Anyone who has done an outdoor activity in the rain knows that we never really plan on doing it in the rain, nor really would choose rain over a blue bird sky. On the flip side, if you awake to rain on that chosen day you know that once you are wet and into the day, it most likely brings a smile to your face! This was certainly the case at my first event of the Challenge, the “Ski to the Clouds”.
We awoke to these conditions with heavy rain forecasted on the Auto Road.
Anyone who knows Mt Washington knows these are crazy warm temps for May, much less for March!! We packed up and headed to the mountain. The start of the race was at 10am which gave us a lot of time to be nervous and fidget with our gear… I was lucky enough to have my good friend Lee Perkins and his wife, Kelly, up for the weekend with Sas and me. Lee was entered in the race with me.
I geeked out with my gopro camera, chest harness and all, careful not to totally cover my bib number up front, and we headed out into the rain to the start. There were a lot of racing colors on the competitors… A bunch of colleges showed up with their Nordic teams, a strong (and young) looking group!! Here are some shots from the race... I was sporting my $5 ebay classic skis and had my own look working . Here is some video from my “Chesty” Gopro camera.
The start of the race… notice how fast I am left in the back of the pack!!
We skied 4k around the trail system of Great Glen Trails before heading up the hill…
Up we go!
Here I am coming into 2 mile park. Remember it is pouring out, I mean really pouring!!! The volunteers were just wonderful!!!
I am sure by now you can see from these videos that I can use them to show folks how to race!! Quite the forum, huh!! Well let me just say this was definitely a learning experience for me! First, how to ski race (never have I done that before!), next, how to ski up a hill… oh yea, in the pouring rain and 40 degree weather… My goal was to get to the finish, not win any style or time awards along the way!!!
Pretty much for the entire climb I had one competitor a little ways in front of me which was great to keep me moving… I did manage to catch him near the finish but there was no way I was going to try and pass the guy who dragged me up the entire hill, besides, what was the point of that anyway!!
Somewhere along the climb.. when it was very obvious that I was not going to win my age group I picked the number of 1:30 for the time to beat. Don’t ask me why, it was just a number I picked. I also did not even look at my watch until after the finish… Here is my finish..
My buddy Lee was right behind me! Not bad for a guy who skied only a couple of times this year!!
Now for the fun part, the ski back down the hill!!! I grew up alpine skiing and also enjoyed downhill nordic skiing as a kid (what kid didn’t!) and really was looking forward to the 4 mile downhill run! The biggest issue was how wet and cold I was!! My boots were filled with water, no, I mean really water sloshing around in them!! I changed my gloves and put on a coat but I was soaked to the bone, pure adrenaline got me back down the mountain!!
Here is my descent, if you are bored enough to still be watching these videos If you listen carefully, you can hear just a bit of the “little kid in me” enjoying the downhill!!!
The effort to make it up the hill really never felt that bad. Of course, I was not skating it in 43 mins like the overall winner!!! Results here… I just managed the best pace with the traction I could muster from the skis. Here is the Garmin file from the race.
So, to sum up the weekend, and my first event — it was a blast, I smiled all weekend; it was great to have Sas there to share this with me, as well as Lee and Kelly!! The staff at the event were great and are all really excited about the rest of my events to come!!
I guess I was singing in the rain, it was just a great weekend!! I love my life!!