Sunday, March 27, 2011

From 90's to 20's

A week ago I enjoyed temperatures reaching into the 90's in Tucson. I came back to New Hampshire with fresh snow on the ground. It was supposed to be spring. I wasn't supposed to be sick either. I went nearly three weeks with minimal intensity work on the bicycle. I started coming down with a chest infection before heading out to Arizona, was sick the whole time there and spent most of this week getting over it.

Saturday was the first opportunity to get a decent ride in. I left from my house and scooped up SteveG and DaveP along the way.  It was a harsh reality with 25mph winds and temps in the low 20's. We did a classic loop that went up Parker's, Uncle Sam's and through Temple. There are at least three sustained climbs along the way. Dave hurt me pretty good on the first one. My legs and lungs didn't quite know how to respond. By the third climb, I had less difficulty holding a near VOmax pace.

Steve had to put up with battling hill junkies. When we reached the small country store in Temple, I think his purchase was in direct proportion to how much trouble he thought he was in. Bombing down from the high point in Temple along the Wapack Range brought on an immediate icecream headache. It couldn't have been much over 20F up there.

We took the Burton Hwy down to Wilton, a skinny paved road that parallels Rt 101. There was still much snow cover in the area, but due to frigid temps, there was no melting. The roads were bare and dry. Until one steep part most of the way down. I was leading at nearly 40mph when I realized there was about a 50ft patch of ice across full width of road. I let out a girlie scream, as I was sure a crash was imminent. Fortunately, it looked like the town put salt down and it was not boiler plate ice. We all managed to stay upright.

Steve didn't want anything to do with Pead Hill, despite my incessant whining to do it. Probably a good thing. Much later, nearing Steve's house with another 7 miles still to go to my house, I started cramping up. It is all up hill too. The last five miles of the ride were the hardest thing I've done on a bike in months. Quads, hammies, inner thighs were all spasming. I doubt I had more than 30 minutes of hard effort in this ride. How does that bode for Battenkill in two weeks?

Since I got a punishing ride in Saturday, Sunday had to be a ski day. Reports coming from Waterville Valley were too good to pass up. Skogs, my wife Cathy and I went up.  There's wasn't much snow turning off I-93, but there sure was good snow at WV. They were nearly fully open with perfect mid-winter conditions. Just like Saturday, it was cold and windy. Hard to believe it was almost April. It looked and felt like January.

We went out Swan's Way to Upper Snows. The higher elevation snow was quite slow compared to the crispy corduroy at lower elevations. Coming down, I had to do Cascade Brook while Skogs did the less vertically challenging Lower Snows down and back up. Having skied only twice this month, my left ankle was quickly going into a fit of rage. I couldn't find a way to glide without shooting pains from the two medial side screws.

We crossed over to the Tripoli side and climbed it next. The snow got squeakier and slower as we gained vertical. I nearly aborted, as my ankle hurt so bad. I guess without regular skiing, tissues softened up in there and couldn't deal with the skate boot. A single loop around Moose Run/Wicked Easy was all I could handle before heading back to the Nordic Center. I sure hope having those pins removed solves this problem for next season.

Skogs skied a bit longer, wanting to get 40+km in. I managed 37km in 2.5hrs with 2800ft of climbing. I don't think I've ever seen a bluer sky there. Wish I brought the camera.  Not a bad ski day, but had my ankle not been an issue, I could have done much more. Cathy classic skied the easier trails on the south end and was terrified by the crispy granular speed.


CB2 said...

I can deal with the cold, and I don't like it, but I can handle the wind. Throw them together, no matter what the calender says, and ewww..shudder...

myles said...

Wanted your suggestion.
have a week off in march. considering heading down to NC or GA vs going west for road riding. You have a preference?

Hill Junkie said...

The only time I went out west with a road bike was for the Everest Challenge race in the Sierra Nevada's. Passes there would still be snow covered in March. A large roadie group from north Boston area are heading to San Diego third week of March. My friend Brett is going. I haven't decided yet.

My preference lies with the southeast that time of year. The Parkway has almost no traffic on it then. There are roads you can ride where a car might pass you every 10 minutes. Not sure if you can find that out west. No shortage of big climbs in a 100mi radius from Asheville NC either. Marion to Mitchell summit is more than mile vertical. The Georgia 6-gaps loop will surely test your stamina.

Maybe if I learned more about what's available that time of year out west, I'd be a little less biased.

Myles said...

Thanks for your insight. I had Asheville in mind. What's the draw to San Diego?

Hill Junkie said...

Brett just sent me this link that summarizes the great rides in the area. Haven't studied it yet, but looking at the profiles, there are some good climbs there. I think part of the draw is high probability of mild, dry weather. Almost anywhere else you go in the country will still have snow at higher elevations in March.