Friday, January 2, 2009

First Ski and Ride of 2009

Our drive back from Michigan wasn't quite as harrowing as the drive there, but we managed to time it with another storm. Normally we drive back straight through non-stop on New Years Eve. But due to weather, we left the night before. Our tiny Scion xD had nary a cubic centimeter to spare with all the gifts we scored. We tend to bring small gifts since space is limited, especially if we fly. Gifts we receive can be bigger. With bike, skis, skateboard, banjo (my son's), weeks worth of winter clothing for three and gifts, we were pretty much max'd heading out, but overstuffed coming back. I did not want to get tagged coming through Canada, as it would have taken more than an hour to repack after the hour-plus for them to gut the car looking for WMDs or even worse, tobacco products. I bit the bullet and took the estimated 1.5hr hit in travel time by staying in the states. Plus, the storm front had already moved into Ontario, so the roads were probably bad there. We made it to Erie, PA on perfect roads in six hours. The next day was a different story. Snow squalls and messy roads for nine continuous hours of driving.

Great Brook ski. Can you tell where the short hill laps were?

I'm not much of a traditionalist. Sometimes I ride on New Years Day, sometimes I don't. If skiing looks better than riding, I'll ski. Temps were a tad on the frigid side (single digits) and roads were a messy. I could have hit the roads with studs, but Great Brook promised decent skating conditions, so I decided to start capitalizing on the season pass I bought there. The base was a bit sparse. I nailed rocks many times with my near rock skis. I was surprise how crowded it was given how chilly it was. There were at least a couple hundred people there. Having rested the day before (if you can call nine stressful hours in the car resting), I was determined to get the heartrate up. There are three nice short loops that have a hill blip in them, two on the north side, one on the south. I did many laps each with minimal interference from recreational skiers. En route between these loops, I'm sure I pissed a few people off, you know, the clueless ones that completely block off the skating lane and look at you like "what do you want?" Over the 93 minute workout, I managed to average the highest HR for a ski workout so far this season. Surprising, as there really are no hills there. I did manage nearly 1000ft of climbing. If you do a 30ft climb enough times, it will add up. I turned the near rock skis into full-up rock skis.

January 2 was a ride day. Not having ridden in two days, I was looking for something to "stretch" the legs on. Roads were nasty busy and messy on the edges. You almost need to have a death wish to road ride under these conditions. I must have have a lot of death wishes. I rode the winter beater with studs down to the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest to see if anything was rideable there. It is less than four miles from my house. I got no more than 10ft into the singletrack when a stick sucked up my rear derailleur. It did not shear off or break, but it twisted things around some. It's operation was proof of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, in that it remained in a superposition of two gears for the remainder of the ride. Trails that had been hiked were squirrelly to ride on. I found one NEMBA trail that was untouched. This was sweet. Soft, quiet and fast.

Toying around with trip ideas for 2009. I might visit this place again with family towards spring. So where do you think this is? Hint: It is not Mt Washington. It's not even on the North American continent. This image was captured today at approximately 13,700ft elevation. It is on the big island Hawaii. I would love to bike up that beast again, 6hrs, all up, almost 14,000ft net gain. Obviously, January is not a good month for such an endeavor.

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