I had some reservations heading to Weston Tuesday night. There hasn't been a major infusion of snow lately, and conditions were pretty dicy the last couple weeks. They did a pretty nice job tilling up the frozen granular though. Conditions turned out to be better than the last couple weeks.
I brought rock and race skis again. I got a little more aggressive waxing my new racing World Cup skis. I took a metal scraper to them, a few firm passes to mow down the aggressive structure. I then waxed with Start Green to harden the bases up a bit, then finished with Toko HF Red. On my rock skis, I slapped on some Fastwax fluoro for about the same temperature range as the Toko Red.
I warmed up on my rock skis with rounded edges. Control was an issue, and I couldn't push off very hard without slipping on the firm surface. I did two laps. Conditions were fast, but didn't seem quite as fast as last week. Then I got on my race skis. They were slower. Not a lot slower like last week, but still noticeable. They also still made the grinding sounds against the ice, like fish scales on waxless classic skis. Only periodicity in the base structure can do that. I've never heard a skate ski make that kind of sound. I did one lap with the WC's before stopping for race instruction.
We were doing three laps, woohoo! That's almost 10km. It seems there's a race to the staging area these days. I got shut out again and had to bully my way into the sixth row. There were supposed to be four per row, but a fifth set of tracks kind of cut through the staging area so there was more like 4.5 rows. That meant I was like 25+ skiers back.
We go off, and of course the guy in front of me is really slow starting out. Normally I'm timid in the start, not wanting to crash myself or anybody else. This time I got aggressive and moved up right through the middle. I latched onto the lead 20 guys heading out onto the flats. Guys started popping off, and each time I buried myself to get back on. This lasted half a lap, then I popped off too. From that point on, I was in no man's land. Essentially I raced a 10k individual time-trial. I felt good and gave it all I got. Skis were most notably slow on the descents. But crisp edges helped make up for it. I could really put out the power on that surface and not give any time up on the corners. That ensured I stayed redlined the whole time. Coming into the finish on the third lap, I heard somebody gaining on me. It was Victor. Don't know how I held him off on the descent, as he's really good on classic Weston granular. I finished in 26:23, good for 14th place overall. That was easily my hardest 26 minute effort in several months. Nearly hacked out a lung after I finished.
I skied three more laps after the race. My skis did seem to get a little faster and make less grinding noise as laps went by. Leave it to Weston chopped ice to break in skis. I don't have time before the Rangeley Loppet to get them professionally stone ground. I should be able to get another long ski on them at Waterville this weekend and maybe Weston again next week. Then whether I use rock or race skis at Rangeley will depend on what kind of snow is on the ground in two weeks. New snow, rock skis. Transformed snow or warm conditions, race skis.