Saturday, January 22, 2011

Toxic Plume

One loss and one win so far this weekend. Skiing Waterville Valley Friday morning was a bit of a disappointment. Overnight snow was not groomed, contrary to posted trail conditions at the Nordic center. Dave and I headed out via Swan's Way to the north-end in 3" of dense powder. The aggressive snow structure and cold temps made it quite the slog. To compound matters, I essentially had yellow wax, as that's how I prep'd my skis for Weston, which was cancelled. I did throw some blue on, but it seemed like it just drew the yellow up and I was still left with a pretty soft base. It also didn't help matters that I didn't take any rest days all week. I felt ok first pushing off but soon realized I was quite tired.

Dave and I decided to see how much of the perimeter we could ski, given the slow conditions. First up was the Tripoli climb. I led this time, as last week Dave took me down when he caught his ski tip right in front of me. The powder got progressively deeper as we climbed. Near the top, my ski tips could glide under the powder without disturbing the surface. It was so hard to not catch a ski in this stuff. I think it took me over 23 minutes to climb Tripoli, when it typically takes 17 minutes. That climb nearly destroyed me.

Dave is a better descender than I, as he teleskis and does some back country. His skis were gliding better than mine too, so he led on the way down. Part way down, when Dave was at least 200m ahead of me, I suddenly lost my breath. What is that!? Dave was barely in hearing range when I shouted out WTF! His hysterical laughter answered my question. I thought he was going to ski straight into the trees he was laughing so hard. He was mighty proud of the noxious emissions he left in his wake.  I can't win. Dave wipes me out going up Tripoli or asphyxiates me going down Tripoli.

Upper Osceola was a repeat slog. It didn't look like it had been groomed in two days. Already over an hour into it, I realized I wasn't going to last three hours in these conditions. Even the downhills required some work. There never was any recovery. We did a tempo paced loop around Mouse Run/Wicked Easy before heading over to Livermore Rd.

Livermore Rd had been groomed that morning. It made a big difference. My cranky left foot was bothering me in the deep stuff, as I had to lift ski tips high to clear the deep powder. That put extra pressure on the top of my foot where it hurts. I did run an experiment. I did not clinch down the draw-cord inside the boot. I left it very loose and relied only on the tension the zippered seam would create. I think it helped, as going on two hours into the ski, I had negligible pain on groomed surfaces. Regardless, Dave was still going strong and I was completely blown. I told Dave not to wait for me as I sauntered up at a barely aerobic effort.

Cascade was now fully open, but that meant more deep powder and 20% grades. The groomer bypassed it in favor of Upper Snows.  The descent switchbacks were an obstacle death course. A few waterbars were very deep and exposed, potentially catching your ski tips when you are hauling. What would break first, the skis or both your legs? The imprint at one of the crossings showed somebody bit it hard. I wondered if it was Dave, but when I caught up with him later, it wasn't.

Tripoli, Osceola, Cascade and Snows climbs

When we got back to the south-end, the groomer was just finishing up there. Figures. The new corduroy skied quite nicely. I was past done. I logged about 35km in 2.8hrs, one of my slowest skis ever. In contrast, I skied over 50km in about the same amount of time at Bretton Woods a couple weeks ago. Great workout, but it could have had more fun-factor.

On the winning side, Nickerson State Park was fabulous on Saturday. The snow is completely gone. As I drove onto the Cape, there was maybe 8" of snow at the Sagamore Bridge. At Exit 5, Trail of Tears, there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground, but maybe rideable. I kept going. At Exit 7, the Willow St trails, there was no snow. I decided to keep going to guarantee I'd be riding on dirt. The Willow St trails are a pretty small set anyway. The ground stayed bare to Exit 11 for Nickerson State Park.  The temperature was mild on the Cape, in the mid 20's. It was in the single digits at my house.

Typical conditions at Nickerson

I took my GPS track from last week when the locals showed me how to link up all the singletrack by following their tracks in the snow. I would never have remembered all of it.  With the snow gone, other trails were now exposed, so now I could explore. I did manage to bring two more tasty bits of trail into my ride. Many explored spurs ended up in people's back yards though. I felt surprisingly good despite being so wrecked the day before. Probably all psychological, as riding bare dirt in January can have that effect.

Nickerson, same spot, week ago and now

I saw only one other rider and just a few walkers with dogs during my ride. Pretty much had the place to myself. I finished with 28.3 miles in 3:04 hours riding time and 2640ft on the altimeter. Nice tempo workout with frequent, short bursts.  Nickerson doesn't quite pack the fun-factor of Otis or ToT, but when you have two feet of snow in your yard, it's as great as riding in Moab.

Planning to hit WV again on Sunday. High temps will struggle to break 0F. Time to break out the Start Green wax. Need a tie breaker for this three day weekend. Hoping for another win.


Beth said...

You think skiing with the toxic plume is fun . . .it is so bad sometimes the dogs go running from underneath the covers. His son is following in his foot steps too :o)

Hill Junkie said...

Beth - That is too funny! I can really sympathize with you, Zach and the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Did you not notice that it was snowing like crazy since the very early hours of morning? You were a little hard on WV grooming. I was on the alpine slopes of WV that day in incredible fresh powder. My quads were trashed after a few runs.

Hill Junkie said...

I guess what I was trying to say was you could tell which trails had been groomed that morning and which hadn't. They claimed all north-end trails had just been groomed. Had we known better, we would have followed the groomer to the south end.