With record snow tallies, the "Tuesday Night World's" at Weston is thriving. I missed a week when I suspected dubious conditions. But the last couple weeks were fabulous. A challenging, nearly 3km course is now laid out over the original snow-making area and a long finger out into the "flats."
I came to this week's race slightly less tired than last week's. I lined up in the A-wave one row further up, row 8. Based on my finishing place, I could line up one or two more rows up. There are about 15 rows in each wave. But I'm not a strong starter and tend to get gapped in the first 500 meters. It is better that I not create a bottleneck. But it also means I have to fight like hell to gain those dropped positions back.
We do a rolling NASCAR start. After about 200m or so, the race goes live. Actually, it felt pretty live as soon as we started rolling. Robert Faltus started just behind me but promptly passed me and latched on to the lead pack of 20 or so skiers. That pack proceeded to go bye-bye as a gap opened and there was nothing I could do about it. Dang! It was perfect powder conditions, zero wind, upper 20's for temp. In other words, it doesn't get better than that. Didn't I warm up thoroughly enough?
Nobody was coming around me either, and the other half of the A-wave was either content with me up front or became as instantly gassed as I did. I didn't single-handedly drag us up. Skiers started to get spit out of that lead group and I think Mark Doughty and one or two others might have come up for stints. We scooped up Robert.
By end of lap two, I think we were down a 5-some, me, Robert, Mark, Bob Burnham and Jessica Snyder. After a big pull, I got tired on the flats on the third and final lap. Jessica and Bob came around. Jessica took a massive pull, being small and not leaving much of a draft in her wake. I was gasping. That was enough to pop Robert and Mark off I think, but they were dangling oh so close behind. I know from experience if I come into the finish with Robert, he'll decisively trounce me.
With less than two minutes to go, it was Jessica, Bob and me on the lower part of the course below the club house. Bob caught a rut and very nearly went down. I nearly went into him and he didn't even crash! That is how close together we were skiing and at a pretty good clip there too, having just dropped down. Then not 5 seconds later, Jessica apparently did the same thing and hit the deck hard. How Bob and I both avoided stacking on top of her is beyond me. There are many turns and hills in those last two minutes. I could not hold Bob's draft the rest of the way in. I crossed the line about 3 seconds behind him for 14th overall and 12.7% back from winner.
Was not a fast conditions night, but it was probably my best TNW race so far. Form felt decent, which it should in perfect conditions. Didn't make any tactical errors either. I've learned you have to be super aggressive in the first couple kilometers. Gaps will open, and it is too easy to be complacent and hope "somebody" is going to come around to pull you back up there. Just like in a bike race, if it matters to you, that somebody is has to be you. The last couple races I spent a lot of time out front with others in tow. Fun stuff, my primary mid-week workout, and it looks like I can count on it for many weeks to come.
I'll leave you with a photo from Friday's ski at Windblown. Mt Monadnock may look pretty, but it was a frightfully cold, windy day.