Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nordic Flurry race report

I have been meaning to post about the build up and race for some time.Its getting a bit old, but here goes! Click on photos for full size.

A week before the Nordic Flurry I found some new Fischer SCS Racing Classic skis on ebay for only $99.00. I had some used bindings so I set about putting the bindings on at work with a t-square, drill press and a numbered bit. For not having a jig and a first time I think it went well.

They are waxable and since I didn't own any kick waxes yet I was always bumming wax from everyone and never putting on enough. And I had one week or 2 sessions to get up to speed on Classic skis. That meant improve my kick and learn to double pole. The Wednesday before the race Bob Schneider and I went to Chapin and I worked on kick and double poling (DP) and made huge improvements (thanks to Youtube and asking racers for advice).

I tore my mcl in PA last winter double poling and it was because I was doing it all wrong. So you say how can you fall double poling? Well if you raise up too straight and basically throw your upper body weight and head up you can fall. OK, I can fall which I did often. At the end of the session I was flying (by my standards) across the flats DP so i was happy and went home. I found my center of gravity is the best way to describe it and could really pull hard with my poles and unweight my skis for a nice acceleration.

The topic in emails Thursday was the warm-up Friday and boy did it wreak havoc on Chapin's trails. Race day came and the tracks were ice and the paths were solid packed with no powder and it was cold (teens). Coach Tom and Coach Jim went out an different waxes as did I and climbing was almost impossible. Like skating in an ice rink with a hill. Descending was wild too. Fast, but scary or fun and scary. Both descriptions work for me.

It was determined that a special Klister was required and Bob and I went to applying it on my skis, but in the rush to get the Hilltopper Track Attack racers to the start line (Sameer, Gautum, Lauren, Erin and Jenn) and the difficulty of spreading cold Klister on cold skis we applied probably less than a 1/3rd the coverage that was required. I didnt know it at the time.

We line up and Rudy Sroka is next to me and were shivering as we chat. I remark about the low points of Cyclo-cross dress (not enough to stand around). Finally the race starts and I am a bit slow and I play head games already.I know I can dbl pole faster, but I dont because I am afraid of falling in front of everyone. But I get a decent start and follow Olga, Coach Jim and Rudy after they pass me to the first hill on Ruffled Grouse.

In my inexperience I dont realize that in these icy conditions its all about DP, but I watch Olga, Rudy and Jim and they dont quit DP so I keep alternating between kicking and DP to the hill. My wimpy cyclist arms dont propel me too fast too if I don't use my legs and core to help.
photo kellyM
Once to the hill that whole bunch leaves me in the dust. I am slipping so badly that I end up slowing to a crawl to herringbone up the initial steep curves. I catch up to Jim and another racer mid-way and find I can go quicker in the tracks and I repass Jim and then we climb the very steep little hill up to Arbor Lane and up arbor lane.
photo KellyM
when I top out around the bend Rudy and Olga are nowhere in sight and its pretty quiet behind so I just try and get in a rhythm. I am not even to the right turn to start the loop and Michael Schaeffer and another skier are descending back to the Arbor Lane hill right at me!! Holy Klister and skill batman!!
photo KellyM

On the way back towards Arbor Lane Jim catches me so I try and bomb the descent to the sharp corner and I get a bigger gap because I am on waxable skis (at least I got the glide wax right) and Jim chose waxless. I have to beat Jim down Arbor Lane and basically be in his way up Par Course because hell beat me down the icy par Course descent with his much better skills.

So we get to the corner and I try to treat it like a good grip day and only snow plow once into the corner around the apex. I am ok, but then I fixate on the hay bale as I push wide on exit from too much speed, not enough skill and just like in mountain biking where they warn you to never stare at the tree or rock, I stare at the bale and run right into it. As I am trying to get up Jim fixates on me and narrowly misses getting caught in my skis, but gets by clean and is gone. I know in theory how to rail that corner at full speed. I just lack the cast iron cahonies to try it.

I fly down Arbor Lane, make the so slippery corner to the par Course loop and again crawl up the steep icy hill to the top.

The descent down par Course is as expected-very slippery, but I try and slow as little as possible for all of the corners and even drop into the tracks for the straighter section. I remember thinking how stupid fast I was going in the tracks with a corner at the bottom and thinking "is this wise?" But I am able to negotiate the corner but fall at the very bottom on the exit of one of the last sharp corners. Just a silly slow lose your balance deal and right back up. The descent was deemed too dangerous after our race and was eliminated for the 10k skate race.
photo SharonH
A couple flat 180's to go so I try and limit my losses and go as hard as I can for the line and finally I DP like I know I can and finish almost 2 minutes faster than last year. The funny thing was last year those Touring rental skis I used had grip out the wazoo to climb. I could run uphill like I had spiked tennis shoes on, but those things wouldnt glide at all on the descents. This year I had no grip to climb and flew on the descents.

Congrats to all my buddies and racers who attended this very icy Nordic Flurry. It was a challenging day to say the least. But a fun day too as witnessed by the smiles all around.

HIlltoppers Ready to Race

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