Tag Archives: Cisco Grove

Moving Slowly

Two busted sleds, two seriously bruised rear ends, and two very satisfied sledders.

That pretty much sums up our trip up to Cisco Grove on Saturday, where A. and I basked in the sun, ate lots of Fritos and had one of our best snow-play missions ever.

Today I feel like I was on the losing end of a SmackDown match, with bumps and aches all over. Since I passed 40, it seems like I pay a little more after spending a day riding the chutes behind the Valero gas station. Even A., who is usually pretty resilient, is moving a little slower.

We try to hit the slopes behind the station at least once a year. We, like tons of other visitors who flock there on weekends, tend to ignore the signs that tell us we’re sledding there at out own risk. It is, after all, a sort of unofficial sled spot.

On Saturday, we arrived to find some of the smaller hills near the station pretty bare, with dirt showing in many areas. It’s been sunny and warm up there in recent weeks, and they haven’t had any serious snow for awhile. But a short walk into the woods revealed a motherlode of great sledding tracks, well worn by previous visitors and lined with slick, fast ice.

We attacked the hill shortly before 10 a.m., when the surface was like concrete. A. had his Wham-O Snow Boogie, a soft sled that absorbs the bumps well. I rode our old faithful Torpedo, a red ride made of thin plastic and lacking any cushioning at all. Getting there early paid off, allowing us to have one hill to ourselves for about an hour. We rode again and again, catching what seemed like massive air on bumps built up along the course.

After a cocoa break at the station, we really ramped things up by moving to a nearby ravine that has the best vertical of any of the runs. The top was shaded by tall pines, making it incredibly icy and fast, more like an Olympic bobsled run than a mere sled trail. This is where our sleds met their demise. While other smarter folks were riding from about midway up the hill, we headed close to the top against better judgment.

I stood partway down the hill to help clear the track and issue warnings to others as A. came whizzing down the hill. He hit bumps at full speed, launching him and his sled into the air. The little guy hung on well, whooping it up along the way. I tried it myself, and it felt like I jarred a couple fillings loose in the process.

After a few runs, A. had broken a handle off his sled, and I had snapped the Torpedo in half, turning one big sled into two smaller ones that we attempted to use through the day.

Luckily, the snow softened up as the sun rose higher in the sky. A. and I soon retired to smaller hills, resting more between runs. We met the mountain, and as usual, the mountain won.

Now that we’re back home, we’re resting our sore selves and reliving our rides. Of course, the amount of air we caught increases with each retelling of the tale.

We’re now also in the market for some new sleds. We need models that can take extreme punishment. I’m also thinking about adding some extra padding to my snow pants. We’ll need both for next time.


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Gaga For Games

Our house has gone nuts for the Olympics.

And it’s not just because of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and Apolo Ohno.

This afternoon I got hooked on the men’s 30km pursuit, a cross-country ski race that I didn’t even know existed until I turned on the TV. But the drama of the breakaway by Swede Johan Olsson and the ultimate victory by his teammate, Marcus Hellner, was tough to resist.

Yes, a lot of the events are on broadcast after the fact. And I often know the results from the Web well before I sit down to watch. But who cares? Seeing Vonn win the downhill on an insanely steep and winding course is just a great story.

We’ve been into it since the opening ceremony, and the games are creeping into other parts of our lives. Last Sunday, A. and I went up to the Sierra for a little sledding (the slopes near the Valero at Cisco Grove are pretty sweet) and snowtubing (anything at Soda Springs is great for kids). As we enjoyed the sunny day and the snow, it was hard not to think about the Olympics and imagine ourselves as competitors. Snowtubers at the games? You never know. If curling can become an event, I think snowtubing has a strong chance.

A. and I dropped by the library today and he quickly snagged a couple books on snowboarding. Who would have thought snowboarding would make a boy want to read? A. is a big fan of White, and can’t wait to take a lesson. I told him as soon as he masters his RipStik — a crazy skateboard-like thing he got for Christmas — then we’ll talk about snowboarding.

In the meantime, we’ll keep watching. We’ve been bleary-eyed during the day after staying up too late to watch the night coverage. We love the good guys, like White, the villains, like Russian skater Yevgeny Plushenko, and the could-have-beens, like French downhiller Marion Rolland, who crashed right after leaving the starting gate.

The tough part will be March 1, the day after the games end. What will we do then?

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