The Spooner to Ironwood record


Yup, among the stupider things I did ten years ago (and there were many of them) was setting the speed record from Spooner to Ironwood, Michigan. Ironwood is a well known place among XC skiers because it has ABR (is it still called ABR Frank? I'm so out of the loop). Anyway, about fifteen years ago, the guys at ABR figured out that Irownwood gets lake, effect snow WAAAAYYY earlier than everyone else, and those of us who were out pounding ourselves training on roller skis all through November were always just JONSING to get out on some REAL SNOW! Well, typically Ironwood had it, so we got in the habit of making that long and terrible drive on Friday's after work, classes, etc.
Well, back when I set my infamous record, I was driving a red and white Chevy Blazer (it was the colors of the Peruvian flag oddly) that literally bounced down the road instead of rolled. That truck was ridiculous...and fast...and you couldn't go around a corner with it.
The best part about that rig was right after skiing there was ROOM in that sucker to change your clothing, and when you fired up the engine it BLEW heat at you and warmed you up in like five seconds...but it wasn't much for road trips since it SUCKED down gas.
The odd thing is, our record setting trip to Ironwood didn't even have Ironwood as our destination. We actually were on our way to even further into Michigan (Marquette or something...I don't remember) because some friend of a friend had reported seeing a flake or two out there. Well, we didn't think twice becasue we were INTREPID when we were younger...Frank and I...and we fired up that Blazer and popped in some Nirvana and we were OFF.
Frank bought like this 24 pack of nasty gas station donuts (he was always eating those back then) and we flew through the darkness of those hollow country roads past Hayward...beyond cable...into the dark stretches of places named Mellen and whatnot. We wanted to SKI...and the road was dark and empty and nobody was ever out there so we FLEW (and I don't recommend you do this).
This map recommends a driving time of 2:35 from Spooner to Ironwood, and we did it in 1:41. Granted, we knew a couple tricks and shortcuts that even google maps hasn't figured out yet. And for those of you who think that 1:41 is nothing special, let me also just remind you that there was no snow...but there was torrential rains...and fog...and HERDS of deer that we had to literally PLOW through. It was horrendous.
By the time we got to Marquette (we took it off the speed clock shortly after Ironwood after a scare in a small town with a local policeman who turned around and followed us for a while, but never turned his lights on), we were ready for some snow...and although there was some white stuff here and there, it wasn't anything special.
Our solution was to find an abandoned railroad line and ski on that for 2 a miserable two hours in which every stride was interrupted by the PINNNGGGG noise that the ptex on our bases made as it was ground against some nasty piece of scattered granite (rock skis are to be abused...and we ABUSED ours).
We came home much to everybody's laughter at the fact that we had traveled all that way for essentially nothing...but we HAD skied and we HAD set the record so it was a victory and now that it's been immortalized forever in this blog...EVEN MORE SO!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Ben,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Ironwood to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Jane

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