December 10th Targhee Tune-Up Nordic Race Report
It all started with an email on Thursday from my friend and summertime mountain bike rival, Mark Llinares:
(Read out loud with your best British accent for effect)
Targhee Tune up Nordic race is on Saturday, its 10K of suffering. I have an idea. You do that and I will do the Togwotee Winter classic- on a bike.
I have been bugging Marco to rent a Fat Bike and do the TWC for two years. Now he was offering to try it if I skied a measly 10K. What choice did I have? Did it matter that I hadn’t been on skate skis yet this year? Or that my skate skis were hanging in the garage with a coat of storage wax from last winter and needed some proper attention? Or that the Targhee Nordic track starts at 8,500’ and is almost never flat, meaning that it punishes those with poor technique?
It’s only 10K. I can do anything for 10K…famous last words.
Melissa, Anna, and Katie pre-race
Friday morning I scraped the storage wax off and applied a fresh coat of Toko S3 Red. No fancy wax for me. Friday afternoon I headed out to Teton Canyon for a short skate to see if I still remembered how these things work. Teton Canyon is mostly flat and straight so it can give you the false impression that you actually know how to skate ski. I left Teton Canyon Friday afternoon with supreme confidence that I could survive 10K at Targhee.
Saturday was a gorgeous bluebird day and the temps were mild. A small crowd of hardcore Nordic racers were milling about the lower parking lot and working their way up to the start area above the resort. There are two very rude hills to climb just to get to the start area and I was questioning my sanity on the second hill only 12 minutes into my skate. Yikes! In hindsight, I should have ridden my Fat Bike to the start line with my skis on my back.
I won’t bore you with a play-by-play of my 54 minute suffer-fest...and I did suffer. What little technique I had deteriorated quickly as I blew myself up on each hill. Poor technique means wasted energy which leads to a higher heart rate which leads to even worst technique...it's a vicious cycle. Near the end of my second lap I was duck waddling up a steep off-camber pitch when I heard a voice yelling “Stop. Stop. Stop.” It was Mark Llinares. Mark had already finished and was skating his “cool down” when he saw me in my most pathetic state. Mark skied over and immediately jumped into instructor mode. His simple tip of committing to the outside ski made such a difference and we worked on this for the remainder of my lap. This simple lesson was well worth the entry fee.
Thankfully, I am at point in my life where I am not embarrassed to be at the tail end of a race. I was in fact dead last. Despite being last, I had a great time and learned something so it was a huge success. I have a month to practice before the Spud Chase at Teton Springs.