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Roller Skis and Bloody Knees

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Ah yes, rollerskiing season is upon us and that brings back a few memories, most of them good, some of them painful. The thing about rollerskiing is that it's probably the best exercise in the world just because it's never too cold, and the trail conditions are always exactly the same. However, the one thing you have to worry about is getting just a little bit too confident and absolutely grinding yourself into hamburger. Today, the propect of being ground up is truly worrisome for an old feller like myself, but there was a day when I'd throw myself at the asphalt as hard as I could just to see how high I would bounce.

Back in those bygone days of glory, Frank Lundeen was generally my partner in crime. That was back when we were both starting out and trying to get a grip on this XC business. I remember that I'd just bought a pair of those classic blue V2's (the ones that were slower than a -25 F winter day), and I was always trying to figure out how to convince myself that pushing those suckers around was on the "fun" side of "eternal, agonizing, torment."

Frank, however, had it even worse. He hadn't bought his first pair of rollerskis yet (yes, there DID exist a day...hell, I even gave Frank a waxing lesson once, imagine that!), but somebody, I think it was Geno Cummings, had lent Frank a bizarre pair of rollerskis that were somehow built on an angle. That is, the wheels weren't ROUND, but rather they were CONICAL (don't get me started, these roller skis were insane).

Anway, Frank, being the good sport that he is, was out there trying like heck to get those to work (we were skiing around shell lake). Of course, due to the fact that we were young and stupid, we couldn't just go for a leisurely ski around the lake...nope...any time we started getting any little head of steam worked up, it instantly turned into a race (partly because we liked to go fast, and partly because we really didn't know how to stop). So, within a few seconds we'd be hammering away as fast as we could go when....

PIIINNGGGG......(the dreaded sound of a rock getting caught in a roller ski wheel)...

And somebody (usually Frank because those skis were death traps) thudded to the ground with a WHOMP!

Upon hearing this crash, I'd usually leisurely ski up to the nearest "Stop Ahead" sign (or anything else that could conceivably be used as a finishing line), cross it (so there was no doubt that I had "won"), then go back and see what was left of Frank. He was usually dusting himself off good-naturedly and ready to have at it again in another 100 yards or so.

Yup, those were the good old days. Unfortunately, Frank almost always stays on his feet now, so I don't get to "win" much anymore...but every time I drive around Shell Lake, I remember all those victories from long ago...I don't care if they were kind of cheap, a win is a win, even if it's only in your own head.

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