Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ski report from Phil Rogers

Here's some word's from a skate skier who participated and enjoyed the part I did. First, it was my plan to finish if I appeared to be on schedule arriving at MelGeorge's. This I was not. Trail conditions at my 7:19 a.m. start were actually pretty good and the weather was balmy, probably to balmy for my liking. It wasn't long down the trail and I was down to one light wool top zipped completely open at the neck, no hat or gloves. Boy, that sled pulled harder that I remembered! As I stripped down I looked like I'd just stepped out of a sauna as the steam just rolled.

Messing with my I-pod (gift from Kelly especially for this event) caused me to leap frog back and forth with Bria Shurke. She is quite the skier! Nearing the turn-around pt. (a mile away?) I spotted the skate skier who's tracks I'd been eyeballing the entire way out. I immediately knew when I spotted him my wife was correct with her recommondation I use a backpack, but nooooo, I didn't listen!!!!

I watched as he V-2'd gracefully past. The best I could manage was a long V-1! You skiers (skaters) know what I'm talking about. Ever V-1 down hills? Get used to it in this event. (That is if your'e pulling a sled). By the way, my sled was the 66" variety available to kids at L&M Fleet Supply equiped with grey plastic conduit as poles and a skikjoring belt as a harness, slick. Thanks to Jim Reed (co-worker and fellow Arrowhead nut) I had devised my own pulk that I'm still quite proud of.

My mandatory equipment topped out barely over the minimum at 16+ lbs. I was carrying the Jar of PB which J. Reed graciously gave my at the gear check when I came up short on calories and what I felt was plenty of food and water packed in my styrofoam cooler. This cooler I tested in this year's coldest weather and it kept water from freezing actually for 2 days, quite impressive! I also had a pretty hefty bag containing extra clothes, boots, hand and head wear etc....

So there I was, sweating like a pig pulling my pulk and slowly passing these amazing people who'd set out earlier than I on foot! Wow, that takes some determination. I can't imagine doing the A-135 on foot. I really have respect for those folks!!! There I was cruising past the runner/walkers when, whooosh, there goes a train of cyclist containing Charlie Farrow enveloped in the group.

Most A-135'ers probably know Charlie. As Charlie was the one who actually spoke on my behalf and ability (turns out to be inability) to cruise through this event w/o even loosing any digits. Sorry Charlie, I let you down.

Charlie was doing a little more shucking and jiving on his bike you know, those skinny tires just down "float" like the Surly 4"er's do. But, he's an animal and as animals do he just a-kept-on-a-going! One more oncoming peek at those guys before my turn-around and that would by my last glimpse of them til MelGeorges.

As I made the turn the wind was now oncoming causing me to readjust my temp by topping off my head with a hat again and adding thin gloves. I figured I'd better drink about every hour and snack around every 3. This seemed to work perfectly for me. I've experienced cramping in muscles throughout my body even doing races such as the Vasaloppet in Mora and the Birkebeiner in Hayward. Throughout this event I never experienced a single twinge of a muscle cramp or sense of hunger.

Just the opposite was the case. I felt I must eat even when I wasn't really hungry. I knew I was working my *%#@ off so logically I gotta eat, right? Eat I did. My fare consisted of candy bars for snacks, Lays chips and salami and cheese sandwiches washed down with Gatoraid.

About 5 hours after my start having rested a bit and refilling my fluid containers along with my belly with hot soup at the Gateway store I proceeded. I was a bit discouraged by my pace. My GPS indicated I wasn't managing the pace that would enable me to reach the finish in time to allow transport back to the Falls and then home again and work on Wednsday.

This pace prediction seemed to by coming all too true when at around 6ish in the evening I was "skiing" down a logging road that appeared quite brown under the Black Diamond LED glow. Boy, I wasn't even sure I was going the right way! Had I missed a turn? What the $%(!!. How far do I have to "ski" down this thing? Oh, what's that? Snowmobiles. I'll just ask them. Is Elephant Lake this way? Wheww, thank goodness, I'm on the right track.

Boy, did my spirits lift after a little human interaction in the northwoods night. Not that I was "down" mind you, but hey, would you want to ski what felt like miles down a dirt road in the wrong direction? I know this sort of thing has happened to others here in the past and I didn't want my name on that list.

Anyway, bouyed by this good news I felt awesome. Seriously, I hadn't felt this good all day. I had about 10 miles to go to MelGeorges and figured correctly I'd arrive shortly after 8 p.m. which would put my outside of the time I figured I'd need to actually finish in time.

Arriving at Melgeorges I spoke briefly w/Charlie Farrow who would soon be heading out for round 2 of his bout with the A-135. He informed me the 2nd 1/2 was on the hilly side and I informed him I was dropping. He seemed to agree another 70 miles of this might put a damper on the rest of my race season, I concurred.

Inside I was treated to warmth, hot soup, a burger and drink. I'd been fantasizing about a burger now for about 10 miles, just after my encounter with the 'bilers'. I couldn't believe it when I was informed I could soon be living that dream, sinking my teeth into a juicy burger! It was every bit as good as I'd anticipated.

Drying out listing to other participants share their stories I was lucky enough to overhear a van would soon be departing for the Falls. The wheels in my head turned and I figured w/luck I'd be at home in bed somewhere before morning light which I was, thanks a million for the ride!

Luckily Kelly didn't think I was a burglar and I'm still alive to write this but who knows, next time I knock on the bedroom window in the middle of the night I might not be so lucky!

Thanks all for a great event and I plan to be back, sans the pulk.

P.S. My drop date was wrongly recorded. I arrived and dropped at MelGeorges shortly after 8 p.m. Monday the 4th.

Phil Rogers

Sorry, Phil! We'll make the correction. Must be a typo.


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