Waterville Valley Skate Ski
44.5km, 1172m vert, 3:09hrs
I had an epic ski planned today. I was nearly recovered from shin splints caused by my running experiment. Doing two minute cycling hill repeats at very high intensity yesterday left other bits of carnage in my legs. Hadn't been doing much riding intensity lately, and I try to do some at least once per week during the lowest cycling volume time of year. The nice thing about XC skiing is it heavily relies on upper body and other muscle groups not taxed by cycling or running. You do need your energy stores topped off for an endurance workout though.
As I drove in to the Waterville Valley Nordic village, I saw Brad Ek (NHCC) heading over on foot from his condo. Then Kevin, Ryan, Andrew, Rich, and Keith, representing several other cycling clubs, popped into the Nordic center. We discussed heading out as one group although we arrived as four separate groups. But Brad and I were ready to go, had time constraints, and wanted to hit the big hills first. The others wanted to start on the south end. I suggested doing a couple Tripoli Road repeats first, but Brad countered with idea of "one of everything." This would spread the climbing out over the ski rather than front load it as I tend to do. I was cool with that and we pushed off.
We hit Tripoli, Upper Osceola, Livermore/Cascade, and Upper Snows. Brad's alpine skills must carry over to XC, as he dropped me fast on the Cascade Brook switchbacks. Halfway down, he was brushing snow off from wiping out. Oops. Shortly after that, we see a young gal on classic skis ahead of us climbing Upper Snows. She was staying ahead of us as I noticed my heartrate climbing. Brad was picking up the pace, yet gaining little on her. She ripped down a hill and around a corner, staying in the tracks and put distance back on us. Very humbling. We passed her just before reaching the summit. She was probably still in high school and was very good. The initial descent from Upper Snows is on old alpine trail. Part way down, the steep groomed path darts into the woods on the freshly minted Swazeytown trail. It descends just like Cascade. In reckless desperation trying to stay with Brad, I came too hot into the first sharp turn and bit it bad. Even had snow packed in behind my glasses. No injuries. We were even score now.
After popping out on the golf course, we took the relatively new piece of Criterion up and around the condo development. Brad had to meet his family, so he went back and I kept going. I finished a full Criterion lap next, then wrapped up by doing HB, L. Fletchers, Jennings Peak, Drakes Brook, U. Fletchers, then back down around the hairpin to Nordic center. I think that was how Brad planned to do "one of everything." It hit all the highest points around the perimeter. It was my most comprehensive ski of WV to date. Most of the trails skied the last half were rated black, and I forgot how steep some of the pitches were on Fletchers since we haven't had enough snow the last couple years to open all this terrain. Today was my hardest ski workout so far this season, and it may well have been the best ski day of the season. A warming trend is in the forecast.