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2012 A Race Odyssey: Black Mountain Classic survives Snowmageddon

Sun, Mar  4, 2012 - By Denny Paull

Ok, I'll admit it. Although it felt good saying "GAME ON" to mother nature, those were probably in retrospect, too strong of words.
It started with a 6:00 AM phone call from Jim Meyer, who with his partner Nick Johnson, had started at 1:00 AM and had just then completed one full loop of the race course...without pulling a grooming device! Apparently, most of the trees lining the 31 Km loop did not adapt well to 18" of wet heavy snow hanging on them. In fact, Jim and Nick advised that they often lost entire track of where the trail was while pushing snow with the front grill of the track truck. Not a pleasant feeling. The news just kept getting better from there as they gently hit me with the news that all power was out in the area. Think Black Mountain Lodge, no heating or lights, no working toilets with a bunch or skiers made even more nervous than normal  by the idea of skiing through "snowmaggedon."  Add to that a bunch of dedicated skiers who had boldly driven through the storm after being emboldened by my unfortunate aforementioned trash talking to Mother Nature. We felt an obligation to hold some type of event.
Eli and some friends were staying at my house. Eli apparently woke up to my nervous talk with Jim and came upstairs to provide calm advice . Talking with Eli helped me chill out.He is a pretty calm dude. When the electricity suddenly went out during our conversation , he was still super cool other than maybe exhibiting a little anxiety over the prospect of inability to brew coffee.
I threw a bunch of ski equipment in a bag and on the advice of Nick Johnson dressed in the "most waterproof clothing you own." The roads were completely unplowed which neither surprised or upset me. I mean, the way this day was going, why would they be plowed.
Upon arriving at the Lodge, tides or fortune started to shift our way. Firstly Wally, Paula and crew at the Black Mountain Lodge were "Eli" cool.  The parking lot was plowed, english muffins were served and five gallon buckets were on had for the toilets.  Awesome. In the parking lot, I spoke to a friendly snowmobiler. I asked if he would consider following me at high speeds around the SKI trail for compaction. His answer was  reminiscent of when Burt Reynolds asked a convinct to play football against the GUARDS. He  smiled and said, the ski trails,  yes, and I have five other buddies at the cabin who would love to go as well. Jim lamented that it this could create bad habits later but I countered that we had no other option than to press on the offensive.Jim cautiously agreed.
After contacting Sir Muha and posting a Noon postponment from the original 10:00 AM start time. I led my possee of Bilers into the snowtunnel of what was our ski trail. One necessary obligation of "riding point" was that it was my responsibility to 1. stay on the trail and 2. smack every snow laden branch and sapling with my hand. while simultaneously keeping a fast rate of speed as to not to bore my Posse. The good news is that we packed the snow down nicely and I don't think I will have any permanent rotator cuff injuries. With one complete lap of the Cheboygan side of the trail packed, Jim pulled a tidd tech with track setter and created a fairly wide, flat trail with not particularly deep, but firm tracks.
Now, the last decision was whether the race would be one or two 15 km loops. Back at the Lodge, we took a quick vote regarding the distance options. 100% vote for the 2 laps. These folks had driven through the proverbial eye of the storm to get to a ski race historically plagued by problems. The vote wasn't necessary: of course the full 30 km! Awesome. (I'll bet they stuck with the Lions before this season, also.)
The race pretty much went off without a hitch. The trail was fairly fast. Purple hard wax for kick. Awesome lunch at the Lodge. Eli and Tracy had won. The normal order of things had been restored. To everyone who was involved  or particpated, I salute you!
Denny Paull