When I last checked in I was in Fort Kent, Maine at the 10th Mountain Lodge
(the more northern of the Maine Winter Sports Centers’ world-class ski
venues). My car had not started in days due to the "extreme heat"
that Fort Kent is known to experience in mid January, but hopefully my luck
would change and I would be on the road to Quebec for the last two weekends
of the Nor-Am circuit. I had assembled my team of ace mechanics. Jason Lemieux,
Dave Stewart, and Eric Meyer, all better known for their skiing abilities, had
volunteered to get the Jetta back on the road. After several unsuccessful attempts
at jump-starting the car by way of the cable method, it was decided that a rolling
jump-start might do the trick. Jason chained my car to his truck and pulled
it to the top of the hill on the ski areas’ access road. The hill was
snowy, rutty and had a bend in it at the bottom that threatened to send my car
sliding into a ditch if it didn’t start. As they say, you could cut the
tension with a knife! I hopped into the driver’s seat and my pit crew
gave me a farewell shove. The car built up speed as I bounced down the rutty
decent. There was no turning back now. I popped the clutch and feathered the
accelerator. The engine sputtered, groaned and then spectacularly roared to
life. Vroooommmm! Vroooom! Hell, yeah! I pumped my fist out the window, gave
the horn a couple honks, and much to the delight of the victorious mechanics,
I was on my way to Quebec!
Chris Jeffries was on fire in the skate races
Saint Anne, Quebec
The weather in Saint Anne, Quebec mid January was darned cold. The 10km classic
scheduled for Saturday was pushed back to Sunday when the thermometer refused
to rise above the FIS limits. It’s odd not racing after going through
the normal pre-race routine. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Sunday the temperature
climbed into the upper single digits, an utter heat wave in comparison to the
preceding days. The race coarse that was used for the weekend’s events
was challenging with steep climbs, fast downhills, and a tricky section of hairpin
corners in the final kilometer. It was racing…on squeaky cold snow…in
a place where everyone speaks French, and I think, on principle, refuse to learn
their other national language. More power to them! Who doesn’t like a
good language barrier? Unfortunately, the Sprints on Tuesday were also cancelled
do to cold weather. I admit anticipating the race’s misfortune and had
gone stateside the night before. The only disappointment of the weekend was
that I didn’t get to go to Quebec City’s excellent Discotheques.
Tasha Betcherman was second in St. Anne
Mount Orford, Quebec
The next weekend, Mount Orford held the final two races of this year’s
Nor-Am circuit. For me this would be the weekend that every racer is paranoid
about avoiding. I went to bed on Friday night feeling good. But that night I
didn’t sleep all that well, and awoke the next morning feeling a little
dizzy. I got up early, trying not to disturb my snoring roommate, and went for
an easy jog to evaluate the situation. Lets see. Vision. Not so good. Legs.
Feel like I just finished a 50km race. Stomach. Dreading breakfast. Prognosis.
Houston, we have a problem. I have the flu!
After a quick evaluation of the situation with my coach Eli Brown, I was packing
my things. I would watch the morning’s race and then drive home. The Mt.
Orford crew did a great job running the races. We thank them for not charging
trail fees on top of the race entry fees. Although I spent most of the day Saturday
in one of the waxing tents trying to make the most of a portable heater, apparently
I missed the real drama of the weekend on Sunday. The waxing tents had power
supplied by cables that had been buried in the snow. One of the large ski groomers
caught onto the cable and it nearly pulled the tent to the ground. Eli Brown
who was inside the tent waxing skis at the time commented, "It was almost
as much fun as wiping with poison oak."
Dave Chamberlain won the last Nor Am race
Now I’m at home in Sullivan, NH recuperating. I’ll be racing a few
Eastern Cup races, including the Cheri Walsh Memorial in Holderness, NH that
is one of my all-time favorites. Then I’ll be headed to Wisconsin to the
American Birkebeiner. 6,000 skiers! Sounds good to me.