Saturday, February 25, 2006

Alpental Life-Link Randonee Rally

Today was the Life-Link Randonee Rally at Alpental, the ski resort 45 minutes from Seattle at Snoqualmie Summit. Although this was a "C" race for me, I am seriously disappointed with how it went down. Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was right.

I raced in the Pro Division and our course included 5,000 feet of climbing (area map). I lined up with the rest of the Pro class in front of the Recreation class with our skis about 20 feet in front of us. When the gun went off we all sprinted to our skis. I apparently didn’t properly clip into my right ski. As I started to run it flew off in mid-stride, and with the safety ski straps (required) attached the ski somehow hit me in the face. Yeah, the ski hit me in the face, you read that right. Not even sure how that is possible. The Pros were long gone at this point as I tried to get the ski back on. I could feel the waves of racers passing me. I eventually got the ski on but was now starting behind the entire Recreation division. So I started to charge, hard charge. After about 10 minutes of full anaerobic pain I had passed the Rec division and was now at the back of the front group of Pro racers, and ready to pass out. I had to remind myself this was a “C” race, I was there for fun, slow down, this shouldn’t hurt so much. The course went up lower and then upper International to the top of the Edelweiss chair lift at the top of Alpental. From here we skied down to the cliffs below the lift about 400 feet, removed our skis and boot packed back up to the top of the lift. At this point it was a downhill race to the bottom – two words: Quad Burn. I gained a few spots and was now probably around 13th place in the pro division.

From here it was skins back on and up lower International again. This is where things got really bad. As I skinned up lower International my skin tail started to come off. When skins get covered with snow the simply don’t stick to your ski bottoms anymore, and it is usually a snowball affect. If it starts, it quickly gets worse. Without skins, you can’t climb up hill. A kind hearted racer passed giving me about 4 inches of duct tape. I stopped and taped my skin on at the tail. It fell off after 3 steps. The next racer to pass me gave me about a foot of duct tape. This worked great, I was off and moving up hill again. After about 15 minutes I had climbed lower international and started out on the Grand Traverse, which is the traverse from the ski resort into the backcountry. That is when my entire skin fell off, tape and all. I didn’t allow the frustration to bubble up, I just took it as it came. But now I had a decision: a) drop out, ski down and bitch about my skins, or b) crawl, boot pack and suffer through the deep snow for the last climb, out and back to Piss Pass, and finish the race.

I chose B, I’m an adventure racer right? Plus I kept telling myself this is a “C” race. This race was really a fun way to cross train and get the competitive juices flowing. I put my skis on my shoulder and tried to walk on the skin track. With the recent two feet of snow this was almost impossible. I could get a few ginger steps in before I would fall in up to my crotch. I’d then have to crawl for a bit to displace my weight and get out of the hole. After crawling out to Piss Pass, I had to now crawl back to International. From there I skied down to the finish line…. ah… a bit disappointed. I think I must have finished somewhere around 25th or so.

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