I love winter. I love spring, summer and fall as well, but when I was living in San Diego, I missed having a real winter. I love the snow, the cold, skiing. Here in Utah, we get plenty of all of it. Having ridden my bike so much these past 7 years has made winter an important time to get some much needed rest and cross training in as well. Last winter was really mild and I rode my bike almost exclusively. Not coincidentally I was burnt up by June. This winter, I've made a concerted effort to mix it up a bit. I've done some running, back country skiing, took in a sprint triathlon and this past weekend, took up skate skiing. I actually entered a 10k race, which wasn't the smartest thing in the world.
I'm an athletic guy. I think I'm coordinated and in pretty good overall fitness. I've also been XC skiing a few times in my life and I consider myself an expert downhill skier. So I figured skate skiing, while difficult, wouldn't be so difficult I couldn't do it for 6 miles. Turns out I was wrong, very wrong.
I started my day early at my 5:30 am spin class. A nice warm up for sure. I then made the snowy drive to Ogden Nordic Center to rent some skis for my adventure. I took in a some practice runs but quickly realized I had bitten off way more than I could chew. But I already had my bib number on so there was no backing out now!
Once the race started, I was quickly and swiftly dropped. North Fork Park out at the Nordic Center is not a leisurely place to skate. There are steep and long hills and not a whole lot of flats. It was on the first long hill that I started to question my ambition. A friend and excellent skier lapped me before I had even finished the first of 3 laps. I had put in a valiant effort and had already logged about an hour and a half on the skies so at the end of the first lap I decided I should take in some of the free lessons being offered that day!
I joined some friends and teammates just as one of the lessons was beginning. That lesson was awesome. And it pointed out some serious flaws in my overconfident technique. Did you know there are actually names for the different skate skiing styles? I didn't, but now I do. Will I enter another race anytime soon? Not unless there's some sort of beginner category. But I had a blast. Skate skiing seems like it would be an awesome regular cross training activity. My quads, core, upper body and cardio system were all well worked. I ended up burning more than 1000 calories on the day and got to take advantage of some of all this snow and beautiful mountains.. Which is really the only reason for having winter in the first place.