Saturday, January 15, 2011

69 on Tripoli

A gang of us hit Waterville Valley on skate skis today. We finally got a chance to capitalize on our season passes. WV didn't get hammered by the storm like southern New England did, but they got enough to open most of their trails. Exiting the highway, the bank sign said -5F (-21C). That sucked. I didn't bring a heavy enough thermal layer for that cold, and temps like that with aggressive new snow demand wax like Start Green. I used cheap Fastwax Blue.

WV had a nice loop opened on the south end of their trail system, which included going up and over the "Hairpin Turn." Conditions were absolutely deplorable. The south-end trails should never have been opened. There was insufficient cover with much dirt, vegetation and rocks poking through, in addition to the most uneven surface imaginable. It was the worst skating conditions I've experienced. I wonder if WV's new ownership is somehow related to this. They upped the price to $19 for a daily pass, the most expensive anywhere I've Nordic skied. At Bretton Woods, $17 gets you a warm shower and clean towell after you ski. Granted, due to dearth of snow, they are probably under financial pressure to get something open. But conditions on the south-end today were uncharacteristic of WV.

Dave and I promptly bailed out of the south-end trails and took Swan's Way over to the north-end. Brett back tracked to find Jody and to hit Criterion next, but I wanted nothing to do with Criterion after sampling trails near it.  The trails on the north-end need much less cover to produce good skating conditions.  Swan's was pretty treacherous getting there, but after reaching Lower Oseola, we realized we should have just driven over there to start.

On Bob's Lookout trail

Tripoli Rd was next on the agenda. After experiencing the hurt Dave put on me last weekend at BW, I wasn't going first up this 800ft beast. Dave set a stiff anaerobic pace up the first 200ft or so of vertical. Then the grade slackens some, maybe even descends a tad, before the steepness resumes. On this little breather, I filed in closely behind Dave as the speed picked up. I no more than caught his slipstream when he decides to stack hard. He caught a tip I guess. Anyway, he knew I was coming in as he curled in fetal position. It was unavoidable. One of my skis went under his body. The other, my bad left leg ski, got all twisted around backwards. So there we laid in the middle of Tripoli Rd, going ouwie. My face was stuck in Dave's crotch, and his near mine. He was on my skis and I could not untangle them. I was on him and he couldn't reach his skis. I think we laid there half a minute before we figured the Chinese puzzle out. Glad nobody was there with a camera. It was definitely tabloid material.

This incident ruined my perfect record so far this season. I hadn't fallen yet, on rollerskis or on snow. The incident was the strongest test yet of my healed ankle. It took a pretty serious twist. I was able to ski ok after getting up, but my ankle joint is a little swollen tonight.

I led after that, finishing the Tripoli climb. The last 200ft rises at about 15% grade. I punched it as hard as I could, easily Weston race pace. The snow had no glide whatsoever. Climbs like Tripoli are hard enough when conditions are good and are twice as hard with sandpaper snow. I think that was the hardest I've ever heard Dave gasping when he reached the top. Yeah, baby!

I led up the Upper Oseola climb next, also at a hammer pace, before doing a nice tempo pace cruise around Moose Run/Wicked Easy below. Then it was over to Livermore/Cascade for the finale, another 800ft climb that gets wicked steep at the top. Conditions were quite good. The north-end trails are flat enough that WV was able to groom with big equipment, unlike snowmobiles used on the south-end. I imploded at the 2.5hr mark climbing Cascade. Dave's slow twitch composition means he was just getting warmed up.  At least it was a thousand foot drop back to the Nordic Center.

Dave and I finished with about 43km in 3.1hrs moving time and 3380ft of climbing.  One of my slowest skis this season, but probably my hardest workout due to the slow snow.  Definitely the kind of workout I needed.  Finally got some serious vertical in. Saw several other cyclists there, including LaRocque, Buckley and Petro.  Debating whether to hit Northfield Mtn next Friday or save the legs for a 30k race on Saturday. Race course conditions in NY are not looking that promising. Weston on Tuesday again... definitely!


PatrickCT said...

Doug, I skied at Northfield today - everything was in great shape - just a little softer than 'ideal' skating conditions in a few spots...but full coverage..

Peter Minde said...

Check out Prospect Mt, Woodford VT

Hill Junkie said...

I skied Prospect once long ago. I understand they are on the "front range" of sorts and tend to scoop up a lot of snow. Have to hit Prospect again sometime.