Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Alex Takes 2nd at NENSA Rollerski Hill Climb

Since I know you guys are into race reports, whatever the season, I figured I'd regale you with tales of my expedition to VT this past weekend.

NENSA started these rollerski races last year, after V2 donated many pairs of matched rollerskis. The top-ranked competitors get to use the skis, to make the race as fair as possible. The course started with a gradual climb/false flat for ~7km, then it went steeply uphill for another 3k. When I say steeply uphill, I mean STEEPLY uphill. The middle section of this uphill was recently repaved, but the top section had plenty of cracks and gravel occurrences to throw off a tired skier's rhythm. Here is the gmap route of the course, complete with elevation gain (about 1000 ft): http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2077702.

The girls started about 5 seconds after the guys, and the big guns were Ilke Van Genechten (last year's overall winner), Katrina Howe (17th at NCAAs last year) and Keely Levins, an up-and-coming junior skier. Keely was leading, with all of us skiing in a train behind her
up the first climb. Then the course flattened out and Ilke took off like a shot. It took me a second to realize I had to go with her, or else the pain of chasing up the hill would be unbearable, so I went off after her, and it took about a km to catch up. Once I did, we traded leads for a while, trying to put more distance on the other girls.

Although it was only 70 degrees, it was so humid that I was projectile sweating. I was a little worried that I was working so hard on the flat, it felt like entirely too much work to be going this fast on what looks like a flat (until you see the elevation profile), but thank god for the volunteers with water just before the climb. We turn onto the climb and Ilke puts an immediate 5-ft gap on me. I needed just one more downhill before we started climbing... oof. For most of the climb I felt good, controlled and comfortable, but the last two steep pitches were getting ugly. I staggered around the road for a while before my head could take over again and force a quicker
tempo, but the damage was done, and Ilke was out of reach. It was a tough race, but definitely a rewarding one! The next race is up in Jericho, on the paved ski trails.

Alex Jospe

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