Congrats to all of you skiers that I joined on the trail for another good Birkie.
As you know I skied classic again this year. Last year was a learning experience for me as it was my first classic Birkie after many years skating. I applied what I learned last year to have better grip on my skis. Overall I did a much better job on the trail too.
The Classic wave five group spread out quickly. Skiing and passing was easier this year. There was one little downhill around 15 k, I think, where I was gliding nicely but came to a pretty big group of folks barely moving and blocking the trail. I skied in the powder on their right and discovered the hill dropped down a short straight steep pitch. I couldn't understand why they were all standing there because no one was on the downhill. I let my skis continue to glide around the group and aimed them straight down the hill.
I made up my mind then and there to be more aggressive on the hills. I planned to ski them as I know how to do and not shy away from the steeper, curvy sections of trail.
Most of my race was a pleasant ski outing only a little longer. The bottom of the tracks were firm but the sidewalls gave way easily creating a kind of snaking sort of feeling. Downhills felt silky and smooth and my skis glided nicely allowing me to keep up with or pass many skiers. My grip was good too and I was able to ski up many more hills than I did last year. I never tired of herringboning this year because I did so little of it.
I managed to avoid any crashes but did see a few others who were not so lucky. The worst one was on the second to last downhill. This is after the 77 uphill and following downhill. The trail breaks out into the open, passes a little cabin on the right then goes down with a sharp right turn at the bottom. While I didn't see the guy crash, he must have had a good one. His glasses, hat, poles, gloves and other stuff were scattered all over the turn. I asked if he was all right as I went by and he said yes. But he definitely did the yard sale thing.
As I skied up the last uphill before Wheeler Road I passed a gal who was totally covered in snow. She also said she was ok. I wondered if the two skiers might have met on that turn?
From then on it was double pole and stride. First through a wide aisle between rows of trees, over a bridge, and onto Lake Hayward. The lake seems to go on forever but the time went by quickly. Before I knew it I was making the turn onto Main Street and skiing between huge crowds on the sidewalks on either side of the street.
Waxing Wrap Up:
I definitely improved my grip waxing this year. Last year I used the Toko Nordic Grip waxes with poor success. This ski season, I have focused on the more traditional waxes that I'm very familiar with. I'm sure you've ready some of my comments on Swix Blue Extra and Rode Super Blue. Also this year I relearned about Rex Power Grip.
I put everything I learned into play but also added some new stuff at he last minute.
The forecast for race day was a low around 20 at the start (Blue Extra?) and temperatures reaching 30 by the time I would most likely finish. It's a long 33.5 mile classic ski so I knew I'd need plenty of wax to maintain grip through out the race. Here's how I waxed my skis:
After cleaning them thoroughly and glide waxing the tips and tails withe Toko HF Red over Toko LF Gray, I lightly sanded my kick zone. As a binder I applied a thin layer of Rex Violet Power Grip. Since temperatures late in the race were forecast to be warm I put on three thin layers of Swix VR 45 (Violet). On top of that I warmed in and corked 6 layers of Swix VR40 (Blue Extra).
I got to Telemark long before by scheduled start time. So I was able to go over to the finish area of the Korte trail and test my wax. I liked what I felt. Nice smooth glide and plenty of grip even on the steeper hill. So I made no changes to my skis before starting.
My skis continued to work well until around 35 km. After skiing uphills on soft snow I was getting some ice buildup on my left ski. I tried to ignore this but after a while it got worse. So I stopped, scraped the stuck on snow off my skis and added more Swix VR 40. No more ice! The rest of the race went well.
In retrospect the VR 45 might have been unnecessary. I might even have used Blue Power Grip instead of Violet. I guess the snow didn't warm as much as I expected. If it had gotten warmer, though, I was prepared. All in all I was very pleased with how well my skis gripped and glided throughout most of the race.