Sunday, December 30, 2007

Time To Leave, Now It Snows

Saturday, Dec 29
Muskegon State Park Skate Ski
25km, 250m vert, 1:38hrs

Was feeling pretty lousy getting up in the morning. Went to local walk-in med center. Doctor looked at my throat and said "Oh, that doesn't look good." Strep throat. Got this a lot when I was a kid and occasionally as an adult. Some people never get it. I might have picked it up on the plane coming here. The economy is rather depressed in this area so a local pharmacy doesn't even charge for generic antibiotics right now as a public service.

So I'm on Amox. That curtails plans for a big ski weekend now that some snow fell. I decided to hit Muskegon again despite being disappointed there a couple days earlier. I planned to do easy laps on the flat 2.5km loop. The conditions were vastly improved. But The parking lot was full, and I was the only skater there. There must have been 150 clueless classic skiers there, you know, where you skid to a stop where they are standing in the trail and just look at you like what do you want. A very frustrating way to ski. I hadn't planned to ski hard, but start go, start go, start go... made for a hard workout anyway. Having been ill and keeping lid on intensity all week, my legs felt spooky fresh. I did the 5km loop three times, where the one and only hill exists at this place. It is too narrow to skate for the upper half. It is even hard to herring bone up it at only 4ft wide. Still had a good ski, great for the mind, but perhaps not the best thing to do with a strep infection. I got a kick out of some of the reactions. A young kid went "WHOA!" as I flew past at 5x speed differential. I overheard a women from group of women say "That's three times!" after I flew past them the third time. They were half way around the 2.5km loop when I was doing full 5km loops.

Sunday, Dec 30
Vasa Skate Ski
39km, 600m vert, 2:44hrs

Looking down The Wall on the 25km loopFinally caught stellar ski conditions on my last full day in Michigan. Long haul though, roughly a 2.7hr drive north to the Vasa trail system near Traverse City. This is the venue for the famous North American Vasa 50km race. They had received 6-10" of new snow two days ago. The base was slim before that. The trails were groomed during the day yesterday and only had one evening to set up. Surface was still a bit mushy, but the glide was perfect with CH8 at about 28F.

Having skied harder than I should've the day before, I wasn't going to get 50km like I wanted. Had other commitments later in the day and my legs were only going to be at 70%. I was feeling much better thanks to the antibiotics. I hit the 25km loop first. This is perhaps my favorite trail skied to date. Grooming is always meticulous, and the trail is never narrow enough to constrict all-out skating technique. It is one big loop with a couple bail-outs along the route. But once you are 12.5km out, it's 12.5km back. There are a lot of serious skiers here, perhaps training for the Loppet. I passed a few, but a few passed me too. I held a pretty stiff pace for the first 15km through the hilliest parts. Very little of the course is flat. You either go up, often steeply, or flying down. After a cascade of climbs, you hit "The Wall." It maybe gains only 100ft, but I wouldn't be surprised if the grade exceeds 30% near the top.

I skied back to the trailhead and then went back out to do the 11km loop. Much of this loop follows the 25km loop, short cutting across part way out. There is only one serious climb in this loop, a long sustained one that might gain 200+ft. Coming back to the trailhead again, I was cooked and opted to hit the 3km "Dog Loop" as a cool down.

So that's makes 64km for the weekend, and 89km for the week. Might be a new weekly PR for skate skiing for me. This during week with slim pickings for snow and a nasty bug.

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Hertz rental, the worst possible car for MI winter, and nasty color.  A skier snickered that it matched my jacket.  Thank's bud.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lake Michigan Pier to Pier Beach Ride

Shore Line MTB Ride
21.0mi, 1:53hrs

Looking south down Lake Michigan shoreline from Castle ParkOnce in a while conditions set up for beach riding here on Michigan's western shore. Despite the recent thaw, it dipped just enough below freezing overnight for the damp beach sand to develop a frozen crust on top. Mom lives just a few miles from the lake. I dropped down to the shoreline at Castle Park (where I worked as a grounds keeper one summer around 1982). Some winters, the sand is just that, loose beach sand and completely unrideable. Other winters, it's completely piled up with mountains of ice from the 20ft waves that winter storms can create. Today, it wasn't exactly like riding rock hard pavement like I enjoyed a few years ago, but still very manageable with easy effort. I had studded tires on but there were no icy sections.The Saugatuck channel

The lake was very calm with a winter storm coming across from Chicago. Lots of seagulls about, and zillions of zebra muscles washed up on shore. These didn't exist in the Great Lakes when I was a kid, but ocean going freighters brought them in several years ago. With nothing to check the explosive colonization of the great lakes, the muscle shells are now feet deep in places and plugging up municipal water supply intakes. The good thing that has come about from zebra muscle infestation is they have cleaned up the lakes. The lakes used to be highly polluted. The muscles tend feed on what makes fresh water yucky and have accelerated human efforts to clean up the great lakes. The water is much clearer these days.

Big Red lighthouse on Holland's pier
I rode south to the Saugatuck pier, seven miles of uninterrupted shoreline with infinite water to the right, and towering sand dunes to the left. The sky had an ominous hue of darkness about it. From Saugatuck, I turned around and went north to the Holland pier. There is a famous lighthouse there called Big Red. By now it was beginning to snow. Over 6" is possible, which should make for much improved skate skiing conditions by Saturday or Sunday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Riding in Michigan

Yankee Springs Trail Ride
Tuesday, Dec 25
16.4mi, 2:04hrs

Starting out on Yankee Springs MTB loopBack in Michigan with family for a week. Weather here is conducive for nothing. Not enough snow to ski on, too much snow to allow pleasant trail riding. After family lunch on Christmas day, I went to the site of my first trail ride ever, the Yankee Springs Recreation Area MTB loop. It is just over 12 miles long in fairly hilly (for Michigan) terrain. Along the lakeshore, the open areas were bare, devoid of snow. This was partly due to 70+ mph winds that swept them The Pines on Yankee Springs loopthat way, but also due to solar heating. Further inland, there was more snow, especially in the woods. There was 3-6" at Yankee Springs. But it was soft powder, having not yet gone through a thaw cycle. Control was very good, and most of the trail had not yet seen any users other than deer, coyote, and turkeys. I got to "carve" fresh powder. A couple of the steepest climbs required brief push-ups. It was a thoroughly satisfying ride and a fairly strenous workout.

Muskegon State Park Skate Ski
Wednesday, Dec 26
25km, less than 100m vert, 1:34hrs

Started coming down with a head cold. Happens every time I have a week of big volume planned. Picked it up on the plane? Sick relatives? Who knows. I had really wanted to ski 50km on the Vasa trail system way up by Traverse City today, but waking up feeling terrible with uncertain ski conditions suggested I wait for a better day. I was able to talk with a live person at the closer by Muskegon Sports Complex in the morning. She said conditions were good for skating. I kitted up and drove about an hour to get there. Cover was sparse. Starting out on the main path looked good, but as soon as I branched off on the 5km loop, conditions deteriorated. It was also ungroomed, icy, and rutted. Cover was 1" max to bare ground. I had to take my skis off several times to walk past extended bare areas. Outer portion of 5km loopWhen I got back down to the 2.5km loop, conditions were better and groomed, but the sandy patches on the 5km loop destroyed the wax on my skis. I had no glide left. The 2.5km loop is dead flat and more heavily shaded, thus holding what little snow was there better. I did 8 laps around the 2.5km loop. Mostly upper body work, as there was not enough texture to the trail to really push off against. Being sick, I didn't want to go any harder anyway.

Strange how things unfold. I MTB where there's lots of snow, ski where there's minimal snow. What's up with that? Turns out the recent snow dump was mostly inland, away from Lake Michigan. Inland is also where the best trail riding is. Since lake effect snow normally falls very close to the lake, most XC ski areas are by the lake.

Bass River Trail Ride
Thursday, Dec 27
11.0mi, 1:35hrs

Bass River MTB north loopNow with full-blown head cold, I had to take it easy today. With warm temps day before and now new snow anywhere, skiing was out of the question. I decided to hit nearby Bass River MTB tail, which is flat and non-technical. The full loop runs only about 5.5 miles. I rode it twice at recovery pace. There was 1-2" of slushy snow in the woods. Temp was >32F, so things were pretty greasy. Many riders had been through in last couple days, so the snow was packed down into a dense sloppy mess. Still good to get out away from traffic. There were more cars with empty bike racks at the trail head when I got back, but I encountered nobody on the trail. Plan is to take it easy one more day, then try to go for 50km ski on Saturday. Snow is in forecast for Friday. With maybe four ski races planned this winter, I really needed to get some quality skiing in over the break.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Epic Conditions

Waterville Valley Skate Ski
44.8km, 996m vert, 3:11hrs
Fast Wax Blue, -9C to start

Conditions at Waterville today were about as good as they get. Glide was on the slow side, but several early season snow storms have blanketed the area with generous cover. 100% of the tThe Sandwich Rangerail system was open, I think this is 2nd time in 5yrs I've been skiing this has happened at WV. And it's not even Christmas yet.

Not having recovered much this week, my legs were a little "off" starting out. Heading out Swan's Way, I hit the Livermore Rd climb first. This by itself gains abut 400ft at gentle grade. But to my bewilderment, it was not groomed from the North End parking lot. I took a new connector trail in hopes I could connect with the North End trail system. This trail did wrap around to Livermore Rd. The Nordic Center is getting clever. It seems over the last several years too many thrifty Nordic skiers learned that Waterville cannot charge Beginning Cascade Descenttrail fees for use of Livermore Rd. It is a national forest access road. WV has rights to groom it, but not charge fees for use of it. So now the first half kilometer plus or so is not groomed, and you have to use a fee trail to connect to it. Kind of like a toll booth with no sneaker path around. Of course, you could hike the half km to groomed road and stay just on that I suppose, but I bet that is enough to thwart most of the slackers. So now I lost one of my benchmark time-trail climbs, the length of Livermore Rd to junction 75. I have Tripoli Rd to keep me entertained instead.

I climbed Livermore to Cascade Brook Trail, a steep, additional 400ft climb with switch-backed descent. I bombed down Livermore with what felt like perfect V2/V2a control. The conditions were very forgiving of weak technique. High point of Cascade Brook is about 900ft net gain from Nordic Village.

Alpine area across the valley which is about 600ft belowTripoli was my next climb. The snow might have been groomed at a different time. It was much slower. Firm, but just no glide. I was surprised to see no skate or classic skiers had been up yet, and it was nearly noon. Second time in as many visits I got to lay first tracks up Tripoli. Coming down, I ran into team mate Rich in exactly the same spot I ran into him two weeks ago. He was just starting out and I was working my way back.

I wanted to climb the new Swazeytown Trail to Snow's Peak, but could not find way to connect to it from North End. I climbed Livermore again, continuing this time all the way up Upper Snow's Trail. View from peak was surreal, being not that far under the cloud deck. I took the Beanbender plummet down to new Swazeytown trail. Swazeytown descends a lot like Cascade Brook Top of Beanbender Plummetdoes. Narrow and lots of tight turns. It puts a big grin and your face while you grip the poles with white knuckles. I finished up by doing the northern most segment of Criterion Trail. I forgot how steeply this climbed from the golf course.

For you endorphin junkies out there, XC skiing produces incredible releases. Towards the end of my ski, I was so absorbed in my inner world I forgot what trail I was skiing on and did not know where I was going to pop out. During a period of youthful indiscretions, I had to pay good money to bring about that state of mind.
It's off to Michigan for a week over the holiday break. Conditions are looking grim for local XC skiing, but the northern lower peninsula has some good skiing currently. The warm spell could kill it, but more snow is in the forecast. I pre-shipped my studded-tire MTB there, so either way I'll be getting workouts in. Last year, the trail riding was phenomenal over the Christmas break.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Northfield Mtn Sandpaper Snow

Northfield Mtn Skate Ski
28.3km, 945m vert, 2:20hrs

Brett and I hit Northfield Mountain today. They had gotten 9" of new snow Thursday on top of 2-3" icy crust. 100% of their trail system was groomed. It was +16F on arrival. When we picked up trail passes, we were told classic technique would be best today. Conditions were too soft and slow for good glide us skaters like. They were at least half right. The conditions were uber slow. Not soft. The snow had set up nicely, but it was a very dry, abrasive snow. It was like skiing on Descent from summit of Northfield Mtn on Reservoir Rdsandpaper, the glide was so poor. I used Fastwax Blue, which should have covered the snow and air temp well. Everybody else we encountered had similar comments on the glide.

Despite both of us doing hill repeats at different places the day before, we went right into the Reservoir Rd climb. This road gains about 800ft in the first couple miles. It doesn't quite pack the punch that Tripoli Rd does at Waterville Valley, as it never gets seriously steep. It is a paved service road in the summer time, but is groomed about 20ft wide in the winter. You could easily skate three across going up this. Makes for nice descents too. We came back down the same way.

Brett chose Tooleybush Turnpike trail for our second climb to the top. It starts climbing gradually under the powerlines, but yikes when it cuts into the woods. This was probably the steepest terrain I have climbed on skis, and it never lets up. Couple this with poor glide, I repeatedly lost glide in my climbing. This pops out on Reservoir Rd near the top, so we finished to the high point again before bombing down Reservoir Rd the second time. This time, being saturated with sweat, my outer wind shell totally froze up on the inside. Couldn't even straighten my arms at the bottom, as where the sleeves were folded up at the elbow, it was frozen together.
Brett climbing 10th Mtn
Brett was beginning to bonk and ready to bag it at this point, but I wasn't leaving until I got at least three climbs in, regardless how slow the conditions were. I wanted to hit the south perimeter next, climbing up 10th Mountain trail. This too starts under the powerlines in the other direction, but gets down to serious climbing right away. Then turning into the woods, another horror of horrors appears, non-stop wall climbing. Not quite as steep as Tooleybush, but two hours into it, it hurt just as bad. Sure felt good to summit the third and final time.

We logged about 3100ft of climbing (forgot to start HRM on second descent and missed about 100ft in HRM screenshot). Yesterday was near record slow day, and this one tied it I think. The Reservoir Rd, Tooleybush, and 10th Mtn climbsgrooming was excellent in most place, the snow firm, but just awfully slow. That makes more than a vertical mile in two days on snow for me.

I'm convinced that these ski sessions December through February bring about podium finishes on the bike. This is the time to maintain and build cardiovascular fitness. XC skiing is weight bearing, uses all the major muscle groups, and puts far greater demands on the cardio system than cycling does.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Waterville Powder Slog

Waterville Valley Skate Ski
34.0km, 793m vert, 2:49hrs

Laying freshies may be bliss for the alpine crowd, but for the XC skate skier, fresh powder can be a frustrating experience. It can be exceedingly slow. These were the conditions that greeted me at the Valley today. The major snowstorm on Thursday dumped only a few inches in the Heartrate and Pseudo-ProfileWhites. This was groomed early Friday. But then another 2+" fell in the morning after much of the grooming was completed. This made for a soft base with powder on top of it. To top this off, I totally missed on the wax. I used CH8 (for around freezing temps) when the temp starting out was more like +20F. Conditions were so slow I had to work the downhills in places. Today was one of my slowest skis ever.

With new snow, nearly all of the thin spots were covered. I went out Swan's, hit Tripoli first, looped Mouse Run/Wicked Easy, then came back for some more punishment on Tripoli. I went totally anaerobic the first time, and struggled to break threshold the second time up Tripoli. Nobody else laid skate tracks on my first set. I cut my losses early and headed over to the south end, since they were still grooming that when I arrived.

The Hairpin with Perfect CorduroyThe south end had perfect corduroy with no new snow on top. But it was mushy and slow too. I went out Drakes, down the hairpin and back, bonking the whole time. I was the only one laying tracks on the new corduroy, and the Nordic Center was empty except for one worker. Skiing in these conditions for 2.8hrs takes more out of you than a fast 100 mile bike ride, but it was nice nearly having the place to myself.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bike-Ski Weekend

Urban(ish)Road Ride
Saturday, Dec 8
62.6mi, 4400ft vert, 3:37hrs

Temps moderated today, breaking +40F. After waiting for the dusting of snow we got late yesterday to burn off, I headed out. I hadn't done a long weekend road ride in about a month since the trail riding had been so good. Now with a deep crusty layer of snow, the trails are in that in between state of rideability. More snow would bring the snowmobiles out, which packs certain routes down nicely for studded MTB tires.

Planned to do LSD ride (Long Slow Distance), but due to wind, heavy Camelbak, and bulky clothing layers, I was demoralized by the slow speed I was averaging and ended up pushing the effort a bit harder. Ride turned out to be more like 3.6hrs of tempo pace.
Profile of Uncanoonuc/Chestnut Loop
From home in Pelham, I rode through Nashua, interacting with hundreds of Christmas shopping motorists. I was prepared for overt hostility, but never once encountered any. I made my way to the Uncanoonuc's in Goffstown and climbed to the summit of south mountain, greater than 1000ft net gain. The new pavement plows nicely, and despite all the recent snow and cold temps, it was quite safe to bomb back down. Next up was Chestnut Hill, which gains 600ft from the "front" side we normally do on lunch breaks at work, but much less than this coming from Alpe d'Unc. No 50mph descent today though, too risky. It was a great day for a ride, and I encountered a few other solo riders taking advantage of the opportunity. Forgot the camera, so a profile of the ride will have to do.

Waterville Valley Skate Ski
Sunday, Dec 9
35.6km, 850m (2790ft) vert, 2:37hrs
After a thorough workout Saturday, I wasn't sure if I wanted to ski. There is no free-wheeling in XC skiing. It is all work, except perhaps for the descents that seem all too brief. I had a busy work schedule coming up with no mid-week chance to ski, so I decided to hit Waterville.

They had gotten a little more snow since Thursday when I was last there, and the grooming had vastly improved. That isn't to say conditions were perfect. Far from it. Cover was still very thin in many places. It was about +15F to start, and winds were perfectly calm. Snow felt very slow. I waxed with CH6, not sure if I should have gone colder or warmer.

I skied from Nordic Center again on Swan's Way. I crashed here on Thursday. This time I managed to clip a rock even sooner, catching myself without a 20mph face plant. I went right into the Tripoli climb while my already sore legs were the freshest. Tripoli, a paved auto road in the summertime, was groomed to perfection. No hazards whatsoever. Slow snow meant no blistering pace to Thornton Gap summit, but I didn't have to kill myself just to muddle along like on Thursday.

Beginning the descent from Thornton Gap on Tripoli Rd.  This is screaming fast descent despite photo appearance.
Upper Osceola was the next climb I hit. I had doubts about this one, and I suffered through both the climb and descent. Tons of leaves and dirt were groomed up to the surface. I did a couple laps around Moose Run/Wicked Easy next, before returning to Tripoli Rd for more hillclimbing bliss. I was starting to suffer a "soft" bonk by the time I reached the top. This was nearly two hours into the ski.

Bombing down Tripoli at the half way point, a skater coming up hollered my name. Sounded like teammate Rich Brown, but wasn't sure. I screeched to a stop and gave chase. Now I was climbing hard, going into deep glycogen debt. It was Rich and we chatted a bit at the top. He came up alone too and was just starting out. I was past done.Profile of Waterville GPS track. Track truncation results in slightly reduced mileage than GPS odometer.

So that wrapped up a 6.2hr weekend with 7200ft of climbing. I think double points should be awarded for skate vertical. It is so much harder.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow Day

Skate Ski
26.3km, 1670ft vert, 2:05hrs
Played hooky today to go skiing. Not the type of skiing for the gravity challenged mind you, but the type where you are your own chair lift. Brett, Bob and I headed up to Waterville Valley where a claimed 18" of snow fell earlier this week and 32km of trail were groomed. The gas station sign said +9F heading up into the valley. The sky was a brilliant deep blue with calm winds.

Near the Yurt on Lower OsceolaWe set out on Swan's Way from the Nordic Center. Oh, that was rough. I would say they had 8-10" of snow in the woods. It takes a good 24" to cover Swan's adequately. One of the brief, steep descents terminated on ice punctuated with boulders poking through. I bit it bad. I knew exactly when I crashed, as I fell on my HRM which pressed the lap button at 8 minutes 42.4 seconds into the ski. The HRM face got torn up and left a nasty bruise imprint on my wrist.

Once we got to the north end, conditions were a little better. Grooming was pretty poor, done with snowmobiles. Surface was soft. We did a lap around Mouse Run/Wicked Easy trails before coming back to the much hyped Tripoli (pronounced Triple-eye) Road. This paved road gains about 800ft in two miles to summit of Thornton Gap. Embedded "walls" add character to the climb. Not having done much climbing on rollerskis this fall, this hill kicked my butt. I stayed with Brett for a while, but Bob just dropped both of us like we were first timers. I've done five repeats on this climb in better conditions, but Brett and I both agreed once would be enough today. The surface was mushy, each push sinking in and robbing half your power.

On Mt Ascutney in Vermont, I have no trouble out-climbing Brett and Bob on bikes. Get on skis up a steep grade, the table is turned. No amount of fitness can make up for poor technique on skis. On the bike, either you have the fitness, or you don't. On skis, either you have the technique, or you don't. Proficiently learning to skate ski requires high kinesthetic IQ, something I lack. I never got better than sucking at any kind of ball sport. I'm starting to wonder if I will always suck at skiing.

After bombing back down Tripoli, we did one more loop around Mouse/Wicked and headed back to Nordic Center. I believe this is the earliest I have XC skied in New England on natural snow. Conditions were poor, but I have had worse early season skiing. I'm looking forward to a few ski races this season, a TT up Tripoli Rd being one of them. Mt Washington will also be bringing back the Ski to the Clouds hillclimb race, one I have already signed up for.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cold Weekends are for Trail Ridin'

Bear Brook State Park
Off-Friday, Nov 30
30.1mi, 3:21hrs
With temps around freezing and wind picking up, I opted in favor of 3+ hour MTB ride instead of 3-4hr road ride. Hadn't been to Bear Brook in a while, and with winter closing in, it may be my last chance this season. What ingredients make any ride a great ride? Lung busting climbs and great views, of course. The nice thing about Bear Brook is an off-road accessible mountain is nearby. I decided to climb Fort Mountain first, while my legs were fresh. The summit is about 5 miles away, gaining 1000ft from parking area. About half of that gain comes in the last half mile (15-20% grade) on loose gravel. I'm lucky if I can avoid dropping below 5mph anaerobically max'd out. The day was crisp, and the skies were pristine. You could see about 100 miles in nearly all directions from the summit.

From summit of Fort Mountain looking towards Mt KearsargeAfter bombing back down, I hit the single track in the state park for the next two and a half hours. The climb up Hall Mountain put another good burn in my legs, although this climb is much shorter.

The gound was frozen in most places, so there was very little mud to contend with. But the leaves were piled deep and precluded carrying speed around most bends.

I hit the Cascade and Catamount climbs next, with stretch of hike-a-bike up Catamount. The ledge up top offered a nice view across the Bear Brook valley to Fort Mtn where I had been earlier. I saw two people the whole 3.3 hours I rode.From summit of Catamount Hill in Bear Brook State Park looking towards Fort Mtn

Nashua River Rail Trail
Saturday, Dec 1
34.8km, 2:12hrs
So the promised nasty cold weather was here. Windchill in the morning hoovered around 0F. Winds were howling above 30mph. Not a good riding day. Needed a long rollerski session this weekend, so this would be the day.

Dave and I had tentatively planned to rollerski around 9am, but he got there early and made me chase. My legs were toast from the long ride on Friday, and there was fair amount of debris on the paved rail trail. I settled for just catching him on the return from Ayer. The rail trail runs from Nashua, NH just over the state line to Ayer, MA in 12.3 miles. Round trip is nearly 40km and is a good workout on rollerskis. Dave picked me up about 1.5 miles from Ayer and we skied back together.

Great Brook Farm State Park
Sunday, Dec 2
22.5mi, 2:17hrs
Another frigid morning. Temp in teens, but winds were finally calm. Some of the Nor'East guys were planning to ride road this morning, but screw that when the trails are in top shape. I decided to take the Ellsworth dualie to Great Brook, but got no other takers to join me. I normally singlespeed Great Brook, but the place is pretty rooty and rocky. Suspension does have value. I pretty much rode all the singletrack, including Stone Rowe, Keyes, Acorn Hill, and many other trails. Did a big loop around the cranberry bogs too, as I ran out of trails to ride. I actually parked at the bogs where it's free. The trails were very sparsely used. Folks were either at the mall Christmas shopping or huddled in front of their firepaces. Saw one group of six mountain bikers and a couple hikers. Nearly had the place to myself.

This makes four weekends in a row where I did not ride road. Still managed 7.7hrs aerobic activity in three days, and about 11hrs for the week. Intensity workouts consisted of 35 mile hillfest at lunch on Tuesday, nine 2.5min intervals on rollerskis Wednesday, and a few sustain hillclimbs off-road on Friday.