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"My Best Bonk" Contest Entry - Janice Lawrence
By:  Janice Lawrence   (2005/03/03)

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I started skate skiing a decade ago following a number of years of relative inactivity. I was living in Halifax, which although does not boast the best ski conditions by any stretch of the imagination, is home to many avid skiers with an innate ability to find ski-able snow. I found myself dating one-such skier and in a circle of friends who regularly dragged me off to Wentworth Valley, Martok, and Kejimkujik, Kouchibigouac and Cape Breton National Parks. Being the least fit and decidedly less skilled skier I regularly skied at the end of the pack, often alone, and usually going a shorter distance so we would all finish together. We had a system, my boyfriend and I, of leaving the car keys in the wheel well of the car so I could retreat to the warmth of the car and wait once inevitably dropped by the indefatigable group.

Gradually over 2 seasons I regained a modicum of fitness, trimmed off a few of the wobbly bits, and was able to ski with my boyfriend and the group. Or rather, I was able to catch them as they finished feeding and watering stops. I learned to drink and eat on the run, and only once was stopped by another skiing party to be informed that my cheeks and chin were so frostbitten I'd have to give up the chase and limp home licking my wounds.

Eventually my boyfriend and I parted ways but remained in the same circle of friends. The next season I was anxious to get back out on the snow. I'd been rowing competitively the past summer and hoped my training would carry over onto skis. One weekend my ex offered a drive up to Wentworth Valley for a long group ski. As we drove up my ex replayed the old plan. He would be leaving keys would be in the wheel well. There may even be some people my speed since two cyclists were heading out who were new to skis.

As we started out I felt good. My legs felt strong and stable and I hoped they would also carry more endurance. After around 20 minutes the first guy was dropped. Ten minutes later the second guy backed off. These were the two cyclists who were meant to be my ski companions. I still felt comfortable so I kept the pace, weary it was a bit ambitious but keen to see what I was capable of. Ten minutes later I looked back to see my ex dropping off the pack. Expecting to see a broken pole or binding I was surprised when he said he just couldn't keep the pace. Fuelled with adrenaline from watching my ex drop off in the distance, I kept going. Head down and feeding off the rhythm of the skiers ahead of me I kept up the pace until finally everyone slowed down.

"This is it" someone said.

"This is what?" I asked.

"The end. We turn around here."

I'd made it. Halfway, that is. Halfway to nowhere. With a long return ski ahead, we watered and fed, and turned to head back.

"Where's your ex?" someone asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and grinned. We put our heads down, climbed up the hill we'd just descended, and began to work our way back. We ran into my ex around 2/3 of the way back to the cars. His face was ashen, lips caked with dried spit and eyes completely bloodshot. I asked what had happened. He said he'd bonked. Not even familiar with the term, I thought he'd taken a bad fall. I asked if he'd broken anything. He slowly explained that he'd tried to catch us, pushed too hard and completely wasted himself. He was out of fluids and was trying in vain to thaw a rock-solid PowerBar. I handed him the dregs of my Gatorade and remaining food, and we started to ski. Not having experienced a bonk before I was amazed how slowly he moved. His skis glided as though sand had been ironed into the bases. I skied behind him and had to slow down to avoid skiing over his tails.

The ski back was beautiful. Behind my ex I had time to look up at the trees and sky, and chattered away pointing out any wildlife I spotted. Finally I realized my running commentary was less than appreciated and we skied the rest of the way in silence. Eventually we made it back to the car, drove straight to a gas station for Cokes, and had a quiet drive home. The only break in silence came when my ex asked me what the hell I'd been up to. I told him I'd taken up competitive rowing.

I've kept skiing and rowing, experienced my own bonk or two, dropped and been dropped on many an outing since. That, however, was the last time my ex offered me a drive to go skiing!

 
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