Here Comes the Sun, do do loo do
The end of May brings with it the unofficial close of winter season on the Cascade Lakes Highway. Even though snow still covers much of the trails and Mount Bachelor, as the days get longer and warmer, Bendites can’t help but think ahead towards warm-weather fun.I’ve always enjoyed the symbolic nature of the Nordic/bike transition of the Pole Pedal Paddle. It helps my own transition from skiing to biking. The winter reveling under the watchful eyes of the Three Sisters kept me sane through the season of low light. But, now it’s time to keep the tires pressurized and chain greased. With another great season in the snow, it’s important to recognize the organizations that work to make Central Oregon a world-class winter destination.
North of the Highway
Meissner Nordic joined Bend’s food cart craze this year with the addition of the Skinny Skis Cafe. Keeping up with social media, they even provided daily grooming reports on their website, Facebook page and even Twitter account.
The hugely successful Learn-to-Ski day, hosted by the Bend Endurance Academy, introduced 75 new skiers to the sport. The Luminaria Ski drew more than 500 people and raised more than $2000.
Next time you enjoy the Tangent Loop’s horizontal corduroy, consider the $43,000 price tag for annual grooming.
Meissner Nordic has some pretty big plans for the near future. This summer, the parking lot at Virginia Meissner will undergo an expansion that will double capacity and add new bathrooms. Within three to four years, look for a permanent warming hut built at the east end of the new parking lot.
Let’s hope they can achieve their goal of providing some sort of public transportation in the very near future.
If you want to help in the offseason, Meissner Nordic is currently searching for members to fill some upcoming vacancies on their board. Look to www.meissnernordic.org for more information.
The Other Side
On the dog-friendly side of the highway, a new snowshoe trail created high expectations at Wanoga. DogPac kept the dogs and skiers happy with consistent grooming until equipment failure forced the early retirement of their sno-cat.
During the season, skiers, and snowshoers enjoyed many bluebird trail days, along with Norwegian waffles, hot chocolate, and Swedish blueberry soup.
Check www.dogpac.org, for more information on supporting DogPac or any of their upcoming events, including August’s Ruff Run.
The End of the Road
The 2011-2012 season, with all of the early dry weeks and subsequent praying for snow, still managed to dump over 500 inches of white gold on Mount Bachelor. As the cornerstone of Bend’s winter tourism, I recognize the importance of a “good year” at Mount Bachelor, even if I prefer the emptiness of the backcountry.
By the way, Mt. Bachelor’s Charity Ski Weeks program raised a single-season record of over $99,000 to participating Central Oregon community beneficiaries.
Still to Come
This weekend, Mt. Bachelor will end its season with MOsely WOtta performing as part of the Deschutes Brewery Concert Series. Look for MOWO to hit the stage Saturday afternoon from 12:30-2:30.
As for summer activities on the hill, Disc Golf will return, as will summer sled dog rides with the father/daughter team of Jerry and Rachel Scdoris. Another fun summertime activity for residents and tourists alike is the sunset dinners taking place July 6 through September 2. The chairlift up the mountain to Pine Marten Lodge is worth the trip alone.
If you’re looking to experience the balance of road and snow from the comfort of your bicycle seat, head to Hwy. 242 out of Sisters. For the next couple of weeks the road is plowed, but closed to motorists. The roundtrip ride of 25-30 miles, depending upon how far ODOT has plowed, conjures up a childish excitement as you ride through the snow tunnel. If you are road cyclist, this is an experience you don’t want to miss. I like to think of it as a dream where cyclists run the world and roads are maintained specifically for us.
Another PPP in the books
Stephanie Howe made it three in a row on Saturday after she cruised to another elite women's PPP title in a race that drew 2,940 participants. Though she “ate shit” on the nordic leg, the spill didn't do much to slow the local ultra runner, who finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 5 seconds—more than five minutes before second place finisher, Mary Wellington crossed the line.
“I fell hard, which isn't like me, but it was icy and I just slid and popped back up and was on my way,” said Howe, whose recent running successes include wins at the Gorge 50k, Salmon Run 10k, the 2011 USATF 50k Trail National Championships, and a third-place finish at the Lake Sonoma 50 miler.
On the men's side, Andrew Boone, last year's overall winner and men's elite champion, met his match in New Hampshire's Kris “Cyborg” Freeman, a three-time Olympian and member of U.S. Nordic Ski Team.
“It was a bitch of a race,” said Boone, of the back and forth duel.
Boone was the fastest man down the hill but found himself chasing Freeman early on in the nordic leg.
“When he passed me it was like we were doing two different sports,” Boone said.
The Bend local was two minutes down on Freeman entering the bike transition, but by the end of the bike leg Boone had put a minute into the U.S. Ski Team member.
“The bike is a much more important aspect [of the race] than people think,” Boone said of race's longest leg.
His lead wasn't enough though, and the tireless Freeman chugged past Boone near the Bill Healy bridge and stayed away for the win, crossing the finish line in 1:46.00. Boone followed 57 seconds later.
The second place finish did little to dampen Boone's PPP party spirit. As usual his annual post-race throw-down was well attended and replete with wordy race recaps, extraordinary excuses and lots of laughs—a good time was had by all. Though he did report that the keg went unfinished. Booo...