Saturday, January 9, 2010

Making the most of winter

Beanbender or Mindbender?

I hit Waterville on my off-Friday. Snow is getting sparse up there. Doesn't look like they've received any appreciable accumulation for two weeks now. WV opened a couple south-end trails, including Swan's Way that links to the north end. I figured I'd give it a go. Bad move. In 500m on the Pond Loop, I nailed three rocks hard. Rocks were unavoidable. Snow base was maybe 1-2". I went back to my car and drove to the north end. Conditions there were much better. I did lots of climbing work, but no insane intensity. This week's Tuesday night Weston race and Wednesday hill intervals on the mountain bike left me far from peak form.

Picnic tables here should be burried by this time of year

Beanbender was finally open. Starting on the north end, I had to go up Snow's and then down Beanbender from top of chairlift. Dicy in spots, with some dirt waterbars showing through and a few icy patches. Climbing Beanbender leaves you in an altered state of mind. Must be the endorphins. The 800ft Tripoli Rd climb was a piece of cake after that, even on lead legs. I did Tripoli twice.  I skied about 43km in 2.8hrs, hitting 3700ft of climbing.

Skiing all hills for nearly three hours is easily equivalent to a 75 mile ride in the White Mountains. 75 miles takes longer, but skiing is a much more persistent aerobic effort and is weight bearing. Then throw in a mid-week sprint race at Weston. No different than a training crit at Wompatuck, really. With skis, I can get top-notch training for my primary passion without being shackled to a trainer.

I finally sold my pair of Atomic RS:11 skis that were too stiff for me. I bought them as race skis, not having full appreciation for flex ratings of skate skis. Those skis utterly killed me at Rangeley a couple years ago in deep mashed potatoes snow. Got $200 for them in essentially new condition with Pilot bindings. Took a big hit there. I'm wondering if I should buy some World Cups? At this point, that would be little different than a Cat 4 Fred investing in Zipp 404's to improve his race results.

Borderland or Boulderland?

Saturday I sought to hit trails somewhere, anywhere that was rideable. I saw on the NEMBA forum that guys were riding in Borderland State Park just south of Boston. I decided to give it a try. It was much less risk than driving all the way down to the Cape to hit Otis or ToT where there was also snow. Half way to Borderland, the snow seemed pretty thin. I had visions of ripping around on a thin dusting of snow. But as I approached Sharon, the snow got deeper. In fact, there might have been more snow there than in the valley at Waterville. I sure hoped there was a lot of hiker traffic packing it down, as the forum posters suggested.

The rocky Ridge Trail at Borderland

I quickly realized riding was going to be anything but easy. The main thoroughfares were nicely packed, but the further away I got from park headquarters, the less packed the trails were. Lots of dismounts up steep rock pitches were required. I tried Quarry Tail but gave up on it. I was following a large set of fresh biker tracks, and from the looks of it, the Pugsley tracks faired the best.  It was my first time here, and I did think it would be a wicked cool place to ride in summertime. Looked very technical, giant boulders throughout, and lots of stuff to test your cajones on.

The Rockland Street Trail

I ended up bailing on most of the singletrack. I did come across the Bay Circuit Trail (called Rockland St Trail in Borderland) and started heading south on it. I speculated that most of the year it is a mucky quagmire, as I continuously felt ice cracking under my wheels. This trail had zero hiker traffic and was 4" of virgin powder. This rode better than anything else in the park. Popping out on Rockland Rd, I noticed ATV's packed an enticing route under powerlines. I hopped on that for a while, popping out on another road. After about two hours of riding, I figured it was enough for the day and headed back. Overall, it was good to be on the bike outdoors, but I bet riding closer to home could have offered similar conditions.

Borderland ride. Not sure what was going on with GPS
on Ridge Trail. Maybe it was getting as frustrated as I with
all the stop and go dismounting.


Luke S said...

World Cups are nice, but not a significantly nicer ski than RS:11's. If your skis are still in good shape, don't bother to buy a new pair is what I would say.

Matt Kmiec said...

Agreed; I only have World Cups because I was able to Pro Deal them, and because I found some sucker *ahem* to buy my old RS:11's! I say stick with them if they're working well, and upgrade when you wear 'em out.

Mookie said...

Can I buy your trainer? And your PowerTap? Just kidding.

Big Bikes said...

Hill intervals on the mountain bike in January...
you ARE sick.


solobreak said...

You were two miles from my house. Sounds like you missed Mountain Road. Don't worry , it's not really a mountain. For my taste, most of the stuff at Borderland is either too hard or too easy. It's either trialsin, which for me means bike a hike, or carriage paths, which are fine at 6 am when it's deserted and you can go fast safely. In mild weather the park is pretty crowded though, and trying to do a serious ride anywhere but the northwest corner (the rocky shit) just creates bad will. NEMBA has done a lot there though.

You might like Foxboro too, but it has about the same amount of snow as here right now. There is also Freetown, flat, and mucky, but might be OK if frozen. Both Foxboro and Freetown are moto-legal, which can be a good thing sometimes as they rip a clear path.

Hill Junkie said...

Matt - still haven't used your old (my race) skis this season. Just not enough cover. Hit Windblown this morning. I was impressed with conditions, possibly better than WV. The fresh corduroy was actually quite fast despite sub-zero overnight temps.

Solo - I have ridden Freetown in an EFTA race. Turned a SPD pedal into a roadie pedal (sheared one side off on a rock). I did touch Mountain Rd at Borderland. I popped out of woods and thought I would have to turn around when a hiker told me to go down just a bit to duck back into the woods. Why people ski in there with all those rocks is beyond me.

Luke S said...

For more reinforcement on that, I have 3 pairs of skis I regularly race on- 1 classic and 2 skate. All have at least 2 seasons of racing on them. One pair has 3. I plan to race on them for a while yet.