Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sliding on Bacon

Preparing for Bretton Woods' 40th Annual Geschmossel Classic Ski Race seemed to take a lot longer than the actual racing itself.  As any ski mom or dad knows, whether downhill or cross-country skiing, getting the gang ready for a ski day can be quite a production.  There are lunches to pack, mittens to find, and skis to load into the car.  And if you're headed to a Nordic race, you've got to wax your skis as well.

I must confess that I only know the very basics of cross-country ski waxing; I rely on Outdoor Dad to tackle most of our waxing.  There's a lot of science and technique involved, and the pros have "wax technicians" that just take care of this aspect of racing.  The general idea is that wax on the bottom of your skis helps you kick and glide on the snow, but you've got to match up the temperature and consistency of the snow with the right wax for your skis.

Bridget "waxing" her skis back in 2010

So on the morning of the race, as I gathered snacks and gear, Matt worked on waxing up his skis.  As he prepped his skis, Timmy was "helping."  To distract Timmy so that Matt could keep working,  I offered Timmy a piece of bacon to munch on.  Matt encouraged him by telling him, "bacon makes you fast."  Timmy marched over, took the piece of bacon, and then proceeded to rub it on the bottom of his skis.  Later, when Matt retold this story on Facebook, he said, "So if I win today, you know why... fast skis."

This, of course, made us all laugh, including our friend Sean, who always has our best interests at heart: he warned Matt that he was giving his waxing secrets away and that now everyone is going to be "'sliding on bacon' we call it in the race management business.  Just don't tell them about the pancake klister." (Klister is a type of very sticky wax.)

Previously, I wasn't so sure if Timmy was even interested in taking part in the kids' race, but it seems that he wanted in on the action with the rest of us.  Confirming this later, he said, "Mommy, I want to win."  (I've come to understand that I sometimes have to orchestrate a "win" for my son by crowning him "first of the three-year-olds").  I expected big sister to reply with a retort about how small he is, but instead she said, "Timmy, I'm bigger and faster than you are, but if I win, you can have my medal."  I was reassured that moment in her capability for compassion.  I also realized that as much as we stress that the racing is just for fun, they can take it quite seriously.

At registration, The kids received a glorious goody bag along with their racing bibs.  Candy, gummies, and various patriotic treats like red, white and blue star necklaces, flag pencils and "I heart USA" tattoos, all which looked suspiciously like leftover goodies from a Independence Day celebration.  The kids were oblivious to the seasonality and overjoyed to have some bling to sport during the race.

Despite the bitter cold, Matt joined 100 other racers at the start line for the Geschmossel, one of New England's oldest citizens' races.

Meanwhile, I got the kids geared up for their race which followed.

They were very excited to have number bibs to wear.

They were full of smiles as they warmed up before their start, eager to get things going.

And then the meltdown happened.  As all the kids lined up, Bridget started to whine about her hands being cold.  It was, in fact, only about 15 degrees out and windy.  Matt ran to the car and got her some hand warmers (little packets that heat up when you open them), but this didn't calm her down.  As the race started, so did the tears.  Matt skied along next to Timmy while I tried to encourage Bridget to follow the other racers.  She started down the trail, sobbing about how cold her hands were.  Historically, she tends to heat right up when she cross-country skis, but I knew that this wasn't going well, and despite all the preparation that morning, I knew what I had to do.  I told her she didn't have to race if she wasn't having fun, and we headed back to the car to warm up.  In truth, I think the meltdown was due more to panic than cold hands, but either way, I was only interested in this process being a positive one, and we talked about how sometimes a race just doesn't work out.

Meanwhile, Matt and Timmy were doing a short loop of the race course, and we watched Timmy come  across the finish line with his hands over his head.  And then he wanted to know, "Can I have my candy now?"

The prospect of candy soon trumped Bridget's memory of the race, too.  There seems to be a pattern here!

Many thanks to the Bretton Woods Nordic Center staff for putting on a great race for both kids and adults.  We're looking forward to the Bretton Woods Nordic Marathon and the Mount Washington Cup in March!


  1. I absolutely love this. What a sweet story. I totally want to get my kiddos into cross country skiing too. Perhaps next year Piper can do the Bill Koch group with Bridget too! We have the little llbean cross country skis and have been practicing in the driveway. Hope to catch up sometime! Happy skiing

    1. Thanks, Sandra! Bridget would LOVE to have a buddy at BKL next year! Timmy still uses the little skis that strap on to his boots, and they work wonderfully for him. Happy skiing!