Sunday, November 15, 2009


Thus far this fall, I've been averaging about an hour per week on the rollerskis. I've been using my Pursuit skis with medium speed rubber wheels in back and faster polyurethane wheels in front on mostly flat terrain. Since Saturday and Sunday looked like a bust for any kind of riding, Brett Rutledge called and said CSU rescheduled their Littleton, MA rollerski session to Sunday and it would be skate technique. Hmmm, was I really ready to train with some of the top masters on an unseen route in drizzle?

Brett had sent me a cue sheet for the route. It supposedly went 14 miles with 900ft of climbing. I figured rollerskiing would suck the least given the deluge we just received. I was in.

A year ago I put all new tires and tubes on my Jenex V2 125mm Aero rollerskis. I've grown to hate them. Tires don't last a season, and unless you carry spare with pump, you could end up walking. More than a year went by, and I still hadn't used the new tires, which cost a small fortune. I exchanged the PU front wheels for slower rubber on my Pursuit rollerskis to slow them down a bit. My V2 Aero's have speed reducers on them, the Pursuits do not. I can go down short 4-5% grade hills by my house on the Pursuit's at terminal velocity just over 20mph. I know the run-out, it does not scare me. I threw both sets of rollerskis in the car heading for Littleton. I left early, planning to pre-drive the course Brett sent me to see if I could get away with my Pursuit rollerskis without the speed reducers. The route seemed ok to me. I was going to give it a go.

Fifteen skiers pulled in. Only a couple did not have speed reducers. Seems there was a positive correlation between age and probability of speed reducers. Guess young bones bend, don't break.  I asked around. I got scared. Guys much better than me use their speed reducers.  I capitulated and went with the clunky V2's. Besides failing tires, the V2's are much heavier and less stabile. Their only redeeming quality is the pneumatic tires are smoooooth on rough pavement.

We push off, soon into a 400ft climb. I started at the very back.  I did not know any of the kids and knew only a handful of masters.  The plan was to no-pole this climb. Andy with about half the group bolted. Initially I stayed back with Rob, Jamie, Brett and others. About half way up, my glutes were screaming. I relented in a couple spots and use poles.  After a while, my legs were chomping at the bit. I did nothing on Saturday and was looking to get a good cardio workout in. I slowly pulled away from my half of the pack and was in no man's land for a while.

The lead group paused for a bit near the top, as I caught them, with nobody else in sight behind me.  I took off with them but quickly realized they descend way faster than I cared to, being my first time on this route in wet conditions. Then the unplanned happened. They went straight where my cue sheet and pre-drive said we should've gone left. Hmm, where are they going? To hit more hills of course! Some seriously steep descents too. Had I used my Pursuit's with no speed reducers, I would have been royally screwed. Even with two of three notches set, I was hitting speeds over 20mph. For you non-skiers out there, keep in mind speed reducers are not brakes. You have to bend down and pull a lever on each ski to set friction on the wheels. If a car backs out of a driveway when you are going over 20mph, you are S.O.L. Terminal velocity on my Pursuit's would easily have been over 30mph. So much for the pre-drive to familiarize myself with the course. I had no idea where we were going or how long the route was going to be now.

I lost some ground on another long downhill where I over cautiously set resistance. The lead group put some distance on me, and to my surprise, I caught up to much of the rest of the pack I left behind. They did not take the Harvard extension the lead group did. I decided to wait with them to see if Brett would come soon. He didn't, as I learned later he took the long route too. I starting to feel some deep hurtin' by now and there was no way I would have been able to hang with the fast group for another hour anyway.

We reached another decision point in the workout where a neighborhood extension could be added. A few skiers were interested, but once the juniors regrouped with Rob and Jamie, they took the most direct route back. Another young skier, Jimmy, wanted to go as long as possible and was cool with me tagging along. Looking at the GPS track, this added about 5km to the loop. It was all good stuff, nice pavement, no cars, modest hills, and comfortable pace.

Garmin Edge 705 GPS Data, 1620ft of Climbing

We still had one more climb to do, Hill Rd. This darn near killed me, being about 2hrs into the workout. Hill Rd pops out on Taylor St, which kind of sucked. Traffic, busted up pavement, debris on shoulder. Glad again I had my V2's with five inch wheels.

I got back to the cars with Jimmy, tallying 36.2km, nearly 500m of climbing, in 2:15hrs skiing time. My glutes and hip flexors were destroyed. That was easily three times what I do on one of my weekly lunch hour hammer sessions, and 60% longer than I thought we were going today. Need to get a few more of these in before the snow flies. There was one minor casualty for the day. Brett took a header and has a nice fist sized raspberry on his hip. I loaded my GPS track to Note they totally butcher the profile. Barometric altimeter gave 1620ft, Topo 7.0 gives over 1900ft, yet mapmyride gives only 745ft.

I sent my membership app in to CSU a couple weeks ago. Joined NENSA too. Haven't heard anything back on either yet. I also ordered some new rollerskis. About a week ago, Alex Jospe reviewed rollerskis from Ed's newly launched Niflheim Nordic venture. Low cost, 4" solid wheels, with a good speed reducer design. I immediately placed an order.


Luke S said...

Nothing on that loop is remotely scary. I have relatively fast (yet significantly slower than Aero) ProSki skate skis. The only slightly dicey downhill is the one on the harvard extension with the blind corner.

I'm actually a fan of doing the shorter 1 hr loop BEFORE going out on the 2 hr ski with everyone else.

Jacked Up Old Man said...

I love the V2 Aero,s find them to be non clunky.

Have used many different rollerski's

Also that is a great loop have gotten lost back ther by myself numerous times

The CSU Crew is awesome to train with.

Agree with use of speed reducer's to descend safely no reason to die for Bravado. Rollerski's are lock and load.

We have a high center of gravity.

Good Luck Skiing this Winter hope to catch up with you.

Luke S said...

You, Frank Feist, and Rob Bradlee are pretty much the only ones Jacked UP.

Alex said...

I agree that that loop has some big downhills (for eastern MA) - if you have never seen them before, speed reducers do give you a nice little safety handle. That said, once you've seen those hills once, the speed reducers aren't really necessary. I realize I fall into the "young and reckless" category, but I tuck every hill on that loop - all of the downhills run out, and tucking is far more stable than standing up. The Harvard extension downhill is the only one that is sketchy, because of that blind corner - be sure to stay to the right.

I agree about your assessment of the aeros - I find them very clunky, center of gravity too high, and entirely too high-maintenance.

Hope to see you out on the Littleton loop again! You'll be keeping up with Andy and the top juniors with a couple more Saturday skis under your belt!