As many of you close to me know, these past 12 months have presented a number of changes to my life, to say the least. I’ve moved, well, half time, to my house down on the Columbia River, in beautiful Underwood, WA, just across the river from Hood River, OR. The pluses are 40 minutes to either Teacup or Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic…and not that long a trip to Mt. Bachelor. So the plus side of not being in Seattle full time, is more snow time…much more reliable and higher quality grooming than our usual venue….
So, I’ve been skiing a bunch at Meadows, where Dale (the Nordic Ctr Manager) sees that the 15K of trails are groomed 5 days a week…this past weekend, they had a “fun” 11K Skate, nothing too serious and, well, all the serious folks were off “Touring” the Boulder in Sun Valley…Saturday was a bluebird day, grooming was perfect, and about 50 folks decided to participate.
The course was twice around a 5.5K loop, with roughly 250 m of climbing per lap. Dale instructed all that it was an “anything goes” race, no double poling past the first meter…even worse than the Rodeo start! So anticipating a $300 “fun race” with a broken pole, I simply decided to be out of the gate even faster than usual to avoid any carnage. Well, at least my start strategy paid off, as I found myself in 3rd place going into the rollers before the long (too long, too early) downhill, where I quickly found out that I definitely didn’t have the fastest skis of the day. The 4th place guy went blowing by me, put 100m on me by the end of the downhill. So it was V2 all the way back up the climb (1st of 3), to catch only to get dropped on the next even longer down. Shake, repeat and do again…4 times over the two laps. The good news was, my V2 was better than the 2 guys I was yo-yoing with who were working harder than I on the ups, so it ended up being a decision to sit in on the final climb and move when I thought I had enough to gap them….and just how hard I wanted to “race”…On the next to final climb, I let the number 4 guy go, probably should have jumped on his back, but we still had a long way to go, and given my “non race” mentality this season, I was actually having a very enjoyable race behind number 3 guy, and at this point knew I could drop him on the final climb. So I just hung tight, skied easy (well, except for the small downhills where I had to push to catch back on), and easily dropped him on the last climb. I had to chuckle a bit as, before the race, a friend texted me to “be speedy and have fun”…my reply was “the two were mutually exclusive”…well, I guess they don’t have to be. I knew I couldn’t catch #1 (Jason Lemieux) as he was gone like a shot right from the gate..and number 2 had a bit too much on me also…so I was “speedy” enough and had a blast..and that was even before the burgers and beers!
For those of you who may have skied Meadows in the past, it is a seriously changed center. The grooming has improved dramatically, especially the classic. They now have a hydraulic track setter and the tracks are as good as they get…Grooming is 5 days a week (none on Tue/Wed, but since there is so little traffic on Mon, unless it snows, grooming on Tue is still great). They are having a “reverse” pursuit on 3/3 – 10K Skate and then 10K Classic. The skate will be similar to the course last weekend, and the classic is different, and a good course. Not all double pole, about 50/50 striding/DP.