We have had events in three totally different venues this year, from Gore Mountain’s luxury Ski Bowl with the possibility of man-made snow, to Hilltop Orchard’s apple trees and on-site winery (yes!) to the Town of Stratton’s Recreation Area. A newcomer to our Dion Series, the Rec area perches on the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest, bookended by the commercial operations at Mt. Snow and Stratton Ski Resorts.
Comparisons were obvious. We did not have snack bars or Gear Shops other than Race Director Mike Owens’ Rite Aid purchases, but we did have all the fancy equipment we desired, with Bob Dion eagerly displaying his prototype lightweight model. (Time to start saving up yet again to become instantly faster and unbeatable!) We did not have mall-sized parking lots with shuttle busses to transport us to where we really wanted to go. Instead, our lot was like Curly’s, only different in that it featured a working cement portapottie and a three-walled, one-roofed trail hut. On his Facebook notice Mike pretty much apologized for the primitive conditions; little did he know that his represented an upgrade! Later in the season, we will commandeer the Readsboro school, hobnob with moneyed Victorian Ghosts at the Spa and explore the Pottersville cave system. Evey race is its own unique adventure.
Truthfully, after Tour Guide Maureen Roberts pointed out landmarks at her old Stratton stomping grounds, I was looking forward to a more natural nature and a less crowded perspective. The small town tour we took on the way back, with stopovers at local brew and donut shops, gave us the opportunity to select our own prizes and souvenirs. Someday, Maureen and I need to take at tour of our own town. Our traditional carpool meeting place is Kohl’s Parking Lot. Before our Gore trip on New Year’s Day, it was snowing quite enthusiastically, the stores were resting and the plows were sleeping off a heavy night. Both of us, having little familiarity with mall parking, drove right over a section barrier, which was camouflaged by a layer of newly-fallen snow. We were both so embarrassed!
This day, Mike’s Candyland course consisted of an in-and-out stick and two laps of the lollipop for a total of 3.37 miles. My two favorite board games as a kid were Candyland and Chutes and Ladders and I suspect these might have been Mike’s also. After a relatively stable stick, we climbed up and up on an endless chute and then plunged downward on a glorious free fall. While Mike had warned of “significant climbs,” I only half believed him as this was billed as a Nordic-style course. Typically, there are many ups and downs to make the skiing interesting but not taxing. I had forgotten that we were also traversing a snowmobile section, where the rougher the ladder, the better the ride. Chalk it up to excellent training for the Worlds in February.
While the temperatures remained in the single digits at race time, it was never really frigid, as the predicted wind was presumably climbing some other ladder. It looked like there were quite a few other trails left to explore and we hope that Mike will introduce us to some of them in future races.
By laura clark