The Rangeley Loppet was my last race of the ski season. A thoroughly forgettable affair that I can’t stop thinking about and is still haunting me three days later.
I had a good start. I went out with the fast college boys like I had planned. I was going to bury myself in this last race if that’s what it took. I felt up to the challenge.
My warm-up skis had been dragging in the fresh, wet snow. My race skis, with high fluoro wax and a Jetstream topcoat were running much better.
But these skis hadn’t done well in warm, wet weather this season. They were a colder grind, but already a few seasons old, and I had my suspicions about them.
I could feel the wax wearing off. The skis starting to drag. And only after a kilometer and half.
Then they simply stopped working.
I was off the back of the college group.
I stepped into the tracks to reconsider my plan.
I waited while the second group caught up. I tried to ski at the front but drifted back, one skier at a time. The harder I pushed, the slower the skis went. Then I was off the back of that group. I tried to latch onto the next group and that went no better. Then I tried to just enjoy the ski and that wasn’t in the cards either.
By half-way through the lap, I was dangling off the back of the Dartmouth-Colby women’s pack, out for an easy over-distance effort, and pushing my limits to keep pace with them.
So when we came through the start/finish for the next lap, I packed it in.
I wasn’t interested in a death march.
The only upside was that I got the food table before everybody else and put a pretty sizable dent in the cookies.
After the race, everybody had the same story of slow, sticky skis. It’s a tough calculus. Ski selection, grind, wax, topcoat, rill. The really serious guys might test a dozen different combinations. I had one pair. Live or die by them.
I’ll get them re-ground in the off-season. Maybe finally get a good pair of dedicated warm skis. Or maybe just stop caring so much about the performance and try to enjoy it.
The rest week — a real rest week with days off — started on Sunday.