Monday, November 15, 2010

Mt Kearsarge Rollerski Hillclimb

My doctor would have made me another doctor's problem if he knew what I did just a few days after seeing him with a potential leg fracture. Rollerskiing up a mountain is one of the most abusive things you can do to your body. At least I experimented on rollerskis Saturday to see how my leg would respond. I was pleasantly surprised to find that skate boots laterally immobilize the ankle joint and reduce the level of discomfort I experienced while raking leaves all morning. That was good enough for me to give the timed climb a try.

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.

Video by Tom Smith

Despite an abbreviated race, it was still worth heading up there. Probably not the wisest thing to do nursing an injured leg. No way I could have gotten that kind of workout raking more leaves. Before rigor mortis set in my leg, I hopped on the mountain bike from home and hit some ATV trails I hadn't ridden in years. Managed to get in 21 miles in two hours before the light waned. A good day.

Loop from my house just dipping over the state line in lower left
corner. Still possible to put a 30 mile loop together here with
minimal pavement contact, although new developments are making
this harder.

1 comment:

Alex said...

One thing you could play with (maybe when you're healthy again) is getting more weight transfer - right now your weight is sitting pretty solidly in between your skis, but if you can get your hips and shoulders over your foot, that gives you more structural support, instead of relying on your hip muscles. Granted, I'm looking at video from the end of a 20min uphill ski =)

Don't do anything too dumb to that leg...