Friday, February 22, 2008

Hills Are Your Friends

Waterville Valley Skate Ski
43.9km, 1150m vert, 2:50hrs
Fastwax Blue, +16F to start

With a winter storm bearing down on New England, I scooted out ahead of the storm early on my off-Friday. I planned to ski only two hours or so and get a couple climbs in, but no intensity as I was cooked from cycling interval work two days in a row. It was beginning to snow when I left home, but negligible snow fell during the first two hours skiing. Conditions were the way I like them. Crispy to sugar granular gave good speed and control.

I had no top end and settled on a L.S.D. ski (long, slow, distance). I glided up Tripoli Rd effortlessly, laying first tracks on fresh corduroy. The north end was deserted on the weekday morning. Tripoli went so fast despite easy pace that prospects looked good for additional climbing. I did Livermore/Cascade next, my second 800ft climb laying first tracks. During this climb I got a brilliant idea of how to link in a third major climb. From summit of Cascade, I bombed all the way down Lower Snows and climbed Swazeytown/Beanbender. Normal people go down Beanbender, not up. Hill Junkie ain't normal though. I had climbed Beanbender on only one prior occasion, when I was still a relatively new skier, and I had to stop for breathers several times on the way up. Not today, even with tired legs. The upper part of Beanbender must be twice the average grade of the next steepest climb at Waterville. This is near vertical wall at 14 miles in profile above. After cresting the mini-summit of Upper Snows, a brief descent picks up Cascade to finish out the 700ft net gain climb.

At this point in the ski, I had already covered more terrain and vertical than I had planned, but the km's were ticking off faster than minutes on the clock and I still felt great. It was starting to snow pretty hard now, and any crustiness was subdued by fresh powder. Despite being cold, the new snow had decent glide. I decided to climb Lower/Upper Osceola before heading back to Nordic center. One more out-and-back climb on Pipeline finished out the ski session. Not my longest or fastest workout, but given the amount of mountainous terrain covered while averaging a comfortable 137bpm heartrate, it was one of my better ski sessions this season. It was so peaceful out there. I encountered people only 3 or 4 times. The drive home was a different matter...

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