Tyler's Virtual Bogburn
The idea of virtual racing really doesn't appeal to me at all, but the virtual Bogburn provided me the motivation and opportunity to do something difficult and a little bit adventurous. I debated whether it was a good idea or not, as I was scheduled to work 8 straight days of 12-hour night shifts on the snowmaking crew at Smuggs, but ultimately I decided that would just add to the challenge, and make it all the more worthwhile.
It was tempting to go to Hard'ack, where I have put in hundreds of volunteer hours to restore and improve the trails there. The smooth, mostly grassy trails have made for some really high-quality skiing even with a base of just a couple inches of packed powder. However, for the virtual Bogburn, there was really only one choice. It had to be the Dickinson farm, familiarly known as Doc's. The rolling meadows, the narrow twisty trails through the woods, and the scarcity of flat terrain was perfect. If we were to ever host a club series race there, I think we could legitimately tout it as "The Bogburn of the North."
Doc's can be challenging when the conditions are awesome, but I knew this would not be the case. Aside from the meadows, the ground underneath the snow is rough. 5 inches of snow is mostly just hole filler. I was told the meadows were well-groomed, but the woods were only half groomed. Having plenty of experience there, I had some idea what to expect, but there was still a high degree of uncertainty. One thing was for sure. This would be no 50-minute Bogburn. It would be an hour at best.
Having not been on my classic skis yet this season, I went to retrieve my rock skis, only to find they still had klister on them from last season. My time was limited, so I contemplated just covering it with some hard wax, but that seemed to be too risky, so I cleaned them up and threw on some extra blue. I reached the venue around 11:00. I had only clipped into one ski before I realized the extra blue wasn't going to cut it, so I threw on some special violet and set out for some course inspection. As promised, the meadows were smooth, wide, and hard-packed. Things changed drastically as I entered the woods. The first section had one pass with the groomer but was still very soft, so I was basically making my own tracks. It was not wide enough to herringbone up the steep climbs without sticking the tips in the powder. As I got up into the upper woods, the grooming stopped completely, but I pressed on. I ventured into the back loop, which is notoriously rough. It was actually better than expected, but I opted to cut through a logging path of sorts instead of climbing the steep, narrow hill that is concave in shape, making it ever more difficult and miserable to herringbone. After some intense internal debate, I decided to keep this loop in my racecourse. After all, what was I doing this for if it wasn't going to be rugged? As I wound my way back to the meadows, I found some better grooming again, as well as some deep ruts that were sure to tear up my skis a bit.
Upon reaching my car back in the nice meadow, I hit the start button on my watch, and hammered the double pole down the slope of the meadow. The technique felt a little ragged on the first climb into the second meadow as I tried to remember how to make kick wax work. Another quick descent and I was headed into the woods. I quickly realized that the herringbone would be a slow trudge. Any attempt to move the feet quickly would only result in face plants and broken equipment. So I trudged up the steep sections and tried as best I could to ski smoothly on the softer gradients, often getting my rhythm disrupted by stepping on a stick or something and having my ski kick out to the side. As I made my way around the course and was headed back towards the meadows, I decided to take a slightly different route than I had done on my course inspection, in order to avoid some nasty ruts at the bottom of a steep downhill. To my surprise, I came around the corner to find a downed tree across the trail. It was a gentler downhill, and I had enough momentum, so I decided to just jump over it. I clipped my tails on this first round but thankfully managed to clear it and land safely on all the other laps.
After one lap, my watch said 1.8 miles, so I knew I had about 4.5 laps to do. After 2 laps, I checked my watch to see if maybe I could finish in under one hour. I was just over 30 minutes. I tried to convince myself that my form would come to me, and my tracks would work in and get faster, which may have both been true, but ultimately the realization came to me that I had started at the low point of the course, and my extra half a lap would mostly be climbing back up to the top. I did cross the 4 lap mark in one hour exactly and set out to finish the long slog. I had the option to loop back from the end of the meadows to avoid the climbs through the woods on my final half mile, but that seemed weak, and I had to finish tough. I hit the top at just under 8-miles and gave one final push to fly down a nicely groomed section to finish it off in 1 hour, 8 minutes. Perhaps I'll put this time in my memory bank, and hope to still be bettering it at the real Bogburn when I'm 65.
My cool down was a brief, mostly downhill jaunt back to my car. I reached home exhausted from the effort, and from having worked all night before, and I settled in for my brief 4 hours of sleep recovery before returning to the mountain for another shift. I was feeling pretty ragged the following night, stopping to lay down in the snow for a brief rest a few times, but I have no regrets. The 1 hour, 8-minute slugfest was totally worth it.
Jessica's Virtual Bogburn
For my holiday break - I gave myself a personal challenge - 20k a day. I did take Christmas Day off, and the day after could only motivate for 10k, but the other 14-days totals were 20k or higher, giving me an average of 21.5km/day for the 16-day work break. That was my training. No intervals, no speeds, no nothing... just k's put in the bank.
When I heard about the virtual Bogburn, I was not enticed. Seemed to be a lot of stats, and I didn't find it motivating. For me ski racing in the winter has meant baking some brownies or cookies as the Team 'Mom', strapping some skis on that Damian has graciously waxed, and weekend warrioring it out on some course in New England with my other NWVE teammates and skier friends. Not necessarily doing a time trail by myself. I am not out to be the best skier for any reason at this point. But after reading Damian's Bogburn report, and watching him replay the webcam to watch himself stride up Teaching Hill, last night, I said, what the heck - I'll sign up and we decided to sign up for a 9:30 slot at Craftsbury.
This morning was a slow start, delayed by watching the semi-finals and finals of Stage 7 Tour de Ski Classic Sprints. During breakfast, I asked Damian what pair of skis I should use that would take the least amount of his time - my old Salomon's. My job then was to get the fire going, and he went to wax his skis and mine. After a bit, I realized I needed to find my NWVE race uniform that I had not seen since March 1st - the Trapp's Race to the Cabin... I looked all over and twenty minutes later finally found it stored with some other winter items in a tote in the basement. Meanwhile, I watched the finishing touches applied to our skis and we were finally prepared to leave the house at 10:30, only an hour later than planned.
As we drove over, I contemplated the course I would use, not having considered it until this point. I thought about it, didn't really want to do Damian's course, as 7 Mimi's seemed unnecessary. But what if I did the Junior's course with a modification of adding Round a Bit? at the time considering this merely to make each loop longer, and less Mimi's (only later I realized this would also give me a bit more 'rest' between the hard parts of climbing Lemon's and Mimi's). The course was one inner loop, lower field to Wilburn's to Lemon's Haunt through Coaches Corner back to the lower field, then start the outer loop where you go out by the cabins once again, down Wilbur's, this time bearing left to go to the bottom of Mimi's into Coaches Corner, this time going up Teaching Hill to the upper field, around Round-a-Bit and into the upper field, just to start it all over again. Once arriving at the center, I went to Teaching Hill with Damian and the wax was PERFECT, perfect kick in the perfect tracks. Then I went to warm up/measure my loop so I could guesstimate how many laps I'd have to do. While skiing I considered WHERE to start... the upper field? the lower field? Checking my watch, it was 11:12, I then determined that I should set a START time for myself, so 11:30 was chosen. Luckily at this point, I saw the SMST2 and UVM teams packing up and ending their morning ski. This made me feel a little better as they wouldn't have to wonder what the heck I was doing.
Now I started a little pre-race routine, hit the port-o-let, last sip of Gatorade, stripped down to my race suit, and selected what I believe is the same starting point Damian had, on the tracks across from the yurt in the lower field so I could try to ensure I would have FIVE Screaming Mimi's for my course. I wandered to the start about five minutes before, thinking I usually just stand around for a start, making my virtual race as similar to the real thing. I imagined myself quickly in the lineup at Bogburn, chit-chatting with my nearby competitors, and then Damian pulled up to me. My watch said 11:30, I counted down 3-2-1, and I set off, with Damian cheering, and passing quickly by the mother with her three-year-old daughter. I quickly got myself breathing hard, and found a pace that I thought I could hold for the course. As I strode up Teaching Hill the first time, Damian was at the top, and a little guy - probably 8 years old sprinted me to the top with me barely edging him out at the top. Here and there a recreational skier pulled over for me to push by, and most just stared at me. Who was the middle-aged woman, wearing a lycra suit, no mask (allowed only when doing high exertional efforts), breathing super loud, doing out there? I think it was a little obvious I was at least doing a workout... I saw Damian one or two other times as I made my way around cheering me on. I realized while doing my upper field + Round-a-bit, that adding Round-a-bit actually gave me some extra breathing time before I hit the short rollers of Lemon's and Screaming Mimi. I enjoyed the parents with their little ones going around the loop and I got to pass them three times while they made their way once. At Coaches Corner, a spectator cheered me on by name. As I passed running director Heidi, I heard her and her friend commenting something about how great it was to see someone racing... that is at least what I heard in my head! Eventually, my lap count increased, and soon I was on my fifth, after doing the inner lap, I for the first time looked down at my watch as I went down Wilbur's and it said 8.25 miles! I was done! But I hadn't done my fifth Mimi's! I decided I wanted my race effort to conclude ONLY after doing Screaming Mimi one more time, so I pushed through and my effort on the fifth lap equaled my first effort. I sprinted by Masters training partner Allison, who gave last words of encouragement as I finally made it to Coaches corner and gave myself permission to stop.
After scoping out the Strava records, and analyzing my time at the 8.1-mile mark - Strava reported 50:06. Damian is a little perturbed that my pace, 6:11/mile is faster than what his Strava recorded, and my time is technically 16 seconds faster than his. I'm pretty sure in a head to head race, I have not beat him for over twenty years when he was still learning how to ski, and I still had muscle memory from being on the UVM ski team. I had great weather, great tracks, and amazing skis (thanks to Damian), and I got to push myself a LOT harder than I would have without the Virtual Bogburn. So a real race may not have given me the same edge over Damian, and he could have kept his pride intact, but in this virtual race, this other version of reality I get the Bogburn bragging rights. So I do miss our regular races, but am thankful for the inspiration Damian's race report gave me, and how I was able to make a special memory for today - my Virtual Bogburn and push through harder than I have ever done on my own before. I guess finding a bit of inner strength in times like these never hurts.
Missing all of you, and can't wait to share brownies,
Cipperly's Virtual Bogburn
I did two tries of the virtual Bogburn this week on the Quarry Road Trails- once last Sunday and again today. Today's pace was 13 seconds slower than Saturday's, so I would say I was pretty consistent even if the courses deviated a little from each other. I really missed my wax techs today, whereas on Saturday I had grip, today was a LOT of herringbone, but obviously, I made up for it on the slicker snow on the flats and downhills. Rather than sticking to the manmade snow loop with tracks exclusively, I ventured onto the natural snow loops that did not have enough snow to lay tracks, and boy did I miss tracks.
Ed's Virtual Bogburn
I did mine yesterday at sleepy and battled a thin coverage loop with no tracks, lots of BKL obstacles, and the dreaded gun #3 blowing slush which quickly froze into giant chunks underfoot.
I think the kids must have been amused as I struggled to kick it off and somehow not fall on my face.
Hoping for better conditions soon.