On Sunday morning I did the long rollerski loop in Littleton. Normally, there are 20 to 30 skiers who show up for the usual Saturday roll. Instead, the parking lot was empty. My plan to roll with a training partner had fallen through. As I headed out, a light rain started to fall. I can be pretty nervous on rollerskis when it’s bone dry and the roads are black-powder smooth; I tend to avoid rolling in the rain. But I was already out there and I needed to do a workout, so I went for it.
The start was tenuous. The wet pavement was okay but anytime the rubber wheels rolled over the tar-sealed cracks, the ski would suddenly slip out. The first, long climb was covered with the stuff and I skied it no-poles. I really had to focus on my technique, getting my weight directly over the ski — not ‘edging’ because the ski would let loose and I’d do a fancy split off into the woods — and kicking down and forward instead of out. It highlighted some of the bad habits that I’d picked up rollerskiing.
It was all going well until I hit East Bare Hill Road, which had just been chip-sealed so there were piles of loose gravel in random spots. After nearly falling twice, I decided to walk down the hill. The chip-sealed surface lasted another 2 or 3 miles. It was slower than a warm, slow-snow day and all I could do was double-pole. When I got back onto the smooth pavement, it felt effortless.
Then the skies let loose and the rain came down in torrents. The water on the road was so thick I could barely see the cracks and divets and potholes lurking beneath the surface. My glasses fogged up and I had to take them off and squint my way through the rain. The wheels of the skis kicked water onto my legs and it ran down into my boots. The boots got heavy and sodden. Each time I kicked, they sloshed and purged like a sponge. I was soaked through completely, but it was warm and the rain was a relief from the swampy humidity. I smiled in spite of the conditions. This seemed as far away from snow and the ski season as I could possibly get.
The rain had tapered off by the end of my two hour roll. I was more tired than usual because of the extra resistence provided by the wet roads and the little bit of cold that got into my muscles and joints.
I finally did Littleton, solo — and in the rain — and lived to tell about it.