Saturday, April 23, 2011

What have I become?

The talons of the dark side dug deeper. A nasty weather day, Saturday was. I had wanted to ride 4-5hrs. That's not the most healthy thing to do when it is snaining outside with temps hoovering just above freezing (snain is snow and rain mixed). So I sought a mountain for a session of interval work. It seems the weather is always less of a distraction when suffering all-out VOmax intervals. The weather becomes irrelevant, actually. The scary thing is, I sought a mountain not for bike intervals, but running intervals. What have I become?

The only 12% grade mountain within an hour's drive of my house is Pack Monadnock. I got my first taste of hill running last weekend. Perhaps it was a bit too intoxicating. I wanted more. I figured the pavement would be warm enough that even above 2000ft, there would be no frozen accumulation. Heading east on Rt 101, I started noticing cars with thick conformal coatings of frozen crud. That sucked. Nobody lives above 2000ft in this area. That meant if there was that much snow at lower elevations, the summit road would almost certainly be unsuitable for my plans. My fears proved true. There was an inch of ball bearing sleet at the base of the summit road. There was no way I could effectively run on that. I brought a mountain bike along too for a few wheeled intervals. So now what? Points north and west would be even worse. With only 4-5 hours of training in the bank so far this week, I had to come up with something.

Miller State Park, base of summit road.

Then I remembered last fall when I attended a conference in Waltham. Prospect Hill was right there. Not nearly as steep and gaining less than half the vertical, but it might have to suffice for today. Prospect gains ~350ft in about 0.8mi.  I began the painful journey back down Rt 101/101A and then south to Waltham.

It poured mightily on the way. I couldn't help but think about those doing the Quabbin Road Race today. I contemplated if I should salute their hardiness or scoff at their foolishness. I heard nothing but stories of misery out of that race and one of the highest attrition rates ever. I was going to do something "easy," running up and down a small hill at a quarter the wind speed without worrying about "aero" clothing.

My warmup run to the summit took 7:54min. Hmm, that was a minute faster than rollerskis last October. Didn't seem too hard. I very carefully ran back down. I hate running downhill, and I resisted the urge to walk. I put my manual transmission in low gear and let the RPMs wind way up. I had to look goofy.  Too bad human bodies aren't designed with regenerative braking like a Prius.

Next time up was for real. The steepest parts are near the bottom. My Garmin was spitting out numbers of 18%. Doubtful it was really that steep, but surely bits were over 12%. I immediately found myself completely redlined, something that takes a few minutes on a bicycle. I reached the top in 6:20. That was a lot faster than on rollerskis. And I probably was carrying 5 lbs of water in my now saturated long layers I was wearing.

I decided to do one more on foot. Interestingly, even after gaining some confidence on the first descent, I found it took me longer to run back down than run up! That is most definitely not like a bike. Running up is pure mental fortitude, not a whole lot of technique to think about. A bike has slightly more technique, such as pedal circles, not squares, spin or mash, and whether to stand or stay seated. My freewheel doesn't work very well running back down. I need to work on that.

Number two went well, so I decided to run up one more time. This one took 6:48. Was starting to feel it.  My calves were getting a little tweaky when I got back to the bottom. I had 10km on the odometer. I was happy. Time to switch over to the bike. I thought perhaps two times up would be enough, as I already had 20 minutes of VOmax effort sapped from my body.

My bike intervals on a hardtail with 25psi knobby tires fell in the 5:24 to 5:38 range. Only a minute slower than running. I didn't start slowing down until my fourth bike interval. That made seven 5.4-7.9 minute VOmax efforts in one session. Surely one of my best intensity workouts in a long time.

Note blue speed in first half. Running up was no slower than
running back down, unlike biking in the last half.

On foot, my HR would spike more quickly and stay at a higher level. I averaged 10bpm higher on my foot intervals than bike intervals. No wonder runners turned cyclists are so strong. XC skiing provides the same benefit, but with a lot less impact. I will probably work more of these sessions into my routine in the coming months. It will be interesting to see how this impacts my cycling performance. It could go either way.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From Crutches to Sneakers

A morbid curiosity brought me to Pack Monadnock on Sunday. No, it wasn't to see if the snow was gone yet. Fortunately it was. I wanted to get a sense of what it was like to run up a 12% average, 20% maximum grade incline. Pack is paved, gains 800ft in 1.3mi. The last time I time-trialed up this road was on crutches.

What I really needed a rest day instead. 6.4hrs of solid riding the two prior days worked my legs over pretty good. I told myself I'll just kind of "soft jog" up. Some of my runs at work induced calf tenderness. I suspected that going up a steep grade could exacerbate this. I wanted to know. No sense in entertaining foot races up mountains if my calves would implode. In talking with other runners, running injuries are insidious. You get sucked in, thinking all is going well, then one day you wake up and you can't run.

Cathy came out to hike up with me. I really just wanted to get it over with and walked for about one minute before beginning the timed run. So no warm-up, and my leg muscles were tighter than a violin E-string. I eased into the climb. About 0.3mi in, I hit the 18% pitches before the first switchback. I started thinking there was no friggin way I'll be able to run the whole way up. I pressed on.

I get through the chicane more than half way and the grade relaxes a bit. I wore my minimalist Nike Free's and immediately felt the heel pounding on the less steep parts. One thing I noticed is that running uphill is actually not very abusive on your body. There is no jarring. In fact, on the steepest parts. I found it easier to run completely on my forefoot, never touching the heel. I had no idea if I was destroying my calves or not. I did not perceive any pain.

Finally the last 0.2mi at 18-20% grade came into view. It looked so much steeper on foot than it does on a bicycle. I wore my heartrate strap for this run, the first time running. My HR was amazingly low for how badly I was suffering.  But I was tired too, so that is expected.  I divided and conquered the 20% section. Midway I so badly wanted to break running stride. I told myself this is like any of hundreds of bicycle hillclimbs I've done. I can hurl after I stop at the top.

I made it. My HR finally broke 160bpm.  I was amazed to see a lap time of 13:04 minutes. I've done repeats here on the bike that reached 13 minutes when I got tired (my PR is nine minutes and change). With a little focused training, fresh legs, a warmup and a serious attempt, I could probably approach 11 minutes on this hill.

What impressed me the most is how alike running and biking up a steep grade are. They seem to recruit common muscle groups. The burn in the lungs and legs is about the same. I thought running would suck orders of magnitude more. My calf test experiment came back negative: I had no calf issues after the run. In fact, the walk back down was more painful than the run up. So now I'm even more conflicted on what to do with the running stuff. I shouldn't get too hung up on it though. I'll never be very good at running. I don't have the "masters base" that other guys my age have, and my body build is all wrong. Something to dabble in maybe.

Friday, April 15, 2011

7000 Feet on Meat

Thursday was our 27th wedding anniversary. I took Cathy to Gauchos in Manchester, NH in the evening. We've been to Gauchos a couple other times. You have to be fond of meat to fully appreciate dining at Gauchos. Skewers of superbly prepared meat constantly come to your table. I could never say no. There were several chicken, beef, pork and lamb preparations.

There's not much for side items at Gauchos. You start with a salad bar. I generally don't eat salads, as there is minimal energy content value in salad. The Gauchos salad bar is very fresh, so I had to try a little bit. Then I loaded up on meat until I was disgustingly stuffed. To top it off, Cathy and I shared a cheesecake dessert afterwards.

Hardly a meal to charge up the energy stores, wouldn't you say? When I got up Friday morning, an off-day for me, I checked the weather. The forecast looked pretty bleak Saturday night going into Sunday. I had planned to do a MTB race Sunday morning, but I detest racing in rain or mud, and breaking bones sucks even more. On the flip side, the weather was going to be spectacular on Friday. I'm a bit behind on training this spring, and going right into full-on race mode is not a good way to build a successful season. I haven't established an adequate base yet.  Races on Sundays suck the most, because they tend to curtail getting any serious volume in on the weekend. At least a Saturday race lets you do a five hour hillfest on Sunday. Hillfests on Saturday tend to produce pitiful results in Sunday races.

So I didn't think twice and kitted up for a mountains ride. I parked at the White Mountains Visitor Center in Lincoln. I asked if Bear Notch was open yet. Nope. So no 4NaaP ride. I'd have to settle for out-and-backs on passes from Lincoln.

The day couldn't have been more perfect. Well, ok, maybe a little warmer. Winds were light to start, brilliant cloudless skies, and no cars. Heading out on the Kanc, I think a car went by maybe once every ten minutes. I got into a sweet groove, a hard tempo pace. I passed two other riders on my way up, who also were enjoying the fabulous conditions. The road was dry despite 8ft high snow banks in places. There's still a lot of snow in the mountains. I kept going right over the top until the Kanc started to flatten out on the other side. That was good for a solid 45 minute effort from town. Coming back up the east side took upwards of 30 minutes. My legs were holding up well.

I had a bit of headwind heading back into Lincoln. No surprise there. I topped off my water at the car and headed across I-93 to climb Rt 118, also known as Gonzo Pass. It gains nearly 1800ft from I-93 and presents a more challenging gradient. The road was a mess. Sand all over, 4" deep cracks running the direction of travel, huge frost heaves and divots. The descent was going to be a handful. I reached the top in less than 40 minutes, wolfed down a Mojo bar and decided to not descend the back side. I would do Kinsman Notch instead.

The descent was not much different than skiing down a mogul field. It was a shame to waste so much earned energy in rim warming. At the bottom, I turned left to head up Kinsman. The wind was kicking up pretty strongly now. Figures I'd save the steepest climb with the strongest headwind for last. It's not much vertical though, less than 1000ft. The 12% section near the top had my speed dropping below 6mph. My legs were finally tenderized. That didn't stop me from descending a good ways down the other side before turning around. I wanted to make sure I got at least 7000ft of climbing in.

Heading back down the 12%, I did nothing to enhance my speed. I was running semi-aero wheels, and with a cross wind, my bike was quite sketchy. I still managed to hit 55mph. This section was recently repaved, and with no cars in sight, I could use the whole road. I needed it too.

Not a flat mile in this ride

That was one of my better early season rides in the Whites. The traffic was almost non-existent. I finished with 67.3 miles in 3.9 hours and 7000+ feet of climbing. Legs were noodly later in the day. Interestingly, I didn't bonk or cramp. I wonder if all the protein the night before had anything to do with that?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bracketing Battenkill

The last training I did before Battenkill last week was run. The first training I did after Battenkill this week was run. I do not recommend cyclists run on recovery days before important races, nor should cyclists run the day after for recovery. My body still isn't right. Why did I do this?

Work got in the way of a decent interval workout last Wednesday. My training schedule lately has me running on Thursdays, which traditionally were recovery days for big rides on off-Fridays or weekends. But since I was less than satiated on Wednesday, I decided to up the pace a bit from my pedestrian 7:20-8min pace I've been doing since I started running four months ago. I decide to run my five mile loop and thought breaking a seven minute pace would be a decent step up.

I went out at a pace that was quite aerobic and kept it there. I run with my GPS, but I haven't set it up for running with pacing information. I got back to work in 33:30, a 6:42min pace. That was a pretty big step up for me. I was most pleased that nothing seemed to be tweaked afterwards. This pace was far from recovery pace.

Mondays are also supposed to be recovery days. But like Thursdays, they get filled with a run. This past Monday was 24hrs after the Battenkill race. I was feeling pretty wrecked and wondered how to conjure up the motivation to run. Normally I would take a complete rest day or go for a super easy 45 minute spin on the bike. I decided to run a loop I thought was only 4.5mi at as easy of a pace that still felt like running. I was wrong on the loop distance. Turns out it was 5.6mi. When I got back to the work campus, I figured what the heck, I haven't run 10k yet, so why not just finish it off with a loop through campus. I think my pace was 7:54, conversation pace. Tuesday I found myself in a more wrecked state.

So before the BK race, I ran my fastest yet, and day after, my longest run yet. Other than sandwiching these runs around a bike race, my body seems to be adapting nicely to this running stuff. Has me thinking... thinking deep, dark thoughts about the dark side. I'm at the threshold where running could negatively impacting cycling training I think. I have to decide soon if running should strictly be a remedial program to improve my bone density, or do I want to do something more with running. Thoughts of running Mt Washington next year enter my mind. Whiteface Mtn also has a foot/bike race championship, where the two races are two weeks apart. Of course, there are local 5k's too. At some point, cycling competition might get stale, and bringing a little running into the mix could keep life interesting. Lots to ponder.

Here's a personal interest factoid. We got to use disposable radio frequency identification (RFID) tags at Battenkill this weekend. How many people did you see with feathers sticking straight up from their helmets? Here's a group from the Masters 50+ field:

How many had trouble making them stick? I had to use electrical tape to secure mine. Anyway, I knew RFID tags were becoming so cheap that they are being put on everything. They can be made for pennies. Since I am an RF engineer, I just had to dissect mine when I got home to see "how it works." This is what I found inside:

The silver pattern is an antenna. There is no battery in this circuit. There is a tiny silicon chip at the center of the antenna. It is less than 500um x 500um in size (looks like pepper speck). The antenna has all kinds of useful information printed on it. I was able to track it down and then find what chip is used in the RFID tag. A blow-up of the chip is shown in the image.

So how does it work? Radio frequency energy is beamed down at the finish line from the structure above the line. The "DogBone" antenna captures some of this energy, enough to power up the microchip. The chip then deciphers the information encoded in the RF signal to determine if and how to respond. The chip has lots of memory in it, such as a unique ID code. If the chip is receiving a message from an authorized source, it responds with a message, like "ID# 47293478493 is here now," by modulating the reflection coeficient of its antenna. This means RF energy that reflects off the tag is encoded in much the same way as sending a message with a mirror using sunlight, except many orders of magnitude faster. This whole process happens in a tiny fraction of a second. It may not be accurate enough to precisely time line crossing, so the high speed video system is still needed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Battened Down

I had immense trepidation going into this year's Battenkill race for several reasons.  As regular readers know, an injury nearly a year ago wiped out my 2010 cycling season. I bounced back nicely by the end of the season, but lingering effects of my injury diminished the training value I typically derive from cross country skiing. And this winter certainly would have been a season to capitalize on ski cross training. Those of us in northeast had a particularly challenging winter to ride outdoors. I'm one of those people that stubbornly refuses to "ride" a trainer. Local riding was severely limited from January right into March. Thus I was lucky if I got two rides per week in. Those rides often failed to meet my quality standards for effective training. My cycling specific muscular development was woefully lacking.

Another reason this race struck fear in me was the size of the field. I hadn't trained or raced in a large group in a year. At my best, riding in a tight pack gives me the willies. Make that pack upwards of 150 riders and "interesting" road surfaces, I start to freak out.

My predicted outcome of today's race was bleak. I thought I had maybe a 5% chance of finishing in the cash, the top 10, as at least my cardio fitness was pretty good. After all, my Battenkill podium average was 60%. More likely though, was the other extreme. I surmised there was a 20% chance I would cramp up so spectacularly that I would DNF. In a training ride a couple weeks ago which was much easier than Battenkill, this nearly happened to me. Cramping in that ride told me I was in deep trouble for Battenkill. I've learned over the last few years the only way to ward off the cramping demons is proper conditioning. Normally in winter, I ride my singlespeed MTB in hilly terrain. There is nothing better to build muscular endurance than that. It just didn't happen this winter. So that leaves a big 75% in between cash and DNF. My expectation was I would finish, but not without the cramping demons paying a visit.

Before moving on to the race report, I have to comment on the motel Dave and I stayed at Saturday night. It was the Knotty Pine Motel in Bennington. All the major chains in town were booked. So this was it. The room was musty. When I pulled the covers back, I found curly black hairs on the sheets. Dave about died laughing. Guess I'm not a total germophobe. I wasn't going to make a big deal of it. A while later, while Dave was cuddled up with his Kindle reading, I noticed material on the side of his bottom sheet. Looked like someone deposited the contents of nasal cavities there. It was my turn to laugh now.

Ok, so now the race report. It was friggin freezing kitting up, but warming up quickly. Last minute I decided the only warm layer item I would wear would be a thin long sleeve base layer under my anonymous jersey (my new team kit hasn't arrived yet). Good call, I was shivering until the first hill but just a little warm in the end. I lined up second row. Two seconds after the start, someones tire exploded. How does that happen? Sucked to be them. A mile or two down the road, we're still putzing along at 18mph and a motorcycle marshall pulls up to the front and says "you know you can start racing now, right?" Nothing happened. The pace picked up after we rolled through the covered bridge.

Heading up Perry Hill road, we kept bunching up and guys took the whole road despite the yellow line. Several times, the marshall came up beside screaming, intimidating us with his 500 lb machine to move to the right. With such a huge field and narrow road, riders didn't stay to the right for long. Then the motorcycle marshall came all the way up to the front and nearly stopped just left of the yellow line, causing mayhem in the field. There were several near crashes. Lots of screaming ensued. That was a totally unsafe, boneheaded move. He should have just DQ's a few flagrant violators. That probably would have gotten people's attention without risking life and limb.

We were still all together coming up to Juniper Swamp Rd. I don't understand why people dread that one so much. It is over before your heartrate even gets up. I did notice there were some fractures further back in our field as I crested. I got over no problem. I guess people don't like to get eliminated so early in a race. But say Juniper was taken out. The same guys wouldn't make the Joe Bean hill selection. It's not about the hill.

Later on Rt 64, were climbing gradually on rollers. Somebody up front was setting a stiff pace. Earlier in the race, I thought surely the Cat 3's would catch us, being staged 10 minutes behind. But not at the pace now. Gaps were opening up all over the place and I kept burning matches to get around them and stay with the leaders.

We still had a sizable field reaching Joe Bean Rd, maybe 40-50 riders. This is near the halfway point of the race, and since no selection had taken place yet, it would surely happen here. Joe Bean rises something like 400ft at a fairly persistent grade. Roger Aspholm (Westwood Velo), Fred Thomas (OA Cyclemania), and a Wheels of Bloor (WOB) guy slowly pulled away. Roger and Fred took the top two podium spots last year. I never heard of this WOB team before.  I did not have the goods to stay with that crew. A fourth guy dangled behind them for a bit. I was fifth approaching the top and gave up any silly ideas of actually bridging up to them. The selection was made.

So that meant unless one of those guys flatted, no more podium spots were up for grab. And since those guys all had strong teammates left in the field, blocking ensued. I didn't really care this time. I could tell the Joe Bean climb did some serious damage. I felt strain in my legs that always precedes cramping.

Roger's teammate Troy Kimball did most of the blocking initially.  A couple guys didn't seem to get it. They'd take a hard pull at the front, motion for Troy to pull through, and he'd just sit there.  The WOB guy in the break had a strong teammate disrupting any chase attempt too. Both WOB guys were big guys.  After a while, we got an update that the break was only 40 seconds up the road. I would have thought more with the blocking. Maybe we could still shut it down, but I was going downhill fast.

We turned onto the new section of the course. It was freshly graded gravel. Until that point, the gravel was safer to ride than some of the paved sections. It wasn't too horrible, you could still climb out of the saddle on it, but it rolled steeply up and down something fierce for a couple miles.

My computer stopped working part way into the race, so I was surprised when we turned onto Meetinghouse Rd. The race was going by quite quickly. On the second climb on Meetinghouse, my legs started cramping. These were upper quad cramps, both legs. My quads hardly ever cramp. We still had two more climbs on Meetinghouse, then the big one at the end. I was doomed. I got gapped on Meetinghouse. I kicked, scratched and clawed my way back on. It was so ugly.  I could not rise out of the saddle at all. My quads wouldn't allow it. Somewhere around here Paul Richard (CCB) and another rider peeled off the front. Now five were up the road.

Back on pavement, I was licking my wounds. I was barely hanging on to the back of the main chase group, maybe down to 30 riders now. Prospects of me staying with anybody over Stage Rd, the dirt 400 footer before the finish, were bleak. I might not make it over at all. That happened to me at Everest Challenge 200m from the finish of the first stage several years ago. I still have nightmares about that. A sixth rider was now off the front as we approached Stage Rd. I thought surely he'd be caught, but nope.

Interestingly, the pace up Stage Rd was civil. Maybe that's how it normally is. The Stage Rd climb is were I do my thing, snagging the last podium spot the last two years. I can put out well over 400W for 5-6 minutes at the end of 3hr race like this. But not when my quads want to fire on their own, causing excruciating pain. I could not stand at all. I had to stay seated and spin it out, barely tapping into my VOmax. What really sucked, is about 20 of us made it over together. The modified course put two right hand turns right before the finish. I dread straight-in bunch finishes, and a sharper than 90 degree turn less than 200m from the finish was just plain stupid for a race of this type.

With about five flat kilometers to the finish, nothing much happened. A couple guys tested the waters a few times, but with about five CCC Keltic guys there, nobody was getting away. Seems every year I finish with these same five guys. With 1km to go, things got crazy. I got boxed in, spit off the back, came back up the slipstream to a nice position, but then the turns. I don't do turns layered like sardines at 30+ mph.  The second, sharper turn was chocked full of small potholes and loose stones. I lost my nerve and my will to race by that point. Cliff Summers (CCC/Keltic) Troy Kimball won the bunch sprint. I was eleventh tenth out of that group for 17th place in the Masters 40+ field, about 6 minutes down on the WOB guy that won, Roger and Fred.

Despite my weakest finish yet at Battenkill, not all is bad. A top 20 finish in perhaps one of the most stacked and diversified amatuer fields in road racing is respectable.  I finished with a large group of solid contenders. Riding 23mm tires with latex tubes again, I'm 6 for 6 without flatting. The weather was great, the course was in superb condition, and camaraderie with bike folk is always nice.

I have some soul searching to do. There's a chance my ankle will continue to limit my potential on skis. At least on skate skis.  If this is the case, I should treat skiing as a secondary activity and focus on riding first, skiing second, especially in the critical months of February and March. Yeah, the prior two weekends I skied when most others were finally getting big miles in as the snow receded. Brett Rutledge questioned my choice of activity on those days. I did get him to join me last weekend though.  This past winter, I primarily rode after doing hard ski workouts, diminishing the quality of bike work. Lots to think about over the summer.

Next up: Fat Tire Classic and maybe a short time-trail the day before as an "opener."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

BK prep, or not?

What I awoke to Friday morning was no April Fool's joke. Six inches of wet, heavy snow on the deck picnic table. I planned my week around a long, hard ride on Friday, but the forecast did not look promising. I've gotten about all of one long, hard ride in since the beginning of the year, something that would be considered hilly road race training.  I detest training indoors, but I also detest slogging in slush for 3-4 hours. So I went in to work on my off-Friday, which are increasingly being used to catch up on work.

If I couldn't get distance, I figured I'd at least get a few morsels of intensity in, as I'm so lacking in accumulated VOmax work so far this year. I put the keyboard aside in the afternoon and kitted up for an hour of power. Muddy Greens Pond Rd repeats would have to do.

I used my winter beater with studded tires. It sat for a while. I didn't realize the disk brake calipers are already binding up from salt corrosion. My front break was binding so badly that it was work to pedal at 12mph on flat pavement. Oooo, muddy 10% climbs ought to feel sweeeeet!

Greens Pond Rd was half slush and have mud. It took me 30% longer to climb this first portion of the climb. Then it is paved Naticook Rd to Cummings Rd to the top. On a good day, repeats are less than six minutes. My first climb was over seven minutes. Maybe I only need to do 2-3 of these, I thought. I almost had to pedal downhill because of my brakes.

Second time up went a little better. The legs opened some and lingering phlegm from my chest infection was expelled. I tried even harder the third time up, breaking 6.5 minutes. I nearly hurled. I figured I had one more in me and went up a different way to Wasserman Hts. That was nearly 30 minutes of VOmax work in a one hour ride. Of course, I did as little work as possible between intervals to recover. Battenkill might require 8-10 of these efforts, some in quick succession, spread out over 2-3hr duration. Very different.

With snow still on the ground Saturday, a few of us agreed the day would be better spent skiing. Dry roads would be a better probability Sunday. So Skogs, Brett and I hit Waterville one final time this season. Thirty minutes of bike work and a couple hours of skiing should make good final preparation for Battenkill, right?

Skogs coming up Drakes

I waxed with Fastwax that had a range that went below freezing since the night before, the forecast showed a low in the 20's. But it was 40 friggin degrees pulling off the highway and rising! They had gotten a lot of new snow. It was that super-saturated kind that sticks like glue to skis. To my skis anyway. The Nordic Center let me borrow their riller. I don't think it made any difference. Brett had some warm pure fluoro on from his last race and Skogs waxed warmer. I was nearly face planting on every descent.

Brett heading down Livermore. This is April?

Brett and myself coming up Drakes. Photo by Skogs.

We first did a loop around Jennings, U. Fletchers and Drakes. Coming down Drakes sucked for me. The other two were gone. I had to WORK HARD the whole way down. The skis made loud fart ripping sounds as water tried to suck them to a halt.  I can never get this waxing/structure/ski selection thing right. Dialing a bike for specific applications, yeah, piece of cake. Skiing, it's still a black art to me. That made two days in a row of brakes on all the time.

Towards the end, descents were no faster than climbs.

We scooted up Swans. Brett was setting a pace that hurt me and left Skogs searching for our tracks. We decided to take different routes, Brett and I to top of Snows and then Cascade on the return. At the speed we were moving, that would be more than enough for Brett and I. The temp was rising and impossibly sticky snow was getting even slower. Brett and I finished with only 29km in 2:21hr moving time and 2300ft climbing. I believe that was my slowest ski in a few years, but a superb cardio workout. Now it is time to put the skis up.