Sunday, January 22, 2012

In the groove

The snow dump earlier this week blessed the mountains with more snow. Unfortunately, the snow dump on Saturday hammered the Cape. Looks like no dirt riding for a while. The good news is I'm well equipped to handle almost any kind of winter conditions now. Studs for icy roads or trail riding, fat bike for powdery or loose snowmobile trail riding, and of course, cross country skis to complement riding.

A group of us headed up to Waterville Valley. The temp had risen to -1F (-18C) by the time we got there. At least there was zero wind and bluebird skies. The recent snow hadn't had a chance to transform yet. I suspected uber grippy, squawky snow. It was clearly a green wax day. The north end trails had been groomed by the big cat. Grooming was vastly improved over last week. I take anything negative that I said last week back. The snow was slow, especially for Dave and Isaac. They didn't bother to wax. Their pain, my gain. The Nordic Center was deserted, along with the trails. Something about some silly game later in the day.

With the bridge out on Swan's Way, we had to drive up to the north end. A couple warm-up laps around Moose Run prep'd us for the Osceola climb, which Dave hammered. Next up was the 800ft Tripoli Rd climb. No skaters had been up it yet. The slow snow was going to make it hurt. Dave set a nice tempo most of the way up, then relinquished the lead before the upper wall. Great. Just as in cycling, mental games go on during skiing, especially among friends. You lead and think crap, Dave's still right on my heels, I must be going too slow, so you ramp it up. Meanwhile, Dave is thinking crap, Dougie is going too hard, I'm barely hanging on here. Neither want to be going that hard.  Psychologically, it is harder to lead than follow. Not sure why. I hadn't planned on any interval work during the ski, but going up Tripoli was encroaching on interval pace. Needless to say, I had no choice but to pick up the pace a bit on the upper section. No heart rate strap this time, but I bet I was up there. Had Dave and I not had poles to hang our body weight on, I'm quite sure we both would have collapsed into the snow at the summit. Good times.

The descent was marvelous. High friction snow kept speed in check. I was feeling really good about my form today. Been working on left foot commitment, and it is paying off. Had much less ankle fatigue going on. Mint conditions no doubt helped. I probably V2'd more at WV than ever before. My cold wax job made for a relatively speedy descent. Dave would later pull out his race skis, which he did wax, and put some hurt on me.

We did a couple more laps around Moose Run/Wicked Easy before heading over to Livermore Rd. Isaac was toast by this point with about 25-30km skiing, working against the higher friction his skis had. I wanted to get one drill in during this ski: a no poles climb up Livermore. With the dry snow, it would surely work the glutes over well. Dave agreed. I have always suspected Dave puts way more upper body into skating than I do, as he does core work year 'round. This earns him the nickname Buff Dave. This little experiment might expose the difference in upper to lower body ratios between Dave and I. I'm an upper body weakling, so I derive most of my power from legs while skating.

Even after Dave pulled out his race skis with cold wax, it was easy to free-skate ahead of Dave on the steep bits. It's about weight commitment, knee/ankle bend, and leg snap, avoiding the junky middle. I feel like I'm really starting to get it. We talked with Donovan Freeman, who was training for Craftsbury, for bit at the top before free skating back down. I love free skating back down Livermore. It is so easy to get into a rhythmic groove.

I was out of water for a while now and ate next to nothing. Bonk was imminent. We picked up poles and headed up Livermore a final time. Bonk happened. A couple other skaters were coming up behind me and I wasn't about to let them overtake me. Stupid, how that happens. My legs were all blubbery and vision crosseyed when I got to the end. Mission accomplished.

We finished with 44.3km, 2500ft of climbing in just under 3hrs moving time. A solid day on skies, especially for Dave, being only his second time out. Within 30 minutes of finishing, I inhaled a Gatorade, banana, two extra sharp cheese blocks, plain bagel, bottle of chocolate milk and a coffee. That barely held me over until I got home. The last four days have been a solid block of running, biking and skiing. Wonder if I can force myself to take a well-earned rest day on Monday?

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