of 11:00am with plans to groom at least a new classic track and ran into John Ullman, who had gotten up there earlier and ran a pass on the upper trails to the top and back down. Thanks for doing that looked like the skating lane was nice. It had snowed a teeny, tiny amount, so it made the snow look a little cleaner anyway.

I did get a good classic track set on the lower road into the meadow, but the drifts and wind cups kept me from getting it all the way up continuously. I had to pull out and restart it further up. It set nicely in the trees. Temps were a little cooler and rapidly dropping later, so it set up pretty well. When I left at dark, the wind was really whipping, so the meadow classic tracks will be filled in.

I saw that the meadow trails and lower road REALLY needed grooming (and removal of piles and piles of dog poop...>=( , especially for the training TT tomorrow. So, before dark, I went back out and groomed the lower road and meadows with many passes to break things up and fix the walker/dog damage. I also got the rest of the trails too, so conditions should be awesome on the whole trail system tomrrow.

A few other items:
1. the fencing needs some repair. I've put in some poles, shoveled it out and propped it up where I can, but it needs some attention with twine and more poles if possible. The front hill is about to burn out due to the bad fencing and some of the trash. I shoveled two spots and cleaned it up, but it is about to go.

2. we're getting a lot of walkers and dogs on the upper trails. Not sure what's going on, but if you see them, please let them know that the lower road and meadow is designated for the multi-use. It's a mess to clean up after them.

3. we probably need some signs telling people to clean up after their dogs. It was horrible out there today...pretty disgusting (what are they feeding these dogs?)

4. I don't think people know that it's a County ordinance to keep dogs on a leash. It's not a problem most of the time, but there were some pretty bad dogs today and I saw two crashes due to the dogs.

5. I have a lot of gas cans in front of my garage. There's really no gas up there now, and both Kermit and Cosmo need gas.

6. Someone left the hand warmers on on Cosmo again. It really killed the battery and I am not sure it will recover, and it's brand new. It did have enough juice to start by the end of the session, but it may not hold a charge long. More on that later...

Crazy locals on Trails: photos from 2/10/08

It was a warm and busy day up in the trails. The snow was great and there was plenty of people to talk to you if you wanted to stop and catch your breath! :)
Here is Tarik with GREAT hair -oooh, take your time to admire....
Here are Paul, Wyatt in Chariot, Daddy Dave, Donna on top of the meadow:

Here are Clay, Ken, John B. and Paul at point J. Simultaneously, Donna, Judy, Jess and some Albuquerqueans were coming up behind us along with a group of about 4 visitors from Cuba, NM on touring skis! It was a busy day on the trails!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Weekend Ski Conditions - Feb. 15, 2008

As of today, Friday, Feb. 15, the conditions have not changed much from the last 3 days or so, although it was a little more cloudy and cooler up at the trails today, so they probably didn't transition as much today in the sun.

Early yesterday morning, it snowed about 1/2", but it was also very windy. I was surprised by the storm as I headed up for my early morning ski. I quickly had to put some hard wax over my thick layer of blue klister. The little bit of new snow in the tracks made my skis stick pretty hard for a while. It also made for interesting skiing on the crusty, fast downhill meadow onto the lower road. I was absolutely flying on the crusty, fast snow when I hit the lower road and went to put my skis into the tracks and they went from 50 km/hr to 0 km/hr instantly and I went ass-over-teakettle and had to dig my head out of a 3 foot hole! My neck is still strained from that digger.

A storm is still slated to hit the area sometime in the near future, but it is taking its slow time getting here. There are not a lot of available groomers (read, it's not clear as to who will be grooming for this weekend) at the moment, so be ready for anything tomorrow morning. It will likely be "classic and tourning only" tomorrow if it snows and no one is available to groom; don't plan on skating if it snows.

We'll try to get the skate lane groomed for Sunday's training tt.

Check back here for details as we get them.

World Cup Tracks Make Pajarito Seem Like Heaven

Ever want to complain about the ski conditions on the local trails? Here's what the World Cup skiers faced in the most recent WC race in Otepaa, Estonia:


I recently got to jump into the NCAA race at Enchanted Forest. I was shocked at how bad the skiers, coaches and service techs chewed up the tracks on the race course. With the great snow, cold temps, etc., I would have expected better conditions, but it wasn't so much the case. I just saw how the skiers were just so good that they didn't seem to care, nor even notice.
Here's another picture of the WC course in Estonia. It looks like a track we had to ski in Anchorage at the 2003 Master's Nats:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Training "fun" TT and current conditions 2/13/08

If you need a little speed work and would like to do a little training time trial, we'll meet up this coming Sunday morning at 9 A.M. Actually we'll meet about 8A.M. for a warmup around the loop, then take off around 9. I'll go first to keep track of the times.

Last time, it snowed a bunch and the road hadn't been plowed, thus not a whole lot of folks showed up. We do have some times posted in those soft conditions. Look in the January blog reports if you're interested.

Currently, the conditions are holding up well in the warm weather. Officially, it hasn't quite hit 50*F here in town, although the bank clocks in downtown have read 50. So, it isn't too awfully hot up there just yet, but warm enough to transform snow in the sunny areas to mash potatoes in the middle of the day. It's certainly firm and fast in the mornings and evenings.

A storm and colder air is set to take aim on the area tomorrow, so we'll see how the conditions change/improve. It'll likely be back to new, soft snow by Sunday. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grooming/Conditions Report 2/11/08

The trail system has been regroomed for classic and skate for the week, except for the outer meadow trail, which has been drifted over and wind-cupped.

It may be best to ski in the morning or afternoon/evening, as the warm days may cause some mushy conditions in places. It may also help with keeping things from getting destroyed.

Waxing will be easier in morning/evening skiing too. Blue klister mixed with the current temperature hard wax mixed in will provide great kick. Mid-day conditions will be tough to figure out, as things change so much from bottom to top, sunny to shade. Waxless would be a good compromise.

I apologize in advance here, but I have a little gripe:
Last evening while grooming, some people on foot and snowshoes got onto the upper trails and were walking right over the freshly groomed trail. They knew they shouldn't have been there and would hide each time I went by. I had to make a whole extra pass to attempt to clean up the mess they made in those soft-to-refrozen conditions in which the snowshoe digs at least a 4" deep divot and people on foot push in a very deep hole that freezes solid. It was a mess.

Please respect the request to not walk, nor snowshoe on the upper trails. Many, many people enjoy the cross-country skiing on the Pajarito/Canada Bonita trails and especially the nicely groomed conditions that provide fun and safe skiing. It's a lot of work by volunteers and just a single person can do a lot of damage. It's especially evident with the sunny, warmer conditions.

If you see someone doing this, please ask them politely to make their way to the multi-use trails, where all of those activities are allowed.

The groomers thank you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Alley Loop Race report

Here is a brief report from last weekends Alley Loop in Crested Butte.

Now updated with superhot cross country ski photo action!

Me heading to the race, allegedly a house behind:

Elena and I (blogmaster Tarik) went up to CB last weekend with Paul, Dina and Clay.

Start of the 21k race, I did beat Richard Simmons, but lots of guys in drag beat me:

It snowed alot. There were death defying drifts on the NM/Co border going north on friday, and then is snowed the entire time we were in CB. There were 6-8' snowpiles lining the sidewalk. Snow was coming down in a fine sand most of the weekend and harder on sunday.

Well turned out ski bunnies in the 10k :

The race was saturday morning and the course was snowy. The main groomer for the CB nordic center was broken, so there was a wide course in the nordic area, with a narrow groomed skate lane with soft snow on either side and 4" of freshies on top. THe alleys were narrow, snow covered and fun.

I think they groomed elk avenue with this nightmare inducing monster:

I did the 21K race. The race started right up elk street and over the "pass" on the way out of town. Somehow I managed a great start and was in 5th place at the top of the hard climb. Cue the Ruh roh music. As we made our way through the soft slow nordic center I found myself unable to tap out a V2 on the soft snow as I was pretty much pegged. The entire nordic center was uphill near as I could tell.
About a kilometer into the race, a whole bunch of guys in drag blew by me never to be seen again. As the course looped about, the 21k racers got to take a shortcut that the 42 k racers did not. So I ended up in the middle of much faster 42 k racers which was very instructive.

Dina cornering hard in the 10K:

As I was at about 99% effort, I was doing my patented drunken monkey/duck skate technique, it was working pretty well, but it was nice to see that alot of the faster 42k racers that were streaming by me had their own unique techniques: Drunk sailor, hopfrog, lurchymcgoo, Frankenzombie among others. The soft conditions, blowing snow and short steep hills made the race pretty darn hard.

Clay powering through an alley

After a big nordic center loop we were routed down the steep pass and through the alley portion of the race. This was fun as heck. Narrow alleys with whoopdedoos and lots of 90 degree turns and bridges and the like. I ended up double poling alot of this as some sections were too narrow to skate and I was going through the back of the 10k field, so there was lots of passing.

Paul skating hard :

Next, the final loop around the nordic center. More of the same, all hills, my glasses were fogging up, I could not see the fast lane. At some point a racer came behind me and said, "I used to live in Los Alamos". It was former Los Alamos Resident Lennard Zinn. All my hypoxic brain could say was, "duh, hello bike guy!". He is 8 feet tall and super smooth.

Richard cruising through in the 21k:

I did pass a few people in my race. Somewhat surreally toward the end of the nordic center loop near the mine head, I saw a fat mouse jump out of the snow and slowly amble across my path. I could have hit it with my ski if I wanted to. I was even thinking of catching it and eating it, but I decided against it as I had no fire making tools.

Dina looking fast:

As I finished the loop and went into town, my already limited skills went to hell and I switched to the super duck butt modified stagger skate technique. I was covered in ice and I had finished at last, in 1:46! Through some statistical quirk I ended up 12 male in the 21k and 3rd in the 30-39 age group. Woo!

Me not looking too drunkmonkeylike at the finish:

SWnordic ski superstar Clay finished well in the 42k despite bonking out of a top ten finish. Dina took 2nd woman in the 10k, and Paul Graham and Richard finished well in the 21k.

Ice encrustations post race :

After the race, I took a looooong shower to thaw off. Elena and I met Dina and Clay to eat falafel. Elena and I spent some time walking around town and checking out the very cool Mountainbike Hall of fame/Crested Butte museum. We drank out body weight in coffee and then we headed to the super firehazard awards ceremony at the pizza joint. It was so loud and hot we bailed out early. I may never get my New Belgium brewing company 3rd place glass, but it was so worth bailing out of that and going to eat lamb at the Timberline resturaunt with Dina and Clay.

Race photographer Elena and I trying to stay warm post race :

Sunday morning we headed to the Nordic center for some last minute skiing before we headed home. It was somewhat disappointing to see that the trails had not been groomed that day and the skating was slow as crap on 6" of fresh powder. It probably snowed 2" while we were skiing. We quickly got some excellent mexican food at the Teocalli Tamale and boogered off for NM. The drive was a bit hairy through colorado, but it turned into an unplowed nightmare when we crossed the border south of antonito. 8-12" of unplowed mush awaited us from the border until tres piedras. Slow crappy driving indeed. Thanks NM!

No plow, no problems, thanks NM :

All and all it was a great weekend and a fun race. The rest of my pictures from the trip are here and the race results are here