After two straight weeks of Tuesday night no-shows it was time to get back to my pole-stomping ways out at Weston. The remarkably good winter continued and we got 3-5 inches of snow during the day, but of course this made for interesting commuting and racing.
The drive out wasn't dangerous, although what little faith I had in Bostonians' ability to drive in snow was ruined by a herd of 30 cars, having a contest on Route 2 to see who could be the most terrified of passing a salt truck. As a native Mainer -- who would pass a plow truck, on a double yellow line, in 8 inches of snow, in a rear-wheel drive pickup, with nothing in the bed, with a logging truck oncoming, uphill, to school (both ways) -- I was disgusted.
The next outlet for my misanthropy was Weston, who was presently addressing the new snow situation by driving their snowcat around at top speed with the tiller depth set on "oil well." This had the predicable result of turning 3 inches of soft new snow into 5 inches of a soft, ice/powder mix.
But -- it wouldn't be called Tuesday Night World Championships if it was easy, right? We lined up seventy-five skiers and headed straight into the 1.5-skaters-wide trail around the upper flats. I slotted in to about 12th place and started playing the "don't step on any poles" game. I knew I was dangerously far back, but there wasn't much to be done on a trail that narrow. Anna McLoon was even further back than me, so she started trying to move up in the narrow space next to the train -- she got past me, then the next guy, and right when I was thinking, "hey, that's working, I should do it" she got stepped on, and that was the end of that. Thanks to my lack of mental toughness, and excess of complacency, I decided to stay in 12th place and "see what happened," as if I didn't know exactly what that would be.
After we left the flats we entered the hillier part that snakes around the fairways, and on the first snowmaking-exaggerated climb we did a WICKED accordion, coming to a complete stop at the bottom. Over the top we didn't do the all-out sprint you might expect from that kind of accordion, which relieved me until I realized that was because the conga line had broken further ahead and the top six were skiing away.
Finishing up lap one I came around to the head of the chase group and hit Mt. Weston with as much fury as could be mustered in deep, loose granular. I gained a little gap over the chase group and decided that I was now making a "bridge attempt" to the leaders, who were probably only 10-15 seconds up the trail.
Ignoring everything I know about cycling I tried to bridge it steadily, and it was totally working until it stopped working. Somewhere on the back of the upper flats I stopped gaining on them and started hearing footsteps behind me. A good indicator that your bridge attempt is failing is when someone has successfully bridged to you.
It turned out to be Anna catching me and she immediately asked to lead. I had already decided that this was one of those unfortunate times when the race was behind me, so I was happy to take a ride. She was also tiring, though, so we made no further progress, and eventually two other guys from the former chase group made it back to us.
Nothing really changed until the end of lap three, of course, when business time got started with Dave Stamp* attacking with three fairways left to ski. Anna had been leading but seemed disinterested, so then Terry went after him, and I just chilled behind because, uh, skiing is painful. I can close that gap later.
Finally we crossed into the last sixty seconds of the race, where my "oh gosh this hurts" mental block gets lifted. I closed the gap back to Terry and Dave and then we had an awesome three-abreast drag race through lapped traffic and fresh powder to the final 180 turn. I narrowly squeezed them out to turn first, and get enough of a gap down the last hill to "comfortably" ski in for 7th place.
Unfortunately, I had claimed that "February is when I would have the fitness to throw down with the lead group," so I better get my act together next week!
* I was like, "why does the name "Dave Stamp" sound familiar?" and it turns out he's my second cousin (or maybe third, I dunno how you count that stuff). Weird.
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