I got reacquainted with some friends I haven't seen in a while. Their names are Osceola, Tripoli and Livermore. What kind of names are those, you ask? Names of my favorite climbs on the Waterville Valley Nordic trail system.
They groomed last night for opening day today. I didn't think there was enough snow to groom there, at least last weekend there was none at the WV exit off 93. This morning, there was still no snow at the WV exit. Not good I thought. In fact, much of the drive up the valley was barren of snow. It was about +12F starting out, and I expected slow conditions.
Having a season pass, I went straight to the north end parking lot. It appears a couple weeks of alternating snow/rain/snow/rain built a very nice base. Not very deep, but a nice crispy, fast, controllable surface. I warmed up on Moose Run/Wicked Easy, which was marginally groomed. I think they left a contour-following surface instead of mowing down the bumps, as that would have exposed many rocks. At least there were no rocks. My 50 minute spin on Power Cranks yesterday did some funky shit to my body. I was feeling it on the skis.
Osceola, Tripoli 2x, Livermore 2x
I hit the Upper Osceola climb next, at a hard pace. Usually Upper Osceola doesn't open until late in the season. What a treat! A lot of skaters had been up here already. The descents were rocket fast, and cover was excellent.
My favorite climb at WV is Tripoli Rd., gaining over 800ft in a couple miles. Just a couple weeks ago, I biked up and over this, which crests at Thornton's Gap. Now I was skating to the top. I started from the very bottom (near parking lot) and TT'd up to set a baseline for this season. I didn't kill myself, but it seemed like I was going fast. I was. My lap time was 20:39, a PR as best I know! My avg HR was a modest 159bpm. It seems all that low intensity technique work I've been doing on rollerskis is paying off. It proves to me that skiing is more about technique than fitness, just the opposite of cycling.
Looking down from top of Upper Osceola
Tripoli was in mint condition and I just had to do it again. This time I went up at tempo pace, about two minutes slower, but still would have been a very good time last year. During these two repeats, I think I enjoyed a one hour window where I saw only two people.
Next up was the other side of the north end. Livermore Rd was groomed just past the Cascade Brook trail entrance. I used to TT this one until they started grooming Tripoli. Livermore gains only 400ft and is much less steep. I thought I would practice my improved V2 technique skills here on the descents, but to may amazement, I could V2 up almost effortlessly. In fact, I found climbing a modest grade with V2 put almost no stress on my back like V1 or V2-alternate does. On my second Livermore climb, I V2'd over 95% of the climb. I wasn't setting any speed records here, but I was really psyched to be able to V2 this climb with my energy level rapidly fading. After two climbs, I decided to call it a day instead of running myself into the ground (like I did literally at Great Glen last weekend).
I finished with 44.5km, 1000m of climbing, in 2:45hrs skiing time. This was no doubt one of my top five most satisfying ski days. Chatted with Brad Ek (NHCC) for a few minutes on Livermore too. I was surprised given how good the conditions were that the place wasn't mobbed. I saw a rock or two poking through in only one place on lower Livermore, that's it. Coverage everywhere else was excellent. Unfortunately, it might be two weeks before I can ski again. Tuesday I head down to Arkansas to ride trails for four days. Great riding still trumps great skiing, but the gap between the two keeps closing each year.