For the past couple of days there have been posts and comments regarding garishly colored clothing, '90's downhill ski wear, sailing jackets, and even bad neoprene. Snowmobilers seem to still be stuck in that lime green, hot pink, blaze orange, and fluorescent clothing mode but perhaps that's for visibility as you blast across a frozen lake at 90mph. The one thing the discussion did for me was raise my awareness of the awful colors that people could wear. I even weighed in with a comment on how some of these clothes fit and how some people should look in the mirror more often. Yet on Sunday I wound up at Elm Creek Park with my classical skis and wearing the red pants in the photo. How could that have happened after having my consciousness raised by the discussion of the last few days? Very simply, they were a gift.
The weekend began with a quick 8k at French Park, 4k on the classical skis and 4k on the skate skis. It has become very obvious to me that with the Vasaloppet looming on the horizon on 8 February, that I'm in excellent condition. For beer drinking. It was decided during the post ski beer drinking training that a trip up to the Vasaloppet trails and the ski chalet/deer camp of TheLegend and the GraciousPartier was necessary to improve fitness and stamina. This would be perfect for the VOR and I since we had been invited to the Vasaloppet Fundraiser later that evening in Mora, MN. We arrived at the trails Saturday morning and they were phenomenal, tracked perfectly, no wind and the temp at a very amenable 8F (-13C). The sun was bright the snow crisp (perfect for green/blue waxes), and only one person had been on the trails before RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, and I set out on the 8k Memorial loop. We were quickly caught by BjornDahlieOfMahotmedi who rolled in a bit late and informed us that the IrishPirate, BemidjiIntelOfficer, and the VOR had set out on the Beaver Dam loop. We would have waited for him but we knew very well that he could easily lap our sorry asses and, in fact, he did knock off another 8k while we headed back to the chili, brats and kraut, fermented malt beverages, and other healthful treats that awaited us at camp. We rendezvoused and raved about how fabulous the trail was and the excellent conditions that day and wound up talking ourselves into another loop. This created some time compression issues (I've got to do a post on that syndrome) for RonO, MFSL, and BIO as they had promised to meet the BessemerConvivialist for a fitness ski at French Park later in the day. The VOR headed back to Mora, I did the same a bit later, and Bjorn and the Irish Pirate skied another loop and enjoyed the moonlight from the closest and biggest moon of 2009. All early departees were extremely envious.
Fast forward to the fundraiser. The Mora Vasaloppet is pretty much a volunteer driven community event. As such, there needs to be cash for timing, trail maintenance, race bibs, gallons of blueberry soup, awards and a dozen other things. Regarding the awards, as we sat in the warming house at French Park, a guy was trying persuade his buddy to ski the pre Birkie rather than the Vasaloppet. He was telling him how it was on the same course as the Birke, steeper hills, better for conditioning, etc. His buddy just listened, looked him in the eye, and told him, "You're just jealous because I have a Dala Horse and you don't". Carved Swedish Dala horses are given out to the top finishers in each category; case closed. The fund raiser was sold out and there were any number of activities going on at once to raise money. Silent auction, live auction, last skier standing bingo, and various raffles for the pile of donated prizes at the event. Our table did well but I was pretty much shut out. As the Legend and GraciousPartier kept racking up the loot they were so busy watching for winning numbers that they sent the VOR to pick up one of their many prizes. They already had an electric nailer, a framed print, and a medical emergency bag (prompting a few smart remarks about 'Doctor Glen') but they didn't have a pair of bright red racing pants, which is what the VOR brought back to the table. The Legend took one look at them, leaned over and asked the VOR a question (later revealed to be: When's Dave's birthday?), and very quickly presented them to me with a hearty Happy Birthday.
As a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers I certainly don't look down on bright red gear. The fit however, was another story. Even though they were XL, my size, they were a bit 'form fitting' for me. When I pulled them on before heading to Elm Creek on Sunday, I asked the VOR how they looked. "Wear a long jacket" was her quick response. We went out for a classical tour of about five miles and it became apparent these were for races and fast skiing only. When we stopped to chat or admire the scenery for any length of time, I noticed they just didn't offer the protection and wind blocking properties necessary to keep 'the boys' warm. Since I am signed up for a few races this year I guess I'll just use them for training runs and maybe the races. Unless there is an outcry against that plan. What do you think folks?
P.S. The beach at Elm Creek Park is closed and no lifeguard is on duty.