Erik, Adam and I met in Norwich for the drive down to Mt. Kearsage. As we arrived, John LaChance, from CSU, was just returning from his course inspection. He reported spots of black ice on the upper third of the route. After ascending Ascutney on roller skis through snow and ice the day before, Adam and Erik seemed unfazed. The boys turned in their entry waivers, but I needed to check a couple of things before signing up. First, I wanted to make sure there would be enough space for us in the vehicles that were driving up to get a ride back down. Once that issue was cleared up, I moved on to the next problem. My roller ski experience was limited to gingerly standing on skate skis for five minutes. It was time to try classic roller skiing. To my delight, I found putting on classic roller skis much easier than skate skis since the ratchet wheel prevented them from slipping backward. With my confidence high, I took off striding, and made it about ten feet before my skis crossed and I fell over. Surprised to learn that falling on pavement didn’t hurt, I decided to enter the race. Erik, the observant strategist among us, noticed the CSU skiers sharpening their pole tips before the start, so we got out a file and followed their lead. With sharp tips, Erik and Adam went off to do a proper warmup. I continued to sharpen my tips as I stood waiting for the start.
As it was a mass start, I found my place in the back. Adam and Erik took off and were out of my sight almost right away. I was quickly ditched by the rest of the field, but I settled into a comfortable pace, hoping to make it to the top before everyone else came driving down to look for me. On the first steep climb, I caught sight of anther skier, and realized I was gaining on him. Before too long, I passed him and was no longer last! As I settled in for the climb, I tried to relax and think about my technique. Things were going reasonably well until I hit the downhill section at about two miles. Adam had described the hill as “short, gradual and immediately followed by a steep up.” What I found was a steep down, girdled by a patch of black ice, that ended with a blind corner. I debated taking the skis off, but instead put on the speed reducers and bravely went for it. Having survived the hill, I was confident I could make it to the top. Before too long, I came to Adam, who had run down to check on me. He took photos and cheered for me by saying I looked “almost legitimate.”
Once I crossed the line, I refueled with a donut, changed into a dry shirt and hat (thanks Dennis and Scottie), put on my running shoes and joined the group for a hike up the short trail to the top.