I had benchmarked myself on Kearsarge a couple weeks earlier, a non-serious ski up to see how hard it really was. It took me about 36 minutes. I figured I could readily take a couple minutes off that in a more serious attempt.
It was a fabulous weekend - dry, mild, calm winds. For the second of two CSU organized races, classic rollerskis would be used by most of the gang. I use only skate technique these days. There were a number of us planning to use skate technique, so Brett Rutledge and I would not be the only ones.
About 30 minutes before race start, Albert and John came down the road and said "we have a problem." The park toll road is closed for the season, and it seems wind has taken some trees down, some really big trees in fact. Cars were not going past the 1.4 mile mark of the 3.4 mile climb. If skiers were to go to the summit, there would potentially be multiple ski dismounts and who knows how much debris to trip on for the last two miles. And we'd have to walk back down in ski boots. This simply was not a viable option. Race organizer John recommended to move the start below the park entrance to the last downhill on Mountain Rd. This would put 0.9mi and a few hundred feet of climbing back into the course. The race turned out to be about 2.3 miles with 960ft of climbing. Was I disappointed? Yes, mainly because I would not learn what I could do relative to my benchmark two weeks earlier. But this would still make for a pretty grueling 20 minute effort.
Garmin Edge 705 data.
Modified course profile. Toll gate was around mile 0.9.
I used my Pursuit rollerskis with some pretty worn down tires. The pavement on the public road was exceedingly rough and I had great difficulty skating on it. The roughness was so bad that sometimes a ski would stall out on the steep parts. The toll road inside the park was recently repaved, so it was sweet skating.
This was my first rollerski race. Uphill rollerski races are about as exciting as uphill bicycle races. Not very. You quickly go into a personal world of hurt and stay there until the top. The usual things happen. A few people go out way too hard and implode just as hard three minutes later. The really fast guys are out of sight in a few minutes, not to be seen again. The rest of us just settle into our groove and slowly spread apart from one another. When I reached the finish, I hadn't seen anyone in front of me for some time. There were two not far behind. I thought to myself that felt just like an Ascutney climb or a Weston sprint race. It hurt pretty dang bad. Just the endorphin fix I needed.
I figured that since I couldn't compare my time from two weeks ago, at least I could do a relative comparison against Brett. But he was many minutes back. I knew something was up. Of all things, he flatted during a rollerski hillclimb race! I never liked my 125mm V2 Aero's. His 150mm V2 Aero's are much more reliable, but not this day. He finished, although at extraordinary energy expenditure. I had no reference at all. I finished in 22:40, which was second out of eight skaters and 5th out of 22 total skiers. Talking with a couple skiers that skated two weeks ago and classic skied this week, the consensus was classic is faster. I'd like to believe that. I got smoked by a 14 year old junior on classic rollerskis.
My form 0.1mi from the finish was horrible. I arrive in the video below at around 57 seconds. I'm probably babying my sore right leg. I'm dropping my left shoulder. My pole plants are way too wide. I was just dying at this point. A spectator yelled "tenth of a mile to go," but I thought he said half of a mile. I almost blurted an expletive but asked again how much and heard only a tenth of a mile.