I raced my first Alley Loop in Crested Butte on Saturday. Since everything else in CB is dusted with magic, it makes sense that this nordic race would stay consistent with the theme; perfect blue skies and sun, locals in outstandingly wacky costumes (probably conceived over PBRs and tequila at the Eldo), and overnight lows that hardened the perfectly groomed kilometers just outside of downtown.
It began with a shotgun straightaway down Elk Avenue, followed closely by a heartbreak hill heading towards Kebler Pass. After that gut-bust, we skied a false flat for several minutes. Thankfully the course then headed into CB’s impossibly beautiful northern valley, a rolling and smoother track with snow white peaks all around you.
After one lap, we coursed back through town and skied the tight alleyways and narrow foot bridges, past bleary eyed locals just shaking off their Friday night bender. Two guys in lawn chairs and jean shorts, looking just how you would imagine (re: baked) cheered me on while the temp’s hovered just around 10 above zero. Lap two proved how incapable I am of skiing fast which, it turns out, is quite a handicap while, umm, racing.
As a group of 60 year old ladies in cow costumes and a guy with what looked like a cigarette dangling from his lip, each yelled “on your left,” I began to concede my ambitions of finishing in any respectable position. So I did what any slow poke would do…considered ripping my timing chip off and throwing it into the nearest bush. But instead I just worked on skiing consistently and trying to better my form. Efficient skate skiing technique is like the Tao of Ski…hard to attain.
This race is classic. Do it if you ever get a chance!