Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crested Butte Citizen's Series 10km Classic 12/12/2010

Crested Butte got a foot of new snow on Friday afternoon/evening. Pretty sweet, especially for skiing on Saturday, but it was at fairly warm temperatures, so waxing for a classic race was a little bit tricky. It was stormy there all day on Friday, but like I said, it was oddly warm...somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 degreesF. It never got all that cold the 3 days we were there, but it was humid. I think the temps were in the mid-high 30's sometime on Saturday, so the new snow got a little bit sticky, then it did it again after the race on Sunday; only that time it got into the 40's.

Luckily, it got colder overnight on Sat./Sun., so the snow cooled down, but after scrambling around with Mila's babysitter, registration, getting over to the race site, etc., I just had to take an educated gamble at going with a somewhat warmer kick wax than anyone would have expected because it was warming up fast. Turns out, my guess was right and Dina and I had pretty good kick during the race.

The course was pretty cool, utilizing their new "Mike's Mile" trail, which I would have to say is probably one of the best trails CB now has. It's an amazing addition to their trail system, and the name is misleading, as it's a 2.3 km trip out, then you make a small turnaround at the end and come back. It crosses Slate Creek twice (and if you look slightly north, you can see the Slate Creek road). The only thing about Mike's Mile is that it is open to dogs (still great skiing, though), as it is really an extension to Pooch's Paradise, another trail we used in the race that started right at "The Gronk". The best description I have for Mike's Mile is that it is a lot like skiing that trail in the Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, except without the highway over to one side. Here, it's all wilderness views, creek crossings on some cool bridges, and sublime cruising.

The early part of Pooch's Paradise is a little bit hilly with a few steep kickers, so having good kick was important because at the top where it intersects with all the Magic Meadows trails and Mike's Mile, it was a double-pole contest and having a low heart-rate was essential to going fast. Lots of folks showed up for the race; all local except for a small handful like Dina and me. The field consisted of a few tough-guy-and-gal locals, some college kids on the Western State and Mesa State club teams, as well as Master's 55-59 and now 60-64 world champion, Murray Banks, ensuring at least a good workout.

Sparing you all the gory details, here's a summary: the race was quick off the line thanks to the young guys, but it eventually settled down a bit once they all went anaerobic over the early steep hills and we got out onto Mike's Mile and all the double-poling. One by one, I watched the small group give in to the lactic acid demons, then managed to latch onto the first college kid guy who had a solid double-pole. He kept the pressure on the whole time, but I didn't freak out and was able to use my bike racing sprint tactics in the final 500m to get around him in slight turn, claim the fast tracks and give a good sprint to the line. The college kid had drawn even with me at one point, but he threw in the towel when we hit a rise in the final 200m.

Dina also had a great event, staying strong and consistent throughout and was mixing it up with several gals around her the whole time. She's been working on smoothing out the kinks in her classic technique, and it was great to see her giving it 100% and not worrying so much about the details. It's amazing how putting in 100% effort helps solidify things you're working on at slower speeds. She had a fun race and there was a lot of "I get it" moments afterward. I think she was something like 15 minutes faster than she had expected.

Not long after we were done, the sun came out so strongly that the snow got a little bit mashed-potato-y and the kick we had before became a mixture of icing and grabbing, mixed with some slipping. We skied around for another 40 minutes until we ran out of babysitter time, so we went back to eat a proper breakfast/lunch instead of a small bowl of oatmeal.

It was fun to get back on snow. They don't have as much as usual, but they're getting steady small doses and it's still an xc skiing paradise. I think they have about 35km of their usual 50km (well, now 60kms) open. Driving there and back was super easy and fast, as there is nary a patch of snow until you are almost to Crested Butte itself. Maybe things will change for them and for us this next week. Think snow!!!

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