"1st Annual OYB Winter Rally": Ann Arbor Area XC Event!
[UPDATE 2/2: What a race! It was neck and neck! The lead changed hands THREE times and all finishers made the podium. Winning time was 50 minutes. So now anyone can go out and ski the outer loop clockwise and see how they compare. 3 brave souls showed up for the windy 10F start. The whole race was in the lovely protected woods. Tim Feldkamp led for the first mile, pushing the pace, while his main contender floundered trying to figure out how to ski on race skis (first time on them this year). I was also overheating catastrophically. Man, XC warms you up! I hadn't skied in the cold yet and it was 5F leaving the house so I put on an extra hat and added an extra wool shirt-jac. Darn, I overheated! So I unbuttoned and took off both hats, got sorted out and finally took the lead. At the halfway point we were still close together when we caught up to 3rd place! Very clever, Brian! I led up my favorite and longest valley uphill but had no kick and so I shamefully stepped aside and rewaxed. Sign of the true rube! Tim rewaxed, too. ...And Brian zoomed on past into the lead once again! I finally got comfy with my kick, it got greasy for Tim and we finished in about 50 minutes. Waited. No Brian. But he was right with me until near the end, Tim said. We went and looked. We had a snack, got changed and looked some more. We bumped into friends from town. Finally found Brian back at the car. He'd accidentally skied 3 loops and had been skiing for 2.5 hours! So Brian won the "most miles" award by far. It started snowing and blowing harder. We had a great victory celebration, apple juice and snacks in my van then called it a day. (Wow, it's a blizzard now, as I type this post-race report!) If we get 6", next Sat we'll do the Waterloo Adventure and try to ski a big chunk of that trail. We'll do Stinch again, too, with more snow---and add the proper 3 more sections, with their 3 lovely hills, to make it a good 1.5 hrs at race pace. One thing I learned today was that XC is just a great outdoor activity: you don't need to wear much. It's so conducive to simple attire. Go light, you'll be fine! OK, bring a light windbreaker if you'll take snack stops. I was also reminded of the beauty of harsh weather. It was COLD. A cold, windy blizzard is a worthy rival. It's sharp and zappy. It'll gitcha. But if you're prepared, you're FINE. Out in the elements. This was the first time this season that we really had some ELEMENTS. Later that night we had a clear sky and big moon. I went for a little walk. It was easy to see. Shadows were crisp. I wasn't dressed quite right so my sand ran out quickly. But if my outfit had no weakpoints and if I'd kept working up some heat, trundling along, I could've stayed out for a full stroll. When you go out at night in the strong deep snow cold under a full moon you get to feel what people have been feeling for centuries.]
[UPDATE 2/1: It's supposed to go down to 4F tonight. High of 14F tomorrow. It'll be a chilly ski so bundle up! The official Swix wax team recommendation is Start Green glider and Rex Green kick over a fine Toko structure... See you there!]
My friend Tim Feldkamp and I have long thought Stinchfield Woods to be a dandy ski area. When I suggested that we should encourage skiers to gather there some Saturday for a fun run, he was all for it.
So we're hearby inviting skiers out next Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m., to ski a great course. Call it what you like. A get-together. A rally. A hammer til ya puke.
Stinchfield is located 20 minutes NW of Ann Arbor, a few miles north of Dexter, a few miles south of Pinckney, just west of the N. Territorial and Dexter-Pinckney roads intersection. We tend to park in the daycare lot on the south side of the road near the intersection.
This area is totally wooded, sheltered and shady. It holds snow well. It offers some big-valley views, but little of the sky.
It's the site of what looks to be the only officially labeled "mountain" in the region: Peach Mountain. And it's the home of the U of M observatory plus 2 radio towers. They have hills goin' on there! And it's wilderness. You won't see a house.
It's been a favorite ski area of mine for years'n'years.
Tim and I scoped out a perfectly lovely yet supertough 2 hour course the other day. Here's a link to a printable version of a map of our proposed course: http://outyourbackdoor.com/articles2007/stinchfield.1.draft.jpg
So it's a go if there's snow. [GOT SNOW! IT'S GO!] If we get a couple fresh inches during the preceding days, we'll be fine. It was OK but icy last Saturday. With a few pebbles here'n'there---rock skis.
It'll be approx a 20 km course. (Maybe someone can measure nicely some time.)
It took Tim and I three hours to scope it out and we knew the course already.
I would call it a definitely challenging course. You'll be tired no matter what speed you ski it at. Bring food'n'water. (And map and compass!)
There are a good SEVEN MAJOR HILLS both up and down on this course. There are four fun little sections of singletrack, too. Maybe a couple dozen intersections.
The rule for the event will be no rules other than courtesy to everyone. We strongly suggest touring skis and kickwax, but feel free to skate on the couple km of wide flat top sections.
This is an unofficial, ungroomed, lovely wooded area. There might be another dozen other trail users out there, doing their own thing, running, whatever. We've even seen sizeable military groups out doing intense manuevers.
You can thank Tim that it's running clockwise. I had in mind the other way, to make the hills the craziest they could be. I suspect that Tim has saved some flesh, skis and unnecessary exhaustion. I had the lust to add "just one more superbig hill." I still think the "Twisting Demon Drop" would be a good one to add. We'll see!
There's a 1 km downhill with 3-4 big rollers in it. We call it the Rollercoaster. It's worth the ticket.
I suggest pre-skiing the course. If you do, feel free to bring a handsaw. There are a few modest limbs across the trail right now. Tim and I will try to also get rid of the couple larger logs during the week. [GOT EM!]
You should definitely print out a color map. We'll go out and ski the course ahead of time (hmmm) and spray food coloring arrows in the snow. But the map will help. I'll even try to update the map with intersections this week. [Tim will do some trail-turn flagging with orange tape.]
We may well decide to meet up again the following Saturday as well. If we get more snow we might hold the next Rally on the Waterloo Trail or nearabouts. (Of course we'd never consider skiing on the "no-ski" portion of the trail, not that anyone else would be out there, but micro-management being what it is...)