Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gunstock Winter Triathlon Race Report

I think it's time to face the fact that I can't cross country ski race worth beans anymore. The less of a "real" ski race it is, the better I do. Mass starts are good for me. Ski-O is good for me. Drafting on a flat course at Weston is good for me. And winter triathlon is definitely good for me.

The only drawback to the winter tri is that it requires running. Real running, none of this 6-steps-with-a-bike-and-remount business. In related news, my knee still hurts and it's Wednesday! Hooray!

Last year it was five degrees out and we did the run and bike on the same course. The runners chewed it up and the bike leg was really hard, so this year they split the courses for about 50% of the distance. This bummed me out, because if I had my way we'd drop the run and ski from this event and just make people race bikes through loose snow. And Alec Petro would win by an hour.

But, it turns out that at a race time of 27 degrees, packed snow doesn't hold together at all, and all the major climbs were on the run/bike shared course, so it was SUPER HARD RIDING. Yes!

I lined up at the back because I stink at running, and wanted nothing to do with the actual racers. But then we started off and people around me were jogging, and we were going down a hill. Dudes! It's a race! Like, you have to actively work to run slowly down a hill, gravity WANTS you to let it rip!

This may be related to why my knee hurts.

I "let it run" and started moving up through the field. Sweet. I discovered that if you get close to the edge of the trail, you go busting through the groomed-but-not-compressed corduroy and end up knee-deep in snow in a drainage ditch. Technical!

For some reason I ended up being oddly competitive by my standards on the run. I'm thinking it's because of that one twenty-minute jog I did last week, which is infinitely more run training than I did for this race last year. Plus, the run was shortened a k from last year to 4k (yeah, it sounds like nothing, try it on loose snow and hills), so I "only" lost 4 minutes to the leaders on the run.

Then I switched shoes and went tearing out of T1 in 18th overall, cross-mounted like a pro and went hauling across the stadium because IT'S SNOW BIKING TIME! (Bitches!)

The bike course starts with a little dip and then a little right-hand bend, and you better believe I was in the big ring and totally stoked. The guy in front of me crashed on the corner, and a lesser man might have braked, or at least stopped pedaling. But not me. I just kept cranking and headed for the outside. Can you tell I haven't raced a bike in 6 weeks?

Of course the traction wasn't that good, so I drifted a bit more than I expected, but it's all good, because I'm gonna make it through this turn with about a foot to spare between my tire and the edge of the grooming. Wait, what happened when I tried to run in a spot like that??

And BAM, my front tire dropped straight through the corduroy, hub-deep, stopped dead, and I f-ing launched over the bars. I made it a good five feet in the air before landing on my back, snow down my back, snow in my gloves (which weren't all the way on yet, whoops). AND IT DIDN'T HURT AT ALL! So I ran back to my bike and tried to pretend I didn't just yardsale like an overzealous tool and got the hell out of there before anyone else could see what happened.

Lap one of the bike course was awesome. I rode everything, although some of the hills were climbed with plenty of rear wheel slippage at what would be charitably called "walking pace." Whatever, I'm on the bike! It counts!

This is right before I crashed my face off. See how my left glove isn't really on? Filling it with snow didn't help.
Up ahead I could see Paul Curley, and he beat me here last year and just won his 900th national championship on a bike, so I was pretty excited to realize that I was gaining on him. I realize some age-ists will say that beating a 55-year-old is not a blogworthy accomplishment, to which I say: Jonny Bold! Kevin Hines!

I came up behind Paul going into the gnarliest downhill on the lap, it was steep, fast, with a big turn, and torn up from a hundred runners descending it. Paul jackknifed a little bit, corrected, headed off in the ditch, corrected AGAIN, RODE HIS TOP TUBE FOR 20 METERS, and saved it. That's how you win stars-and-stripes jerseys, kids. Always sacrifice the family jewels for speed.

Impressed by his fortitude I redoubled by efforts and pulled ahead as the bike leg drew to a close. With the course now full of "bikers" (many were walking), the hills were unrideable for the non-Alec-Petro crowd, and my calves were LIT UP from running while pushing the bike to stay ahead of Paul. That's ok, I'm sure they'll get a break on the ski. It's not like last year they cramped for the entire hill on lap two.

Ending the bike leg I had moved up to 5th, which was awesome except for the fact that left very few "easy pickins" ahead of me on the ski. If I wanted places I was going to have to work for it. The horror.

The ski leg starts downhill, so I felt great skating down it while putting on my poles. Oh yeah, I'm gonna rock this. Then it was flat for a bit, so I V2'ed and concentrated on my technique. Feelin' good.

Then I hit the first climb, and I think my calf twinged on the first V1 pushoff I did. Seriously, body? I abuse you mercilessly for 50 minutes, doing sports you don't train for, and this is how you repay me? With cramps? That's not even original.

Lap one of the ski leg was pretty ugly. If I skied awkwardly and didn't push off much, I didn't cramp. I tried to cover for my legs with UPPER BODY POWER, but of course I was smoked from the Jackson 30k the day before, so my arms just laughed when I said it was up to them to get us to the finish.

Unlike last year, I definitely didn't "negative split" or "ski into it." By lap two both my calves were shot, but they weren't cramping so much as humming. It was a totally unique malfunction, at least to me. It didn't even feel like my lower leg was part of my body, it was just a bone with a bag of sand attached to it. Well, but the sand kinda moved around with a mind of it own when I pushed off.

After a while I made peace with the situation, despite the bizarre feeling I wasn't actually on the verge of my legs locking up, so I could make solid progress as long as I ignored that my calves had been replaced by squirrels, fighting to escape my ski suit.

If you don't believe that my legs felt weird, leave a comment, maybe I can get Thom P to come up with "better" metaphors to describe it. Shit was whack. But I was almost done, thank god.

At the end I caught Matt Boobar, who was also skiing like a broken man. With a k left I decided that I was probably the less broken man, so I "attacked" to the best of my ability and got in at least 3 or 4 skate strides before cramping. Victory! Well, 4th place. Turns out Kurt Perham was hiding out just 40 seconds up the trail for the entire ski leg, but I never saw him. And Alec Petro and Ryan Kelly (no, not that one) were already back at the finish line eating massive brownies.

But anyway, 4th place! So much better than Jackson. I don't even know why I ski race anymore. My fragile ego needs more winter triathlons. Linnea rebounded even better, by placing 12th, winning the women's race, and beating the entire women's field by ten minutes on the bike leg.

Hopefully the fact that this race was SUPER FUN came through in this race report. If you're reading this blog, you're probably a biker, the run hardly matters (seriously), and I just taught you to skate ski. So I'll see you there next year? You won't regret it.
Uberdorky scatter plot of split times. Notice that the run times are clustered much tighter, and the bike leg is actually the most spread out. If you can snow bike, you will do well here. Hint, hint, averaage-blog-reader!

Monday, January 25, 2010

White Mountain Classic 30k Race Report

Relative to last week's Geschmossel, waxing for the White Mountain 30k up in Jackson was pretty damn easy. Everyone pretty much agreed that a heated-in hardwax binder was the way to go, cover it with the kick wax of your choosing, and you'd be good to go.

So of course I went with a klister binder, because gosh, I'm so frightfully clever!

The reasoning was, my upper body is weak, and I love striding with bomber kick. Thus I should set myself up with awesome kick. And I did have awesome kick... but it turns out that climbing a hill with great kick is only about 5% easier than climbing it with bad kick. And having slow skis for a course with a lot of double-poling (a.k.a. every non-FIS classic race in the world) is really tiring and demoralizing.

So I trudged around for 30k thinking about how stupid I was.

As usual, I lined up conservatively deep in the field, because it's a 30k and I wanted to start slow. But then the gun went off, and I remembered holycrapitsaracegettothefront! In my defense, Hannah Dreissigacker, the eventual women's winner, passed me at about the 0.2k mark, and it set off all my "you can usually ski with the fastest woman" alarms that were based on doing marathons in March. Turns out in January, I can't actually ski with the women's leaders, but damned if I didn't try.

The other problem is that moving up is FUN! Every time a track opened up I would jump it to it an accelerate, because I'm good at skiing, right? I sure felt good at skiing. My brain would never lie to me.

I knew I was good at skiing because I easily passed a whole bunch of masters that I ordinarily struggle to beat on the first long climb. Me and my klister binder, we are so good at skiing! Granted I was working really, really hard at the 2.5k mark of a 30k, but that's ok, I've got awesome kick!

Then we got to the first of many wide open flat sections, they all passed me back, and I pretty much imploded. Because I'm good at skiing!

The first half of the course is the hilly half, so I should have been doing well here and paying for it later, but I was sufficiently wrecked from my itsaracegettothefront! start that I could barely get out of my own way. Groups of guys would come up behind me, and I was so sure that I was holding them up with my meek uphill shuffle that I would just get out of the track and wait while they skied past. I give up. I'm not good at skiing!

After a quick plummet down the ranks to the upper 30s, I recovered a bit, and all the fast people had passed me, so things got better, mainly because we were doing a bunch of descending and a little wax drag doesn't matter at 30 mph.

Unfortunately, the course ends with 12k on the Ellis River Trail, which is mostly flat and breaks me every year. Hey, I have an idea, let's put Colin on a trail with lots of long straights, a weak upper body, slow skis, and see how many times he looks back in 12k! Uh... about a million.

Surprisingly, I only lost two places on the whole trail, and thanks to my extensive looking-back I knew that a large group was closing on me in the last 5k. By this point I had made peace with my suckage and was ready to hurt some more, which was good, because the only time I could pull away from them was by scaling the climbs as frantically as possible. My good ole klister binder was still there, slowing my skis down with every glide, but at least I could get up a hill when I needed to.

I ended up holding the front of that group off by only six seconds for a totally mediocre 41st place. Fortunately Linnea has barely been skiing this year, so I didn't have to deal with anything like "her doing well." Instead we slunk off to Gunstock like the pathetic cyclists we are, to spend the whole evening complaining about our hip flexors and then somehow turn back into athletes in the morning for the Gunstock Winter Triathlon. Good thing you don't use hip flexors for running...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tuesday Night Catchup

This Tuesday's Weston World Championships went really well for me, but I couldn't write about it because I had all kinds of other posts queued up. Now it's Friday and no one cares! Except me. So here we go!

After two weeks of cold conditions we got some classic Bostonian "falling slush" precip for most of the day Tuesday. Falling slush means wet snow, wet snow in the air means wet ice on the ground, wet ice on the ground means I get to break out the waterskis and flouros and ski 25 kph laps around Weston.

I was feeling pretty wrecked from stumbling around Bretton Woods with iced-up skis the day before, but the rest of the CSU masters contingent had also raced on Monday, and they showed up, and were not audibly complaining. So I sucked it up. Also "in the mix" for once was Cary, but he decided to stack the deck against himself by bringing unwaxed skis to a waterskiing race. Then we started and he got crashed on the first hill, and it didn't really matter what wax was on his based because the top 15 guys were gone.

I got a pretty good jump to the top of the first "climb" and slotted into the lead group around 6th. Unlike last week, the fast-fast guys got immediate separation, without towing the old-fast guys (and by extension, me) around for a ridiculously fast first lap. My elation to make the split was quickly tempered by the realization that pretty much everyone else made the split, too.

The race developed into a typical Weston ski crit, slow on the gradual downhills, fast on the transitions, the group stringing out but always coming back together when the pace eased at the front. The most important thing to do, as every bike racer should know, was to defend your position near the front out of the wind. Luckily, the most cutthroat Westonites were leading the group and thus 4th/5th ski was not too hard to come by.

I had a brief lapse, and the guy behind me started to pass on the inside, oh no! There wasn't much space, and he preemptively stepped on me before we could get to the apex of the turn. Instant adrenaline/lactic rush from getting spun sideways, but I stayed up. Unfortunately the first workable gap of the race had opened because of this and we were on the wrong side of it.

I didn't recognize him, so I figured he was a Weston neophyte (the accent tipped me off, too), and sure enough, he definitely didn't display the level of panic that was appropriate when the fastest four guys in the group gap you. Maybe he didn't know that they were the fastest four, or maybe he was looking forward to letting them go. Either way, excuse me sir, I need to panic now, because I am sick of racing for "winning chase 2" each week.

I jumped around him and bridged the gap, which was a mere 15m. Based on how much it hurt, I'd say I panicked at exactly the right time. We pulled away from the back half of the group swiftly while I tried to recover, and I started making deals with myself about "sitting in and trying to win the sprint from the back," which is definitly not a WINNER'S ATTITUDE.

...And when I saw the front three gapping Dave and I with just over a minute to go, well, I was ok with that, too. Thanks to the draft I overshot Dave pretty easily on the last downhill and cruised in for first place in the second chase group... yet again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Geschmossel "Race Report"

After a solid month off from racing in daylight, I decided to kick off the 2010 nordic campaign at the 37th annual Geshmossel up at Bretton Woods. It did not go as well as last year.

In the grand tradition of amateur racing, it was totally not my fault. After all, who could have predicted that the tracks far away from the start line would be much softer than where the race started, and thus where all wax testing took place? Certainly not me, for I have only been doing my own race wax for 10 years. I am not experienced enough for such advanced foresight.

Also, the temperature rose to 31.5 degrees at race time. Given the four inches of fresh powder, it was basically impossible to wax for. These conditions are so unique that there is a special ski made just for them. As I only have 7 pairs of skis, I could not be expected to be competitive in such conditions.

Finally, as a cyclist I cannot develop the necessary arm strength for January classic racing, and thus I must wax more aggressively than my competitors so that I can compensate for my upper-body shortcomings by striding steep hills. Thus I am more susceptible to my skis icing up at 31 degrees in fresh powder than anyone else.

See? Totally not my fault that I had to stop and scrape ice off my skis. And no one else had this problem (except for 90% of the field) so yeah, that's why I got my ass handed to me so badly I don't want to actually write about it.

Instead I will indulge in some whining constructive criticism about how Bretton Woods decided to prepare the course on Monday, using the tried-and-true "put words in people's mouths" technique that went so well on Kevin's blog.

Note: this is written purely for entertainment purposes, had I really cared about the situation I'd have said something before leaving.

The scene:
Bretton Woods Nordic Center, 7:45 AM. Head grooming guy (HGG) and Nordic Center Manager (NM) are standing in the lobby of the ski center, watching it snow.

NM: Wow. I sure wasn't expecting to get four inches of new snow last night!
HGG: Me neither.
NM: The forecast called for 1-3 inches. This is unprecedented!
HGG: Yup.
NM: So are you gonna head out with the groomer?
HGG: Nope.
NM: Why not?
HGG: Skiers love fresh powder. That's what everyone on the mountain says.
NM: Oh yeah, they do. I've heard that. When I walk around the woods, er, ski, I like when the snow is deep.
HGG: Plus, it's not like we're charging $17 for a trail pass or something...
NM: Actually, we are. But no one would expect adequate grooming for that kind of money.
HGG: Phew.
HGG: Oh, wait, you nordic guys do that skatey-skiing stuff, too. Does that need grooming?
NM: Uh... hmm.
HGG: Well, does it? The snowcat is parked out front.
NM: I don't actually know. I've never actually skate skied before. Probably safer to just let it, uh, settle before we groom it.
HGG: Sounds reasonable. Can't expect a several-ton machine to pack four inches of snow.
NM: Oh, crap! I totally forgot that we are hosting a race today.
HGG: That's ok. I groomed the course last night, remember. Double-track and everything.
NM: Before it snowed...
HGG: Yup! Pretty smart, eh?
NM: Hmmm.
HGG: What? The tracks are still there. Look, you can almost see 'em!
NM: Yeah...
HGG: Oh come on, it's no big deal.
NM: I'm not sure about this, man. I think races usually take place on groomed trails.
HGG: Yeah, but it's starting 11, so you're probably gonna have some tourists out there walking around. That's basically grooming.
NM: Ooh, good call. But some parts of the course are pretty far from here, and in a big field that gets windblown. If no one skis it first, the racers will have no idea where the course even goes...
HGG: Well, what do you want me to do about it? The race starts in three hours. I couldn't possibly drive the 'cat all the way around the course in that time.
NM: Really? I thought you said that thing could groom the whole trail system in a night?
HGG: Sigh. [HGG winks] I said, 'there's clearly no time to drive the cat around the course.' [HGG winks again]
NM: Ohhhhhh. Yeah, probably not, huh?
HGG: Nope. We've only got 30 minutes left till breakfast ends up at the hotel. Better get going.

[Before they can leave, the first racer walks in]

Racer: Excuse me, are you going to groom the course this morning?
NM: Uhhh. Hmmm.
HGG: Yep!
Racer: Cool, thanks!

[Racer leaves]

NM: What was that all about?!
HGG: Don't worry, bro. I'll just drive the groomer about a k out onto the golf course, then turn it around, drive 'er back and leave it idling outside. Gives you that "freshly groomed" look in, like, 10 minutes, and we won't even miss breakfast. We do this up on the mountain all the time.
NM: Wow, that's slick. But wouldn't that be false advertising?

[HGG stares blankly at NM]

HGG: Dude.
NM: Just kidding! We're a ski area, remember!
HGG: Ha! You almost got me thre!
NM: So how much snow should I call this on the snow report? 6 inches? 8?
HGG: Better make it 10. Just to be safe.

[End scene!]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best of Seat Cam 2009

Wow! This took a really long time. That's what I get for trying to raise the bar from last year.

Best of Seat Cam 2009 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pineland! Weston!

I only have so much creativity. It cannot be wasted on post titles.

I passed on racing this weekend because I had to work Saturday. Ordinarily this would suck -- wait, it sucked this time, too -- but at least that meant that when Linnea and I headed to Pineland on Sunday, I was so full of energy to do stuff that I didn't need to drink any coffee to be annoyingly hyperactive. But I drank some anyway.

It convinced me that I should be in the X Games:

Thank god there is no video of this "wicked air" to ruin the illusion. Let's just assume that the hang time was epic, and I held the grab for three or four seconds (while turning a 720) and that the picture doesn't do it justice.

Aside from the mad wicked sweet epic air FTW, Pineland was really good skiing. I'd kinda forgotten about it as a ski destination from Boston, but I checked and it's actually three miles close than Waterville. The trails are smoother and have far superior flow to Waterville (you're a biker, you can appreciate flow, right?), the cafe is great, the trail pass is cheap.

The drawback to Pineland is less snow (ayuh, it's coastal Maine) and a slightly smaller, slightly flatter trail system than Waterville, and eight freaking dollars in tolls -- there goes your trail pass savings!

All things considered, though, I'll be making more Pineland trips in the future. If you always drive up 93 to ski from Boston, you should check it out. Even with about 6 inches of compacted snow, their trails were 100% open.

Meanwhile, back on the racing front, tonight was Tuesday night world championships round two. The "full course" was in effect, but we only skied two laps, so it was a killer 14 minute nordic short track. As usual, the gap to the front group opened in front of me and I was in no mood to go around and bridge to a bunch of guys who are faster than me, anyway.

Thus, the top five places were gone only a few minutes into the race, and once they were really gone I started to think maybe I should've stuck my nose in the wind and gone after them. So I came around the front of the chase group, took a pull (made an attack?) and set out solo. After all of three minutes of solo aerobic madness, I had a 20m gap on a solidifying chase group of three...and a ton of lactic in my legs.

I decided that I'd done enough "working out" and it was time to "smarten up" to consolidate the all-important sixth place. I stood up and let them catch me, pushed into the train in 2nd place (thanks, UCI cross!) and tried to recover a bit.

Since we were only skiing two laps, the race was practically over at this point, so recovery was minimal because SPRINT TIME was rapidly approaching. With two "fingers" (about 60 seconds) of course left I got excited and hit the gas, only to realize that 60 seconds is a really long way to hammer, especially when the entire race is 14 minutes. Good thing the entire point of Tuesday night is to hurt, because I sure did. But I brought it home for 6th place, albeit a million miles behind the front group. Maybe next week...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday Night, Year Four

I can't believe I've been racing Tuesday Night World Championships for four years now. It's been an interesting trip. Year one I thought I could jump straight to skis and ski as fast I did in college; I ended up slow and then overtrained for most of the year, never making the front group. Year two I trained less/smarter and was consistently in the front group after the first few weeks, even placing second twice. Year three I raced fewer Tuesdays and regressed a bit, probably because I didn't race as smart or with as much motivation. And this year -- who knows?

My transition to snow has been as feeble as ever this year, so my expectations were low. Just before heading out I went back and read last year's entry, which ended up being a really good call. Last year I thought I would just make the front group and throw down, and ended up exploding; note to self: stay away from front group. And they say writing a narcissistic race report about every little race you do is pointless!

I ended up seeded in the 4th row, but not everyone ahead of me showed, so combined with some carnage to the side of me I came out of the tracks in a dangerously forward position. Up the hill and out onto the flats, I was a mere 5 meters behind the tail of the front group, so I threw the plan out the window, threw in a few hard skates, and got on.

Of course we were 60 seconds in and my legs were on fire, but what do you expect from the 4th day skating? When the gap reached 3 ski lengths I quit worrying about it and skied my own race, instead of flipping out and trying to close it. I got your maturity right here.

Gosh, what is there to even write about if I didn't do anything stupid? The gap opened up steadily (I lost about 25 seconds/lap to the leaders) but only one guy came around me, and I jumped in his draft and focused on skiing efficiently.

"Focused on skiing efficiently??" Man, I sound like Alex. Such mature race strategy.

Terry eventually pulled us into the comet trail of guys falling off the front group, and I was able to make some bad decisions. Terry went around Dave, but Dave is usually fast, so I was content to sit on the back of the group. We picked up another guy. I stayed on the pack. Oh, look, Terry is skiing away now, good thing my burning glutes and I are back here behind two other dudes or we'd have a chance of sticking the draft and getting away with him.

So I waved him goodbye, suffered through a few more minutes, and dropped the hammer with as much flailing as possible to win the 3-up sprint for 8th, a little over a minute back from the lead group of masters. I was feeling pretty good about this until I looked at last year's race #1 results and saw that I was exactly that far back last year, too.

The key to happiness is low expectations, I guess. Gimme two more weeks (or one race on ice), and then I'll worry about failing to make "the group."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So You Wanna Be One Of Them Skatey-Skiers, Part 5

Alright, the holidays are over, I think most of my readers are back to work (hey look, I'm not going to make a pathetic joke about how few readers I have! Or did I?), and the race season starts tonight. Let's finish it up with the only useful topic left: do you need a wax/wax equipment collection that is more valuable than all your skis combined?

This wax sells for $3.66/g. It is not a narcotic. You don't need it.


At some point in your ski career (like, now), you'll hear someone else talking about waxing. Waxing your skis is to nordic skiing the way tire selection is to cyclocross; sometimes, it really matters, but people act like it always matters, and you can rest assured that anyone obsessing about the wax they put on their skis would own 5 sets of tubulars if they raced cross.

The other thing about waxing is that it's kind of like pumping up your tires. If you don't do it every ride, it's no big deal (sorry, guys-who-pump-up-to-120psi-every-day), but if you don't do it for months on end, then yeah, you're gonna start slowing down. And if you're racing, yeah, you need every last bit of speed you can get, and you're gonna wax before every race.

The difference between waxing your skis and pumping up your tires is that waxing is WAY more involved. Imagine if it took you 15 minutes to put air in your tires and required several hundred dollars of tools; the advice for novice cyclists would be "have a shop put air in your tires every 2 months," or something. And after protracted internal debate... that's exactly my advice to you, the beginning nordic skier.

You could buy a wax bench, iron, scrapers, brushes, and wax, but if you're balking at a $400 skate package then you're definitely not going to be into the price tag on that ($400+). But it's ok. Most ski shops will glide wax your skate skis for $20 or so, and while this is a total ripoff if you have all the equipment and knowledge to do it yourself, you don't, so shut up and pay it for now.

Realistically, it's probably worth your money to get your skis waxed once or twice a year. After an entire summer of sitting there with the bases drying out, you should definitely wax them at the start of the season. It will make a difference. Midseason you could do it again, if you've been skiing a bunch.

I probably wax my skis once for about every three times I go skiing, but that's mainly because I do a race every three times out or so. And I have all the stuff I need right in my basement.

When does waxing matter?

If you're skiing around Boston, you're probably skiing on frozen granular most of the time. Ice is hell on your bases from a wax stripping standpoint, but it glides great. An unwaxed ski is as good on ice as a waxed one, and that's your primary surface 'round , so that's good.

When wax does matter is days with high moisture content. The most basic and necessary function of your wax job is to be hydrophobik, and repel water from the base, preventing suction. When it's well above 32, raining, or very humid -- i.e. you can easily make snowballs, but they soak your gloves -- that's when your "never wax" plan is gonna make you pay.

Now, you're doing this for training, so maybe you're ok with a ski that glides horribly, you'll just go slower or work harder. But realistically, you probably want to have a little bit of fun, too. So what you're gonna do here is use a paste wax like Swix F4. You don't need a bench, or iron, just a cork (I think?) and the ability to follow the instructions on the package, and you'll be gliding in no time.

There's one other scenario in which your glide will be terrible -- super cold powder. There's pretty much nothing simple you can do about this, and it's pretty rare conditions around Boston, so don't worry about it too much for now. If you get out for a 5-degree, fresh-snow ski on your never-waxed skis, you might think you've gotten much slower overnight. But you haven't, it's just the snow. Chill out, you're doing this for training anyway, right?

Bonus Content: Ski Fashion!

Wear all your cold weather cycling gear (ok, maybe not the helmet) for now and don't waste another minute worrying about it. Most people on nordic skis are noobs and couldn't care less how you're dressed. Anyone that actually notices and decides to judge you on it is (1) a douche and (2) would have looked down on you anyway the second they saw you ski. You have no recourse against such ski-litests they're few and far between, relative to a sport like, say, road racing, where every cat 4 in the world thinks it's his job to harangue anyone more fredly than himself.

Yeah, I went there.

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