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Finally!: The snow is here, so start making plans 

PHEW!

click to enlarge Let It Snow!
  • Let It Snow!
Let It Snow!Patience is a virtue. Not one of mine, but sometimes you have no choice. As Tom Petty used to croon, "The waiting is the hardest part." We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the long wait is over. A beautiful full moon snowstorm finally blew in last Friday night, dumping 23 inches of fresh powder on Mt. Bachelor over the weekend. Both the alpine and nordic areas opened Sunday on a limited basis. On the downhill side, the Pine Marten and Sunshine lifts went into action, while the upper trails and Woody's were groomed on the X-C side. With frigid single digit temperatures and more storms predicted for the remainder of the week, it looks like winter is here to stay. Kind of like a new boyfriend who turns out to be a couch surfer, just remember how much you wanted it when it's still lingering around come May.


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

I don't want to be remiss in crediting the Tumalo Langlauf Club (www.tumalolanglauf.org) for funding the grooming of the Cascade Lakes Highway near Dutchman Flat to make nordic skiing possible the past few weeks while we waited for Bachelor to open. The Oval looked like a downtown roundabout and the highway looked like an L.A. freeway at rush hour. If you weren't part of the mob of skiers skating back and forth on the hill, now you need to hurry up and get into ski shape for the winter race season. Since the Par Fore the Course race scheduled last weekend was cancelled, the first X-C race will be the Nancy P's 5K/10K/20K Classic on December 20.

WINTER TRI

If you want to get into shape for something a little different, put the USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championship on your calendar. The 2008 event was held at Mt. Bachelor and it will return on January 11 for the second straight year.

Winter triathlon consists of running, mountain biking (supposedly) and cross-country skiing - all on snow. The run course will consist of two 2.5 km laps for a total distance of 5 km. The "bike" course will be a total of 10-12 km on a 2.5 km to 4 km loop. The ski course will consist of two 4 km laps for a total ski distance of 8 km.

"We're excited to be back in Bend for the USAT Winter Triathlon National Championship," said Jeff Dyrek, USA Triathlon's National Events director. "The 2008 event had amazing conditions, and we look forward to improving things in 2009 with the hopes of winning the bid for the 2010 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship."

That's an interesting adjective that Mr. Dyrek uses to describe last year's conditions. I say that because I did the race. The wind and snow came with the territory, but I think "brutal" might be a better word to describe the "bike" course.

Before the race began, I secretly stole a pinch of defending champion Mike Kloser's extra fat tires, trying to discern his precise PSI. For riding in snow, it's all about tire pressure. I let some air out of my tires, rethought it, added a few pump strokes, repeated the process, and finally settled on approximately 19.52 PSI. My anal approach actually made no difference at all, as I, and most of the other racers, ended up pushing the bike through deep, soft mashed potatoes for about 90 percent of the course. "It was just about the least fun race I've ever done," said local triathlete Tad Hodgert. Which, of course, is exactly why you should sign up!

Participants can enter as individuals, pairs or relay teams. There are no pre-qualifying races for the USAT Winter Triathlon National Championship, so all athletes are encouraged to participate. The USAT will offer a $3,000 cash purse to age group and overall winners. The top three male and female Americans qualify for the Winter Triathlon World Championship in Gaishorn, Austria, in February 2009. Each will receive a paid entry, uniform costs and a $1000 stipend to cover travel costs, while the top three age group athletes also qualify but are fully responsible for their own costs. The course will be open for practice for the week prior to the event and skills clinics will be offered through local and national coaches. Visit www.wintertri.org to register.

By the way, organizers say that they "plan to provide a faster riding surface on the bike course" this year. I wonder if that means "rideable." But what fun would that be?

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