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Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting Schooled at the Heart Throb

I guess we managed to scare everyone away with our dire weather predictions for the Heart Throb 50K. Too bad, because the skiing turned out to be superb. Kenton reported some wind early when he arrived to groom but it quieted down so that when we started at 10:30 there was a sporadic mild breeze, warm temperature and pristine tracks awaiting us. And it stayed that way for almost everybody.

Al Fournier schooled us all with a blazing 25K in 1:15:36 and that included stopping to chat at least once and skiing alongside pokey me long enough to talk for awhile and give me a valuable pointer on my classic form. I had 20K still to practice and it helped a lot. Thanks, Al! Bob Vermillion also skied 25K in a more reasonable 2:22. Greg Peterson got in 42K all classic style in 4:36. Greg leaves this week for Sweden to ski the Vasa. All those Grand Mesa miles should have him in good shape for it. Good luck, Greg! Joe Ramey reported "Fast snow, fast skis, slow body" after skiing the full 50K in 4:08. And then there was me. I skated the first 25K and then switched to classic. When I saw the first snowflake I checked my watch. It was 3:15. Everyone else was done by then. By 3:30 it was snowing hard. The predicted storm had finally arrived. It actually wasn't uncomfortable except the tracks were filling in and becoming very slow. I had tracks all the way to the snowmobile corridor on Scales Lake but there I found wind and things became unfun. I finally made it back to the Skyway trailhead but still needed 4 more K. I decided to check Winslow to see if tracks were still distinguishable. I found that they were but I stood there for at least 30 seconds thinking "man, this is stupid" but I realized I still had some energy and couldn't think of anything I'd rather be doing than skiing through the trees with softly falling snow at dusk. So I did it, all 50K in a gruesomely slow 6:57.

So here are the lessons to be learned:
1. Don't trust the weatherman! But don't blame him either. Just understand that, with something as dynamic and complex as the weather, a forecast made a day or two out can miss some on timing and intensity. With a look out the window Sunday morning, I could see that it probably wasn't going to be too bad.
2. There are no wasted trips to Grand Mesa! If you're a little bit flexible, have some backup classic skis along with and know where the protected trails are, you can almost invariably get some K's in and make the trip worthwhile. And often enough, the skiing turns out to be much better than expected. If you feel like skiing, Go!

And now I can rest.

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