Somewhere at MSA

Somewhere at MSA

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Craftsbury Marathon, Or Why Didn’t I Try Those Skis First

One of the cardinal rules of racing is not to try something in a race that you have not tried in practice first.  I’m sure many of you may have done yourself at some point. My favorite is many years ago one of the CSU Jrs. who shall remain nameless, at a big Eastern Cup race out at Notchview, decided to try out a RedBull right before the start of a 10 km classic race.  Yeah, not a good idea.  The RedBull and that morning’s oatmeal ended up out on the course at about 8 km at the top of a nice long uphill, a nice course marker for the rest of us to avoid.  My mistake was not quite so gross, but consequential nonetheless.

Back to Craftsbury.  Lisa and I headed up in time to squeeze in a bit of skiing and wax testing at dusk.  I’d prepared test hard wax skis and klister skis given the lack of snow and what was there being transformed and quite sandy in texture.  The hard wax skis were fast and almost worked well and I’d have been tempted to go with them if I was younger, stronger, more fit, less elderly, had skied more this year and wasn’t worried about scraping around some of the corners etc, etc.  But I’m not those things, so I decided klister covered was the way to go.  (For wax geeks, old Toko Viola klister mixed with Toko Red klister, covered with Toko red hard wax.) That decision made, we had a nice dinner at COC, I klistered up my brand-spanking new, never skied on klister skis, leaving off the final cover layer until morning and headed over to our usual B&B for a good night of rest.  The only real worry at this point was whether it might snow over night.  I need not have worried.  The ground was just as bare the next morning as when we went to bed.  Tom Simon, Clinton Kreuger, Frank Feist, John Sakolowski, Jim Ellis and Bill Holland had all rolled in later than us but were up early to cram a few calories in before the race and have the requisite wax discussion.   Bill had successfully stirred the pot the day before with emails discussing klister binder, various klister mixes, etc.

Arriving early enough at COC to grab one of the nice new indoor wax benches, I waxed up Lisa’s skis and put on Toko Red stick over my klister to try them out and headed out the door.  For the first time in years I was not half frozen with buffs, muffs, lobster gloves and the like.  It was a balmy 20F and no wind!  Kind of tropical for the Craftsbury Marathon.  My skis worked well and I was satisfied.  I touched up Lisa’s skis and headed for the start.  As a precaution in case it warmed up and I’d need to rewax, I put red and yellow stick and a cork in my CSU jacket and hung it on a barrier by the trail.  This would turn out to be a wise move……

The start was smooth and I slotted myself in with the usual crowd, Robert and Peter Harris just ahead, Chris Osgood off to one side and Tom right behind me through the first field.  Rounding the first corner who should be untangling himself but Robert, who’d had some miscommunication with Lary Martell.  They were all tangled up but the rest of us flowed around them and moved on, my one thought being that yes! Robert was behind me.    It was a bit exciting on the first few downhills with some better at negotiating fast turns than others.  Chris Osgood shot by on the right as I was stuck behind a slower skier.  And then we settled in for the long haul.  Down the giant slalom turns in the field and finally to the first long climb up Ruthies.  Here we were on natural snow, what was left of it, with a nice icy base and some glazed powder mixed in.  Suddenly I was getting very little kick.  This was not good.  I worked hard to stay with my cohort as Robert came back by, recovered from his fall and all smiles.  He was moving!  Half way up and my arms were getting thoroughly thrashed, making up for a lack of kick and I skied out of the track.  My thoughts turned to rewaxing at the lap.  How disappointing!  I clearly didn’t get enough klister into the wax pocket and couldn’t get the wax down enough to stick well.  If I stopped I’d lose everyone, but if I didn’t stop I’d beat myself silly and die a horrible death out on the course somewhere.  All because I’d never tried out these skis before.  Stupid!!  The only consolation was that my skis were fast, so I hung in on the downhills.  I got gapped on those tough little hills heading back to the center.  Rewax or die.  It was a simple choice.  And so, as I lapped through at the end of lap 1 I pulled over at my coat and slapped on some Toko yellow stick, corked it quickly and got back on my way.  I probably lost a couple minutes, but it was soooooo much better.  I was tired from thrashing and so tried to settle down and see who I could chase.   Its amazing how much more relaxed I was now that I had better kick and could run up the hills better.  It wasn’t perfect, but a big improvement.  It didn’t hurt that now the tracks had some loose snow in them either and were skied in.  Lap 2 went by without incident.   On lap 3 I caught up to Tom Simon on Ruthies after chasing him  for a long time.  Somewhere on the long Ruthies climb Jimmy Burnham came storming past.  What the hell?  Why was he behind me?  Turns out Jimmy also pulled over at the end of lap 1 and went for the full klister rewax at the Burham Family ski bench, parked by the course.  Well, it seemed to work pretty well because Jim was on the move.  I was again flagging, but with Tom in sight I was motivated and somewhere along the way I got by him.  Now in this mix were several people I was chasing and going back and forth with.  Up front was Dan Voison, a bit too far ahead, and two NWVE guys, Tristan Leggett and Rick Kelley.  I’d go by Rick on downhills and he’d come back by on uphills, clearly with superior kick.  Tristan was bouncing around and stopped several times to rewax I guess.  Back and forth we’d go but heading into lap 4 they both were fading into the distance ahead.  I had to get around this course one more time and I was hurting.  The lack of December skiing was clearly getting to me.  I broke the course down to uphills which were slowly killing me, and downhills, which I was enjoying.  The last time down the giant slalom hill was really fun, skiing outside the berm and passing a lapped skier and down to the flats.  Wait, Rick was pulling over!  Yes, he was rewaxing!  Boom.  That spurred me on.  Last time up Ruthies, shuffling along, surviving.  On one of the last uphills to the Center and there was Tristan again, rewaxing I guess.  But then he just ran by me and was gone.   I knew I had to keep it moving because Tom wasn’t far back.  And, finally, the finish.  Phew, that was another tough Craftsbury Marathon.  These things aren’t getting any easier!  My age group had done well ahead of me with Chris Osgood and Peter Harris having excellent days and so I was relegated to 3rd.   Frank Feist had an excellent day, sub-3 hrs. to come in first for CSU, while Hannah Smith, unbeknownst to me, was less than 30 sec. faster than me for 1st CSU woman and 6th overall.  John Sakalowski  was 2nd CSUer, also having a good day in a sub-3 effort, while Ari Ofsevit was 3rd CSU in 3:05.  Robert Faltus stormed around the course 10 min. ahead of me even with another fall, followed closely by Jimmy Burnham who couldn’t quite make up for the time rewaxing.  Tom Simon was just behind me, followed by Victor, Clinton, Ann Burnham, the only other CSU woman going the full distance, Tom Smith, Michael Melnikov and Jim Ellis, skiing his first full distance Craftsbury and looking darned good doing so.

In the 25 km Bob Burnham was first CSUer, followed by Gray Holmes.  Jody Newton was first CSU woman in the 25 km followed by Lisa Doucett, Ken Walker, Larry Berman and Sara Mae Berman.  


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jackson White Mt. Chase

It was a triumphant day for CSU once again at the Jackson 30 km (that was actually 22 km) as CSU men brought home first with the CSU women in 2nd in the annual NENSA one-day club championships.  Jackson had just enough snow to pull off the race, although a big windstorm earlier in the week had brought down debris everywhere on the course.  There were other obstacles, such as a few tree roots on Alice's Alley, the edge of some of the little wood bridges were devoid of snow and some vegetation sticking up.  But, with some snow that had fallen last week the skiing was acceptable, even though some of the tracks got washed out.  It wasn't icy and it wasn't too fast. Everyone was a little worried about the sheen on the snow as they drove to Jackson, all of us thinking maybe klister covered conditions, but hard wax turned out to be just fine.
CSU Men's Team

At the start things narrowed down very quickly to 2 tracks but with 1.5 laps of the field things seemed to get sorted out ok before we crossed the road and headed to Yodel.  I was trying to just maintain and not blow a gasket so early in the race chasing lots of people up the climb with Hannah Smith disappearing ahead, Bob Burnham passing and drifting away and Robert Faltus going back and forth.  Up on the flats I tried to just catch my breath and get in rythm before the 1st lap of the The Wave.  I wasn't climbing particularly well on the first couple climbs but my skis were fast.  Robert settled in behind me kind of like that deer fly that buzzes around your head running in the woods in the summer.  Things were shaping up to be a busy morning with a kid from Bethel and another guy with us and chasing Jim Fredricks and I knew a bunch of others were lurking not too far behind.  As we looped through the fields after the Wave I could see ahead Bob Burnham, Frank Feist and Hannah on different parts of the course.   On our second time up the Wave I felt like I was skiing better but I just could not dump Mr. Faltus.  There he was yo-yo ing back and forth with me as I focused on catching Fredricks.  Down on the fields again we picked up the pace significantly, realizing that I was running out of time before the final plunge down Yodel to the finish.  We were catching Fredricks and the other two guys, 4 of us together at the Eagle Mt. House turn, but Jim worked hard to gap us as we crossed the road.  On the last uphill I spazzed and went down on one hand with Robert right behind me and he allowed me to get untangled and back to herringboning as the chase resumed.  At the top of the hill Jim passed a tourer but I couldn't get around before the first downhill sections.  They guy went into a giant snowplow and I knew he would go down somewhere.....but where?  As we crested the top of the final downhill down he went, sprawling pretty much across the trail.  I dodged right, about 1 foot from his head as Robert had to jam on the breaks before he went around, giving me the gap I needed.  And while I closed on Fredricks I couldn't quite catch him and we were done, sking into a mass of fellow CSUers at the finish.  Hannah and finished 2nd woman, John Sakowlowski had won his age group and was 1st CSUer, and I won M7,   Lots of CSUers had joined in the fun such as Tom Simon, Chris, Bob, Ann and Jim Burham Clinton Kreuger, Lisa Doucett, Donna Smyth, Jody Newton, Tom and Amie Smith, Rob Bradlee, Robert Faltus, Victor Golovkin, Gray Holmes, Jim Ellis and Alex Ivanov, Sue LaChance and Sarah Gates.  Quite a crowd!

At the lunch and team awards the CSU women came in 2nd, missing Sara Mae Berman's valuable points from last year, but the men prevailed based on a 1 point tie-breaker over Northwest Vt thanks to Frank Feist and Ari Ovsevit's fine efforts.  A good day for CSU!  Rob, noted that the CSU effort was in memory of Charlie Kellog as he recounted Charlies love of skiing, racing and time with good friends.

Results can be found HERE.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

More Photos of MSA Time Trial

I already miss all this snow, so here are a few more photos from the time trial.  I will post all of them at:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

MSA Time Trial

It was cold, it was windy, it was snowy.  I sacrificed a few fingers.  First photo dump: