August 7th, 2020
Book Across the Bay - 2011
Saturday February 19th, 2011
Book Across the Bay
February can be so fickle... in the days leading up to the 15
Annual "Book Across the Bay" race a warm front blanketed the upper mid-west, which raised temperatures above 60°F, and razed the registration tent under the stress of heavy winds. Hundreds of the signature race ice luminaries (recipe: freeze candles in 10-gallon buckets with protective wall of ice to shield wind) melted into uselessness. Snow too, melted off of the race course leaving behind the glare-ice of (still frozen) Lake Superior... not good for cross country skiing nor snowshoeing. Such were conditions just two days before the race.
Fortunately the temperatures stabilized below freezing as race officials sprung contingency plans. An alternate school building was secured for temporary registration as the tent was repaired and re-pitched. Volunteers refroze new luminaries, stowing them in a refrigerated semi trailer. Heavy grooming equipment from local Mt. Ashwabay scraped the glare-ice and set up a thin but ski-able layer of frost from the start line in Ashland, in a straight line across Chequamegon Bay, to the finish line in Washburn.
The race was on
Some 3,500 participants pinned numbers to their outerwear and strode or skied passed the bonfire, out on the ice to the start line. Just before 6:00 pm a local young lady led in the singing of our national anthem. The near-full moon was hidden behind heavy clouds. Michelle in her brand new strap-on-shoe-chains, and I on my skate-skis awaited in the fifth row. An airhorn split the tension, the field surged northeast amidst whoops and hollers... we were on our way
With just a thin layer of frost-over-ice lots of double-polling was in order. I witnessed many skier wipe-outs, like "Bambi on ice for the first time." As twilight surrendered to nighttime ski-by-feel forced me into a cautiously slower tempo. Following the narrow course marked by ice luminaries we passed aid stations with bonfires, music and refreshments. Soon tiki torches came into view and we raced up the beach to the finish line... the sustained audible chirp of chip-timing welcomed us to Washburn.
I kicked off my skis and walked back out on the ice to watch for Michelle. She raced in as 4th female overall (lost one place to her last year's finish). We hit the post-race party tent for chili and tasty micro-brews. A great band kept the party going into late night. Awards were announced for top racers in all categories -and- best-dressed participants.
For Michelle and me... this is our annual "embrace winter weekend." We hang out in nearby Bayfield, venture up to Apostle Islands (weather permitting), hike across the ice road to Madeline Island (again, weather permitting), and ski the trails at Mt. Ashwabay. It's well worth the drive up from Chicago.
Thanks to director Laurence Wiland, his race committee and army of volunteers. Congratulations to all participants who took on the elements and booked across Lake Superior's frozen Cehquamegon Bay
Want to see more? Check out the official website of Book Across the Bay at:
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February 24th, 2011 11:05 am
August 7th, 2020 7:01 am
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