Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Passing a Snowplow

It has been dumping snow for 24 hours (and snowing on & off for 7 days straight). Oh my, what powder days we are having....
Breaking trail far out in Indiana Creek. "More than shoulder" deep for both
Max & Zorro!
Zorro brings you today's main topic for the skijoring outing: "Have you ever tried to pass a snowplow?"

First, a little background about passing a snowplow.... It happens to all of us driving out on the roads during a large snowstorm. You get stuck driving behind a snowplow. The road seems "just fine" to you (behind the snowplow) and you keep thinking, "Why is the snowplow going so slow, the road seems just fine?" Eventually you get cocky and proclaim, "That's it, too slow, I'm passing!" and you pull out from behind the snowplow to pass it. As you get out from behind the plow, making your move to pass, it hits you - unplowed road! "Whoa!" you exclaim, "that's nasty out here, I'm getting back in behind the snowplow and let him do the work!" So, you pull back in behind the snowplow and resume following slowly. Until... It happens to all of us, eventually you say again, "The road seems just fine (back here), why are we going so slow?" and you attempt to pass the snowplow again. Deja vu... "Whoa! No wonder the snowplow is out, the road is terrible unless you ride behind him!" This pattern repeats itself: follow, frustrate, attempt to pass, fail, follow, frustrate, attempt to pass, fail, ... If only we could understand: the snowplow is doing all the work, that's why it is going so slow!

Now, back to Zorro and today's outing. We found ourselves breaking trail in 6-18 inches of fresh powder for the entire outing, with the majority of the outing spent breaking trail in 12-18 inches. When the snow is this deep, we adjust into a "single file" skijoring line with Max and his long legs out front breaking trail, then Zorro following in Max's trail and then me getting the trail set by Max and Zorro. Well, the "passing a snowplow" effect happens to Zorro every time we are in this setup. I can just hear Zorro's thought process: "Geez, Max sure is going slow in front, what's the deal? ... I think I'll pass and show him how to go fast!" Zorro then pulls out to the right or left to pass what he perceives as "slow trail breaking Max" and then Zorro exclaims, "Whoa! It is DEEP out here, too deep for me, I'm hopping back in line and letting tall Max break trail!" But, of course, Zorro is like all of us snowplow followers - it is only a matter of time before he says, "What's the deal going so slow, I'm passing" then quickly followed by, "Whoa! Deep! Back behind Max!" Today's skijoring video is Zorro in 4 (of his many) attempts to pass Max the snowplow only to find the snow too deep and he hops back in line behind Max to let him use his long legs to break trail.

Zorro's attempts to "pass Max the snowplow". Watch as each time he eventually
gets into more than "Zorro shoulder deep" powder and he the proceeds to give
up passing and get back in line behind Max the snowplow - hilarious :-)

When will we ever learn: the snowplow may seem like it is going slow, but, duh - it is doing all the work!

Now, to be fair to Zorro... Max is our "primary snowplow" as he is most equipped to break trail in 12+ inches of snow with his long legs. But, Max does get tired doing such strenuous work, so Zorro does take his turn in deep trail breaking lead. When we break trail for extended distances, our time spent in deep trail breaking lead tends to be: (1) Max 70-85%, (2) Zorro 15-25%, (3) Brad 0-10%. Yes, I have to move my sorry butt to the front sometimes to earn my keep (this typically only happens when we get into 3+ feet of snow). And, for the record, Max is the worst snowplow follower of all of us! He sticks his forehead right into Zorro's behind and tries to speed him up! Max's "passing tactics" are also quite hilarious. He has been known to go right over the top of Zorro, once he is rested, to take over his proper place as trail breaking lead. It like he's saying, "Oops, sorry little VW bug (Zorro), didn't see you there, hope you do not mind this big snowplow (Max) driving over the top of you!"

Tally for today's outing: 6 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain. A "tiny outing" by our typical standards; but breaking trail in 6-18 inches the entire outing and 12-18 inches for about 75% of the outing! Woo - now that's Siberian Work!


  1. Max - Rusty salutes you for your passing "through" the other skills.

  2. We thought Rusty would approve :)