Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Loppet Weekend

Sunday was Loppet morning and time for me to chase around the park, following the pack to see the race unfold. With a careful, time-tested strategy I can catch the racers using shortcuts on my skis and of course my car to leapfrog the racers and see the race unfold at various points. Always good fun and the day was shaping up to be a beauty. Today would be more driving/less skiing then the full course as they’d rerouted the course to all parkway skiing but I could always go for a ski after the races wrapped up. At the startline there was a bit of a nasty breeze blowing but the temperature was decidedly warmer than past years. The groomed trail was in excellent shape and looked to be particularly fast – it was bound to be a fast race. I positioned myself at “turn 1” for the start and the thundering herd bore down at the starter’s horn. I was lucky enough to be spot on for a crash in the pack –lucky for me but perhaps not so much for the two involved. That said it was only two racers that crashed amidst the melee of racers so they should count themselves lucky as the masses magically parted around them allowing the two downed skiers to spring back up and get on with their race. From the start line I sprinted down a horrifically icy track (ungroomed) to catch the leaders through the 5k mark before driving up into the park to watch them u-turn at Penguin for the first out and back portion of the parkway. From there I drove a little further up to MacKenzie King and skied down to the parkway to watch the race head out and then return from Champlain lookout. The lead pack looked strong and fast and I had to keep recalculating their expected times as they were always faster than I anticipated (race speed was 25k/hr for 53k!). The fast conditions meant solo skiing would be tough and instead packs of skiers drafted along – woe to the individuals who got caught off the back of a train as it would mean some hard chasing to get back on. After the bulk of the racers had gone by me and headed for the finish line I headed off to get a ski in but alas just a few hundred meters along my ski hit a gel pack on the trail… and it was like throwing out an anchor. My work with the Race Weekend has fostered a heavy dislike for gel packs and this didn’t do anything to improve my dim view of them. With a ski that was now collecting gobs of snow I opted to head back to the car and drive to the finish line and see what I could before driving home to watch the 500. Once that race was over I headed back to the park for an evening ski on freshly cleaned skis…. Being sure to steer clear of the parkways where the water stations were located. Lots of pictures of the loppet can be found here


Justin Demers said...

I checked the photos from my start mishap. Its not clear on the angle of the first photo but I'm actually skiing behind Andrew in diagonal from him. He turns left without notice, skis on my tips, falls and the rest is pretty obvious. Nothing broken but I missed the lead pack.

Kenmore said...

Right you are. In hindsight the reason I was able to focus in on the crash was because I noticed Andrew change direction (from the rest of the crowd). Perhaps he was looking to get to some daylight on the outside and then move forward. Without turn signals I guess that's always a threat in a big mass start race.

Andrew said...

Ha ha, yeah bit of a dumb move, oh well. Hey, Justin told me that there was a frame by frame shot, d'you know where I could find this?

Kenmore said...

Hi Andrew;
Indeed all my Loppet pics are here on my flickr site - http://www.flickr.com/photos/79095835@N00/sets/72157614014722290

Certainly you recovered nicely from the crash as you had the lead by the 5k mark... but perhaps adreneline is a wonderful thing ;)