Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Is there such thing as too much snow for a Nordic skier?

In gloomy, snowy W. Michigan for several days. The sun doesn't shine here much in the winter, as cold Canadian air scoops up a lot of moisture from Lake Michigan, makes perpetual clouds, which dump perpetual snow along the lakeshore. Great if you're a Nordic skier, but sometimes it can keep snowing, and snowing, and snowing, and you never end up with that magical transformed sugar granular base that ski skiers crave.

Christmas morning I had a chance to get out for a long skate. Of course, the lake effect machine was in full force. The good news was I wouldn't have to drive far at all to ski. The bad news was I would likely have to suffer through another powdery slog. Great workout, but you can't really work on technique, like V2 and balance, some of my weaknesses. There's just not enough glide in dense, high moisture content powder to allow me to effectively V2.

I headed up to Pigeon Creek, a municipal park just north of my hometown Holland. The county grooms the trail network there for classic and skate skiing. There are no trail fees. They groom with snowmobiles but have pretty nice equipment and do a good job. Even on Christmas morning with snow coming down, the groomer was out. I would have been screwed otherwise. The terrain is pretty flat, min to max elevation change of just 30ft or so. Should be great for banging out 50k easily in under 3hrs, right? Yeah, right...

There were only a handful of cars there. Pretty much had the trails to myself. It snowed about 2" in the first hour. I got there just as the groomer finished with skate lanes, and in an hour, you couldn't tell. At least I lucked out with timing.

This was groomed less than an hour earlier. Slow, but pretty, eh?

There's probably less than 10km of trail there groomed for skate. Doesn't get too repetitious, as there are two nice loops on each side of the road. I did not have to take my skis off to cross the paved road. In fact, I thought how much faster it would be if I just skated on the road. The cars were doing a nice job packing the snow down. But it is a main county road with fast traffic on it.

Action selfies on skis are hard. Barely had time to turn around before shutter went.

I finished with 32km in about 2.5hrs. I kept getting slower and slower as the snow got deeper and deeper and I got tired.

Christmas Eve I got in a shorty ride out to "Big Red" and back. Wanted to check the beach out. My mom's friend, who lives on the big lake says she sees riders on fat bikes all the time, any season of the year. I like riding the beach with studs after it freezes up.

Not an ocean port. Heading to beech along the Holland channel.

Tuesday would have been a great day to ride pier to pier (Holland to Saugatuck). Mostly ice with windswept snow here and there. I rode only a mile on the beach.  A little work, but totally doable with 2" studded tires and still have fun. Probably won't happen this visit though. The lake effect machine is supposed to run all week and by now there is probably a lot of snow on the beach. A fat bike might still be doable, but if we get a few inches every day, that too will be more work than it is worth.  Looks like a week of skiing for me.

Not the ocean. Pretty high ice piles building out into the lake already. Can ride
8 miles south to Saugatuck channel, mostly along undeveloped beach.


The Warrenator said...

Hey Doug, any more feedback on those Kenda studs?


Hill Junkie said...

Only one ride on them in 1-2" crusty snow. They have rounded profile and tend to knife into crusty snow. Probably not ideal for loose snowmobile trails or crusty snow you could punch through. Haven't tried them on ice yet. Probably good for frozen up snowmobile trails, primary reason I bought them.