It is slowly beginning to be a tradition that after Bend Camp, a bunch of skiers will make the 8-hour trek north to participate in the Ski to Sea, a multi-stage team adventure race from Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay. The opening leg of the race is a 7km cross-country race with a LOT of climbing. You start at the base area of the Mt. Baker ski resort and head up the outrun for about 300m, then hang a hard right, swing back down through the start area and farther downhill through sweeping turns to a low point on the course. From there it’s close to a 1km climb back up, topping out at the same high point as the beginning climb, where you then complete another ~2km of rolling terrain before descending back to the tag zone. The mass start is epic: 500 races (most of whom are recreational-level skiers) all massed together in soft snow. I heard about six different people mourn their start mishaps where poles were broken, baskets were torn out, puppies were killed, etc. Epic.
Anyways, it was a great race for me. Coming off a big volume week on-snow in Bend I was hoping to hold in with the lead group, comprised of some of the SuperTour’s top distance skiers: Brian Gregg, Mikey Sinnott, Brent Knight and Matt Liebsch. I figured I would stay conservative and hold with the pack, and if I had any gumption left towards the end, to spend it. Last year I blew up gloriously about 2km into the race and spent the rest of the time trying to pick up my own pieces. This year went much better; at the top of the long climb Brian, Brent, Mikey, Erik Carleton (Canada) and I had gained a bit of a gap on the few others from the front pack. Brian then made his move and gapped us, and I surged forward to drop Erik and even up with Mikey and Brent. The three of us came roaring in to the finish together, 16sec behind Brian’s Top Gun victory. For me, it was a solid effort. It confirmed that my training is on the right track and my fitness is once again higher than before.
This week was a nice recovery week and I was able to get a lot of work done in my classes as well as on the motorcycle and other various shop projects. Next week I begin coaching the youngsters and volume picks back up – let the summer begin!