As snow is being blown with gale force winds across Los Alamos on this last day of the month, I bring you the february motion update.
The hard numbers are as follows: 6 miles run, 198 miles bike.
Not too bad, especially considering the epic winter continuing. All but thirty miles on the studded tired singlespeed mountainbike. The other thirty were on the picnica. Thus I am now at 304 miles for the year all on single speeds. All the milage was pretty much utilatarian, almost all commuting to work, which I was a 100% successful in doing this month. During the last 2 weeks the offroad commute options have started to open up, so I have been able to extend the commutes a bit longer and have a little more fun on the route. I still have quite a bit of ice on the non-road parts of the commute as well, most in the first half mile, including an exciting 100 meter stretch of snow-dammed trail that freezes into a mini skating rink stretch. I am still pretty glad to be riding the studded tires, although they are still too narrow. Are you listening Nokian?
I did go xc skiing 8 times this month, and ice skating at lunch about 6 times. Not too shabby. I am going to say that translates into at least 150 miles of bike replacement, so I will predict I will be close to 350 miles next month, as winter slowly tails off, and recreational biking replaces the ski and skating.
The running was crap, but I really don't care at this point in my life. 18 miles for the year. Wooo! One nice run at the beginning of the month, and thats it. I am sort of planning on doing a duathlon at the end of april as it is hard for me to resist races that are local and it is pretty fun, but I really need to get on the running for that to happen.
So like I sez before, Elena and I headed up to the far reaches of northern New Mexico last weekend so I could go try to blow my heart up using skis as opposed to the usual biking or running based explosion. The race is one of the longer running xc ski races in the known universe. Well at least it is the ONLY xc ski race in NM and has been going on for 34 odd years, so it is an oldy. Classic race, 10 and 5k options, I did the 10k. It was my first xc ski race ever.
We got up there saturday afternoon, checked in the motel, grabbed some greezy eats in a smokey saloon and then headed up to the course to check it out. Turns out the race was actually just over the border in Conejos County Colorado. As we arrived we saw our friends Clay and Dina finishing the grooming of the course. The race site was up in a big meadow in the top of the mountain and had never been groomed. So Clay spent ten hours or so getting the 5k loop packed in and a classic track set, while Dina ran around on snow shoes shoveling holes in where the trackster done buried itself in the soft snow. Clay's race/grooming report is here. The race would not have happened without Clay and Dina's epic efforts so Thanks Pals.
Anyhow, Elena and I strapped on the skis and skid about for a bit as the sun went down. It was a really beautiful area.
Elena and I preskiing: click for big
We only skied around for an hour, but it was nice to see some of the course, but it reinforced my decision to run touring skis. The conditions were soft turning to icy and the hills were alot steeper than anything I have skied before. I made the decision to run my touring skis as I have never been on waxable classic skis and did not have a pair nor the time to get through the learning curve on using em. I am was pretty glad to have the control and surety of grip afforded by the wider skiis at the expense of some (ok a shit ton, read on) of speed. For the viewing pleasure of those of you with fast internet connections. I also crashed once on film coming down the climb, a harbinger of the race the next day.
After the pre-ski, Elena and I headed to dinner at the High Country Restaurant with Dina, Clay, the race promoters and two fast pro women skiers, Kristina and Martina. The food was really good for dinner. It was loud and a tad smoky there too, but thats what you get on the northern frontier I guess. Maybe we will have a statewide smoking ban by next year. All I could hear was clay talking in my ear, so I lost all the subtleties of other conversation, other than Kristina telling someone in Swedish accented english, "If there are rocks, I will just send my skis to get reground". Ah, the pro life...
Anyhoo, after a night in the motel watching too much tv (I finally convinced Elena to watch WWE wrestling with me. It is hard to explain how bad it used to be which was good and how much worse it is now, which is good I guess, but in a much different way), we got up a sane hour and headed back to the High country restaurant for race sign in and the $4 prerace pancake breakfast. I downed some pancakes, beans, eggs and green chili skipping the extensive breakfast meat part of the pancake breakfast. I signed in and then we drove up to the race site.
The race is traditionally a free for all, with people of all abilities and all equipment showing up. Ranging from pro and collegiate racers to kids and grandparents on back country skis. The race had a hotly contested wooden ski class as well.
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As well as people in all sorts of different skiing outfits.
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So I warmed up a bit, watched some of the fast people warm up. Figured out how to kick double pole while watching which I used to good effect in the start.
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The course was as follows: A nice wide flat start followed by a BIG stair stepped uphill and then a big scary stair step downhill and then some rolling stuff and then a nice long steady climb on a railroad grade (steep for a railroad grade, the narrow gauge Cumbres and Toltec Scenic railway), followed by some sketchy short downhill, a looooong smooth downhill and then rolling stuff back to the start.
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The start was chaotic, just like a mountain bike race, but with pokey poles flying everywhere. 75 or so people were on the start line. I lined up a bit behind the fast folks, but the line was pretty wide and there were a pile of slower folks on the far reaches of the front. I ended up double poling my way around lots and lots of slow people and got I a pretty decent position by the climb. I did that happy little classic ski v-run up the hill, passing a few more people and then getting very stuck behind a guy who was ineffectively skate skiing up the hill. As I got held up I looked across the meadow and saw the first group bombing down the hill on the other side. I pushed my way by skate skiing guy and V-ran up the last bit of the hill and saw I had a wicked huge gap on the people behind me.
Snaking up the big climb after the start: click for big
I skied through the false flat speedily and then started at the top of the hill and half snowplowed my way down the terrifying hill. As I reached the bottom of the last bit, I could see a runout so I let the skis ride and then promptly crashed hard face forward as got all akimbo on the rough transition between hill and no hill. I hit decently hard on my chest and knocked my sunglasses off. I spent a humorous 30 seconds that seemed like 5 minutes on my hands and knees attempting to pick up my glasses with my hands which were inhibited by having the ski poles strapped to them. When I finally put my glasses on I looked up to see three or four barely in control people barreling down the hill toward me. I kind of tucked and rolled out of the way and let them pass, and then struggled to my feet as a bunch more people passed by.
I got going pretty quickly, but it took me awhile to get back into my lame classic rhythm as my breathing was a bit out of whack. I caught and passed a few people (mostly on backcountry skis) and started slowly closing in on the group in front that contained my friend Paul, annoying skate ski guy and a couple others. I made good headway on the long climb up the railroad grade and got within 30 seconds of the tail end of the group in front. On the short steep hill at the top of the long downhill I kind of snowplowed a bit too much and then looked up and the group ahead of me was gone. They all zipped down the steep hill and rocketed across the meadow. I was reduced to poling hard to keep my speed up. And that was my race. 2k into a 10k race everyone ahead of me used their fast skis and downhill skills to crush me and I was stuck in a no mans land for the rest of the race.
It was really similar to my first mountainbike race. Lousy start-did well on the long fire road climb-got smoked on the singletrack downhill and that was it.
The rest of the race, I worked on maintaining my technique and I lapped a bunch of the slower folk on the second laps. I was a big wimp on the downhills as I was not really racing near anyone and did not want to crash hard again. I had a few mild spills trying to pass lappee's on the softer part of the course, but overall it went pretty well. I got a great workout and had a good time. I finished the 10k in 1:10, 17th out of 25 in the 10k. Race results here.
Some lessons for next race: 1. I was overdressed by one layer on top. I wore a wool tank, a long sleeve light wicky shirt and then a long sleeve cycling jersey. I also wore a light wool cycling cap. I got hot enough that I bailed on the hat and stuffed it my jersey pocket (no mean feat, see two below). Then I got a bit too much sun due to the wide open 10,000 foot meadow. I should have just gone with the jersey and tank and a visor instead of the hat.
2. In addition to not being able to pick up my glasses I found it impossible to retrieve my water bottle from my jersey pocket while strapped to my poles. I will get one of those oh-so stylee fanny water bottle holders all the cool skiers have. I only drank once during the race and given the overdressing, I was pretty darn dehydrated by the end.
3. I guess I probably need to get some skinny waxable classic skis, I am pretty sure they were good for at least 5 minutes over the two laps, maybe more. I also need to not crash or wimp out as much, but no biggy. I think with different skis and a bit more practice with classic skiing I could break an hour pretty easily. Something to shoot for next year.
A pretty great race if you live in NM or southern Colorado. The new race directors seem pretty dedicated to getting the race to the 100-200 participant level and maybe getting it to be a part of the colorado cup race series next year. Chama is a pretty neat little village, and the narrow gauge railroad looks like it should be a blast to take up into colorado later this year. More train pictures this week.
So through an elaborate system of pullies and levers I discovered that Rick Hunter or some Hunter affiliates are blogging away there in NorCal. See here. Great stuff. Rick is a really talented framebuilder and fabricator and makes very sweet fillet joints. He is a swell feller. He is also very dedicated to racing and the underground racing scene there in the greater Santa Cruz empire. Here is one of the photos from his blog from the recent County line singlespeed race. I love the photo as it could have been any underground singlespeed race in the last decade or so, and if you squint a bit, it could have been any race in santa cruz in the last 30 years:
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Gosh I miss those crustycup and santa cruz singlespeed races. I never made the county line race, but I did a few other huntercentered singelspeed extravaganzas that were just swell, really. I may dig up some old race reports when the mood strikes.
Also a nice photo of a recent custom Rick brazed up: click for source
Yes, here is where I get to say "kicking it old school" yet again. Please check out the stem carefully. Yarg.
A few pics from a couple weeks back on long run on the snowy perimeter trail.
Here is me in front of the well lit footyhills. No need to comment on the tights, the local HS kids are helpful and rarely miss an opportunity to yell insightful things like "nice tights" or "nice ass" or "capital knockers" some such and then guffaw heartily: click for big
A bit earlier in the run was this nice boulder with burnt tree with the northern los alamos scape in the background. The tree burnt in the cerro grande fire. The boulder is likely a volcanic bomb, yo. click for big
The tree was festooned with little woodpeckers that were increasingly irritated that I did not continue running along. They would not hold still for a photo, but at one point there were at least 10 maybe 20 in a small area. By the time I took some zoomed photos there were only a few shreiking stalwarts left: click for big
6" of new powder today requires a double shoveling, morning and night. Wink256 likes to help and can negotiate shoulder high powder if necessary.
Most of the snow came down today. It was just warm enough to keep the roads wet and crappy during the day, and snowy slushy and treacherous at night, so to avoid freaked out driving amateur hour, I took my old offroad commute home. It has been mostly unridable since early january, but I was hoping that last week, which was very warm, would have taken care of most of the snow. Nope, no luck. There was 1-2 feet of old snow with 6 inches of powder on top of it. The old snow was almost crusty enough to ride, but the rides were a few hundred feet at most punctuated by sinking up to the hub. This is where studded tires fail miserably. They are far too narrow to make riding on deeper snow possible. I reiterate these tires need to be at least 55mm in width, maybe more to be truly extreme. On the plus side, I have 300 or so miles on them this winter and they probably have allowed me to not crash on ice at least once every 10 miles or so.
I hiked/rode for an hour home in the snow. I will attempt to do it again tomorrow to commit to beating a ridable path.
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I had some spectacular snow build up on the bike today. There was a phantom chainring that formed on the left crank arm. A large disc of snow that turned as I pedaled. It fell off just before I got home, but it was there almost all day.
It just started, and I am getting the club board up to speed on blogging so we can have fast timely updates on events and such to complement our soon to be overhauled website, which has more info on the club...
So far, mostly good for the pics, like the spiffy classic track seen here:
Anyhow, we have a really dedicated small group of locals who maintain the trails and keep the club going year after year, so please come on by use the trails and join the club. We need your help.
I went skate skiing today and got my heart rate into the blood near squirting from my eyes zone by trying to follow one of our more experienced racers. He was able to cruise along at a low effort, while I did the retarded sailor monkey skate hop behind him inefficiently putting myself into the red zone. I am getting much better at it, but it will be a while before I can skate ski and talk while going uphill, and most of our trails are uphill, except when they are downhill and I yardsale. The conditions ranged from delicious slushy trails to newly groomed beautiful corduroy. Good stuff. It is raining like crazy in town right now, which I am hoping translates to a foot or so of new stuff up there on the mountain to keep us skiing into march.
I think I have enough bike detritus to sell that I should be able to cover this as an addition to the fleet (in addition to the other possible planned hauling bike, more later). I was in Santa Fe yesterday and stopped by the cool lbs and confirmed they can order one for us. They even called QBP to get the dope. July maybe August maybe more. OK, I can wait. I am guessing that a late summer arrival means I will have it rolling by next winters storms.
If you are confused as to the purpose of said bike, see what snaps onto the bike at Xtra Cycle and some uses of it over on sconnyboy, here and here, or just google image search xtracycle.
Glahg, dummy, drooool.
Earlier last year I was planning to get a 29'er front end from Kelly Bike's final inventory and to build my own longtail as a project, but the reality of torch storage and time balanced poorly against the announcement of the big dummy at interbike last year, so Big Dummy ahoy.