Friday, January 05, 2007

The Truth about Layers

The secret to comfort in cross-country skiing is layers. As in: layers of clothing and, in our family's skiing rules, layers of wax. The Senior Boy and I started downhill skiing back before global warming was really noticeable and quit when the daily lift passes got to the atrocious sum of $20.00. We would get up at 0500, get ready and drive 3 hours to ski all day. Occasionally we would stay with friends who were closer to the mountain and that made for some great weekends. Except for the fact that I was always cold. I would start and end the day cold and be a lot of cold in between. It didn't matter how I dressed, the ride up the lift would freeze me solid. Once, skiing on the Coast in the rain (yeah somewhat obsessive, eh?) my ski suit froze to the chair on the uphill and I almost went through the roundhouse at the top. The leap off (about 5' - same as my height) in front of the liftie got me the "trying out for the ski jumping team?" award. It may have been the same time we were wearing green plastic garbage bags in an effort to stay dry.... I am wandering...

Right: ski passes got expensive and we'd met new people who were doing this uphill skiing thing and freaking out the downhillers. It looked good. We skied on tracked trails and we skied in the bush. No telemarking but lots of other conditions and styles (face first, bum first and so on) but always - even with the "variable" (that's code for "changes every 10 metres") Coast conditions - always on wax. None of that fishscale, vibrating under your feet base for us. We waxed or, rather, The Senior Boy waxed. I waited in the cooling car and, in time, les enfants waited in the cooling car. The Senior Boy was never cold b/c he had often waxed four sets of skis before starting the day's skiing.

He was really good at it: the thermometer would be thrown on the snow and he would march off to check the temperature on the hanging thermometer. Wax would be stroked on (we will talk of KlisterTheUsefulEvil later in the season) and we would be allowed to cork it in. On the Coast, the wax often had to be changed several times (see definition of "variable") and then completely scraped off at the end of the day. Here in the Interior, he would base wax with Extra Green at the beginning of the season and then wax for the day. He had a tool box with odds and ends of waxes and klisters and spreaders and corks and (highly toxic) wax remover and rags and cherry lip balm. Once a season, he would set up the sawhorses, clean everything off including the detritus from the trails and then set up the base and begin again.

Today, I skied with a dear friend, only the third or fourth time ever without Himself. I wore 4 layers on the bottom, 6 on the top, an inadequate toque (maybe my knitting daughter will take care of that), my old gloves, Himself's overgloves and, after half an hour, I was warm. For the first time, I did my own waxing. I couldn't find the tool box - instead, there was an ice cream pail I don't remember with brand new waxes and cork and a clean scraper. I thought it was a mistake until I saw the cherry lip balm. When I opened it, his finger print was still there from last season - a surprise kiss. I stroked on some Green over last year's leftovers and tucked an Extra Blue into my pocket in case I needed some more layers.

I didn't.

It was a good morning and I'm 7 km to the good for Rachael's exercise program. She's going 100 miles which means that up here in the True North, some of us are having to go 160 km!!

Still breathing (and wearing several layers as well....)


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