L’honneur est sauf

27 Feb

Nicer snow the day after the race at Lillehammer's Maihaugen

Participated yesterday in the Sør Ål Runden ski race just South of Lillehammer.

It’s a fun local race that nevertheless attracted a lot of participants from Oslo, in addition to the local crowd.

The 40km classic style competition is also a seeding race for the Birkebeiner which explains why it drew so many from far afield.

To accentuate the Birkenness (Birkosity?) race organisers changed the route this year in order to approximate the climbs and drops of the Birkebeiner course from Rena to Lillehammer. However it wasn’t required to have royal-sprog-weight-approximating backpack.

Before the race it looked like all was going for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I was healthy unlike before the Grenaderen. I had a technique course the Thursday before in which I got complimented on my progress since last season. I ate well, had a nice trip to Lillehammer and got to bed early.

Even the weather looked cooperative: -2 to -3 with lots of fresh snow. But something had to go wrong and that thing was the weather.

Morning dawned with zero degree temps and drizzle. Impossible waxing conditions. Just for the race. Not the day before, nor the day after. And with long Birken style diagonal climbs it was going to be de la merde.

I tried my skis prewaxed with 0 to -2 rated Rode multigrade. Felt like trying to go diagonal on skate skis. I knew I had an ace up my sleeve but still didn’t believe much in it: Rode zero wax.

Maybe my error was only waxing in the zero zone marked on my skis. Maybe I should have use klister. Maybe I corked it too smooth.

Whatever the case when my start group left I had almost no grip. But since the race climbed I could feel my terrible situation improve as I painfully gained altitude going outside the track the whole time. I went from 5 percent grip to ten and so on.

As my pitiful situation improved I saw other’s decline. As snow accumulated under their skis those who waxed with klister stepped out of the track (or not!) to scrape their skis together, cursing all the while.

At the highest point in the race I had nearly decent grip and next to no snow “klumper” problems under my skis.

But alas the race organizers wanted lots of elevation gain which implied lots of altitude loss. And that meant descent back into slippery hell.

The same story repeated several times until I approached the deliverance of the finish line. But, just for the pleasure of experiencing the zero grip low altitude zone, they made that uphill.

When I finally and painfully pole-heaved myself over the finish line 2:52.40 had passed. My goal was 2:50. Close enough. L’honneur est sauf!

That pace translates to a sub 4 hour Birken. If I hit the wax better that goal should fall easily when I do my Birkenprøven one of these coming weekends. I’ll leave the real one to the crowds. Don’t need them to time my race.

Still my no grip effort this weekend took a toll of pain. But as I write this it feels like I’m recovering nicely. Thank you rollerski!

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3 Responses to “L’honneur est sauf”

  1. engelski February 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    Congratulations on a successful day, all the more sweeter because of the challenging conditions. Sounded very much like standard Birkebeiner conditions.

    I would suggest that sub 4h for the Saturday Birkebeiner is optimistic. In my experience you can take your average 40km race pace and add between 30-50 min for the Saturday Birkebeiner. Even though I am not a big fan of the Saturday Birkebeiner I would still recommend that it’s experienced at least once.

    What’s the next challenge. I’ll be at what I believe to be the years best event, Ringkollløpet. Only 25km, but a great course and atmosphere. Strongly recommended if you can get to Ringkollen on Saturday. If you need a lift let me know.

    • fallwest February 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      Thanks for the comment. Did the Birkenprøven in 4:13 last year, so 4 looks attainable. Thanks for the invite but I’ve got friends over then. Good luck with your race

      • engelski February 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

        The more I hear about Søre Ål, the better your performance becomes. Good job! You must have good technique.

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