Ever since I moved up here, it's been a mystery why at least a few CSUers don't show up for the Derby. I know Holderness and Hanover are a lot closer, but when the conditions are decent, which they have been for the past seven years, this has to be one of the coolest races in NE. You owe it to yourselves to do it at least once. why? For starters, the field is huge--over 700 skiers--so for a fair-to-middling skier like me that means the novel experience of passing a fair number of people. Then there's the immense novelty of plummeting downhill for 4K, then rolling basically downhill for another 3K before hitting your first real uphill. Finally, there are tons of people out there lclanging cowbells and cheering you on--especially on the big corners along the Toll Road. It's basically a big party.
This year, I had the good fortune of rocket skis for the skate leg, Star F-1 being the magic ingredient. Then, too, I had Trina Hosmer right ahead the whole way down, so I always knew from her slight snowplowing when the turns were coming up. I drafted her for a little while when we went into the woods, then passed her and urged her to stay with me, which she couldn't quite manage. On the steep uphills I found single-sticking got me up faster than the V-! diehards, so I passed some people that way. Then came the long flat section with the Stowe bike path where I ended up working with Jessie Donovan, the eventual winner of the women's skimeister award. I rarely take turns drafting for that long, but it worked beautifully. I didn't mind in the least when she whizzed past me with 200 meters to go.
The classic leg was more problematic. I will never again perceive waxless skis as some sort of magic bullet for this event. They really are optimal only in a small range of conditions and simply don't deliver decent kick in soft powder. Then, too, the arms died with about 3K to go, so I went to the abs, used the arms as stabilizers, and tried to stay smooth. Trina roared past me on the bike path, and her husband Dave made up all the ground I gained in the skate leg to beat me by 40 seconds in the skimeister division. That said, it was a terrific day to be a Nordie. As I progressively master the logistic challenges of this event (two pairs of skis, two sets of warmups, getting back up the mountain in time for the second start, etc.), I enjoy it more every year.