North & South Classical trails offer SCUM a change of pace

Dan and Eric taking a break on Blackhawk–photo by Bill Husby

Comment from groomer Bill Husby, “Today‚Äôs ski was definitely a change of pace ski. Burned more energy climbing out of snowbanks after crashing than I did skiing today (6+ falls).”

Bernardo trying to assist two downed SCUM on the North Star–photo by Dan Johnson

When the trail groomer takes off his skis and walks the downhills that he groomed, you realize that you might have made a mistake.

Fata Morgana on Sunnyside (Robert’s belt is causing a belly mirage–really, he’s as slim as Bernardo)

Snow on Dermot’s vest isn’t from any of his tumbles on the North Classics. However, he chose to bail out of the South Classics and do the Sonot Connector to Sunnyside instead.

However, we all made it back to our cars intact, although some of the snow from the trails was still on our ski gear.

SCUM failed to find all 12 LOL Christmas ornaments

The SCUM skiers were too focused on their workouts so were unable to find all 12 of the LOL Christmas ornaments. However, we did find 8 while skiing:

LOL #1--photo by Joanna Fox on 12/26/22 on WB access during Ski Your Age in Kilometers
LOL #3 found on Skadi loop, hanger was separated from ornament–photo by Byron Broda on 12/9/22
Santa Bill with LOL ornament #4 on Roller Coaster on 12/11/22–photo by Dan Johnson
LOL ornament #5 on Medevac on 12/11/22–photo by Dermot Cole
Ornament #6 on White Bear near biathlon on winter solstice--photo by Bill Husby, who spotted it
LOL #7 ornament on White Cub, 12/9/22–photo by Dan Johnson
LOL ornament #8 on Tommy Knocker trail–photo by Joanna Fox
Byron and ornament #11 on Old Tower Loop

Bill Husby saw LOL ornament #12 on Little Bird while grooming, but we never got out there on skis, so we failed to nab that one, too. We thank the LOL for this fun addition to our December skiing and an excuse to take a rest break–a SCUM necessity.

Happy New Year from the SCUM

Happy New Year from the SCUM at Hilltop Junction on the lovely White Bear corduroy–photo by Joanna Fox

Even though the SCUM hadn’t been skating for several weeks because of the the recent cold spell, they took full advantage of the pistenbully groomed trails today and skated 15 km of them in around 2 hours. We took rest breaks once we had crested the uphills as seen above at Hilltop and below the summit of Heartrate Hill.

Giving Bob Moloney the SCUM salute for skiing Heartrate Hill without any rest stops–photo by Dan Johnson

We saluted Bob Moloney, who at 79 years old, skated Heartrate Hill without stopping for any rest breaks. After we finished White Bear, Moilanen Meadows, Big Surprise, and Warm-up, it was Bob, who pointed out that we needed to ski some additional trails to get our 2-hour long overdistance skate ski today. So, peer pressure made sure we did ski our full 2 hours.

We thank the NSCF groomers who made today’s workout possible. We’ve donated to the NSCF trail fund and hope you will join us.

https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

SCUM close out 2022 with Birch Bakken

SCUM Birch Bakken skiers on 12-30-22 including Bob, Eric, and Eric (FS), Joanna, Bernardo, Dan, Mike, Dermot, and Susan (CL). Bill took the long way down to the start so missed our group start before sunrise.

To those unfamiliar with the Birch Bakken challenge, it was dreamed up by groomer Bill Husby, who was suffering a chest injury today from his fall skiing the Chinook loop on Thursday after he had set it. The course takes a 4.0 km route from the low point to the high point of the Birch Hill Recreation Area. The red line in this GPS trace is the course:

From the FWW alpine building (point 1 on the map), we headed up Cliffside, at the Cliffside gate, we head up the downhill section of Sunnyside to Section Line junction (this is much steeper than the regular inbound trail shown in blue). We then skied the inbound Sunnyside trail to the Outhouse Loop, then to Relay Return, backwards to the Blue Slot, then back on Relay Return to South Tower to the light pole at the highest point of the Tower Loop (point 2).

Here are the statistics for the oldest and slowest No Y SCUM, who was skiing at “Sonot Kkaazoot pace” and kept her HR within level 2:

Hopefully, finish photos will be added as they become available. The temperature inversion on the BB Challenge was about 20 degrees today. After finishing the BB Challenge, we skied back down the South Tower to look for wayward SCUM.

As promised, action photos by Eric Troyer and Corinne Leistikow. Corinne passed me on the Outhouse after she skied White Bear to Sonot Connector, Blackhawk, Chinook, and the rest of the Sonot Connector. She saw the SCUM gathering at the bottom of the hill so skied by most of us while chasing Eric. The day before Dr. Leistikow told me the importance of recovery days. I guess that only applies to her older patients.

Joanna heading up the Birch Bakken first–until she took a wrong turn at the Cliffside gate–photos by Eric Troyer except where noted otherwise
SCUM chase Joanna up Birch Bakken
Eric Buetow chases Mike Mathers
Mom and Dermot take off last (except for Eric Troyer, photographer)
Mom ahead of Eric Buetow on the South Tower, only because Eric forgot the Blue Slot so had to backtrack before starting South Tower again
Eric finishing strong up the South Tower
Corinne joining the SCUM from the Tower Loop
Finished SCUM
SCUM after Birch Bakken–photo by Corinne Leistikow

SCUM ski Distance Race #1 course on perfectly groomed trails

With temperatures at Birch Hill in the high 20s and nearly a half foot of new snow this weekend, wayward SCUM like Carl Hemming and Steve Clautice rejoined us today for our ski around the Frank Soos Distance Race #1 course. The entire course had been groomed and tracked last night so tracks were firm and fast. I wish I could say that my body was fast, but such wasn’t the case. However, I got around the 15 km course (plus Moilanen Meadows for some extra credit) in just over 2 hours.

Here are some views from the trails:

Bill Husby leads two SCUM in the tracks on WB —photo by Joanna Fox
Steve Clautice also using the tracks although skating–photo by Joanna Fox
Although Bill was using his skin skis–he claimed a leaf caused him to fall--photo by Dan Johnson
Dan Johnson skating with the fitness acquired chasing his son-in-law–photo by Joanna Fox

After we finished our 15 km ski, we retired to the warm-up hut for coffee and ginger snaps (Frank Soos’ favorite cookie). Carl had been AWOL for so long that he found what he thought was a rat turd in his coffee cup:

Carl and his cup with extra “protein” –photo by Bill Husby

Meanwhile, the ageless Dan Johnson posed next to his framed retirement photo:

Dan Johnson reenacting the photo taken at his retirement–photo by Joanna Fox

We hope that you will join the SCUM in skiing the Frank Soos Distance Race #1 next Saturday starting at 11 a.m. It’s great training for the Sonot Kkaazoot. The grooming crew will make the trails fast, and you’ll have fun with the SCUM.

Brushing volunteers make Blackhawk skiing GREAT

Thanks to the volunteer brushing by Mike Schmoker and David Prusak, the SCUM were able to ski Blackhawk (and Chinook) on set tracks today! The volunteer effort by Mike and Dave not only assisted the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks in contributing labor match for the club’s RTP grant, but their work also allowed us to ski these classical only trails on machine set tracks in November (with half the normal snowfall to date).

SCUM in Blackhawk–photos and grooming by Bill Husby

As groomer, Bill Husby had the inside information on where the tracks were lifted on downhill corners, so he avoided falling. But he did drop one knee to the trail causing a three-SCUM-pile-up on Chinook.

Groomer caused SCUM pile-up on Chinook corner–photographs by Joanna Fox, who negotiated all the corners in the tracks

However, these skiers didn’t have the quantity of snow on them that others had.

Dermot with evidence of his spectacular face plant on the Chinook trail–photo by Dan Johnson on Sonot Connector

They just had the misfortune of falling when someone had access to their phone. Given the -5 deg F weather, most of us were well dermotized and our phones were zipped into inner pockets. However, one phone was recovered from a Blackhawk tumble when its owner got up too quickly to note its absence.

Enjoy the groomed trails and please contribute to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks grooming fund: https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

SCUM skate first LOD over 15 km

While drinking coffee and eating our post-workout scones in the warm-up hut today, we learned that Bad Bob Baker will be in Fairbanks for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. Thus, our first skate LOD of the season meant that a SCUM redemption for our failure to finish the 50 km course at the 35th Sonot Kkaazoot would be witnessed by Bad Bob, who dreamed up the new 50 km course with 1,689 m of total climb.

Today’s SCUM workout was 30% of the Sonot Kkaazoot distance but only involved 21% of the climb. We skied Flat Black to get our bodies warmed up. We finished with the Competition Loop and Tommy Knocker Extension so that we could climb that evil hill at the end of the Comp loop twice. Bill’s smile shows how we felt conquering that hill:

Bill smiling and Dermot groaning up the Comp hill
Bernardo leading the happy crew--photo by Bill Husby
Norma smiling as she crests the hill–photo by Bill Husby

Skiing the White Bear had time for heroics as Norma and Bill decided to doublepole from the Sonot Junction to the top of Hilltop, while the rest of us skated that 1.3 km section of gradual uphill. Then Norma and Bill got serious, and we skied without rest breaks until we reached the top of Heart Rate Hill, where we rang the bell that Chris Broda (of LOL) has hung on the White Bear map sign:

Dermot was much happier after conquering Heart Rate Hill–photo by Bill Husby
Bernardo strolls to the top of Heart Rate Hill like he did Ester Dome all summer–photo by Bill Husby

Skiing is great in spite of our meager snowfall so far this winter. Thanks to our NSCF groomers, and all the volunteer brushing work done this fall, we have a better skate ski base this year than we did last year. Maybe with three more months of training, the 60+- and 70+- year-old SCUM can finish the 36th Sonot Kkaazoot 50 km course. That’s our goal.

Flowing in the tracks on N40

SCUM testing the flow of the N40 tracks

Today there was a special treat in store for the Wednesday SCUM: fresh classical tracks for the first time on Moilanen Meadows and the black loops. After skiing without tracks for a month at Birch Hill (and elsewhere), it was a sheer delight to ski with firm classical tracks. We thank our Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers, who we steadfastly support through the NSCF trail fund and hope that you will, too:

https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

With temperatures at 19 deg F in the stadium and probably about 10 deg in the lower reaches of the black loops, even this 73-year-old cautious bionic skier reached speeds in excess of 32 km/hr (and I jumped out of the tracks unlike some of my more intact ski buddies). Only Dan and Joanna managed to step turn around Suicide Cutoff, made more difficult today because an Army soldier was standing in the intersection, while most of us overshot the turn or ploughed around it. In Moilanen Meadows, Bill’s urging to stay in the tracks resulted in dual tumbles around Dermot’s Demise. However, after finishing MM, Big Surprise (in the tracks), and the rest of WB access, we were ready to tackle the N40.

Half of today’s SCUM skiers are also FXC Masters skiers. On Monday, Christina Turman told us that the N40 was the best flowing trail at Birch Hill. With 3 to 4 inches of new powder then, we didn’t find it to be very flowing on our skate skis when our Monday Power Lunch group was doing pick-ups on the first km of the N40. So, with newly set tracks, we set out to redo Christina’s workout on our classical skis. We discovered that on warm snow and firm set tracks, the N40 is indeed a nicely flowing trail, where we glided up most of the shorter uphills. What a treat!

FXC Masters skiers take their recovery during SCUM ski on N40–photo by Joanna Fox

So Coach Christina, we practiced a few fast cadence double poles where the cones had been Monday, and we did get a free ride almost to the tops of the rises. It was much easier than V2ing through the deep powder. The best part was that we could really recover in between pick-ups. Friday, we’ll practice transitions on our skate skis. We older FXC Master skiers can’t skate ski every day without risking overuse injuries.

Today we tried three types of traction strategies: skins, grip tape, and kick wax. As it was our first ski in set tracks this season, I think the skin skiers were best able to utilize the tracks on the uphills. However, with his new pacemaker, Tim powered up the long hills best in the tracks with old fashioned kick wax and rode the downhill on the blue loop in the tracks.

In summary, today was definitely the fastest I’ve gone on my classical skis this season–both uphill and downhill. Enjoy the wonderful tracks while temperatures are still warm.

SCUM rises to the top again

Although some of the SCUM who gathered in the Birch Hill stadium at 10 a.m. today had not been on their skate skis this season, all six of the older SCUM and the young upstarts (Greg and Joanna) successfully skied the White Club, White Bear, and Moilanen Meadows.

One of Norma’s skis says, “Ski Fast, Normi” and she was taking this to heart as she had spent way too much time on her UAF sign language course. Norma loves the section of White Bear between the Sonot Connector and Hilltop so she towed all of us up this hill. I figured that Hilltop might be the last chance to get a photo of all of us together as some of us were definitely lagging behind.

Norma (in pink hat) climbing on a snow mound so she could appear taller than the rest of us at Hilltop Cutoff--photo by Dermot Cole (black hat in lower left corner)

Still smiling after sailing around White Bear and Moilanen Meadows, Norma strolled up the trail to Owen’s hill:

Norma smiling as she leads Dermot and Joanna up to the trail to Owen’s hill

Starting next Sunday, the SCUM coffee pot will be resurrected in the log warm-up hut for post-workout caffeine and warmth. (Thank you, Jerome Jackson). I’ll bring some goodies to buffer the coffee. Wash out your mugs so you can refuel before your drive home.

Early Sunday SCUM after skiing >11 km chasing Norma, Byron, and Greg–photo by Chris Broda