Sunday, February 5, 2012

City of Lakes Freestyle Loppet

Like Chuck & Don's skijoring event yesterday, today's freestyle loppet was a shortened substitute for the full event. I parked at Mortenson's Construction (quite the campus for a builder) right next door to Breck School. I had been in that parking lot for Colin's high school hockey games a few times but it had been at night in the dark and I would have never guessed that it was adjacent to Wirth Park.

After taking the school bus (did you know that school buses have "Body Fluids Cleanup Kits?") shuttle to the main parking lot, I hiked back to the lower stadium area. On the way there, the classic skiers who had just finished were coming towards me, including Vinu from work, whose wife and in-laws had participated. Fun to see him! I now recall that he had told me that his wife and entire family were big time into the sport.

I switched from shoes to ski boots and parked my stuff in the coral. In order to kill some time I went to the vendors tent and checked out the wares. Chatted a bit with the owner of I do own a pair of theirs and am quite happy. My only regret is that they do not have any classic models or even wheels. To my question on that subject he said that it was too big of an investment for poor chances of return. I guess I will have to bite the bullet and acquire a more expensive model. 
Start of wave 5/6. I'm in center, bib 5029.

By now it was about 15 minutes to the start and I headed back. The 5xxx wave was allowed to line up ahead of the 6xxx skiers and I found myself next to MNOC club-mate Jim Mullins in the very front row. On the other side was a kid sporting St. Paul Central HS Arctic Commando suit and I chatted him up. Turned out he was a 2003 grad. Looked like a strong and competent skier and he ended up being the only one to round me, during the fifth lap. 

After we got going it became very quickly apparent that this would be a hard five laps. The entire loop, especially the uphills were solid ice, covered with very lose sugar. On stretches with deeper snow, it felt like the skis sank and it required some effort to pull them out again. On the steeper downhills, the sharp turns quickly lost this cover and became bare ice. The trail-side volunteers heroically jumped into gaps between skiers and raked snow back on. After the early frenzy of passing stronger skiers, I settled into a routine, staying with a lose group for quite for quite some time. I seemed to be doing better on the uphills while the others had an easier time on the downhills and the few level stretches. Towards the end of lap 2, I began rounding the first of  my cohort. During the following laps, the slower skiers became thicker and it took some effort during the uphills and some daring during the downhills to keep passing. There wer not too many falls, I was glad for that especially on top of the hill adjacent to the tubing area, as the choices were deep snow that could stop you cold in your tracks or bare ice. 

The official City of Lakes Foundation clip for my race. Afraid I look the best at start and finish ...

I think I managed my stamina well, as I was able to accelerate during the last lap. A kid from NDSU stopped for water at the upper stadium, I passed him and didn't see him again till we finished. I felt it was a good race, finishing a little ahead of the middle of the pack overall, in men's and in my age group.

My results--Overall Results

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