Saturday, February 21, 2009

WV/ToT Double Header

Haven't posted in a while, so quantity may override quality with this post. I've been able to dodge the viral bullet all winter until this week. I believe 60% of the office is sick this go around, and this is the second or third round this winter. Like usual, I loaded up on Airborne and Zinc lozenges at first hint of any suspicious sensations. Didn't work this time, but I must say this bug didn't slow me down much. I've been able to train right through it. I first suspected something coming on Wednesday night. By Saturday evening, I'm pretty near back to normal.

I had planned to do a 10k ski race today, but I felt that kind of intensity was not in my best interest right now. I opted for more endurance oriented activity. Having to roll with Mother Nature's punches, my off-Friday was a ski day, and today was bike day.

Trail of Tears Singlespeed Ride, Saturday Feb 21

Today was a pristine riding day, brilliantly sunny and seasonable temps. I went down to the Cape again, which escaped the most recent snow storm. My Massachusetts readers are probably wondering what snowstorm. We got only a few inches at our house on the state line, but up-state New Hampshire got 12-18". More on that later. I packed my singlespeed, feeling the need for some muscular flagellation. I'm still getting all the cardio flagellation I need on skis right now. Seeing how crowded Otis was last Sunday, I opted for Trail of Tears (ToT) in West Barnstable this time.

Starting out from Exit 5 on Rt 6, my legs were in a funk. The combination of skiing yesterday and remnants of a virus were behind this. But like last week, it was so nice riding in the woods that I quickly "forgot" what state my legs were in.

I'm still trying to figure out the best Hill Junkie worthy loop at ToT. Each time I go there, I have intentions of following a certain route, and each time I bungle it up. There are about four times as many trails there as what shows on the map. Nothing on the ground is marked. So when you get to a multi-way junction, do you take the first, second or third right? It's trial and error, and in one case today, I just gave up in frustration. Getting frustrated over following a plan is not worth tarnishing an otherwise perfect ride. It is better to just ride the friggin bike. All of the trails there are good.

My ride there takes me to some trails that are "off the map," if you know what I mean. These are in Sandwich. Not sure what the land status is there. I assume it is conservation land of some sort. The throttle set seem to rule that side, but the singletrack there is actually narrower, less refined, and way hillier. Singlespeeders will meet their match on a few of the climbs. I was forced off my bike several times. The descents will fulfill adrenaline needs. The trail bikes have made nice berms where berms have value.

Coming back into the West Barnstable side where the ToT loop lies, I attempted to follow the 16mi mountain bike loop. I eventually gave up and just rode stuff that took me in directions where I hadn't ridden yet. I missed no more than three miles of my planned route after looking at GPS data at home. No biggie at all. Next time I go there I'll be one step closer to getting it right. Plan is to have a 30 mile loop that doesn't revisit itself and takes 3hrs to complete. Today I rode 30 miles, 3230ft vertical in just over 3 hours, including a couple miles of pavement cool-down at the end to bask in my endorphin haze. A fabulous ride, probably excellent training value. I had way too much fun to even notice if any "training" was going on. Are your rides like this? Many of mine are.

WV Skate Ski, Friday Feb 20

Burried skis on Tripoli

Thursday night dumped a lot of snow on most of northern New England. I really had no idea how much fell in the mountains, leaving before Waterville Valley updated their website. I do know it took forever to get there. First, I waited 12 minutes to get a Starbucks. It seems Starbucks has been trimming their staff. Apparently their customers are quite loyal to wait in very long lines. With sufficient caffeine for the haul north, I quickly got bogged down. On the radio I heard there was a school bus accident on 93N in Concord. That was gone when I got there, but not the backed up traffic. The highway was slick. Then another slow down. No flashers yet. On left side of highway was mangled guardrail. Then up the road, the right side was damaged. Could same car have hit both sides? Yep. An SUV managed to destroy two guardrails AND have enough momentum to flip over the second guardrail and land in a crumpled heap in a gully. What, 80mph maybe? It was ICE! What do people think? Must have wanted first powder tracks really bad. He (or she) found them... in the bottom of a gully. I know, I didn't see what happened, but these kinds of things seem to disproportionately happen to SUVs. Perhaps ice triggered governors should be mandated for SUVs since drivers develop a false sense of security driving them in adverse conditions. If coffee and traffic lines weren't enough, I had one more line to wait in before getting to WV. It seems the drive north was taking so long that everybody had to stop at Exit 24 to pee. I waited in another line to use the restroom. Enough rant.

First tracks at summit of Tripoli

Eventually I reach the valley. It certainly was winter wonderland there. Was still snowing too. I was dismayed to see half of the trails weren't groomed. Being sick, I was taking it easy and headed out Swan's Way. This is a main thoroughfare, was groomed nicely, but nothing but mush. Skis and poles would punch through. They claimed 18" of snow fell during the storm. It was probably more like 12", but either way, anything that was groomed that morning had not set up yet and was unpleasant to skate. It was clearly a classic ski day.

When I got to Tripoli Rd, my favorite climb, I saw it was not groomed either. There was at least 4" of new snow on it at the bottom, more at the top. I gave it a whirl anyway. It actually skated better than the groomed stuff, as the skis stayed under the powder and on the firm surface below. There was more moisture in the snow down there too, as glide seemed much better than the groomed corduroy. It was not fast though. My skis would disappear under the snow each glide, then I'd have to pick them up high enough to not catch. The snow was quite powdery, so it was not overly difficult. It took me about 30 minutes to climb, a new PR-1 (my geeky friends will get it).

There was a huge payback for climbing this 800ft ungroomed monster. It was the descent. Nobody had been up here yet, so it was just my tracks. Alpine skiers know how nice fresh powder is. It's not any different for skate skiers. My skis stayed completely submersed in the powder during the descent with my boots kicking up a plume of powder around my shins. Nary a whisper of sound was made. It was the quietest, smoothest descent I ever experienced on XC skis.

I went on to U. Osceola next. It too was ungroomed and must have last been groomed even earlier in the day Thursday, as it was even deeper. I was the only one making tracks here too. With all the classic skiers I saw out there, they were missing the best stuff by staying on the groomed trails.

I hit Cascade Brook trail next. It was groomed and not as mushy as some of the other groomed trails. There was no way I was going up Beanbender, so it was U. Snows then down Beanbender. Even though Beanbender was groomed out very wide, I still don't quite dare tele-ski on my skate skis. Not that I know how to tele-ski anyway. Cutting across the golf course at the bottom, I finished up with a lap around Criterion. It too had a segment that was not yet groomed. I guess the Piston Bully was out on the trails trying to catch up while I skied. I finished with 34.2km, 967m vert (3171ft), in 2:52hrs skiing time. That's probably my slowest average this season, but having not skied all week, it was still good to get out.


Mookie said...

What were you running at ToT, 32x18? INRE SUVs, I see it all the time down in CT. Ridiculous.

Hill Junkie said...

Pretty sure I have a 32x18t on there now. I started with 32x17 and found that I was petering out on climbs more often than spinning out on flats or descents. Need to match the hardware to the terrain.

Luke S said...

Kick wax is sometimes finicky in fresh moist snow like that...I went out on Thursday morning up here in the falling snow and was plagued by globs of snow on the bottom of my skis.

Big Bikes said...

ToT is a hoot. Believe it or not, I got myself good and lost out there last summer and had probably my worst crash of the season. Go figure.