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.
We 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.