Thanks to the late start time of 11 am I decided, along with several other CSUers, to make the longish trek up to Bethel, Maine for the Flying Moose Classic 22 km race held at Gould Academy's course. It was going to be cold. Would the forecast winds hold off long enough to get the race in without loss of fingers, toes or nose? The long drive was easy thanks to the early hour and virtually no traffic. And, there was no wind! Rob and Kathy were already waxing skis when I arrived and slowly the troops gathered and started testing skis. Most everyone had to bump their wax up a notch given the loose, granular old transformed snow under the thin layer of new snow. There was barely enough snow for a track, but that seems to be par for the course for this season. Without the wind the skiing was quite comfortable, even at 12F. There was a 10 min. delay at the start to get the timing working properly and even that delay was not uncomfortable as the sun popped out for a while.
Within 200 m of the starting line this course starts climbing in a series of steps with one downhill and then a relentless series of ups. Even though I had slotted myself in where I belonged I was completely gassed in about 1 km and had to back off. I was desparate for a downhill and a bit of rest. I had already been gapped and I could see Rob and Kathy disappearing into the distance and I had exactly 0 gears to shift into. Now this course is pretty tough with 2 sections - a hilly 4 km loop and a much easier 3 km loop. That first loop has some squirrelly downhills (think Bogburn on wider trails). Well, I was so tired when we got to the squirrelly downhills that I completely spazzed and did a nice superman wipeout on the second one. I had to let several skiers go by before I could get up without interfering, dusted myself off and headed down the next downhill and corner - CRASH. WTF! At this point I settled myself down and decided that I just had to get going and finish this section of the course. I was still exhausted and so I just plodded up the next couple hills and started to gather myself to resume chase. I had no idea where everyone was. Jim Fredricks had pulled out due to a muscle pull and all the rest of my competition was somewhere ahead. On the easy part of the course I pulled it together, finally caught my breath and got moving and started to catch up to a few people. On lap two I could see Jonathan Chaffee ahead and gave chase. The downhills were almost easy now that I focused on them and I started feeling pretty respectable. I passed several skiers being a bit timid on the long fast downhills on the easy part of the course but I also got passed by some of the 10 km skiers who started 2 min. after us, most notably CSU jr. Matt Moreau who shot by and promptly disappeared ahead. Matt went on to win the 10 km by about 50 seconds. Well done! Ex-CSU Jrs. Hadley Moreau finished in 9th and Carina Wallach finished 12th in the 10 km.
Lap 3 was the best yet. At one point where the course doubles back on itself I could see Rob, who was struggling with fighting off a cold. I quickly realized however that he was still way ahead of me at that point in the course. I finally passed Jonathan and nailed down a couple more spots on the final downhill and long climb toward the stadium and finished hard. A backwards race for sure, but at least I was able to salvage a strong finish after such a lousy start. Steve Lake was the first CSUer finishing in 18th having had a good, solid race. Rob finished 21st, I was 25th, Gray Holmes was 39th, Clinton Kreuger was 43rd, and Jody Newton was 45th overall and the only CSU woman.
After warming up in the yurt and swapping some race stories Clinton and I bundled up for the ski back to the parking lot. The wind was now howling and it felt a lot colder. We'd gotten the race in just in time. Results and a video of the start are posted on the Bethel Outing Club site. Link below: