Monday, February 9, 2009
Vasaloppet '09 - Perfect is the word
When the dynamite was detonated to start this years Vasaloppet (and I love that touch; no wimpy starters pistol or irritating electronic beep here!) the temperature was 35F warmer than the same time last year. The weather was perfect, the trail groomed to a 'T', and the mood of the skiers was very festive. The ambiance was so appealing that BDahlieOfMahtomedi almost sabotaged the 58k relay race effort of the SKOAC Renegades the day before.
Normally with the SKOAC Renegades team, sabotage would consist of overserving the weak willed members with fine ales and red wine the night before the race, but this year it was the lure of the northern trail loops combined with the fact that BDahlie did not ski the race. 'Saving himself for the Birkie' was the excuse. The trails on Saturday were irresistable though, and everytime we got back to the Legend & GraciousPartier's cabin, the demand for 'one more loop, this is too perfect to waste' went up and we all bit and went out and skiied another loop. When we realized we had done over 20k the day before the race we figured it was time to head for the spaghetti feed that TheLegend and GP host at their home in Mora.
I had the first leg of the race and figured I was moving at a pretty good pace in the middle of the pack. That was just until I got to the 35k/58k split however, and all of my 'pack' went left and I headed to the right by myself on the 58k. After passing the first blueberry soup stop I did actually get in front of a dozen or so soup afficianados and headed past the cabin. I did crack up TheLegend when I cruised by and asked if Chad Giese (five time race winner) had gone past yet. He hollered back that he loved my racing pants. I passed a couple of guys who were also wearing relay bibs before I hit the chip exchange point and handed off to the ManFromSnowyLegs, who took off for the second exchange point. He skied a phenomonal classical leg, so fast that he 'collapsed' at the end, and handed off to the IrishPirate who is seen skating off down the trail on the top photo. The Pirate and I skated our legs while the MSFL, BessemerConvivialist, and the VoiceOfReason all skied classical. Team breakdown consisted of two testosterone and three estrogen members. The BC took the hand off from the IrishPirate and the VOR skied the anchor leg into downtown Mora, where the finish runs right down Main Street. We improved on last years frigid time considerably and finished ninth overall among the relay teams entered. We thought that a moral victory after learning of teams of high school racers finishing ahead of us. The combined 'experience' of our team was 236 years, which had to put us right up there in the most elderly relay team category.
Anyone who has any thoughts of skiing a cross country race should give this one a try. There seems to be something for everyone from the kids mini loppet on Saturday to Sunday's 13k, 42k classical, 35k freestyle, 58k freestyle,and of course the 58k relay. The organization after 35 years is superb and the hospitality second to none. The fact that over 100 landowners allow the race to pass through their land is a testament to the community spirit of the event. It is a fun race to watch as well and when the weather cooperates as it did this weekend, there is no better way to spend a winter weekend in Minnesota.