I knew there was a reason I didn't break down the wax bench. My ski club, Cambridge Sports Union, decided to capitalize on the welcome-to-spring dump we just got by grooming up the Weston course. The Weston Ski Track officially closed on March 15 for the season. They had to be out of the golf shop by then, presumably so golf operation can be set up. Good luck with that with the current blanket of snow.
New snow with a lot of moisture in it plus a mild day usually makes for a total slog. Skate skis just stick to the stuff like glue. Lots of water suction. I slapped a quick coat of Toko HF Yellow on and rilled with the Toko Yellow structure wheel. No crack powder. Didn't have time.
Conditions on the course were the exact opposite from what I expected. They were hard, crunchy and rutted out, just like one Tuesday night when I bailed out of racing. The course was crazy fast. Do I race and risk jeopardizing my trip coming up? It was too good an opportunity to pass up. First day of spring, we'd be racing when it was light out for a change, and we'd be doing the longest distance this season, upwards of 12km!
I skied a few laps before lining up, trying to shake out the six bike repeats on Naticook I did the day before. The initial descent on the course was quite treacherous. The grooming was uneven and rutted (but the price was right - free!). I didn't want to get caught up in a melee. I lined up further back than I knew I would finish just to have a little room at the back. About 40 people showed up for this impromptu race. All the fast folks were there, including Alex back from orienteering worlds in Kazakhstan.
On the first lap, I immediately got gapped behind a couple girls. Joe, Jamie, Terry, Robert and others pulled away. I fought like hell to catch back on after coming around the girls. Spent a whole lap in no man's land. Not a good way to start a 12k race.
On lap two, I caught Jamie just as he was coming off this pack. I recovered a bit, then passed him. I wanted to catch Joe, since we had an epic battle between the two of us the last time I raced at Weston. Just as I caught Joe, he too came off the pack. I was so gassed at this point, working by myself most of the time, that there was no way I was bridging up to the group with Terry McNatt and others in it.
I shamelessly let Joe do all the work in the fourth lap. I petered out and Jamie with two others caught us. Nothing I could do about it. I gave it one futile effort just before getting caught. Finishing with Joe and Jamie in these sketchy conditions would be a pretty good race for me anyway. I had several spectacular near crashes and saves. Even Joe had some oh-shits. Not everybody stayed up.
Coming into the last few turns to the finish, I made a couple tactical passes. I don't remember who I passed first, Jamie or Joe, but on the second to last hill. Then on the last hill before the finish, I edged the other out taking the inside line, which I normally avoid like the plague in these things. How I held them both off on the screaming descent and slight rise to the finish is beyond me. I finished in 31:28 (see lap two), probably my fastest moving average for a Weston race this season. Wicked fun, great endorphin booster. I really needed that with all the work stress and home repair projects I have going lately. I thought Windblown last Friday was a season wrap for me, but this will likely be it unless somebody up north stays open into April.