The warm spell left NH roads muddier than Cape trails. I figured why risk riding on roads still too narrow and obstructed by still too tall snow banks with snow melt turning road sand into gravy mix. A trail ride at Nickerson seemed a much more reasonable option on my off-Friday. I didn't think this all the way through though. Coming back around Boston on Friday afternoon leading into ski vacation week was a huge blunder. I have this rule, if you must drive to the ride, the ride should at least exceed total round trip driving time. Friday's drive back alone totally violated that rule. I surmised that commuters who put up with Rt 128 traffic on a daily basis must be psychotic.
The ride in and around Nickerson was sweet though. Hit tons of new-to-me trail south of Rt 6 on the singlespeed. I haven't had a real singlespeed workout yet this winter. I soon realized something was amiss. I struggled to clean even modest grades. Last winter I regularly hit hills with the SS. It takes some serious leg force and core strength to muscle over inclines. It's not all strength. There's a technique to it as well.
I wanted to explore more of the moto trails south of Rt 6. These trails were dry and nicely bermed by moto traffic. Guys with 250cc's between their legs don't care how steeply they climb. Fall line is always best, right? And if it was loose and sandy, no problem. Those beefy knobbies would just accelerate a rooster tail of terra firma out the back, generating thrust that way. Yeah, I ran the numbers. Spewing 2kg of soil per second at 27 meters per second alone is over 1 horsepower that is being used to propel motorcycle forward. My legs can't spew anything off the back tire. Instead, my legs just stop and I fall over.
After finishing up riding a bunch of new trails south of Rt 6, I re-entered Nickerson. The non-moto trails in Nickerson are much more tame. Still didn't matter. Approaching three hours into the ride, I pulled the plug on finishing the remaining singletrack and limped back to the car on a paved path. My quads were more noodly than overcooked pasta. Finished with 30.1 miles in 3:14 hours.
Thirty miles of SS dirt.
Saturday, Brett, Dave and I went up to Waterville Valley. It snowed about 3" overnight up there. Many trails were still closed due to warm spell we had. Isaac St. Martin walked in while we were kitting up and he joined in the sufferfest. I brought only my new skis.
Heading out, I immediately started dangling way off the back. I was cooked from SS ride day before, and my skis were still sandpaper slow. This really sucked. They were super grabby. If the tips got at all into the fresh, abrasive snow on the edge of the trail, I'd nearly face plant. The others marvelled at how fast the conditions were. I was soon skiing by myself. I didn't have it in me to try to stay with them, and I didn't want them waiting for me.
I solo'd up Tripoli Rd. It was not groomed and was a slog and a half with 3" of dense, abrasive powder to plow through. No skaters had been up in fact. Coming down was almost as much work as going up. I was not feeling the love for my new skis. They seemed quite sketchy descending too. That could be due to having nice, sharp edges and what I had been on most of the season was rounded off. Could be they are too stiff too.
I compared my new WC's with both pairs of RS:11's I have. The WC's seem to have similar tip flex as my broken race RS:11's, but softer tip flex than my rock ski RS:11's. For mid flex, they are very close to my rock skis, but slightly stiffer than my broken race skis.
Flex comparison. New World Cup top, old RS:11 race ski bottom.
Thread in middle to compare which ski flattens sooner.
RS:11 is about 1mm closer at this applied force level.
Back at the Nordic center, I talked to Steve Weber about the slowness of my skis. They had been through three wax/scrape/brush cycles so far. Steve didn't have an answer, but said he'd talk with the Atomic rep for ideas. Exiting the Nordic center, Donovan Freeman (Kris and Justin's dad) overheard me whining and asked about my skis. Looking at my base, he said my structure looked quite aggressive and good for warm conditions. Hmm, I told him it was the factory cold grind. He said "well there you go, send your skis to Boulder Nordic and have them properly ground." That is advice I shouldn't question. There's no time for a grind before the Rangeley Loppet. I might be on my rock skis.
Saturday was not one of my better ski days. Would have been better off with a rest day. Covered 36.4km in 2.5hrs with about 2850ft of climbing. The others did a little less climbing but extra laps around Mouse Run for more distance.
Sunday morning was bitter cold with 15F temp and sub-zero windchills. I was too wrecked to do anything meaningful, like drive somewhere and bike or ski. I figured the local snowmobile trails would be set up nicely now. If they weren't, I'd just turn around and call it a day.
From my culdesac, I can gain access to official sled trails at the top of Seavey Hill. The descent sketched me out and forced a dismount on 40% grade. Too much ice. Sign at bottom warned snowmobilers of ice ahead and to turn around. I was going to head east crossing over into Massachusetts for a bit. I've never followed this route before, since it tends to be flatter than the hilly country just to the north.
Winter riding doesn't get any better than this.
The trail had a consistent crunchy surface. Great for traction and control, but it did require some work. There were two major ice crossings in my ride. The first was in wetlands on the Dracut/Pelham town (state) line. Sketched me out with the wind. Surface was as shiny as a mirror. Setting the camera on the ice to take a time delay shot of myself, the wind blew the camera across the ice. I had to find a crusty patch to set it on.
State line wetlands. Only way is to cross ice. No work-around.
I did a lollipop loop at the end of my out-and-back ride over Little Island Pond. This was a half mile or so, completely exposed, ice crossing. Twice I dabbed to keep from being blown over. The second time, the wind was so strong that with both feet on ice and studs scraping, I was sliding sideways and no way to stop it. Yeah, that sketched me out a lot. Don't need to hip check on ice while I'm still working out low bone density.
Coming back up Seavey Hill, the sun started softening things up a little. The sled route goes right up the fall line. I could barely push/carry my bike up that. Post holing to the side was about the only way.
Snow won't be gone any time soon.
It was a fabulously brilliant day to be outside. I had to work a little just a couple times during this ride. I ran into Ray Cloutier and friend on top of hill near Dutton Rd, also enjoying a fine day on studded tires. They started from Methuen side and were heading out towards my end of the trails. I never encountered snow machines. I finished with 21 miles in 2.6hrs and just under 2000ft of climbing.