Many cyclists that skate ski have commented how skiing trashes your legs for riding. Not sure why this is. You could go out and do a three hour hammer ride on Saturday, then still do ok on the bike on Sunday. But do a three hour hammerski on Saturday? It seems to have double the impact. Maybe because skiing is a secondary sport, we're not as conditioned for it, and thus more bodily breakdown occurs. I suspect there's more to it than that. Skiing is weight bearing. It uses all your body's major muscle groups. There is no free-wheeling recovery. Your heartrate stays consistently higher than a comparable workout on the bike. For this reason, it is superb cross training in my opinion.
Mike Rowell, Dave Dornaus and I joined JB to ride the Trail of Tears and moto loop near JB's house on the Cape. It was freaking cold Sunday morning, 2F when I left my house with way below zero windchill. It wasn't much warmer on the Cape by 9am. It was going to be a challenge to keep water from freezing. The first few minutes are always the toughest. Heading straight into the wind on the road brought tears to my eyes with an icecream headache.
We no more than got into the woods when MKR's tire went soft. New tubeless setup. Perhaps the bead didn't seal well. We pumped it up extra firm and started up again, having lost the warmth we just started to gain.
That wasn't the last of our tire woes though. JB had a tire go soft next. Some CO2 was added, thinking that would be it. But no. Seems the Stan's had dried up in that tire. We stopped again to put a tube in. By then we were quite warmed up and sweaty. It doesn't take long with near 0F windchills to get cold fixing a flat.
A Stan's "booger." When the liquid is gone, this is what's left.
The pace was very peaky, which I struggled with, having skied the day before and just not having much top-end these days to begin with. I figured three hours going like that would surely cause something to pop, probably cramping. The terrain doesn't have huge vertical difference, but it is densely rippled with non-stop 50-100ft climbs at 20+% grades. On many of these climbs, you either put out 400-500 Watts or you were walking. Do this over and over and over, well, you get the picture. JB made sure I didn't dangle to far off the back. MKR was always right on his wheel, and Dave was usually halfway between them and me. I dressed right and actually stayed quite comfortable. Keeping my Camelbak from freezing was different matter...
We had yet another tire failure. Wouldn't you know it, the tube JB put in went flat. So another 29er tube went in his tire. Turns out Dave was carrying a 26" tube, yet he was on a 29er too. So that meant with three 29ers running tubeless tires, we had no more spare tubes left among us. The lone 26" rider, me, was covered with two spare tubes. This seemed like a bad omen to me. We were only half way into the ride.
Crossing over to the western side is the moto track. It is a skinny singletrack ribbon, often with a 6" wide rut right in the middle, and runs about 15 miles. It was also soft and full of crunchy hoar frost. It sucked the life right out of you. There's not a flat ten feet of tail on this side and the hills are bigger. I sensed impending doom. I've ridden this several times alone before, so I knew what was in store.
I did my best to stay with them. My quads were screaming. The total number of minutes I spent in the anaerobic realm on this ride was more than I did in the previous three months combined. It was just what I needed. I managed to clean a couple steep bits the others botched. That felt good. But there was no rest, even on the descents. It was power to the pedals all the time. There are some seriously steep plummets in there, where your suspension completely bottoms out in gravity cavities. Fun stuff, but you had to always be on guard for ruts that tried to steal your wheels out from under you.
All good things must come to an end (fortunately for me in this case). We started to work our way back, now with the wind to our backs. It really hadn't warmed up at all since we started. The wind was out of the northwest, so no ocean warming. We got back to JB's place with 27.4mi, 3500ft, in 2:45hrs. Hard to believe there's that much climbing on the cape. I don't get that much riding 27 miles in North Conway or Kingdom Trails. My legs believe it though. I felt a little better after JB commented "that hurt." A great ride. Beats the trainer that so many others resorted to on this cold day. Thanks for the invite JB!