Friday, December 10, 2010

First Snow

Dave, Brett and I kicked off the XC ski season with an awesome session in the mountains today. Parts of northern Vermont and New Hampshire received sizable dumps over the last week. Waterville Valley, where we hold season passes, has not opened any trails. Bretton Woods, which uses Mt Washington as a snow scoop,opened about half of their terrain.  We were in for an abrupt transition from fall to winter. Before leaving the house, gave these conditions for Bretton Woods:

It wasn't the temperature I was so much fretting over. It was sandpaper snow I feared. Normally fresh snow in extreme cold has glide characteristics similar to beech sand. We were pleasantly surprised to find quite good glide.

We climbed to the high point (about 400ft net gain) of the trail system three times. First loop out we went out to Crawford Notch. All of the trails in the woods were snowmobile groomed. Only a portion of the golf course was groomed by the Piston Bully. Snowmobile grooming means a lot of varying off-camber and whoopy skiing. It was also very soft in places. Still better than skiing early last season here with 2ft of new snow. Then skis kept punching through. I hit the Crawford climb quite hard, about seven minutes of solid VOmax effort.

Climbs two and three were laps around Sebosis/Porcupine/B&M. First time up Sebosis, I burned half my matchbook, holding near VOmax effort for 15 minutes. That cut me down a notch. You always feel like a superstar skiing down B&M, an old railroad grade at 1-2%. We looped around the golf course, climbed Wiley's, which had Dave and Brett bitchin' (it was wicked soft), then finished by going up Porcupine and down Sebosis.

Brett coming down Porcupine Lane

Dave and Brett had enough by this point and went in, but I still had some mojo left and went for a lap and a half around the golf course.  I brought my Atomic RS:11's, freshly ground by Boulder Nordic Sports. I got a general purpose grind good for cold temperatures. These were my rock skis before grinding. They weren't exactly in mint condition after grinding, but the bottoms looked pretty nice. I don't have another pair of rock skis. I worried about snow coverage initially. Ironically, I never hit anything in the woods where sticks and weeds where poking through. It was on the golf course that a rock put this pair of skis right back into rock ski status.

I finished with 33.6km distance and 520m climbing in 2:32hrs on the Garmin. This more than doubled any rollerski workout I've done this fall. My left ankle was none to happy about it. It seems rollerskis on pavement go in the direction you plant them and nothing perturbs that trajectory. Skate skis in soft, irregular conditions have all kinds of additional forces acting on them. Take some of the climbs for example. They were groomed too narrow in places to effectively skate, so tips tended to catch. This creates huge torsional load on ankles, something rollerskis don't do. My right ankle seemed did fine. I suspect my left ankle still has some toughening up to do since the fracture this spring.

Regardless of ornery ankles, I got a superb workout in. I haven't pushed myself that hard in many weeks. After a solid workout in the woods with friends, the psyche is prep'd to handle anything the world throws at it.  Hope the mountains keep snow through a brief warmup this weekend. Going back to rollerskis during the week is going to suck.

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