Tuesday Night Ice Racing

By my own subjective definition, one's life is pretty good when you get up on a Wednesday morning and realize, "crap, I haven't blogged in 4 days and now I'm 3 race reports behind." It's safe to say that I might "have a problem," but just like my "coffee problem" I've yet to figure out how it's anything less than totally awesome.

Maybe I can link ironically to this post when it's July and I'm blogging about how burned out I am.

Anyway, Tuesday was yet another Weston ski crit. After the weekend's torrential rain, the "snow" was rock solid, and for some reason Weston skipped their normal "till something skiable into utter crap" afternoon routine. The course was even icy and faster than usual, so cruising at a comfortable pace was easy, but going faster required more technique than fitness -- it was easy to flail and slip around a bunch without actually accelerating. In other words, it was a good day to be a technician with questionable fitness (me) and a bad day to be an aerobic animal with questionable technique (the masters).

Being February vacation week the field was a bit thinner than most weeks-- three of the regular heavy hitters were off with their families, so we had an easier start than usual. This time I managed to elbow my way into the draft after a mere half lap instead of the usual getting-squeezed-out-for-the-first-five-minutes nonsense.

Bret Bedard dropped everyone (also as usual) and then it became a tactical race between the chasing group of five. It was just too fast to break away, we were tearing across the gradual downhills at nearly 20 mph, I barely had to skate at all. On top of that the chase group was relatively small so the accordion wasn't even as strong as it could be, so no one except the guy leading was getting punished. For the first three (out of four) laps myself, Jon and Chris just kind of took turns at the front.

Leading was another story, nearing the end of lap 3 I'd been on the front for several minutes and realized that giving everyone a free ride to the finish sprint was not a sound strategy. With one to go I caught a break, the guy who initiated the move that dropped me last week came through (after doing nothing for the first 15 minutes) and once again the pace skyrocketed.

This time around I was ready to suffer, though, and there was only a lap left. We may have strung out and broken off one or two guys, but with 500m left Chris, Jon and I swarmed around him on the second to last downhill and Chris took the lead.

The last hill was utter chaos, we were lapping like 5 different people who were on all sides of the trail, so instead of making a move for the lead I could do nothing but try not to get tripped. Off the final hairpin turn I was still third, but going all out, and pulled up next to Jon just in time for us to kind of stumble into each other while trying to draft Chris.

We stayed untangled and I ended up in the draft on the last downhill, which basically gifted me the sprint, since I was able to tuck practically past him before I had to start skating. I rolled in for 2nd overall (since Bret was over a minute up) and some super-valuable 2nd place series points.

I really like skating on ice.

The Stowe Derby is this weekend. Expect the coolest Google Earth view yet.

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