Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Book Across the Bay

 As the year progresses, one of the things that keeps me sane and grounded is my anticipation of the fun and enjoyment that accompanies our several annual events. One of the more interesting annual ski events is the Book Across the Bay. It is a fundraiser for a number of organizations including the Washburn Public Library, using a grant process with the proceeds of the race.  Seventeen years ago a bunch of folks got together and decided to freeze a bunch of luminaries in pickle buckets, track a course from Ashland to Washburn Wisconsin across Lake Superior's Chequamagon Bay, ski or snowshoe the 10k, and then have a big party at the end.  The idea 'got legs' and this year 3,500 people joined in, from kids being towed on sleds to we borderline geriatric types.
The snow was almost perfect this year.  Ice being ice however, there were a few icy bare spots and the usual pressure ridges, the only topography at all on the flat course.  The weather was in the high single digits and three our our intrepid gang of eight, including me, decided to use skate skis, a decision that proved flawed as the evening progressed.  It was a beautiful night on the ice.  The sky in the west was a deep blue with a line of orange as the sun went down, the luminaries were lighting the entire 10k route, a rustlers moon provided some nice ambiance, and the Big Dipper pointed the way north to Washburn and it's seductive and inviting party tent.  I started the race with the KingOfIronwood Island.  That ended about 3k in when a woman started to fall and stuck her pole between my skis to brace herself.  We both went down with her on top of me.  The King claimed he never saw the incident and later, being a man interested in female companionship, asked me about my technique for having women fall all over me.  I got up, dusted myself off, and made it another 3 or 4k before a second woman fell over to her left as I was passing her and landed on my right ski, which put me squarely on top of her on the ground. I'm not going to print the Kings comment on that incident.  I had a minor fender bender on Thursday which all my friends and relatives attributed to tail-gating.  When I related these two incidents in the tent, I was immediately accused of ass-gating on the ski trail as well.  At this point any thought of a decent time had evaporated and I did fall one more time, all on my own, as I was crossing an icy pressure ridge at about the 7k mark.  Fortunately I remembered a local business that I patronize had told me they would be having a rest stop. The owner told me that in addition to a bonifre, healthful energy drinks and water, he  would also have an adult beverage or two for the folks he knew.  Of course the King had immediately stopped there and waited for me but I must have just missed him.  Somehow my sister skied past without me seeing her and we met at the finish line.  The last 4k or so was tough because the temperature had dropped to 0F and the skate skis felt like I had sandpaper on the bottom due to the change in the ice crystals in the snow.  We all made it in fine form however and enjoyed the music of Fido and the Love Dogs in the tent.  The three dollar pints of South Shore Nut Brown Ale made everything about the evening just that much better.  Some body passing even ensued, with a close relative of mine being a reluctant participant, but everyone had great fun.
Its great to see a grass roots community event come off like this.  Between the large warming/party tents on both ends, freezing and deploying the luminaries, registration, course tracking, and ambulance service, it was a collective community effort from start to finish. No giant corporate sponsor had banners all over the place; I hope Budmiller never hears of this event and attempts to throw big dollars at it so we can continue to enjoy the local brew.  The rest stops along the way were outstanding and have become really creative. The course went past the sea caves south of Washburn that we play in when the wind keeps us off the big lake, which were nicely lit with luminaries.  It's a great local event, one which we sincerely hope will continue in its present form.

(all photos are crappy iPhone images.  Sorry, I was traveling light that night......)

No comments: