Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter Aerobics

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.


Mookie said...

"It proves to me that skiing is more about technique than fitness, just the opposite of cycling."

At least until you get in the woods or on a cross course. Being a relative newbie to dirt, I get schooled by guys I know I can bury on the road.

plum said...

So Doug, you are not a subscriber to the periodization approach? It seems like you go fairly full-tilt with respect to HR year round. Interesting.

Hill Junkie said...

Mookie, true, I get schooled on a cross course. I was thinking more about efficiency in power delivery. There is some technique in delivering power to the pedals, and my recent experiment with power cranks proves this. But it is a lot easier to learn how to spin than it is to skate on snow. I'm not talking technical terrain here, just flat out power on a straight away. On skis, it's challenging.

Plum, correct, I have never subscribed to Friel's method. For one, I seem to be burn-out proof for some reason. About half the people I know fizzle out mentally on riding before the end of the season. Since I enjoy being able to do hard efforts all year, I don't back off too much on intensity efforts. Do I give up some peaked potential? Perhaps, but I'd rather stay in near peak form all year. I travel and do epic rides any time of year. I might not go quite as hard or hard more than twice a week this time of year, but if I back away from it completely, it is a long road back to the form I enjoy all year. Only in the last couple years have I shifted some of this intensity to skiing. Friel's method may work well for me, but acheiving peak competitive form isn't worth the perceived sacrifices. I just want to ride my bike.

Luke S said...

Seems crazy to me to go that hard on what is pretty much your first day on snow. Although I guess you know what works for you in terms of training.

Luke S said...

It sounds like your speed is being limited by technique, not fitness, if your HR was only 159. If I were to drill it up Tripoli skating I'm sure my avg would be up towards 185 bpm or so.

Hill Junkie said...

Luke, I've logged quite a few hours on the rollerskis, although only ~2hrs/week. I find skating very body friendly. I went mountain biking the next day with no issues, but I had no top end. I actually thought about going back to WV the next day instead.

When I first started skate skiing, I could hold HRs in the high 170's for long periods of time, even break 180. Now I struggle to hit 170 and go A LOT faster doing it. So the efficiency is definitely coming around, but don't expect to see me on a 50k podium anytime soon.

Luke S said...

The next step is being ABLE to push your HR up there and hold it. Then you're really skiing fast. Although if your focus is on 50k's you probably don't need to get that top end.