Snow Job

Ahh, I know much of the riding world here in the Northeast is waiting for, well, actually chomping at the bit for dirt. Dry dirt. Under the wheels, hanging in the air, the sweet moist smell of spring. With each warming day I shake my head a little with dread, however. I like snow and I want more, a lot more. I am still not ready to give up skiing. Nordic skiing that is.

I am a restless soul with a lot of interests. One activity that I pursue is Skating. No, not with the little metal blade on white boot type — Nordic skiing, or XC as many people call it. Skating is a racing form of XC skiing where your propulsion is from a side to side lateral stride, just like you see on the Olympics. I love it, I love the speed and sweat from it, I love the whole culture of it. I routinely drive long distances to visit Nordic centers where the culture is alive and kicking to get my fix.

This past weekend I headed up to Lapland Lake crross country ski center (www.laplandlake.com) for a pounding winter storm as they got over 2 feet of beautiful powder in a few days. When it is around, it is all around and it is glorious. It is such a beautiful thing when it snows that much, and in a place where it remains through the winter, the world is just right. Time sort of just stops, it is still and still the morning after the storm, and your blood pressure rises as you adrenal glands notch it up. At an XC resort the Nordic culture is nurtured and vibrant, and the parallels to the riding culture are numerous. The basis of it is being healthy, constantly pushing and honing your physical abilities, and cruising through the trees under your own power. Flying is more like it, though — it is nearly silent, and when your glide is on you just fly through the woods on ribbons of smoothly groomed white rails with a lift in your heart and a lilt in your voice. Smooth, powerful, graceful… And, let’s face it — there is always that guy up the trail that you just have to reel in and pass. Gliding around on perfectly groomed trails in the brilliant sunshine on skis is like no other. While it is similar to riding, the pace is slower. You are in tune with the crisp wintry snow smell, the scent of pines and the moisture in the air from the snow. There is that intimate relationship between you and the weather and somehow you feel closer to it as you’re much more dependent on it for conditions. And when you get the perfect conditions, it is purely a state of bliss.

Folks, late winter is upon us and it is traditionally the snowiest time in the Northeast. XC skiing is a fleeting thing as winter gives way to spring, and spring skiing is the ultimate. Make tracks before your opportunity is gone. You won’t be disappointed.

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