Your first loppet coming up? (or the first one in a few decades)? Here's how to get yourself ready.
1. Rest. You may have been training hardcore for months, or this loppet coming up may be the first time you've been on skis this season. Relax. Go for a few skis in the week before the loppet, then rest the day or two before the event so you are fresh on the start line.
2. Eat. Carbs are your friend. Don't be shy to enjoy that big plate of pasta the night before your race. Just don't get to the point of feeling full. Smaller meals eaten more often keep your blood sugar from dipping too low, and you want to keep it steady in the days leading up to your event. A good loppet-day breakfast is granola with Greek yogurt, or a bowl of oatmeal with a spoonful of almond butter stirred in. Have a small snack every hour until your race start.
3. Drink. The morning of your event, start hydrating as soon as you get up. Taper off the amount as you near your start (so you don't have to make any detours to the porta-potties during the loppet). You may want to bring a water bottle with you while you are skiing - if so, just be aware that squirt type nozzles tend to freeze.
4. Get your equipment ready. Keep watching the forecast. As close to loppet day as you can, get your skis hot waxed. (If you bring them in to the store here just tell us if you are hot waxing for an event - we'll make sure to get the right wax for the conditions.)
Check your skis, poles, boots and bindings - make sure it all works. Get your clothes laid out the night before. Are your pole straps adjusted for the gloves you're going to wear? Did the elastic go on the waistband of your racing tights? Better get that looked after.
5. Loppet day: If it is a classic style loppet, pick your kick wax and apply many thin layers on your skis. It helps if the wax is chilled. Cork in each layer. Any ski shop worth its salt will have wax recommendations for local loppets, so give them a call if you're not sure which wax to pick.
Arrive with plenty of time to find your way around and warm up. Ski gently until you feel loose and warm. Carry wax with you in case you need to re-apply or try something new. Get yourself to the start line with lots of time to relax and chat with other skiers.
6. During the event: Give it your best! Drink and eat what you need at the checkpoints - letting your blood sugar or hydration level go down too far is a classic mistake (pardon the pun) and results in a huge drop in speed and energy level. (Ask any experienced loppet skier - we've all been there.)
Thank the volunteers when you see them. The loppet wouldn't happen without them.
If you need to pass someone slower than you, you may call out "track" and they are obligated to step out and let you go by. (Only do this if you can't go around them, however.)
Push yourself to the point where you'll feel proud of what you've done, no matter where you place. Those endorphins make it all worthwhile.
7. Recover. Have a meal as soon as you can after your ski (within an hour is best). Hydrate. Go home and have a hot bath, then sign up for your next loppet :)