First Frosty Freestyle: Fantastic!
1/16 was the first "Frosty Freestyle 15km" -- the first Michigan Cup race in SE Michigan in decades!
Sponsored by REI and organized by Mike Muha of Team NordicSkiRacer.com (with bunches of club volunteers) -- website for the event at http://nordicskiracer.com/frosty
160 skiers showed up at the Huron Meadows Metropark venue.
I hadn't known that a park near Brighton offered groomed skiing like that, but they keep it good for both skaters and classic skiers over there (a couple miles south of the I-96 / US23 exchange). Part of the race was on a golf course -- which is nice because it gives mid-Michigan skiers some rare "big sky" feelings. They also have some nice forest sections.
It's great that there's a big race near where the bulk of the people are in this state. It's a great way to show that worldclass skiing can be had close to town! Sometimes I get to thinking that if it's come to hand-holding about reality, it might be a lost cause. But 160 skiers for a first-time event! It surprised the organizers. So it has to be good to keep blowing the horn for the great fresh-air activities this region has to offer. No need to travel!
Anyway, I got 37th place, which was dandy for me, being in "just do it" shape. My skis were slow, but I was happy that I could still go at max heart-rate for the 48 minutes. (This was, surprisingly, 10 bpm higher than my best heart-rates in cycling season.) My bro Tim raced, too, for the first time in decades, to support this local event -- he didn't come in too far behind me.
I went out with the lead group, but soon found that I had messed up my base prep since I got dropped bad on even slight downhills. In groomed-type ski racing your bases really matter (in contrast to technical events like the Potto Raid). To join the upper groups in pure XC you need to have your act together in every way -- fitness, skill and BASES. Thankfully, time at the wax-bench with your pals can be pretty fun, too. --There were two stations set up inside at the race HQ. But just showing up and joining in puts you in the gung-ho category! As does spectating out there in the snow. Dozens of folks showed up to cheer us on. Just think cyclocross but bundled up a bit more. Cowbells are appropriate.
At one point I felt that the *rear of my left ski* was gliding OK, which made me chuckle -- you gotta use what ya got!
Another semi-funny thing was when a guy passed our little cluster of skiers. He got a few feet ahead, stumbling every few seconds, nearly going down. He must've been pushing it extra-hard. He never crashed, but teetered and tottered as we blazed along. I couldn't catch him, though! So everyone has their own version of the ragged edge.
(First photo below by Hal Gould.)