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 sandpaper, 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 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 grooming 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.