Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Perfect Weekend

Saturday, Feb 16
Trail of Tears MTB Ride
30.4mi, 3:52 riding time

After an amazing ride on the Cape last weekend, I had to get back there again. The weather was wicked cold in NH and the roads were still a mess after a sloppy storm midweek. The Cape escaped with rain only. The soil there is a coarse sandy/gravelly mix that drains extremely well. It wasn't going to be much warmer on the Cape with a north wind, but it was expected to be sunny and dry. Temperature really is not an issue mountain biking anyway, as average speeds are half that on a road bike and any wind is knocked down by tree cover.

Blue blazed trail between powerlines and Rt 6It only took 1hr 38min to get there, including a stop for coffee. The trails are just a few minutes on the other side of the Sagamore Bridge. The parking lot was full of cars. I brought a hardtail with gears this time, as I expected to ride longer than last week with the singlespeed and I had a big ski planned the next day. Singlespeeding in steeply corrugated terrain does a special number on your legs. I expected to get an intensive endurance ride in with bouts of intensity on the short steep climbs.

There was nary a smear of mud, water, or ice to be found on the trails. Hard to believe this is only 90 minutes away from my house, which sits in winter wonderland. I hit parts of the Trail of Tears again, but also hit much new content, including trails not on the conservation land trail map. These were much less manicured, requiring agility and an occasional hike-a-bike. I think I spent 30 minutes on one trail before coming to a junction point. I managed to get the workout I was looking for and then some. I don't think a single muscle fiber escaped unscathed. I was totally cooked after nearly four hours of riding, but in a deeply satisfying kind of way.

Sunday, Feb 17
Waterville Valley Skate Ski
38.8km, 966m vert, 2:32hrs
FastWax Blue, ~12F to start

The legs were quite sore from yesterday's ride getting up at 6am. Today's ski was not going to be an intensity workout. Got that on the bike. We had a nice posse from our lunch ride group go up: Steve, a track specialist, Dave, who thrives in 50+ mile singlespeed MTB races, Arvid, who tears up alpine slalom ski courses, and myself, a hillclimb specialist. It is interesting to see how these strengths carry over to skate skiing. There is a lot of correlation.

Mt Osceola from the yurt, snow to top of picnic tablesI thought the snow was slow starting out. It was that boisterous, squeaky kind of dry snow that has about as much glide as beach sand. We'll maybe it wasn't that slow everywhere, but you had to really work the climbs to maintain glide on the steep parts. We headed out to the north end via Swan's to do Tripoli Rd (800ft climb) first. Steve bailed on that. Arvid smoked me on the descent, but not before taking a header near the top. Crisp corduroy has a way of catching an edge of your ski. After regrouping at the bottom, we decided to hit Upper Osceola next. Apparently only Dave and I decided, as Steve and Arvid went different ways. Not everybody appreciates the value in a good climb. Dave and I stuck together the rest of the ski. We hit Livermore to Cascade next, another 800ft climb. This drove the hurt in deep, hurt from yesterday's bike ride compounded by a couple thousand feet of climbing on dry snow. We crested Upper Snows with descent to golf course. A lap around Criterion (hundreds more feet of climbing) drove the last nails into our coffins. I was spent and called it a day.

So despite frigid weather that kept many riders indoors, I managed to get a deeply satisfying, high training value ride in on Saturday in conditions that seemed anything other than winter-like. The next day, the skiing was fantastic where the snow base must be about 3ft now. 90 minutes in opposite directions is all that separates these choices. New England is a great winter place to be.

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