This was the first race of the season for me as well as my first day on my new race skis. Overall, things went pretty well.
I left the house late in the morning so I could get stuff done and to let the plows clear the roads of the wintery mix that was coming down up north. It was a straight up downpour in southern New Hampshire. I’m getting pretty tired of all this December rain.
After getting up to Black Mountain I did some laps in the rain. My buddy Adam rode up as well. His skins failed after a single lap. The rain was too much for their worn out glue. By the end of a third lap and about 2,300 feet of vertical I was thoroughly soaked. Adam was “tapering” for the race. I wanted to get a workout, he wanted to beat everyone in the single lap race. My plan was to race a single lap and then take some photos afterwards while people were finishing up.
The rain subsided a bit and we helped set up the course. The Black Mountain crew actually came up with a groomer and made a big flat ramp in front of the Deck near the summit. It’s pretty amazing to watch those machines work. After he was done making a large transition zone he groomed out the entire downhill part of the course. We got to set up lights while gliding down perfect soft corduroy. Weeeeeeee!
The rain came back with a vengeance for the start of the race. I got started with the fast group of racers. Tristan, not sure about the spelling or his last name, took off like a rocket. He’s a regular at these events. He was closely followed by Josh in full skimo kit and Alex Leich. Adam and I trailed behind.
I trailed Adam the best I could. I was starting to feel the laps I did earlier in the day. I was impressed with Adam’s pace considering he was on much wider, heavier skis with skins that were ready to peel off at any moment. He’s a cardio beast. Tristan, Josh and Alex made quite a gap on us by the time we got to the transition zone. Adam got to the Deck first, maybe 10 seconds ahead of me. There was large crowd up there waiting: They were serving drinks and making a lot of noise. As Adam struggled with his skins I was able to transition my race gear very quickly and was out of there far ahead of him.
The run down was exciting. The previous laps on the new race skis were welcome since I was starting to get some confidence in the new gear. The rain was pelting my face, keeping my eyes scrunched. Halfway down I had a problem.
“My goggles fogged up! I can’t see anything!” I thought. But then I remembered I wasn’t wearing goggles at all and it was just super foggy.
I was skiing well down hill and pushing the new, stubby skis as hard as I dared, even tucking through the flatter sections, pretending like I knew what I was doing. The course ended with a steep downhill hump and a slight uphill. Not wanting to launch off the hump full tilt in the dark on lightweight plastic bindings, I took a more conservative line on the outside.
With maybe 50 feet until the finish line I saw Adam’s headlamp lighting up the finish in front of me. He had taken the faster line over the hump and managed to snake the finish, beating me by about 10 inches.
Son. Of. A. Bitch.
It was a fun race and great conditions despite the rain. I’ll take warm and rainy over frigid cold and icy. Andrew at Ski The Whites had a great turnout considering the rain. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the new skis.