Craftsbury 2017 or The Big One

The Craftsbury Marathon is the long game.

For weeks beforehand, you agonize over the trail conditions and the weather forecast. You question your fitness for a 50 km classic race. In the days leading up to the race, you struggle with travel logistics and advanced waxing schemes. You check a plethora of weather apps, consult teammates, wax gurus and the gods. You reach back through the years to the times when you had fast skis and good kick and try to cross-reference past results with future conditions. Some fellows keep notebooks and spreadsheets. Others, elaborate formulas, algorithms and fleets of test skis.

I write nothing down.

Whatever it is, I’m guaranteed to screw it up. So I take a less-is-more approach to waxing. Especially after last year, when I agonized over ski selection and picked a pair that were too stiff because I though they’d run klister a little bit faster and suffered needlessly in the final laps.

In 2017, I had developed a simple race strategy and waxing plan. I had two pairs of skis that were nearly identical and I had arrived early enough on Friday to do some testing and course recon. It had been snowing all afternoon so the conditions were different than the frozen granular I had been expecting. The test skis–Rex PowerGrip Purple covered with VR45–iced up pretty quickly on the fresh, ungroomed snow.

That was an omen I chose to ignore because the conditions were indeterminate. There would be more snow overnight and the race director described an all-night Pisten-Bully operation that would grind the new snow and the frozen deck into an unholy covered klister situation.

So I scraped the skis clean down to the chola binder, packed them away, and headed to the Village HouseĀ for dinner. I ate a good meal of spaghetti and a little red wine. I was stretched out in bed by 7:30, well before my typical arrival time, digesting peacefully while reading David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard to distract myself from the wax call.

It snowed all night. Continue reading

Reflections

Late in 2016, I cruised the quiet single track of Trail 38 in Mont-Sainte-Anne, against the coming darkness. It was my last ski of the year.

In the aftermath of the Election, I’ve struggled for words and motivation, wondered if all the effort I make in sport — or writing about it — is worth it, or if I need to start putting my efforts to something more substantial and meaningful.

But I haven’t stopped and that inertia alone may be its own payback as things evolve and hopefully not devolve over the coming months.

I finished up the road season in New Haven and Boston.

After 15 years away, I raced a nearly full cyclocross program, spending perhaps as much time on the ground as on the bike.

I got on snow early and have carried that bike racing fitness into the new season. SeventeenĀ hours in 5 days at MSA has just add to that base.

Winter is coming.

Winter is here.