I skied the Bluestem Trail at Bird’s Hill last Sunday and I drove to Portage and skied some of the Bittersweet trails at Rossendale yesterday. I had problems both days, and it has been a struggle. I am not as fit as I was in the fall, and it gets worse each week. The cycling dropped off in October, and I have not maintained the same level of activity. As Mike says, a weekly game of shinny without proper conditioning and stretching hurts and inspires a week of inactivity. It doesn’t cut it.
Two weeks ago, I skied with my sister Joyce and her husband Joe at Rossendale on a day when the temperature was about 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. That left the snow wet, and it froze to crystal when the temperature dropped. It snowed late in the week, and the fresh powder on the ice was deep enough for a good surface. Last Saturday I scraped and cleaned my skis, and used the Toko Red Hard Wax for glide. The forecast was that the temperature would rise to about -7 on Sunday. It didn’t get that warm. I think the high was -13 or something close. I skied Bluestem last Sunday and I was worn out. The tracks were worn before they iced over. The powder gave a decent glide but the wide track allowed a lot of sideslipping and some wobbling. I think my wax was wrong – the glide could have been better. The icy surface under the powder was rock hard and planting the poles was like driving nails. I was worn by the end.
Yesterday, the glide was fine but I did not have good grip. The temperature was about -3 or -4. The forecast had been for about -7 and, I was still using the Toko Red hard wax and at that temperature the yellow hard wax would have been better. But it’s hard to decide whether to scrape and wax when the weather is so unpredictable. I used Swix blue for kick and it was ok on level ground but there are a lot of climbs. I had a poor kick which left me with a very contained, shuffling stride. I should have put on some red or purple but I toughed it out. The powder over ice made for some fast runs and there was barely enough fresh powder for a decent snowplow descent into some sharp turns … However the Omega loop at the end has a couple of great runs and I had a fast finish, gliding nearly all the way for the last half a kilometer.
The trip to Portage was scary again and I kept the speed under 90 most of the way. There was a strong north wind blowing across the Trans-Canada, and there were stretches in which the snow was binding to the road surface and polished by traffic, and there were drifts, especially in the approaches and exits on the Portage bypass. With the temperatures near the freezing point, and the sunshine coming and going, the polished snow was turning to ice and the drifts were hard and heavy – not fluffy powder as drivers might assume. I saw a number of vehicles in the ditch, some overturned. This morning I read that there were 10 fatalities in 4 or 5 car accidents around the province over the weekend. The roads were as dangerous as they appeared to me. They seem dry and safe for several kilometers, but there are slippery spots and you can’t slow down and control the car that well after you hit one.