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Sunday, December 25, 2005

DIY Christmas

The following bit of observation demonstrates grassroots involvement bordering on the trivial yet still gives me a warm holiday feeling.

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak contributed a trail report to the upper midwest's skinnyski.com cross-country ski web site on Christmas Eve.
Dec 24 - City of Lakes Loppet Trail (Minneapolis):
Conditions: Good, deteriorating.
I just got off the Loppet trails at Theodore Wirth and they are still very good. With the cloud cover I guess they will still be good into early afternoon....a few dry patches but mostly enough cover to get a good run. I also skiied them yesterday and there was surprisingly little deterioration.
The best are the trails back in the wood, esp. behind the Quaking Bog....but even the straight away from the golf course to Wirth beach was good. I suggest parking at Wirth Beach and skiing in both directions.
A huge thank you to all the people who have made this amazing trails!
(Reminder to stay on the marked trails. We sold these trails to the fierce protectors of the park by saying it would keep people off unmarked trails. Please also remind mountain bikers, who now also have their own great trails, to do this, too.)
(RT Rybak)
Granted, Rybak takes a personal interest in this particular trail system, which hosts the only urban XC race in the country, but I laud the contribution in any case. XC skiing will never make more than a cursory dent as a means of transportation, but word-of-mouth makes a huge impact in making enthusiasts aware of good quality trails. Strange as it may seem, but give me a passably groomed trail which happens to follow a commuter route and I would not hesitate to use it daily in the winter, finding the mode of transportation pretty much equivalent to biking.

Even odder, a quality set-track XC course has amazing positive implications for the intrepidly-inclined handicapped individuals. Check out how cross-country programs for the blind started in Norway during the 1950's, which continue as a highly progressive initiative even today. Off the top of my head, only tandem bicycle riding can compare as a "blind"-friendly form of human transportation, and that necessitates a greater degree of dependence on an able body. And not only the blind, but mobility-impaired skiers can take advantage of set-tracks.
As early as the 10th century, cross-country skiing was basic transportation.
So we can dream:
D: How is the freeheel scene in Norway?

FG: During the "rebirth," everyone did it, or at least wanted to. But what happened, the way I see it, is this. People in Norway are not that comfortable with having to travel to go skiing, they would rather just walk out the door and put their skis on. Therefore, every little place in Norway with a few houses has their local hill or ski area. Cause everyone skis!
By the way, my own ski report for today:
The northern metro sucks bad, dirt with occasional patches of snow.
Best bet -- wait for global warming to subside.


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