Clay put on a couple of ski races with the help and hosting of the Enchanted Forest staff. Saturday was a classic race that started pretty early and I did not make it. I did not want to stay away for two nights and I was still pretty banged up from the previous weekends chama race. Paul and I drove up on Saturday morning, stopping at the bean for breakfast burritos and coffee and then made our leisurely way up to enchanted forest for some classic sking.
Saturday's breakfast burrito (formerly)
As I mentioned before I bought a two pairs of waxable classic skiis and, even though the race went poorly the week before, I was eager to try them out. I organized nicely in a tackle box I got a garage sale. I carefully waxed one pair of skis with some hard wax, and saved the other for the likely klister conditions. I have avoided getting waxable classic skis for years as I was not all that psyched for the lore and magic involved in getting proper kick, but boy is it cool to have a little toolbox stuffed with carefully organized waxes.
The mighty wax box
Anyhow, when Paul and I got there, it was warm and getting a bit warmer. So klister it was, with the advice of Clay and a few others I reapplied the swix blue klister that had worked reasonably well the week before. Paul, who hates klister, went with some super warm hard kick wax. We headed out on the trails and it was clear that it was much warmer than either of our waxes could handle. We double poled around for an hour or so and returned for a snack. I cleverly applied Universal Klister , which, in theory, would work in a huge variety of warmer conditions. I will now refer to as UMAKlister which stands for Universal My Ass, which might tell you how the rest of the day went. I actually had great kick, but no freaking glide as the wax was filled with a giant snowball after about 15 minutes of skiing. I realized if I kept moving and did not stop at all I could get reasonable sking done. Paul still had nothing, so I skied back an forth on the trail while paul walked around on his skis. He looked like he was having fun, and it was, upon reflection, a pretty good day, so I kept on skiing. Later I ran into clubmember Tom who clued me in that UMAKlister was too warm for the day, I needed violet Klister, and he was getting amazing kick. Feh, Universal my ass.
Anyhow, after a not unpleasant, but could have been much better classic ski, Paul and I headed down the hill to the charming burg of Red-River-filled-with-Texans. We checked into a reasonably cheap and clean motel. I almost got brained by a giant chunk of ice falling off the top of the two story hotel. Missed me by about 12 inches. And then I took a nap until dinner. Paul and I won dinner as we were the first at the "good" mexican place so we got the coveted spot right in front of the fire, and then we ate and then to bed.
Next morning we awoke early and went in search of food. The 8:30 AM on a sunday race start made it a bit hard to find food early enough to digest before the race. WE located a little cafe/pastry shop that had egg sammiches, atem up and drank some coffee and headed to the race. Got there, paid the fee and got out for the warm ups.
The UNM team was there as well as the "Los Alamos Team" as I overheard one of the enchanted forest owners say. Hey! Thats us! Specifically it was me, Clay, Paul, John B., Dina, and maybe Tom and Rich? Anyhow, there were a bunch of us there. Go team!
Hanging at the start line, Paul in the foreground, in the middle Me, Hans Noordik, Shawn, front row, the UNM ski team
I registered, pinned on the numbers and then got my warmup on. The course seemed really fast. After the warmth of the day before it was quite cold and there had been a bt of new snow over night. That plus the fresh grooming and my skiis ran like the wind. As I skated around and mostly just stood in the sun to kwwp warm, I watched the University of NM team warm up. They are much faster than me. It is a joy to watch people who really know how to ski go.
Anyhow, the race lined up and started quickly. I got a decent start. I watched most of the UNM team and clay and JohnB ski away at a furious pace at the start. I settled behind a UNM woman and a guy who was taller and possibly heavier than me. The first half of the course was a twisty loop with sharp turns and some short straightaways with a couple of hard climbs thrown in. I kind of tucked in behind the UNM woman an big guy (even bigger than me, named Hans Noordik if you can believe it) and was actually drafting for a while. What a blast. I watched the two ahead of me skating with form I could only dream of having. I was tucked in just skiing along and rarely poling. My skis were fast and the draft was working well. I knew these two would drop me at some point, they were too smooth, but I was enjoying the ride.
The first half of the course ended with a hard steep short hill followed by a long twisty descent. The two ahead of me dropped me on the up hill a bit and then put what seemed like 30 seconds on me on the descent. They were tucked and stepping the turns, I was bolt upright and snowplowing a bit. I think I was the fastest person in the race who was snow plowing any. I was constantly wiping clean the carve groves and step marks through the tighter turns with my wimpy snow plowing. I am not sure that I am really going to get all that better at high speed descending on xc skis at my age, but it is definitely something to work on.
Shawn trained pulling this the day before the race
As I transitioned from the long downhill to the long long climb that started the second lap I heard another skiier come up behind me. I was able to drop him a bit on the climb, but the second half of the course was the long climb followed by a bunch of rollers with more downhill than up, leading back to the finish. So through the rollers we went. I was able to ski away from the guy behind me a bit on the uphills and he would catch right back on on the downhills. Finally there was one sketch downhill that I was checking my speed on at the top and he came by me in the classic tracks and tucked. Turned out it was Shawn who was a former HS skier and had great form, but limited fitness and really good descending skills. Also he was on rental skiis. And he spent the previous day pulling his kid around in a sled behind him. After the sketchy downhill, there was a steep uphill, I pegged it to catch up to him, but I blew up and watched him smoothly ski away from me. Dammit. Form crushes fitness yet again. Note to self, learn to ski better.
Post race awards ceremony, clapping for JohnB and his gloves
We had a nice award ceremony and I finished fourth in my age group in a time of 39:48. Which is smoking fast for the 13 odd kilometers that the race was. The winner was even smoking fastier in just under 28 minutes. Wow. Even though I did not place in my age group, I got an extra cool participant ribbon, as I was a participant, see? Anyhow. Fun race.
After the race, Paul and I headed back to the bean and repeated the burrito breakfast of the day before and headed home. It was a good day.
Clay's fast guy race report
More photos from the race