2/08/2008

2008 Alley Loop xc ski race report

Here is a brief report from last weekends Alley Loop in Crested Butte, originally written for the South West Nordic Ski Club Blog, minorly edited for this blog, hence all the photos of other people in the club. I have lots of photos from the trip to share, including cruisers galore and a trip to the MTB hall of fame, more later...

Me heading to the race, allegedly a house behind:



Elena and I 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 during the last 10k. My arms were cramping from all the poling I was doing through the alleys. I could feel the bonk coming on. 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, minor bonk settled in and 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 12th 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

4 comments:

ClaireWalter said...

Enjoyed your Alley Loop report and pix. Crested Butte remains one of my favorite mountain towns, and this is such a classic event. I keep intending to go for it -- and in summer for either the mushroom or wildflower festival. Haven't managed any of them yet.

Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com

gpickle said...

drunk monkey / duck skate technique? I love it! I always enjoy your race reports Tarik, and you have the best style names. Sounds like a great trip & event!

I was out doing my own impression of a skate skier this morning and trying to name it, something about a nerd at a junior high dance...

pretty cool to get passed by Zinn, glad you beat Simmons.

Tarik Saleh said...

Claire,
Yeah I need to get up there when there is less snow to check out the MTB trails.

Gpickle,
I hope you were not doing the Iowa Revised Cabbage Patch, that always makes me sore.

Thanks for reading.

books, bikes, beer said...

Terrific race report; one of the best I've read anywhere. And you have definitely put Crested Butte on my must visit list. Thanks for writing.

Brian