I came with reasonably fresh legs and wanted to crank up Tripoli to see if I could best my fastest, which was 16:35 back in 2008. that was on ball bearing snow. This Saturday, I wouldn't be able to touch that, but I thought I could at least post my best for the season. We warmed up with a couple laps around Moose Run/Wicked Easy then headed down to Tripoli. It is a lot of fun to tool around with a five-man paceline on well groomed trails. I was joined by K-man, Buff Dave, Brett and Isaac.
I suffered mightily drilling Tripoli. Felt just like a Weston sprint race, except I was going half as fast. I reached the top in 17:18, easily my best this season, but nearly a minute slower than my PR. Had the conditions been like two weeks ago, I could have broken 16 minutes. I'm not getting fitter, my form is getting better. I was happy with the quality interval. The descent was slow, with many patches of suction snow that transpired to send you into a faceplant.
After that we headed to Osceola. As expected, Dave drilled this one.These VOmax efforts are usually my specialty. I did my best to stay with him, which I sorta did. We reached the picnic table at the end gasping with drool wrapped around our chins. Without poles to balance our hypoxic bodies, we surely would have toppled over. Good stuff. We did another lap around Moose Run before heading to the Livermore Rd side of the North End.
We tempo'd up Livermore road to Cascade Brook Trail. Dave bolted again on Cascade. This was approaching the two hour mark, and I had nothing left to respond to his attack. We bombed all the way back down, did the loop near the parking lot, then back up to Upper Snows. A truce was called on this one. There were a few rocks poking through approaching the chairlift. Other than that, coverage was good everywhere else. We met up with Colin at the summit, who's training for the American Birkie in a couple weeks.
We finished with 47.1km, 2800ft, in 2.9hrs on the Garmin. It was easily my hardest ski workout this season. I was planning on doing only one marathon this season, the Rangeley Lakes Loppet. But now it looks like the event is in jeopardy due to uncertain snow conditions.
A solid ski workout needs to be topped off with a long trail ride the next day. The temperature plummeted about 30F overnight. Why does that scare some people off? This meant the trails would be frozen hard. No snow, no ice, brilliant skies. So what if the windchill is below 0F.
I planned a big loop I've never done before. I went data mining for GPS tracks on Garmin Connect and elsewhere to put a Boxford, Willowdale and Georgetown loop together. Goal was to minimize road content. I started at Boxford and rode the longest road segment starting out by heading towards Willowdale. From toasty car to 15F with 30mph wind in face brought instant icecream headache and teary eyes. Could have used more junk protection too. But given the choice between junk frostbite and riding an indoor trainer... I'll risk junk frostbite any day!
I had mostly tailwind to Willowdale and was there in no time. Once there, I knew my way around and planned to ride the full perimeter singletrack loop. Wish I had something in my legs. The ski workout left them lifeless. They refused to cooperate, but I kept insisting they perform. Eventually my legs realized I wasn't giving up and they half-heartedly caved in and started putting out a few measly Watts. Frozen Willowdale was like riding a rollercoaster. Wicked fun. I encountered a couple large packs of riders in there. Some appeared to be wearing ski goggles. It wasn't that cold out.
I hooked up with the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) to head over to Georgetown-Rowley State Forest. This was all new to me. Mostly flat, nice flow. It crossed over I-95. It has been >10yrs since I last rode Georgetown. I remembered it as an ATV/trailbike park. Not anymore. I was pleased to find a super fun, recently built singletrack loop in the norther part of the forest. I encountered another pack of riders on this loop.
Glacial eskers riding in Georgetown
From Georgetown, it was more of the BCT south to Boxford State Forest. This part of the BCT was mix of singletrack, ATV trail and roads. I was following a mined GPS track which didn't stay on the BCT the whole time. Apparently the track I used for this part of my ride was dated, as cul de sacs now exist where a trail must have once gone. I had to hunt through many dead ends to find a way to connect my route. Eventually I made it into Boxford.
Boxford is another area I've not visited in over 10 years. I didn't remember much of it. Seems the motos have been kicked out of here too. Much of the riding here, at least what I rode today, was lightly used abandoned ATV trail. Kinda wide, lot of derailleur sucking tree debris, but a few bits that rode like nice singletrack. At least the open trails offered nice flow. I had planned to do a loop and a half in Boxford, but my energy level was rapidly collapsing, and the terrain wasn't stimulating enough to make up for it.
I got back to the car with 40.2mi in 4.3hrs on the wired computer. The GPS measured less distance with all the twisties in the ride. This is a loop I'll definitely do again. It can easily be expanded to 50 or 60 miles. The BCT connection from Georgetown to Boxford needs a little work, but other than that, it was a thoroughly satisfying route. 7.2hrs of skiing and riding in two days put me in a hole. Wonder if I'll listen to my body and reward myself with some rest Monday?