Thursday, March 26, 2009

Structure and Tread

Looks like the Sugarloaf race last weekend was my last ski of the season. A long ride is planned Saturday. Sunday looks like warm rain in the mountains. As such, I put the skis up with a coat of storage wax this evening.

Warm/wet conditions structure on left

I first took a photo of the bases of the two skis I used most the last couple months. When I bought a used pair of softer flex skis with a fine structure, I had my gouged up RS:11s ground at S&W Sports in Concord, NH. Not sure of their expertise in this area (they are primarily an alpine shop in winter months). I had them give me a warm grind structure. Only cost $10. They look very much like skis that had been rilled for wet conditions. The one time I used them when the sun softened things up, they clearly seemed to be faster than my skiing partner's skis. In new snow on another day, they were much slower than my cold grind skis. This is obvious to those that have been skiing a while, but only recently did I prove how obvious this is to myself. For you mountain bikers out there, you can kind of think of this as full knobbies vs. semi-slicks. You wouldn't want to ride the knobbies on hard as pavement trails. They squirm out around corners and are slow. Likewise, semi-slicks would not suffice in loose gravel or typical slimy New England rocks and roots. With tire tread, you try to optimize traction for the conditions. Ski base structure, along with appropriate wax, can have similar impact on skiing performance and enjoyment.

Wider toe box boot in right side of image (left foot, black). Both are size 41 and a third.

I made another change right at the end of the ski season. While picking up my re-surfaced skis at S&W, I noticed their boots were on clearance. I have never liked the Salomon Carbon Pro's I bought a couple years ago. In fact, virtually nobody I know likes them. The toe boxes were too small and your feet we either scream for mercy after a couple hours or immediately go numb if it was cold out. It turns out the newer comparable model, the RS Carbon, had a completely re-designed toe box. The exact same size boot felt almost too big. I could even wear a normal XC ski sock in them, not having to resort to ultra thin socks to get my foot to fit right in the previous model. Does one boot appear bigger than the other in the picture? They are both 41-1/3 size.

Right thumb still swollen all the way down to the wrist with shades of green

Last but not least, I will probably carry a reminder of a great ski season well into summer. My right thumb is getting back to normal size but still is pretty much useless. It has some interesting shades of yellow and green to it. It will be many weeks before I regain full use of it. I either need to learn how to go down hill on XC skis or learn how to crash without jamming my thumb into the hardpack. Others offered great practice advice for next season. At least my thumb doesn't hurt on a road bike. I haven't tried MTB shifters yet, where the thumb actually needs to do something. I crash maybe once or twice per year on the mountain bike. Since I log a lot of solo miles in the woods, I do tend to ride descents conservatively. On the road, I've experienced only one crash in perhaps 50,000 miles. It was a freak lunchtime recovery ride thing where the guy in front of me somehow unclipped going uphill. He piled in, and I piled over him. A helmet clearly saved my noggin.


funnerrunner said...

I have been lurking and following your blog for a while and quite enjoy your writing, and respect your conditioning.

i started out as a mtn biker and began skiing to keep my mtb fitness honed. I used to finish ski season and then hop to Utah or AZ to ride 100 mile desert trips. Spent most of the summer riding Mt. Tam in Marin and thought of myself as a mtn biker who skate skied. Somewhere along the line my emphasis shifted. Now I mtn bike to add to my skate skiing fitness during the no-snow months. When skate ski season ends I immediately break out my rollerskis to keep the ski fun alive. You've got to get a pair of rollerskis. As my ski partners say, all the same muscles hurt after a vigorous skateski session, just like skiing.

Now I mtn bike to keep in shape for skate skiing, and skate skiing is IT. The rest supports fitness for the snow. I feel that there is nothing like skate skiing for an overall workout and complete fitness.

Thanks for the blog. Yours is the best.

Luke S said...

Put those rollerskis away for at least a few weeks! Noone in their right mind rollerskis until late April at the earliest.

Doug, I got out on my bike twice this week, and I've noticed a dramatic improvement in my skills in just 4 hours of riding total. Now I just need to learn how to fix my bike when things stop working right.

Luke S said...

Also, its hard to tell about a grind from a picture like that. Is it just a broken linear structure or is it more aggressive than that? General wisdom is that a somewhat aggressive linear structure won't slow you down much, if at all in colder snow, and you can add pressed in rills (Toko or similar) to make it more aggressive, while a fine linear structure for cold snow will slow you down in warm snow because the structure won't be able to handle the amount of suction created by the water in the snow.

Hill Junkie said...

Funnerrunner, here's the deal. I still pretty much suck at skate skiing. I have great fitness for my age, but good skate technique seems to elude me. I chip away at improvements each year, but I'm pretty much reserved to the fact I'll never be a great skate skier. I enjoy it nonetheless. I'm not ready to put my training emphasis into the winter season just yet. There may be a few more PRs on the bike to be had. Climbing by bike comes naturally for me, and I still finish in the top couple percent at northeast events. My sentiments right now are to tap all I can out of competitive cycling for another year or two and then re-assess. Skiing is no longer a distant second passion. A lack-luster cycling season could tip me over the edge to trade a portion of bike training for dry land ski work.

I do in fact own two sets of rollerskis, V2 Aero's (which I now hate) and some less expensive Pursuits. I did twice weekly workouts last fall leading to first snow. This summer I may try to work in rollerski workouts on my recovery days. A little core work would go a long way too, something I've been avoiding a long time now.

Luke - not familiar with the terminology, but if I had to guess, the warm ski is broken linear, the cold fine linear. Glad you are getting out to ride. I imagine most local places are still pretty mushy with frost in the ground. I suspect Lowell-Dracut still has patches of snow. It should be gone after this weekend. I'll be hitting places like Great Brook, Lowell, and another cool ride called Deer Jump in Andover MA not many know about once things dry out. I haven't been on my MTB in two weeks.

funnerrunner said...

Luke S.

it's about 75 degrees here today in CA. They are predicting 50 degree weather at Royal Gorge tomorrow. I'll be water skiing, not skate skiing when i hit the trials tomorrow. i anticipate it will be the last ski day of the season.

Hill Guy, i understand your position on rollerskis it took a while for me to get into it. I too use V2 Aero's 150, but think they are OK. I'm changing to 125's this summer to see if there is more control with the smaller wheel.

i'm 54 and my ski partner is 58, so maybe we have lost the edge to total fitness and just accept slightly lower standards. Not sure. I used to road bike in Boulder years ago, and always felt is was limited (one dimensional) in the total overall exercise. For me mtn biking felt more alive and skate skiing engages more body components. it feels like a full workout. I get the point that we're each built differently, but skate skiing is the only sport where, like last Sunday in the Gold Rush, there was an 80 year old lady racing in the silver 21K race, which she finished. For me, it's about longevity, i'm older and feeling my age lately.

BTW, can you tell us what hardware you use to track and post your workouts?


Hill Junkie said...

Carefull with the Aero 125's. I used them a couple years. I could not get even one season out of the tires/tubes. Very expensive to replace. Jenex happens to be just a few miles from where I work. When I stopped in one time to show them my tire failures, they simply dismissed it as poor technique. Maybe true to some extent, but I know accomplished skiers that were also unhappy with 125 tire life. The 150's on the other hand have robust tires. A friend has rollerskied many seasons on one set of tires with minimal wear. The 125's are much slower than the 150's. The tires will run hot if you ski hard. I believe this leads to the delamination problems.

I totally understand your comments about how skiing engages the whole body. That is what I find so attractive about it too. It doesn't seem to tax any one part of the body unduly like cycling does (except maybe first starting ski season in the fall for me).

I use a Garmin Edge 705 GPS to capture track and HR data. It has barometric altimeter. I then use Garmin's Training Center (TC) software to download the data. When I show track profile and HR, it is screen shot of TC. I use paint or picture manager to crop it. Within TC, there is menu item to view in Google Earth (GE). You must have GE installed on your computer (free download from Google). Within GE, there is menu item to save image as JPEG. A little bit complicated, but I've done it enough it takes just a couple minutes to create a pair of images for blog posting.

Luke S said...

Actually, with the warm temps and sunshine we've been having, there are still pretty significant patches of snow in the woods, but overall its not too soft or muddy. That was my experience in both Stow and Estabrook woods in Concord.