Sunday, January 31, 2010


Numero Uno
In Fahrenheit.  That was the "bank sign" temperature at the Waterville exit Saturday morning. It was colder at the Nordic Center. The high winds had died down though. And the sun was brilliant. It did not feel cold at all. Lack of glide reminded us that it was still cold.

Brett and I went up mid morning for our last endurance ski before the Lake Placid Loppet next weekend. I sure hope Lake Placid gets more snow. That second lap will be scraped down to boiler plate if they don't. Conditions were surprisingly good at WV. They had gotten a few inches of snow to freshen things up a bit, but not nearly enough to open any of the south end trails. A limited selection of north end trails were open, the ones I go there for. Livermore and Tripoli were perfect. All the trails had firm, freshly minted corduroy. Saw several other cyclists doing the skatey skier thing.

We skied a total of 38.3km in 2:21hrs. One of my faster averages at WV despite some of the slowest snow. We worked pretty hard. The parking lot was overflowing when we left, so the scary cold temps didn't scare too many people away. We had no trouble staying warm, although by the time I reached the bottom of Tripoli, my lobstah mitts had frozen into a solid hand cast. Good motivation to keep moving, eh?

Aiming for Gray Space
Sunday was 3hr ride day. I thought about riding locally on icy snowmobile trails, but my winter beater bike with studs barely shifts right now. Seems derailleur cable housings are already rusted up from road salt. My singlespeed is working nice though. Near zero maintenance. The promise of riding bare dirt on a perfectly working machine was just enough to entice me to head down to the Cape again. I couldn't get any takers. They don't know what they're missing.

Temp was in single digits at home but in the 20's on the Cape. I hit Trail of Tears last weekend, so I planned to get my fix at Otis this time. There were a lot of cars there, including several with NH plates. Legs felt pretty good starting out even though I skied hard the day before. I pretty much hammered for two hours straight. Then two days of hard work caught up to me and I imploded.

I've given up trying to follow a specific route at Otis.  There are hundreds of decision points. The area is fully built out with trails. You can get to any point from any point quite directly. So to minimize hitting stuff twice, I just aimed for gray space on my GPS screen. Start getting close to my track on the right, take next left to veer away from it. Worked quite well I think.  I did do a little double backing, but it was intentional.

It was a glorious day to be on the trails. Zero snow, ice or mud, and abundant sunshine. Temp in 20's is downright balmy when you ski in single digits on a regular basis. I rode about 29mi in 2.9hrs with 3000ft of climbing.

So when Brett and I were done skiing, he asks me how I can go out for a hard bike ride the next day, like won't my legs be completely dead? Yep. Usually. Skiing really diminishes ability on the bike, but riding doesn't seem to trash the body for skiing nearly as badly. Don't know why. When you think about it, the two activities are largely orthogonal. Much of the motive force skiing is derived from upper body muscles which cycling doesn't use at all, and lower body contribution doesn't hit cycling specific muscle groups very hard. There is one very important muscle that prevents any two aerobic disciplines from becoming truly orthogonal. Your heart. If your cardio system didn't need recovery, then a top triathletes could actually be tops in each of the disciplines against single sport athletes. The saying "A triathlete is a jack of all trades, master of none" wouldn't hold true. But there are many systems in the body that require recharging after endurance workouts. This limits total training volume and ability to train for multiple disciplines.

When I ride the next day after a hard ski workout, I notice it mostly in lack of top-end. It's not so much the cycling muscles are fatigued. There is the lead feeling in the legs, but only when I try to sustain a hard effort. It is the rest of the system that fails to keep up. There is a mental aspect involved here too. I've learned that you can't forego a hard workout just because you feel like crap getting up in the morning. When you get on the bike and push through this, you feel pretty good 30 minutes into it.  I've been doubling up back to back hard days for several weeks now. These are ski/bike on Tues/Wed, which are shorter VOmax efforts, then ski/bike on Sat/Sun, which are longer intensive endurance efforts. A rest day is usually needed after one of these doublets. When I get up the third morning, it feels like nothing in my body escaped unscathed, in a good kind of way.  Not sure what this will get me in ski marathons, but I'm optimistic it will pay dividends come bike racing season.


Anonymous said...

I think we passed you on your way into Otis yesterday, recognized the bike in the photo. 3 guys in Bike Barn kits. Beautiful day to get out and ride.


Hill Junkie said...

Yep, that was me. I was working my way back out for a second loop. Ran into a group from Exeter Cycles just after I saw you guys.

fitzverity said...

Doug - a quick question...I'm giving the Lake Placid 50k a shot this weekend (albeit way behind you guys, I'm sure) -- where do you come out on pros/cons of wearing a camelbak vs just using the aid stop for hydration? Thanks. Patrick

Hill Junkie said...

Funny you bring this up. Brett and I were just discussing it. Apparently Camelbaks in a ski race are about as cool as Camelbaks in the roadie scene. Not very cool. I really don't care about that aspect. It comes down to this. If you regularly ski with one and are comfortable wearing it skiing, go for it. My consern is I'm no longer bring up the back of the pack, so carrying a full Camelbak from race start does entail a weight penalty that is not minor. I'm still out there about 3hrs though, and a single water bottle plus hand-ups won't quite do it for me. I'd be stopping at each one too long. The fastest guys are out there much less time and can get away with this. Thus I might still go with a small 50oz Camelbak. I know exactly what I'm taking in, as opposed to hand-ups. Note that bibs don't fit that well over a Camelbak unless you use a very low profile one.

Many people struggle with Camelbak tubes freezing up. I find water bottles freeze more quickly than Camelbaks though. After drinking from a Camelbak, extend the tube straight up, let 100% of the water drain back down into the reservoir. There will be no water to freeze in the tube. This is 100% effective if rigorously followed. Do not use an insulated tube. They do not work at all, plus you can't see if you have fluid in the tube. If you bend over or crash, don't forget to drain your tube again. Nothing would suck more than to carry all the weight and not even be able to use it. If you aren't experienced in winter time Camelbak usage, you'll probably freeze up if it is much below 30F. In this case, I might avoid it.

fitzverity said...

Doug: Thanks for the advice. I usually wear it under my light top layer (body heat tends to keep the tube from freezing) -- but I hadn't thought about the bib fit issue - hmm...and it's going to be pretty cold Sat am...

Hill Junkie said...

The tube is apt to freeze at the bite valve first. Still need to drain it if you leave that end of it exposed. See you there.