I finally had a chance to try out cross country skiing at the Eldora Nordic Center. I have been interested in XC skiing for quite some time. I am a little disillusioned with alpine (downhill) skiing as it feels like a productions, I don’t care for lift lines, it is expensive, I don’t feel like I get a workout and the risk of injury is not trivial. Last winter, I had the opportunity to go snowshoeing at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area and that was a lot of fun. However, I am not real adventurous and prefer to pay a slight premium for groomed terrain and people to add a margin of safety.
Eldora is situated near Nederland, Colorado and can be an hour drive from my house. The road conditions were a bit slick so it took me 90 minutes in both directions. I arrived and quickly got situated with rental gear. I was given size 43 boots (equivalent to my street shoe size). The skis were based on height and poles were supposed to measure up to the armpit. I dressed in layers as recommended and erred towards cold weather running gear rather than alpine clothing.
Julia was our instructor for the 4 of us in the class. We started out getting into our gear, then shuffled, glided, started wedge turns and tried out double poling. With classic XC skiing, you are supposed to ski in the track and there are left and right tracks for skiing in either direction. Skate skiing is a different animal and you don’t ski in tracks. It looked pretty fun as well (but one thing at a time). We spent most of our time on the trail that was reserved for lessons, but also plodded along the 17th Avenue Trail.
Trails are designated green, blue and black similar to alpine skiing and the difficult is based on elevations changes, grooming, and width of the trail. When I return, I will be on the greens again. As my skills improve, I was encouraged to check out Zarlengo Loop. Apparently it is quite scenic. During my lesson, not much of the trail system was open, but they have been getting more snow lately.
One other perk is that the equipment is quite comfortable. The boots and skis are light. It is much less of a production than alpine skiing and I can only imagine what it would be like to XC ski to school as they do in true Nordic environments.