I’ve finally concluded that I will never be a cross country skier. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re asking yourself “Why would I want to be?”
I firmly maintain that cross training is bad for you, but unfortunately for me, not everyone thinks that biking is the activity of choice when there’s twelve inches of snow on the ground. So I invariably yield to peer pressure and engage in skiing. I’ve been a beginner cross country skier for about twenty years. I’ve reached a plateau of ineptitude and stayed there. I have made some modest improvements in technique over the years, the net result of which is that I am going faster when I eventually fall over. I liken myself on skis to the Wobblies. The Wobblies are these people you see careening down the bike path on roller blades that clearly have no business being there.
Aside from the listing and lurching you can identify them by the wild look in their eyes, scanning for some nearby bush to grab hold of or somewhere soft to break their fall. These are my people.
I figured out the key is I’m no good at any activity requiring skill. Take mountain biking. You would think I would be a natural at this, since it does involve a bicycle, but it also involves a bit of finesse negotiating around rocks, logs and all manner of unpleasant things you find in the forest. My lack of athletic ability goes back a long way. I was bad at all the usual kid sports, baseball, football, basketball, stickball. Soccer had yet to be discovered then, but I’m sure I would have been bad at that. As a youth I was forced to join the Little League where I languished in right field all season and managed a batting average of zero.
But cycling was different. It didn’t require hand eye coordination, and as long as you didn’t fall over (which is another specialty of mine) you would achieve forward motion. So with brute force and perseverance, I can actually participate in a sport, and be halfway decent.
Another activity I could see myself in is rowing. They put you in your seat and tell you what to do and when to do it, and all you have to do is “stroke” and not fall out of the boat. So this could have been a sport for me, except of course for my total lack of upper body strength.
I recently discovered an alternative to cross country skiing, showshoeing. As far as I’m concerned the only advantages of cross country skiing is that it’s an aerobic activity in the great out of doors. Snowshoeing has all that, without the ever present danger of FDGB. So I can go to a ski touring center and pay money to humiliate myself in front of a bunch of strangers, or strap on the snowshoes and head out into the wilderness. This for me is a no brainer.
I will undoubtedly be forced into skiing again this winter. You can stick those boards on my feet, dress me up in wool knickers, but in my heart, I’d rather be biking.