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Pole, pedal, paddle race promises

Erick Studenicka
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Jim Grant/Nevada AppealCarson City resident Erick Studenicka is competing the annual Pole, Pedal, Paddle Race in Bend, Ore. that will require him to ski, bike and kayak.
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I finished dead last in a cycling time trial earlier this month. There are several Tahoe grandmothers who can beat me in Nordic skiing. My best running times were recorded two decades ago. I prefer the groomed runs at the local resorts and eschew the Black Diamonds.

I am a hack of all the mountain sports, master of none.

But my mediocrity in a wide variety of mountain sports combine to make me the perfect entrant for the annual Pole, Pedal, Paddle Race in Bend, Ore., on Saturday, the semi-serious mountain pentathlon that combines alpine and Nordic skiing, biking, running and kayaking. (Contrary to some Carson City residents’ belief, it’s not called the Poke, Piddle, Peddle – that’s the unofficial event contested on New York sidewalk every evening.)

According to race director Molly Kelley, a record 3,000 people are signed up for the race which will be contested in multiple waves starting at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort west of Bend. After an alpine ski run on a Super-G course, eight kilometers of Nordic skiing, 22 miles of biking, eight kilometers of running and two miles of kayaking, participants finish the race near downtown Bend.

Some of the competitors will take the race seriously; in fact, a corporate sponsor of the race held a seminar on April 21 on race strategies and training. But most participants regard the race as a spring-festival-in-motion, complete with costumes and post-finish line partying. It’s the Bay-to-Breakers race of mountain pentathlons.

As this is my first attempt at the race, survival and a mid-pack age group finish are my goals. Some individuals, including Olympic skier Lars Flora, have completed the course in less than two hours; I’ll probably be lucky to break three hours.

I’ll definitely lose time in my weaker events, especially in alpine skiing and kayaking, and I’m sure to be ignorant about a lot of time-saving hints – somewhere out there is a Alpine/Nordic/cycling/running shoe that someone has developed for this event, but I can’t find it yet at CV Sports.

I had heard of the race before but never signed up for it, mainly because I am usually tired of skiing by May. But conditions were so fantastic this year, a part of me wants to Nordic ski one last time this year. Just as my friend says “I’m not sick of it yet!” when I ask him if he’s caught enough fish using bait, I’m not sick of skiing yet this spring and want to bid this memorable season a fond farewell. There are still 10 feet of snow at Mount Bachelor.

Also, the race is attractive because there is no need to lose my 10 pounds of accumulated winter hibernation fat with the race looming – the extra weight will come in handy on the downhill alpine and cycling courses. As Bill Raitter, a familiar Carson City runner who finished fifth in the Prison Hill Half Marathon a few weeks ago noted: “Yeah, you are pretty heavy but looking just right for the Pole, Pedal, Paddle.” He’s also traveling to Bend to do the Nordic leg for a relay team.

If I can complete the trip with no broken bones or skis, no cycling road rash and only minor sunburn – not to mention a finisher’s medal – I’ll consider the trip a success.