On Saturday, I drove to North Creek, NY for Sunday’s Gore JNQ 10 km skate race. It’s been a while since I’ve driven 260 miles in a snowstorm, and the first time in my new / used diesel Jetta. What’s generally a four-hour ride turned into a six hour slog, slow but manageable. The last two miles to my crash pad were all uphill. I had to work for it, but we made it. Here’s to front wheel drive and four snow tires.
After 10 days of warm weather, the snow was much needed. With thin conditions prevailing in the northeast, the Gore Mountain Nordic Center has hosted most of the races in New York State to this point.
There was enough coverage for a 3.3 kilometer loop. Peru Nordic, my team, had a good turnout, with five us us toeing the line. It was Stanley Hatch’s first day on snow and he’d go on to win his age group. At the start, I was five meters behind teammate Brian and another athlete. Gradually, they pulled away as we ascended the A climb. A big group of U18 guys was near the top of the A climb as I began going up.
The top of the A climb has always given me fits, and today, I herringboned it to conserve energy. It was something I’d repeat on the next two laps. Although the race loop had been groomed, the snow was soft and unconsolidated in several places. By the second lap, the hard right-hand corner descending the A climb was a rutted mess, and it ate me up. Fortunately, volunteers raked it out by the time I came through on the last lap.
While the downhills were fast, sections of unconsolidated snow made for tough going. Rather than trying to beat the course into submission, which I’ve been guilty of, I focused on smooth technique. Meanwhile, the U18 boys hammered past me up the steep climbs, loose snow be damned.
In the end, I won my age group. While I had every intention of going out for a recovery lap, I couldn’t face the A climb again. Having to collect my daughter from a play date back in NJ was a handy excuse to get on the road.