Friday, January 9, 2009

Moosin' Around In Waterville Valley

We had hopes of a large posse heading up to the Valley today for some fr-fr-frigid skating. One had a remodeling contractor to deal with, another got a free lift pass to alpine ski with his daughter (earn your vertical!), another tweaked his back doing squats (silly trackies), and another had a chest cold. So it was just Dave and I. It barely got out of the single digits all day, and with 30mph wind gusts, it was one of the colder days up there.

It would have been a perfect opportunity to experiment with my expanded wax selection, but the last thing I wanted to do late last night was spend a half hour waxing my skis. I quickly threw on some green instead. As expected, we were skiing on sandpaper most of the time. I don't think I've ever skied at Weston with slow conditions, yet for epic skis in the mountains, that is all I get.

The place was deserted. We laid first skate tracks on freshly minted corduroy almost everywhere we went. Since Swan's is reasonably covered now, we started at the Nordic center, hitting Livermore first. Lower Snows is in fine shape, and Dave and I both noted what a fine state of mind cruising down Snows induced. But the ball buster was next - up Bean Bender. This averages 20-25% grade for about 0.3 miles. Factor in snow with zero glide, I could barely do it without stalling out. Speed dropped to 3mph. Not bad really, considering Lincoln Gap in VT is this steep, and I go only 4mph at 350W up it. Skiing friction today was at least 100x rolling friction of road tires.

All of Cascade is open now. That has another artful descent. Only deal was, there's still an open water bar that threw me for a tizzy. I didn't see it in time and had a panic spill. We chilled for a bit V2'ing around Moose Run/Wicked Easy. Grooming everywhere was flawless. The 8" of new snow was very firmly packed. It was nice to practice some of the drills Andy taught us on Wednesday, but a little more glide sure would have been nice. After Upper Osceola, I was pretty nearly cooked and dreading the biggest climb of all we saved for last, Tripoli Road. Ironically, it was now afternoon and nobody had been on Osceola or Tripoli. From the summit of Tripoli, it is nearly 1000ft drop over several miles back to Nordic center. We covered 40km, about 1000m of climbing, in under 3hrs skiing time.

So will totally depleting ski sessions like these make me faster at Weston? Probably not. Working in bits of technique drills certainly will. Will these workouts make me faster on the bike come spring? Probably not faster than I was last September. So why do them, you may ask? As far as training value, at the very least I believe they are a stop-loss activity. Anything that intense for a few hours will no doubt keep one in superb cardio shape. But that is not the only reason I do these workouts. I enjoy them. The feeling they induce when you are finished is hard to describe. But there's even another reason to do these kinds of workouts, whether on skis or bike. I originally got into cycling to regain my fitness. Epic workouts are just part of the process of staying fit. They are part of a lifestyle. There does not have to be a competitive results value assigned to every workout. We all know athletes that are results driven. They are ready to throw in the towel when results go south. The way I see it, snagging a nice result once in a while is a bonus, not the primary motivation. Solobreak touched on this in a recent post and it resonated with me. I think masters athletes, especially, should take an introspective look at what drives them. For me, training, or the process of maintaining a specific state fitness, has intrinsic value regardless of whether I ever win another race or even compete again.


CB2 said...

I concur, I think. I've been considering trying a "training plan", but that would probably interfere with just having fun riding the bike, so why mess up a good thing trying to best some other middle aged guy?

Hill Junkie said...

I have nothing against a structured training plan. In fact, there is a lot of structure in the riding I do. It is just well hidden in having fun on the bike.

What would never work for me are rote drills, especially on the trainer, or a training plan that calls for 5x5's on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, over-unders on Thursday, etc. I do rides that these kinds of things just fall out of. I'm not sure I'm even coachable material at this point in my life.

Others though, can make better progress with professional guidance. If you are unsure what kinds of intensities and durations will make you stronger, outside guidance will help. Keeping it fun is vital. Once you understand the concepts behind the training plan, you can start to ween yourself from it and just work those concepts into the interesting rides you do. It also depends on how you are psychologically wired. If you already have the discipline to work key rides into your weekly schedule and push yourself in those rides, purchasing a plan may not do much for you.

Mookie said...

Well put in the last paragraph. For me, I get the most satisfaction out of completing an epic ride and consequently inhaling 6 cheeseburgers (2008 D2R2). It comes down to the question of why do you ride? I mean, how many of the guys that you rub elbows with in the Masters road circuit would be up for (as you put it) rides of "dubious training value"? Here's to a few of those for 2009.

CB2, you don't need a training plan. Just keep throw a 50 up front on your fixie and you'll be all set. I'm thinking about building one up for next year.

rick is! said...

man, google earth is much more interesting looking when you have actual mountains around!

rick is! said...
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