2nd Poto Attempt: It's a Wrap!
I met John Rutherford (codename RadNord) at the Poto trailhead this a.m. and we had just the best big ski loop you could imagine. 17 miles of hilly sunshine ridgetops. And I'd never even met John before---we'd bumped into each other online regarding doing various local ski loops but today we finally met up at a trailhead.
It was 10F when we started but had warmed to 30F when we finished 4 hrs later. Man, XC skiing is so conducive that you just don't have to wear much. I overdressed again, just a bit. A couple light layers is all you need, thin gloves, thin hat, even for 10F. --If there's no wind. Which there wasn't.
The Potawatomi trail is rated 61# best mtbike trail in the USA. (Cool site: http://www.singletracks.com/php/trail.php?id=267) Thousands enjoy it in the leafy, lush summer. We were the only skiers on the big loop (that we saw). Every single one of those thousands is MISSING OUT on an equally heavenly but totally different super trail. Guess what, the leaves are down in winter. You can see far and wide. It's the same great trail action only with all new views. Like it in summer, love it in winter. Except no one understands this. I mean it's a 10-to-1 ratio of ignorance, basically. Here are all these young, energetic, skilled bikers out there---ditching their fave trail come winter. Glide action is just as sweet and flowing as roll action. Everyone knows that.
Anyway, I had just the right lightweight fannypack load today. 5 lbs. The snow was perfect packed powder, natural-style. Started blue ended purple.
John showed me the way to perfect hard-working all-day energy: PIZZA! I've long had trouble with bonking---I take the potions, bars and gels and I'm still sketchy. A big slice of pizza every hour is the actual true ticket to hard work happiness. It worked!
Another thing is that John knows how to set a pace. Don't use the pedal or dig into reserves, just keep it moving. I tend to make the situation worse for my energy by hammering. Half-tempo is really the way to go all day. But I do like to push.
Another thing is that nowax mid-length skis are half as fast as waxable full-lengths. John had the slow skis. They were fine, really, but he worked moderately hard the first half while I worked easy and glided like air.
There are technical descents on this loop---2 in particular have hard turns at the bottom---and I bit it on each one. John showed why he's the big hill tele champ and did the drops without stress. I'm almost there, though---still dialing in the equipment. 'Course it helps to know the trail. We did it clockwise, normal bike way this time, so it was all different from what I remembered on my first halfway attempt.
We did see quite a few runners out there. Maybe a dozen. They're out running, each carrying a waterbottle. What's up with that? --I hate carrying something when I run. It makes me lopsided. I imagine that it's also like running in soft sand. Why? When you could GLIIIIIIDDDDDEEEE. Slog and struggle ....versus... glide in bliss. And you burn more calories skiing, too. Is no-equipment and no-skill such a big turn-on as to inspire almost everyone out there to skip over the pure heavenly bliss of glide? Of course they weren't doing the Big Loop either---very few runners would want to go big. Some do, though, of course---I saw a 3 hr winter run time posted recently for the Poto. Amazing.
Another funny thing was that there are 2 places in the parking lot where cars congregate. Down by the lake it's all camo trucks---for the ice fishermen. Up by the trailhead it's all Beemers and Volvos and hybrids---for the soft snow sloggers.
Man, the Poto is nice. All those sweet bridges over lakes and streams. Great variety of views.
There's that yurt, too... Gotta see how to sign up.
It's as good as any of the many top places I've skied in the USA. Why go to Stokeley? I mean, first make sure you've soaked up that whole Waterloo-Pinckney area, then head out if you need more.
The Poto is about the same length as the Vasa big loop. Hundreds ski the Vasa every sunny weekend. The Poto is about twice as hard, but it is just as pretty. No...it's actually A LOT PRETTIER. And the Poto has bailouts and half-loop options.
Get it while ya can!
Maybe we'll have another month of good snow. Wouldn't that be nice?