This past weekend, a small contingent of XC Ottawa skiers took on an unusual challenge: the annual NYSEF “Climb to the Castle” in Wilmongton, New York. Over the course of 8 kilometers, this roller ski race takes competitors to the summit of Whiteface Mountain. With an average grade of 8% and an elevation change of somewhere around 700 meters, it’s up, all the way! You may be thinking “Why would anyone ever want to do that??” Good question! That's something I tried not to ask myself throughout the race course, where, if you look up, the castle on top of Whiteface looms ominoulsy in the distance (vertically). What DO you think about when a race just feels like a long slog? Personally, I try not to think at all, but to just keep moving!
So, Anna, Ingrid and I enthusiastically tested our mettle on the mountain roads, alongside fellow skiers from Nakkertok, a number of American clubs, and the US National team. It was a chilly but beautiful fall morning when the competitors began rolling in around 7am. After a long ascent, it wasn’t much warmer at the summit, where ice had decorated the trees and rocks. In the end, although our legs definitely reminded us that we had just offset for 8 kilometers, the view at the top was definitely worth the climb. That, and feeling like we had just accomplished something. From my perspective, I guess that’s why we do these crazy things – the fresh air and sense of accomplishment, not to mention the people we meet along the way. On that note, shout out to the kind folks from FasterSkier who gave us a lift down the mountain (here are a few plugs: http://fasterskier.com/2011/09/stephen-claims-second-climb-to-the-castle-victory-sargent-second/ and http://fasterskier.com/2011/09/freeman-continues-reign-as-king-of-the-castle-edges-burke/). And thanks to Ingrid for supplying the great photos! Full results are available at: http://www.nysef.org/vanhoevenberg.html .