Depends on how eager you are

14 Nov

Norwegians are a notoriously shy lot. But the powerful pull of skiing trumps all normal behaviors. I own no car, don’t ever want to own one, and so have been taking the subway and bus and to go skiing the last three days. That has meant I’ve had to field a lot of questions about the current ski possibilities.

It’s slightly uncomfortable to get such questions when in fact hanging onto a pair of skis and poles. So I’ve been seriously tempted to reply “no, I’m just insane”. But since the questions stem from good-natured curiosity, it wouldn’t nice to reply in an unfriendly way.

The best response I’ve found is “it depends on how eager you are”. Where I live at 200 meters there’s just a thin layer of snow on the lawns and roads. A little lower down there are only bits of slush hanging on here and there. But in the Sørkedalen Valley in the Northwest of the Oslo area King Winter tenuously holds reign.

The snow cover is thin in the lower stretches of the trails that have been prepared, and the Ski Society recommends gravel skis.

But beyond a few bits of gravel, the bigger battle is wax. Friday and Saturday I suffered. All the trails I’ve been on climb substantially. So in the lower stretches I’ve had no grip,while once over 300 meters the klabber attack has been strong:

Today, however, I won the wax war. Conditions were already better with colder temperatures, a little more new snow overnight and a trail prepared by a big machine instead of just a snowmobile.

My strategy was to suffer a lack of grip down low in order to avoid the klabber attack up high. So I went with Rode Violet Multigrade. As planned I had nearly no grip at the start. That meant a lot of double-poling and a lot of slipping on the steeper stretches. But I quickly felt my low-grip gamble was going to pay off.

Both the snow cover and my grip got progressively better as I climbed. Once over the 400 m line the landscape looked wintry and ski conditions became good by any measure. While Friday and Saturday’s trips were more suffering, scraping and cursing than skiing (at least while climbing), today was proper skiing that gave me ample opportunity to see where my classic technique stood after being left dormant since last March.

The verdict is not so bad. The things I’d been working on were still present in my mind and body: poles in tight and a good swing leg.

Trip details:

  • Wax: Rode Violet Multigrade.
  • Style: Classic.
  • Distance: 26,3 km (Sunday), 52 km (weekend total).
  • Temperature: 0 at bottom.
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