Monday, February 2, 2009

The City of Lakes Loppet

The SKOAC Renegades completed their first ski race of the season this weekend, with the more ambitious folks skiing the 25k Classic and those of us with perhaps less ambition and more sense doing the 10k tour. The VOR and I missed the start by 13 minutes due to a log jam at the shuttle bus but it was booked as a 'tour' rather than a 'race anyhow. Anytime you have people moving in an organized fashion toward the same end point however, there will be racing. I managed to disable my thumb after crashing into a knucklehead who somehow got turned completely sideways on a small bridge in the golf course segment. I may have uttered a couple of phrases that were incompatible with the outdoor family fun theme of the event but I did get up and keep skiing. The real family fun was the night before, with a few thousand people strapping on the skis and touring the candle lit luminaries on Lake of the Isles, an event (the Luminary Loppet) that we all participated in as well.

The organizers laid out an interesting race course which keeps skiers in the woods for almost the entire race, even though it cuts right through the city of Minneapolis. The woods and park system are a testament to Theodore Wirth, the father of city parks in this country, and the race appropriately began at the park that bears his name. It wound through the park, over I-394, and out on to the city lake chain. After passing a couple hundred people, thumb throbbing, I decided it was time to just enjoy the day and make this a leisurely 10k ski rather than a run for time. The city lakes of Brownie, Cedar, Isles, and Calhoun are where a fair number of our Wednesday night paddles are held. Since I had images from the kayak season, I thought I'd try to capture a few when I was standing on the water rather than floating in it. It was a fun concept to think about and I've included a few solid vs liquid water shots here. The two small bottom shots are from different sides of the two bridges between Isles and Calhoun.

As I skied up Lagoon Ave to the finish line, I saw BDahlie and the IrishPirate. Competitor that he is, Mr Dahlie seemed concerned that I stopped to chat instead of V2-ing like a maniac to the finish line. I did finish eventually and came back and watched the rest of the crew cross the line. Once everyone was in, the Renegades adjourned to Figlio's for Bloody Mary's and other healthful post race refreshments. It was a bit jarring to see all these fit and healthy skiers walking around uptown rather than the usual assortment of characters, but I'm sure the usual characters were thinking exactly the same thing.

It was a fine tuneup for the Mora Vasaloppet, which will be run this weekend. Five of us will be sking the 58k relay and the ambitious RonO will be tackling the 42k Classic. Tomorrow night is the official handing out of the race legs at Grumpy's hotdish night. The shortest is 7k, the longest 15.5k. Lets just say people have NOT been lobbying me to give them the 15.5k leg but I'm sure it will all work out in the end. Our goal, if we ever have a goal, is to top our 7th place finish last year. With more teams entered I'm not holding my breath, but its nice to have goals. The unspoken goal is, of course, to have a good time and I feel strongly that it will be achieved once again.

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