Riddell: Live and learn — technologically speaking
A Zoomer’s Unique View of Grand County
Generational differences have always existed. From politics to music to clothing to technology, the preferences of the emerging younger generation always differ from the preferences of the established older generations. Despite the handwringing of the latter and the mildly disguised exasperation of the former, all in all, life somehow manages to go on. This does not mean, however, that there are not ample examples of generational conflicts that sometimes just seem to defy common sense. Maybe it’s just me, but technology seems to be a major incubator for just such events. What I never anticipated was that recreational x-country skiing would be the platform.
Grand County is home to some great x-country skiing venues. While many are familiar with the quality of the experience at places like Devil’s Thumb, Snow Mountain Ranch, and the Grand Lake Touring Center, locals are also aware of places like Deadhorse, Blue Sky, and a host of others. Wherever you choose to go, however, you can count on running into Zoomer Boomers out to enjoy the day. It was, in fact, an “out to enjoy the day” ski that presented a recent technology based, generational double clutch.
Having snapped into my ski bindings and cinched up my pole straps, I was preparing to depart when a young gentleman, sporting the latest in chic x-country skiing attire, approached me and very politely inquired, “Excuse me, is it right hand, left foot; left hand, right foot?” I can honestly say that I had no idea what he was talking about and certainly the look on my face must have immediately conveyed this to him. He went on, “You know, this cross country skiing stuff. Is it right hand, left foot; left hand, right foot?” I had to apologetically reply to him that I honestly did not know and had never really thought about it. At this point he thanked me, told me not to worry and immediately turned to his group of young adults and promptly issued the following directive, “You would have thought one of us would have googled how to cross country ski!”
Having always been appreciative of Zoomers who have incorporated both the fitness and technique of x-country skiing and having my own skiing technique self-described at times as resembling a frog in a blender, I immediately suggested that taking an inexpensive lesson would be time and money well spent. I was then very politely informed that their smart phones and tablets would certainly suffice, upon which I bid them good bye and good luck. I then proceeded to ski about three hundred yards down the trail and then just could not refrain from looking back to the group in anticipation of mass carnage. I was not disappointed. The group would go, in a pack, for about five to ten yards, then like a ten pin bowling arrangement struck by a perfectly rolled strike, all would simultaneously fall down. To their credit, they all laughed and they all eventually got up. This pattern continued to repeat itself. It occurred to me that there are a number of events in life where technology just cannot substitute for old fashioned experience, practice, and even talent.
Now in the interest of total disclosure, I have to confess to also being on the opposite side of embracing and implementing the benefits of technology. Probably one of the most overlooked requirements of x-country skiing is the need for “waxless” skis, those with the fish scale imprints on the bottoms, to be, in fact, occasionally waxed. The ski base in front of and behind the area of the fish scales becomes worn down due to use and an occasional waxing with the proper wax significantly enhances the glide and ease of exertion. Being a bit keen on this ease of exertion thing, I googled how to wax skis, made the appropriate notes, purchased the appropriate wax and set out to make my skiing life easier. I proceeded to coat my skis from tip to tail with a general, all condition wax known as Blue Xtra. I put the wax on in my garage and then took the skis to the waxing hut at Devil’s Thumb to go through the scraping and final brushing. This is where I realized that something was just not going according to plan. The wax, instead of scraping off, was more like trying to remove hot tar or soft putty. It was sticking everywhere, rendering the scraping to nothing more than an exercise in futility. Thankfully, the ski shop was nearby.
Upon showing my skis to the resident experts, they were initially surprised at my dilemma. Upon further interrogation, however, it became readily apparent that my googling information clearly left something to be desired. While the Blue Xtra wax was, indeed, the correct choice, it seems that there are two types. One is for enhanced glide, but the other is used for “waxed” skis and is wholly intended to enhance the grip of the ski on the snow while minimizing the glide. This type of wax is known as kick wax and as you may have surmised was the type that I had just put on the entire length of both of my skis. The folks at Devil’s Thumb were polite enough to refrain from laughing in my face and were able to remove my mistake and replace the kick wax with the correct glide wax. Life was one again good.
As Zoomer Boomers, ours has been and will continue to be a lifetime of living and learning. But I am still not giving up my flip phone even though it is held together by gorilla tape.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.