A group of we frustrated kayakers met at Baker Park Reserve on Saturday morning for the first cross country ski outing of the season. RonO organized the event, which was close to his home, with promises of a good local Irish pub nearby for apres’ ski ambiance and a pint of Guinness. It became very apparent very early that sitting on our hind ends in a kayak from March through November had not done a thing for our ski conditioning. Even our upper body muscles, which we felt were more than up to the task, rebelled at this unfamiliar activity. I, with sunny optimism, brought both classical and skating skis, figuring I could do my own little pursuit type endeavor. After all, I had skied two days a month of so ago out in Colorado with No1 son. In reality it was a Donner party-like ordeal where our confidence far outweighed our endurance. The weather was perfect for cross country skiing, just a breath of wind and about 8F, which allowed us to use the more friendly green and blue waxes and avoid the sticky reds and klister waxes. At that temperature the snow talks to you, crunches and ‘squeaks’ in a unique way, when its compressed by your skis. We were not listening however. Our tongues were hanging out as we sweated profusely, stopped frequently, and wondered why we hadn’t taken the short loop. This of course was after we’d taken a ‘practice’ lap with me on classical skis and RonO and TheManFromSnowyLegs trying skate skis for the very first time. I learned from the MFSL that there is not a lot of snow in Adelaide, Australia and that an inch of snow, which occurs every decade or so, makes the front page of the paper. This made it even more impressive that he had the curiosity, courage, or maybe just plain ignorance to strap on the tricky skate skis.
Which brings us to the gist of this post. Five of us kayak folks, a number of which raced kayaks at Two Harbors this summer, agreed to sign up for the 58k relay in the Mora Vasaloppet ski race on 10 February. This is a race that the father of the VOR and The Mayor helped to found and that he has skied in (along with every other race in the World Loppet series) a number of times. My guess is that at age 78 he could still kick our collective rear ends, especially after Saturdays debacle. That outing made it painfully (literally!) apparent that we have a long, long way to go. We’ve not properly evaluated the female members of the racing team, the Voice of Reason and the Bessemer Convivialist, but my educated guess is that they will make the same sucking sound that we did when they finally strap em on. So...... in the next 7 or 8 weeks we are going to need to make remarkable progress in order to avoid humiliation. One of us will need to ski the triumphant final leg of the relay down the main street of Mora which, in a totally counter intuitive move in these parts, they cover with snow for the race finish. My guess is that unless we start some serious training it will be a question of who HAS to ski the final leg rather than who GETS to ski it. Wish us luck!