Thursday, March 16, 2006


East coasters

He made it...too tired to drink beer


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ha Ha

Marc finally blogs

Skiing Fools

Mardi Gras!

all dressed up with a mountain waiting

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More dishes...

Washing Dishes

A rare picture of skis...I promise we did ski

Sunday, March 12, 2006

more mexicans

Mexicans in Tahoe

Buying skis at a discount

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

free the heel free the mind...

There was a bit of the hero's jounrey taking place here in Tahoe this March as the married boys from the East and the umarried boy from the West met in Tahoe to reminisce about the past, to enjoy the present and to lay down some new terrain for the future. Many feet of new snow, sublime mountains and forests of pine and fir was the backdrop.

There were amazing sights to be seen, epic battles on skis and on the fussball table; the verbal sparing did not cease as all the first borns jostled for prominence. At the same time the brotherhood of St. Peter was reaffirmed.

As in Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, 20 years of living was morphed by mountians, snow and skis- the old patterns and passions returned but unlike Hawthorne's tale the members of this group have been tempered by their years.

Free the heel, free the mind-

Hero Day

The chairlift dumped us off at the summit of Alpine Meadows, the downhill ski resort we chose for our last day of skiing in Tahoe. As the wind whipped around the four of us hooked on our poles and inched over to what a helpful sign said was the ``Easiest Way'' down the mountain. Looking over a ledge as snow and wind bit into our faces, some of us privately wondered about hopping the chair back down. It was a low moment. Instead of retreating, we buckled in, let our skis run and picked our way down through deep powder snow. Khalil, who has struggled on the bunny slope at the beginning of the day, now cut confident turns against the steep hill. Marc and Mark picked their way carefully, trying to dodge steep mounds of powder and keep ourselves from flailing out of control. Waffner, who uses mountains like this as a simple warm-up, cut wide confident turns on his telemark skis.

Later that afternoon, in the bar, we debated the merits of letting the machines whisk you up to the top of the mountain instead of slogging it out yourself. We might not all be converted downhiller, but for one day of deep powder skiing in Tahoe we all had a blast.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Great" race? yes and no..

against all logic, the 4 of us got up early, put on our gear and race bib numbers, and headed off to the ski race. 30km- almost all uphill for 10km, followed by mostly downhill for the last 20km.
We lined up in our pen with wave 4. based on watching people during warmups and seeing their bib numbers, I could tell that seeding ourselves in wave 4 was a likely a tad optimistic. the annoucer told us that there were 875 entrant- less than usual due to the dearth of snow leading up to the race, then the excess immediatley prior. he also mentioned that racers had come from far-away places such as wash, dc. most of the people are locals, but people do come from all over, and the lead wave had the subaru factory team. each wave started with a couple minutes after the preceeding one- off we went and started the long, steady climb to the summit. a couple of kms into the race it was obvious it was going to be a tough race for me. climbing on skate skis is never easy for me, but I felt especially out of it today. awkward technique, sub-optimal fitness, altitude, and having skied several hours each of the 2 previous days ensured that I felt pretty weak very quickly. after about 3 km I saw Drajem about to pass me, and I paused to chat with him. I thought he'd like to comisserate about the brutal humanity of it all, maybe even talk about how much we want to quit, but he wanted no part of it. so, while he skated off into the distance, I was left to suffer in my private hell of half walking, half skiing. the kilometers were passing slowly, but not so the hordes coming up from behind. it was equal-opportunity discouragement- men, women, old-timers, young girls and boys and worked their way past me.
Eventually I made it to the fisrt "soup station" at 10km. no soup to be found but I grabbed a little gatorade and chocalate and headed off towards the downhill section. this part was reall fun. fast straight sections with the occasional swithback. now I was passing people instead of being passed, and it was nice to covers the miles with minimal effort. 20 km seemed to come in no time, and as the trail flattened I made it to 25k. I left that checkpoint determined to finish strong, but as soon as I started going it was obvious my body was telling me it had had enough. So even thought the terrain wasn't that tough I ended up struggling on every little hill. Som epeople on the side encouraged us- telling us that there was only 1km to go. again I committed to cranking out the last bit- I tried to figure out how long a km should take me but couldn't calcualte it with my tired brain. A half km later I could see down below us the town of Truckee and I figured we'd have a final descent. I expected some relatively gradual switchbacks but instead the trail started aiming steeply down- a few tight fairly steep sections followed by a very steep long downhill across the finsh line. on one of the final hairpins a woman missed the turn and crasdhed into the snowbank. distracted by her and with tired legs, I found myself missing the turn as well, smashing thru the snow bank. no harm done , I untangled myself, and made my way to the steep final hill. along with a few others I gathered myself and mostly snowplowed down, very happy to be finshed. In the end I finshed in 2:32, good for 391st place, in the top half at least. drajem had finshed 10 mninutes earlier, and todd came in perhaps 15 minutes later. we grab bed some chilli then walked up the hill to encourage khalil, who had gamely stuck it out despite struggling on the fast downhills. it really is a fantastic event, and I'm glad I did it, but I do wish I could have actually skied a lot more of the hill. - marc

Drinking Before Noon

When is it appropriate to grap for a free dark beer befroe noon? How about just after you have finished one of the most draining races of your life. Marc had goaded us all into doing a 30k ski race; Khalil was thrilled to participate. Todd and I were a bit more apprehensive.

As we lined up this morning, none of us knew what to expect. Yesterday we slogged through some awful snow, duck walking and whining. Today the snow was packed and fast and so as the gun when off we all were in better shape today, and we began to climb. The course took us up 10km to the top of the mountain. It was a slog but at the top there was lemonade and cookies waiting for us -- and then the fun began. The downhill through the Sierras was fast, beautiful and like nothing else I have ever done before. Within seconds, it seemed, we were at the 20km mark. From there throbbing legs and more lemonade and cookies took us all through to the finish. And then, not a moment too soon, it was time for chili and free dark beer. The Great Ski Race was indeed a great race!

The great race Khalil

Well I feel like hell right now..even typing this entry is taking up a lot of effort.

So we all went along with Marc's idea to do the 30 KM race from Tahoe city to Truckee. I really didn't imagine it would be that hard.

I was pretty excited to race when I woke up in the morning. We made pancakes for breakfast and hustled out of the hut. We got to the race course and it was a lot like a rowing race, with people husltling around to prepare their eqiupment and last minute bathroom stops.

All four of us lined up in our starting pen. I had my classic skis on and was part a small minority among all the skaters. We were in the fourth starting group. There were six starting groups (it turns out I should have started in the fifth or maybe the sixth starting pen.

The first 5K was a moderate uphill and I was being passed by a steady stream of skaters of all kinds; young/old/women/men. I was striding fairly hard and passed a few slow skaters. After the first 5K the course turns up into a steep incline and stays that way for the next 6K.

At this point, it became a lot more even and the steady stream of skaters passing me, became a trickle and I started passing a lot of the skaters back as the incline evened out the style disadvantage. I was feeling good, but not great, my heart rate was probably a steady 165 bpm. I was pretty exhausted by the time I reached the peak where the first soup station was. I had only stopped once before for some gatorade so I stopped and had a couple of small cups of sports drink and took off down the hill.

The next 6K was for the most part a split between moderate and moderate to hard downhills. I kept snow plowing because I was afraid to pick up too much speed since my control around downhill turns had something to be desired. After passing the 15K mark I was starting to feel worn out and the downhills were stressing me out. Of course I didn't realize that the worst was yet to come. The course became much hillier with steep inclines and scary steep decents that had many hairpin turns. I ended up spilling out a few times when I new that I wouldn't make the turn. By this point any of the skaters that I had worked hard to pass were just whizzing by me down the hills. I finally got to the 20 K mark in one piece.

At this point I was intensly hungry, worn out and stressed out by the what was to come. I was quickly decending into survival mode. I had been skiing for 2 and 1/2 hours and still had 10 K to go. I slugged through the next 5K thinking to myself about what a wimp I really was. I stumbled into the second soup station. I drank some more gatorade and had a very small piece of granola bar.

Five Kilos left and I was feeling completly worn up, I would have been happy to hop on a snowmobile and hitch it home at this point. My head hurt and my legs were burning. The course at this point was not that challenging, but I was in no shape to take advantage of it.

I finally came round a turn and there were some course organizers who were very nice and cheered me on. (everyone at the race was extremely nice). I mumbled to one of them how much longer? The guy answered, 1K, dude! That really lifted me up. Then he said:" Its just another hill then a really narly downhill." And now that didn't feel good. So I struggled up the last uphill which was about 3/4 of a KM. The hill wasn't all that bad except that I was really stressed out now about the narly downhill. I had all these images in my mind that in the end did absolutely no justice for what actually lay ahead. I finally came to the downhill, which was a steep downhill with a series of S turns and it was really bad. I literally tumbled from one turn to the next. I finally saw the finish line which was at the end of a legitamate downhill skiing run. The other three guys were done and decided to trek up to the top of the hill to encourage me on.

By that point I needed all the help I could get. I finally pointed my skis down and snowplowed really fast to the finish line. As I crossed the finish line the anouncer said my name and I did a full speed face plant in front of the crowd which elicited a "OOOOOOO"

Feeling completly sick and wiped at this point I found the other three who were nice enough to congratulate me on finishing.

I am so glad that its over... and I am really hungry right now.


One odd thing about Tahoe city is all the hitchhikers. Everyday there are youngish people hanging out a thumb, presumably looking for a ride to ride or ski. Is this typical in ski towns?
This am while making breakfast, we saw a young woman, alone, trying to get a ride. After waiting a while , she started walking. So, while a lot of people seem interested in hitching a ride, it doesn't seem necessarilly too easy to get picked up. at least not at 7am.we haven't picked up anyone, but with our big Ford Enormo-car we have the room.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Eve of the Great Ski Race

Apparently a big Tahoe tradition, the Great Ski Race is a partly serious/partyl fun race that raises money for the area search and resucue. It's 30km, moslty uphill for the frist 1/3rd and mostly downhill for the rest. Knowing how rough our technique is and how tiring it is to skate uphill, we are all a bit apprehensive about racing on skate skis. on the steeper parts classic skis will almost surely be easier to shuffle up on. but, drajem and gwadz are still looking to try it on skate skis- maybe... khalil just has classic skis, so he'll be using those. waffner is still deciding what he is going to do- the miserable slog at the end of royal gorge was discouraging, but we have been told the the race course is a lot better. the race starts at 9am, and goes in 5 or 6 waved. we somewhat arbitrarilly assigned ourselves to wave 4, behind all the more serious skiers, but hopefully ahead of any grandmas on snowshoes. it should be a bit of mayhem, but presumably will stretch out for the long slog up the 10km opening hill.

Why Did We Do That Last Loop?

The question for the day is this: Can four of the best tacos in northen California compensate for some of the slowest, ugliest and most demoralizing skate skiing we have ever done? The answer for me: Well, uh, combine it with a Fat Tire beer and a couple of cookies and the agony of duck-walking up those final hills melts away pretty fast.

The day started well enough: We registered for our race and then had Jim the wonder instructor lead us through a couple of hours of skating tips. `Hey, maybe this skating thing, which had bedeviled me in the past, might not be so hard after all,' we thought. And then it was time for chili.

Our death march through some of the most scenic skiing in America started right after lunch. Gwadz got a great recommendation on a ski loop and off we went -- first enjoying the small tow rope and downhill right outside the door. Things were looking good. The first trail was soft, but downhill and we cruised through it to yet another downhill section. `These tow ropes are awesome,' Mark thought. Not everyone was so keen. Off we went again, slogging a bit more, but enjoying the ski.

Then came the fateful moment: With the afternoon fading away, the sunset reflecting off the butte in the background, Todd suggested a short loop ski to get a feel for what tomorrow's race will hold. Things went to hell soon after. The snow was deep, soft and impossible to skate along the top of -- atleast for novices like ourselves. A couple of steep hills turned us in to tall ducks, walking up dejectedly. And the trail kept going on and on...It wasn't fun. By the end, we were all reduced to ducks even on relatively flat ground watching the weekend warriors ski ahead of us in the ski tracks. In the end Todd was left wondering: `Why would anyone ever ski without a lift to take them to the top of the hill?'

But then we were off in search of tacos and beer to take the edge off.

Skiing in Molasses

Today we went up to Royal Gorge for our skating coming out. Royal Gorge is the premier X-C ski place in the US with over 300 KM of trails. We decided to take a ski lesson as a foursome. Jim was a grey beard and was actually very inciteful. It was tough to compress 10 years worth of skiing experience in 2 hours. But we all felt like it was helpful.

After the lesson, we hit the trails, which was a very frustrating experience for all of us. The snow was soft and sinking and after an hour and a half of skiing we could barely muster more than a shuffle with few bursts of skiing.

The best part for everyone was when Khalil going down a fast down hill couldn't make a hairpin turn and kept going straight falling face first into a 5 foot snow bank. Mark came to his rescue eventually after everyone busted a gut laughing.

We are doing a 30 KM "The Great Race" tomorrow and we are all sore and a little demoralized after today's ski.

King of Flatulance

who is the king of flatulance?

well at least we haven't set off the Carbon Monoxide detector

Saturday morning breakfast

Why doesn't Todd drink caffeine? Because it was found in the streams...

Marc came up with a brilliant idea...why don't they genetically modify the cocoa tree so that the beans are caffeine free!