Monday, February 06, 2012

Breaking Out

I think I blew the wax on Sunday at Besh Cup 6 but had a good race anyway. Go figure.

Don't get me wrong, loving this warmer weather, but for waxing I hate it when temps fluctuate wildly, as the they have in the past week: -50 to +30 in three days? Then down to -15 at Birch Hill on Friday, climbing to 10 above on Saturday, and Sunday morning it was in the high 20s and climbing?

So Sunday morning I changed my wax from the standby Swix (low flouro) LF4 to LF6--with some LF7 mixed in. I went outside in the dark squeezed some snow--it felt fairly dry still but a lot different from Saturday. I knew that the snow would warm slowly, but underestmated the timing on that. Got to Birch Hill (sans wax iron and back up waxes) an hour before the race and even though the thermometer said 28, the snow there looked and felt much colder than the 18 to 20 I was predicting.

Turns out the wax of the day was HF4. So LF4 would have been fine, but maybe not perfect. If I could have done it again, maybe I'd have mixed LF4 with HF6. But it was too late, nothing to do but line up and take some lumps.

Had decent seed this time, due to the good race at Homer, although they have gone from a 20 person line to 10. It wasn't so bad, and I think we were actually less bunched going up the stadium ramp.

Going down relay alley the first time I could tell that my skis weren't running fast but with the bomber cold grind that I have any resistance felt minimal, i.e., wasn't getting left in the dust.

I've done three previous Besh Cup 10K skate races over the past six years and this was the first on the new course, following FIS homologation this past summer. The old course with South Tower, Black Funk, and Tower Direct--three really tough climbs on an already hilly course was always killer and this one looked as hard (with even a bit more vertical I think).

Birch Hill's new 10K mass start course (click on image to for larger view)

On Sunday it was Relay/South Tower (climb); down Tower; Rollercoasters; Sprint Hill and around the hairpin spruce trees (a cruel little joke); down White Bear to Surprise Cutoff and back up (oft my favorite place to ski); back side of Stadium and down a piece of Warm Up and then do it all over again.

10,020 meters, with 370 meters vertical. The new design makes South Tower a little longer, but a little less steep with the switchbacks, was the only part that felt taxing.

I just stuck with my plan and held steady--doing my best to avoid oxygen debt--and draft baby draft.

I was probably 35th or so at the top of South Tower; maybe dropped a place or two on the way down, but kept right up with those guys. By the time we got to Rollercoasters we had a nice little train of four, with a big group about 30 sec ahead and another five or six skiers maybe 10-15 sec back. And that was pretty much it the rest of the way. On the second lap I felt good--not at all in oxygen debt, just a notch harder than threshold--and was able drop those three guys, Liam, Owen and a younger skier, and set to work on Bobby--my son's HS teammate--and another youngster about 20 sec up.

Lo! with a K to go, coming out of White Bear I was right on them. Puttin' the fear into Bobby who I knew did not want and old man--I think a few years older than his dad--taken' him down.

I could shoulda just jumped ahead to get him flustered, and then try to hold them off in a sprint, but I chose to draft hoping for a break on the final 30-40 sec climb out of Warm Up. Turns didn't have much left in the tank with 150 m to go an they pulled away on the homestretch.

31:28, 31st place OA (7 up from my seed).

Won the masters division and "points wise" (base on percent back) think had my best Besh Cup 10K ever (will have to go back to the Archives from 2006, 2009, 2011 to verify).

Liked the new course, which will be used for years to come at championship, maybe World Cup-level races. And the 28 or so temps, wow what a difference. No hacking up gunk, no wheezing, just good clean borderline hypoxic fun.

And to think just the other day I was saying skiing was an afterthought at this point. Now ready to enjoy the season. That's what 30 to 50 degrees of added warmth will do for you.


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