21 May 2006

Pole Pedal Paddle

The PPP. 6 different segments. 5 different sets of gear. 2 crew members. 3000+ feet elevation loss. 2500+ total participants. 2 hours of pain.

Well, I was a bit worried about the weather. It was great weather. We did have cloud cover and mist when we arrived about 2 hours before the start, but it cleared up slowly, and it was high overcast at the start.

The race starts at the top of one of the chair lifts at Mt Bachelor, where you set your skis and then go down the hill about 50 meters where, after the start, you run up and click into your alpine skis. I didn't exactly get the jump I was hoping for, and it seemd like I was suddenly behind by 3 gates in the giant slalom course. Those guys take off like rockets on that part, maybe I should practice that more. The last time I downhill skied was last years PPP. Oh well, my main objective was to stay upright, and I was successful. I was screaming down the mountain w/ the lead women, and there were a couple stragglers who wandered onto the course in full on snow plow mode, which made things even more exciting. After a minor glitch in the 1st transition, I was racing on my XC skis. Hoping to make up a little time, I was pushing it pretty hard. At the end of a long winding descent, there was a hard left. I was carrying a bit too much speed, and proceeded to crash. Hard. And since the snowpack of about 14 feet has melted to about 6 feet, there are no longer embankments on the sides of the trail, it's more like a drop off. So as I was trying to make the corner, I proceeded to fall, and slid right off the trail and down the bank. As I was crawling back up, I nearly took out a couple of other skiers. I struggled a bit to regain my composure (and speed), but was back at it in a short time-Passing a few people for the second time. I was crusing until the bike leg where I have to say I felt a little sluggishon the couple of uphill sections, before the really fast descent in to Bend. I had my sights on a group that seemed like they were about a minute ahead of me. I caught one of the guys right at the end of the bike and caught another 2 in the first couple miles of the run, where it was sunny and hot. Luckily I had shorts under my tights that I took off after the bike. It was really hot. I was in 7th place to start out the kayak, but Tav (eventual 7th place finisher) had a faster boat, and I paddled as hard as I could but just couldn't stay on him. Fellow XC oregonian Colin also passed me and I finished a solid 9th place. All in all it was pretty fun. It's such a festival of Central Oregon, with a wide range of athletes all the way from the elite olympic caliber athlete all the way to the ordianary people just doing it for fun. It really is somthing to see. I took some photos, check out the slide show here! If I get any from the Ski portion of the race I'll add them, but we didn't bring a camera up there.

Hope all is well. Phlebotomie's start in 15 days.

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