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.


Frederic said...

Hi Doug!

I've been a long time reader/user of your website and I'm now following your blog with high interest.

I started skate skiing today! It was cool but so hard for my arms...not used to work the upper limbs with all training dedicated to biking and running.

Keep up the good work and go easy on the training with this strep.


Anonymous said...

Quote:"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."

Not too shabby Doug! I can see why you are the hillclimb machine that you are. Nice job on the blog, and good luck in 08.


Doug said...

Frederic, stay with it. When I first strapped on skate skis, I hated it. I spent more time on the ground than on my feet and swore I wouldn't do it again. My Norwegian friend convinced me to give it another shot. I did, doing slightly better. I went alone a third time, and something clicked. It wasn't like all of a sudden I got it, but I saw that it was something I could learn, enjoy, and derive considerable training value from. I like it almost as much as mountain biking now and become sad when I have to let go of skate skiing when spring comes around. I'm still an intermediate at best but getting better each season.

It is truly hard on your upper body starting out. Also lower back, hips, all kinds of things take a beating. Cycling is so specific. I rollerski several weeks in the fall to tone up the weak links a little before snow arrives. This helps some. By spring, I'm just coming into form, only to let it go again. I imagine I put on a little upper body muscle mass that hurts me in hillclimbs, but I'm confident the aerobic gains outweigh this.

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous said...

Ah, home sweet home. Doug, I think I've mentioned in the past that Traverse City is my home town. I have not been back in 5+ years and not in the winter for probably 20.