Becoming beastly

20 Apr

I used all my power of persuasion to harry my boss into driving me up the valley yesterday. Being a notorious car-hater, such a request is out of character. The reason was that two websites said a trail at the top of the valley had been prepped.

Though the prospect was unprobable, I would have been miserable if I didn’t check it out. The more likely explanation, which turned out to be the case, was that they just moved the prep machine down from its winter abode. The tank tread track was freshly visible in the bare mud.

But somehow my ride upstream in a Saab left me inspired. When I came back by rollerski over the same route I had turbo power. On slowish medium rolling rubber wheels I nearly equaled my time from a test run last season on the same route with polyurethane racing wheels.

To give an idea of the difference, on the earlier test run I nearly hit 50 km/h on the biggest downhill. On yesterday’s wheels I never touched 30 km/h.

So, what made the difference? Technique clearly played a part. Now that paddling has earned its ‘titres de noblesse’ as part of skate technique here in Norway, I don’t hold it back when I come to steep spots. Before I would slowly slug it out in v2/dobbeldans.

I’m also working on my v1/enkeldans on the flatter stretches. I don’t know if it’s good technique but I’m getting good speed by starting with poles and body high and driving all the energy from the downward stroke off onto the skate leg. Feels a bit beastly.

I’ve also been having fun trying to chain together the different skate techniques as fluently as possible to keep my speed up over varying levels of steepness.

Finally my gym just got a Ski-Erg double-poling machine. I’ve tried a Danish machine called The Thoraxer which I really didn’t like because I thought it encouraged bad technique. Danes are indeed the butt of most ski jokes here in Norway. Unlike the Thoraxer, the Ski-Erg let me move my hips forward at the same time as my poles. I could embody the poles connected to the hips by an invisible string metaphor. Trying to do so on the Thoraxer usually meant falling forward.
And, long story short, my abs have already been marked by the Ski-Erg. Surely that’s translated into more power, even with skate rollerski.

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