Monday, January 24, 2011

Chasing Olympians

After a so-so ski day Friday and a fantastic ride day Saturday, I was looking for a tie breaking ski day on Sunday. Forecast called for bitter cold. I waxed with Swix CH4. Hate working with the really hard waxes. I do have a scraper sharpener, so at least a dull scraper is not an issue. Strangely, it was warmer at Waterville Valley than at my house when I got up. It got well below zero here where it stayed clear overnight but hovered around zero up north where it clouded over.

One of my primary reasons for heading up to ski again this weekend was to demo a pair of Salomon S-lab Skiathlon boots. WV had Salomon and Atomic there for a demo day. The Salomon rep was highly knowledgeable of boot fit issues, having broken his ankle several times. In my case with the protruding medial malleolus, the S-lab family of boots was not the way to go. They have a very restrictive carbon fiber heel cup. The rep noted that I tend to pronate when I load my foot. He felt custom orthotics were the way to go, and he gave me contact numbers for two highly reputable guys in NH and VT. That is something I'll probably wait until this fall to work on. I may have my hardware removed and don't want to pay for orthotics until my ankle looks a little more natural.

I was feeling quite wrecked from six hours of skiing and biking the previous two days. I planned to ski only two hours and not hit the biggest hills. I brought only a little food and water with me. It was wicked cold. It wasn't a comfort issue at all. It was a glide quality issue. My skis felt awfully slow. At least the grooming was perfect this time and the base had set up very firm.

It is a rare occasion when Waterville opens 100% of their trails. I had to ski the Village Trail even though the trail report said to "bring your sense of humor" if you ski it. It was groomed no more than four feet wide in a few places, necessitating a lot of double poling with skate skis. I think I've skied this trail only once before, many years ago. I wanted to head out this way, as it defines the perimeter of the XC trail system and brings you to the lowest point.  Once you pass under Rt 49, nice grooming resumes, and it is all up from there.

By the time I hit The Hairpin, I already logged over 800ft of vertical. My average speed on this squeaky snow and 20% grades was pathetic. The firm base did make descents a blast, unlike last Friday. The up-down up-down of Criterion didn't help my pace any either, but it sure was fun bombing down from the high point.

Crossing over the golf course, I spotted a couple familiar faces. They were making kick wax adjustments it appeared. We would cross paths several more times on the north end.

Still following the perimeter of the trail system, I turned right on Swazeytown against all common sense. This turns into Beanbender, an alpine slope that holds steady 20-25% grade with steeper bits embedded. I surely thought I was going to stall out before reaching the top of this 600ft climb. My quads and glutes were screaming, and my triceps were ready to seize up.

Bombing down Upper Snows to Cascade, I met Kris and Justin again. They must have come up Lower Snows.  They headed up Cascade with me chasing. I guess they weren't killing it, as I was able to stay with them. True, they were on classic skis and double poled must of the way up while I put serious skate effort into it. I knew what would happen as soon as we crested the top. I was still shocked at how quickly they disappeared around the switchbacks back down. Zero speed was scrubbed. They cornered the 180's faster than I opened up on the straight-aways. And I probably went the fastest ever down that descent. Skogs, you would have been impressed.

The duo were stopped on Livermore again when I flew past. But they started down right behind me. Great. They caught up and passed double poling in the tracks.

I had pretty much skied the remaining muscle twitch out of my body by this point and accomplished what I went up there for. But dang, that Livermore descent was too much fun. Could I pull off a full perimeter ski? Normally I like to go there fresh when attempting that. What did I have left to do? Hmm, Moose Run/Wicked Easy. Sounds easy, right? Then there's Upper Osceola. OK, that'll hurt a little bit. Oh, then there's Tripoli Rd, the wickedest climb at WV. I'll be whimpering on the way up if I make it that far. The pesky little climb called Pipeline after that would surely finish me off. I decided to give it a go.

I passed Kris and Justin one more time en route to Moose Run. Moose was a nice breather. My legs were getting wobbly heading to Osceola. I brought one Gu with me, and that had to get me up two more major climbs. Climbing Tripoli sucked. The temp was dropping all day and the wind had picked up. My outer layers were frozen solid, including my lobster mitts. I was slowing down and needed to get back fast. The snow on Tripoli sounded just like a snarling cougar. I couldn't even hear my own heavy breathing over the howl my skis were making against the snow. So many kilojoules being expended, so little reward for it. The descent was nice though. I scrubbed speed off at 45kph because I got scared. In a tuck, you could probably go over 60kph on this one. Even on a mountain bike with disk brakes on the pavement underneath, 60kph is scary. The snow was slow to push against while climbing, but fast bombing down with flat skis on the crests of firm corduroy.

I was in pure survival mode on Pipeline. Interestingly, both feet were hurting in the same way that my left foot has been hurting. I guess if I flagellate myself long and hard enough, even my "good" foot will cry uncle.

Perimeter profile, counter-clockwise direction

I got back to the Nordic Center with 44km, 3:10hrs and 4150ft of climbing on the Garmin. That was certainly my hardest workout this season. Skied the full perimeter too, which can't be done too often. Now I need a week off. Nine hours of hard work in three days has left me ragged. Not looking promising for Tuesday night at Weston.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That would have been cool to see those guys descend Cascade. I skate skied Windblown yesterday with CH4 and I was wondering about the sluggishness of the skis while climbing combined with the good glide on descents.