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Fact. Desk jobs aren’t conducive to training for races like the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. When you need to log a couple dozen miles of endurance training a week, a nine-to-five eats up the most agreeable parts of the day. Luckily there are those precious hours before and after you leave the office. Given the earth’s mid-winter tilt, you best have a good headlamp, an even better attitude, and a coffee maker with a timer if you’re going to take advantage. Since the best training for something is actually doing it, my teammate Jonny and I have started going on night tours in preparation for the Grand Traverse.
Night touring on the Front Range isn’t for the weak. The closest decent trailhead from Skiing Mag HQ, the Sourdough Trail in the Indian Peaks, is about 40 minutes away. The weather typically sucks as temps plunge and the wind picks up. Our past two adventures have been in complete whiteouts as storms have rolled in just as we push off on our four-hour journeys.
But Jonny and I have learned heaps from these headlamp slogs while still putting head to pillow before midnight. We’ve grown accustomed to our toothpick-like randonnée skis. Our boots hurt less and less after each mission. We now understand the importance of regular eating on long tours, and we’ve figured out some energy snacks that taste good, keep us moving, and don’t ruin the next morning’s regular BM. Most importantly, we’re starting to ski fast. We logged almost 12 miles in just over three and a half hours on our last jaunt on the Sourdough Trail. If we can cut another 15 or 20 minutes off that time, we’ll be in business. I’m pretty sure Sam’s team won’t see much of us after the mass start at the Grand Traverse. They’ll be buying the beers in Aspen.