At 6pm tomorrow evening a couple thousand of us will be lined up for the Book Across the Bay, a cross country ski race/tour that was started as a fund raiser for the Tri County Medical Society and the Friends of the Washburn Public Library. Just last weekend we participated in a similar community effort, the Mora Vasaloppet. Thousands of volunteers work to pull off these events and we 'civilians' support them by giving them our registration fees and skiing the race. This years Vasaloppet came off perfectly with excellent snow and temperatures in the high 20F (-2C) range. Things are not going quite so well for the BATB.
Starting last Monday our weather went to hell. A certain reknowned blogger in the Baraboo area and his Milwaukee anti-snow soulmate, consider this warming and snow melting trend to be a very positive event. Most of us winter sports fans consider it a disaster. I managed to get in 10k last night at a local ski area that has made tons of artificial snow but all of their 'natural' snow trails were closed. They say the eskimos have dozens of words for snow. The word for last nights frozen, thawed, refrozen, and then ground up snow was 'snow cone'. It was exactly like skiing on a snow cone before they pour the fake raspberry syrup over it. Crappy is about the best thing I can say about it. The problem they have encountered in Chequamagon Bay is that the snow melted and there were giant puddles on the lake; the good news is that the ice is still 2 feet thick. The other problem is that the hundreds of luminaries that mark the course, ice candles made by partially freezing a 5 gallon pail of water, all melted. Rumor is that the call went out for mason jars to use as substitutes. At least if I hit one of them this year I won't go down like a sack of potatoes and break my binding like I did last year. Fortunately, it has gotten colder as the week went on, allowing the BATB folks to use grooming equipment like the pisten bully to grind up ice and turn it into snow, the same kind of snow cone snow I skied on last evening. They hope they will have six striding tracks and an 18' skate lane by race time tomorrow. The plan is to shorten the race but thats OK too.
No matter the snow condition it will be a fine event. Several friends as well as my sister and hubby will be participating and when good people are around its hard not to have a good time. Even the KingofIronwoodI is planning on making the race this year. He had planned on it last year but woke up with a mysterious virus, likely contracted at the Bell Chalet bar the evening before. By the time his immune system, aided by vast amounts of liquid and aspirin, had fought off the insidious 'bug', it was too late to make the starting line. One can only hope this year he fares better. The Ashland and Washburn community in the bay area comes together to pull off this event and we are all glad they do. It helps give us that positive attitude toward winter that's essential to stay sane as we watch the days get longer.