Sunday, January 24, 2016

All Glide! - My 8th Lake Louise to Banff Loppet

Last year the race was a 52 km S-L-O-G, as there was "no glide" after each double-pole! This year it was 72 km "all glide"! Was way better, though was still quite the effort with almost 80% double-pole single-kick!

The 2-3 cm of fresh snow overnight, nicely covered the slightly glazed tracks from the previous day's melting temps and rain.

Jumped on the 6 a.m. shuttle bus from Banff to the start at Lake Louise. At the bib pickup, relay skier Bill Young was kind to help arrange for my skate ski gear to be dropped off at the transition from Leg 5 to Leg 6.
The race started barely at daylight on the frozen Lake Louise. There were a few racers to follow down the double pole descent on Tramline, as it was difficult to pass in the left side track.

A few lumpy road crossings had volunteers quickly shovel snow on the road after a car passed.

Leg 1 usually is the best tracked of all the 6 legs. This time is was just ok. I almost dead-stopped when my skis scraped a rock on the Hwy 1 underpass.

An 800m section on Morant's Curve could not be track-set. Fortunately, there was just enough snow on the road to double-pole as the sound of ski tips hit the pavement. Just before the tracks began up the snowbank, heard the sound of grating skis likely hitting rocks underneath.

When the track swerved on a few lumpy sections, I fell a couple times landing forward on my knees.

Early in Leg 1, I managed to get in a few slurps of fresh frozen thawed coconut water from my Camelbak. It is a long leg at 22k. At the first transition, I asked for help and coached a spectator to grab a date from my forward-facing fanny pack. Excellent refuelling!

Leg 2 was the best scenic leg and was mostly in good shape (out of the 6 legs!).
Leg 3 had a surprising crusty layer underneath the bits of fresh snow. The normally crazy fast descending section in the trees was calmed by that snow, thankfully. Just over half distance done… and feeling the effects of continuous double poling.

Skied mostly alone with a relay team skier passing me or me re-passing a slower relay teammate.

Leg 4 was hilarious attempting the big climbs with no grip using short weighted steps. On the descent, the track was set very close to the road. Speeding clumsily down the wobbly track had me cautious with the oncoming cars so close. It would have been a quick tumble into traffic with the skittish snow.
Leg 5 start - photo
Leg 5 was in the best shape I have ever seen it in all the years I've raced this loppet (when this section was included). Realistically, the track was still pretty lumpy with poling through deep snow every so often. I was so tired, and could not wait to get out of the adventurous back swamp section.

My double-pole single-kick muscles were maxed out!

My skate gear was waiting for me at transition… all zipped up in their bags. I quickly hollered for anyone to help me. A kind woman and guy spectator helped unzip the gear. I plunked my butt down on the damp snow to remove my boots. One toggle was iced up. Moments later to my surprise my whole boot was tugged off by the guy. Awesome help! I tossed on my skate boots. My guy then gave me my thermos I had prepared with Apple Blossom honey in warm water with cinnamon. What a great boost!

The 800m run on the pavement to the trailhead with gear dangling was awkward. Note to self to leave ski sleeves on.

Even though I now had skate skis on, I double-poled in the track whenever I could as the inner lane was lumpy. I was so happy to switch disciplines. The hill climbs were forever long. Finally onto the snowy bike path by the river, the bomb-field of teeny pine cones got me once. I fell to my knees with a screech as a couple Sunday walkers looked back at me.

A short skate-ski on the river, and the finish was close by.

Ivana Novosel who I passed on the descent at Lake Louise on Leg 1 came in only a few minutes back. Looking at results, we flip-flopped for fastest solo women's times for the different legs. 3rd woman Jessica Stichelbout was also getting closer in time.

The top team "overall" was the dynamic triple of local Canmore/Banff women Maria Hawkins,  Kathy Davies and Theresa Gawron. They had a battle to the finish line with the top solo male.

I appreciate all the volunteers that shovelled snow on the road crossings, train tracks, and were marshalling all over the place (even in the back-swamp), and the cheers they gave.

I was very slaughtered at the end (and during)! It is a wicked challenge in a beautiful scenic area… to want to do it again. Each year with the varied weather conditions makes it a different course.


Nordic views

Low sunset in Dec with an early season ski
 on the Lars-Taylor trail at Sovereign Lakes

Awesome New Year's Eve day ski with Karine Travaillaud…
-10C, excellent grip & glide, & sunshine!
Connector trail between Sovereign & Silver Star.
Snowy view of Monashee mountains.
Top of Panorama Ridge at Nickel Plate Trails - photo Amanda Kosmerly

Skiing the big climb at Larch Hills (near Salmon Arm)
overlooking Mara Lake above the clouds
Awesome trail Backcountry Connector at Nordic Trails up Hwy 33 - photo Amanda Kosmerly
A lodgepole pine on the 6km nordic ski loop in the Jackman Flats Prov Park - On Hwy 5, just south of Hwy 16 (from Jasper past Tete Jaune Cache)

The turn-around point on Cascade trail in Banff National Park
 - with Di MacGibbon

At peak of Bear Cr Trail
Quick hike up Bear Cr Trail… sitting in a tree stump on a rare sunny winter day