Sunday, February 26, 2012

Loppet of death

I'm still shaking my head, what the hell was I thinking. An early rise on Saturday morning with some last minute ski prep and I was off to my first Loppett. It was a simple plan, do the 20 k classic and then try it the new skate skis. Simple, so very simple. How come simple plans never seem. to work? Warm up was pretty good, classics strapped to my feet, grip and glide perfect. Should be a good day. Headed towards the start line and caught only parts of the announcements. I had time to kill before my start, Jacob told me so. Watched the mass start of classic skiers, wow big group in the 40k, I should have been racing with those guys,dam hip.

A few minutes later the 40k skate group left, a quick chat with the race director to get a time check on our start. "You should have already started". So amongst the confusion the 20 and 40 left together. Aww shit, ok some quick thinking and I was now swapped into the 20k skate and I did the mad rush to change gear. Nothing like using new skis on race day, what's that golden rule about trying new things. Settled in the middle of the group, no way I want to be in the front of this pack, I know my place. Go, some double pole, shifting and positioning into the train doing everything I can not crash people out. So far so good, 1 k done. Snow conditions were far beyond my skill set and figured my limited technique was not going to get me through, need to be smart. After a little bobble trying to avoid a stepping on a pole I took 30 second break to regain my focus. At this point we were 15 minutes in to the race and I was redlining already.

Things got better, except for the snow. It was soft, limited glide and climbing was far from smooth. Some battles back in forth with a couple different skiers kept it interesting, on the flats they were faster but I was braver and had faster skis on the downhills. On the climbs fitness seemed to be my saving grace, it was grunt work, no technique would help on the soft thick snow. Keep going, it can't be far now I kept telling myself, when I went past the timing area I had false hope, a glance at my watch I knew there was lots left. It was one of those put your head down and suffer type moments.

Stayed steady for the secondhand and even caught a few more people. I finally knew where I was, not far now. I saw the sign I wanted to see, done. Crossed the line, didn't collapse, happy to be done. Finished 20th out of 42, not bad for new skis, no warm up, tough conditions and questionable skill. I must say I did have fun, I may even be tempted to do another one. A few hours later I found myself on the trainer trying to make my legs feel better. The snow can melt now.

Best quote. Ski racing is the stupidest sport in the history of sport. From some middle pack 40 k skate finisher.

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