Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dogtooth Dash and Vert 180

I apologize to my regular readers for the delay, I just have not been very motivated to write when there is TV to be watched, Facebook feeds to be scrolled through, and bikes to be ridden.

This year, the Dogtooth Dash began a day early with a vertical race. Having sat out the vertical race at world championships last year, this would be my first crack at the format that favours efficiency and power rather than technique and fearlessness (other than laying it on the line!)

The race started with the usual mad dash on some appropriately angled terrain, then the course hit a steep wall! I was actually doing quite well here, relying on skinning technique (keeping those skis flat on the snow rather than edging), getting in a good rhythm and being able to go max out JUST to get up the hill! Then as the course crested onto the 10 road cat track, the angle lessened and classical diagonal stride technique became very important. I broke the instep buckle rivet on my boot trying to get a good kick and glide going. I put in a strong effort, and had a really good sprint in the run towards the finish, but lost some ground on the flatter sections. Looks like I'll have to spend some time on the classic sticks next winter. Roller skis? Mmmmmmaybe...

Nice and sunny at the finish.
The next day was the main event. I felt like I had recovered well from the vertical race the day before but a hard effort had taken the very top end out of my legs. This actually led me to race with a different strategy, rather than starting out hard and blowing up, I would just race at a reasonable pace. Now I'm a big believer in the slingshot effect of getting a good start and then recovering, but oh well, let's give this one a go!
I was feeling good and sitting well but suffered on the leadup to the tunnel vision bootpack roughly halfway into the race. After having the race of my life and finishing 3rd last year in just another highlight of a wonderful season, I was in tough shape. My mind was tormented with thoughts of self doubt, emotion from an event that happened the previous weekend, that had me really questioning why I had been burning vacation days, weekends, and dinosaur turds to head to these races. Then on the next climb I looked up and could see that the battle for 3rd place was not too far ahead and I was just a skin failure (not unrealistic with dry snowy conditions and lots of transitions) or blowup away from really being in race. I'll take that as a consolation prize for this Weekend Warrior.

With a flawless transition and excellent skiing on the last descent, I really lit a match under the wick of those in front of me and I was ready to battle for the next couple of spots. I didn't have much left to make the catch, but I was happy with that.
So yeah, definitely feel like there is some work to do to get back to the level that I think I can race at: I've got to get more intimate with staircases and XC skis.

A couple of weeks later was the Vert 180, rescheduled after being postponed in December due to cold weather. Normally this race is a great time to work on transitions and get 3hrs of hard effort to kick off the season. Now moved to the end of the season, where my mind was craving spring skiing and rest and I had no reason to practice transition skills that I would not need for 9 months, I was not terribly motivated.

But with the sun shining, soft snow, and my sleeves rolled up, I actually enjoyed racing on last time this season. We bombed down the slalom pitch which got icier and icier as the night progressed. I settled into 2nd position. Travis was untouchable, not even a broken boot cable and stopping to fetch a Voile strap could allow me to reel him in. The course got faster as the night approached and the snow froze. I felt like I was able to maintain a good cadence the whole time and so I can say that I had a lot more fun than I thought that I would have.

So a great season capped off. I've got my work cut out for me if I want to hang with the lead group next year!