Hey Mike !
I didn’t see anyone from your team at the Crystal Preseason race! Missed ya!
The snow was deep, soft & great. If they’d been able to run the snowcat over it, the track would have been a little harder than the soft ‘biler-groomed snow, but George Putnam says it may have churned up the dirt, so it was a little soft & a tad slow, but very good stuff. They did a real nice job with what they had. Complete cover.
In past season’s first-races, I’d had a problem where I wanted to go faster, felt like going faster but I just couldn’t go faster, like your first interval workout in a while. And then I’d finish a little too fresh & a little disappointed.
This time I was able to tap into it a bit and I was able to get tired.
I had a fine start. Group 1 formed quickly & went off the front. The trail was narrow, and I was in a nice second group watching the leaders go up but not too far up the trail for quite a while. Group 1 was Dave Maclean, Christian Byar, Luke Menet & Cliff Onthank. A slight early gap developed between the two groups. It would not have been very easy to get by, so I was happy to ride tempo in the middle of my group.
I survived the hill climb portion (which was pretty wicked actually) in good shape, and as Stephen, then Don went over the last hilltop, a very slight gap developed (like 1 second), and then we plunged down a corkscrew descent down the back and then we skied flat flats & I mean flat for a lot of k’s (for a 10 k race!).
Immediately I sensed that I could move up a place or, so I tried to bridge up that second or two on the first short straight. I was nearly back in close contact with Stephen & Don Camp, with Melzar & Todd Vigland on my tail (which was a very good sign), when I hooked my tip in the deep trailside snow, spun my own self out & went down!
End of race, really, I was never able to bridge after that. My skis were fast, but they were exhibiting the skatecut washout in that soft flat stuff, so it felt to me like a speed limiter (but I was more likely the actual limiting factor), although Melzar made his skatecuts work better. I lost contact after a long fight to bridge, and then the group put a bit of time on me (you know, skiing solo can be pretty slow). I was 9th in 35:04 and Melzar was 5th I think, basically in front of that group in about 34 flat if I recall correctly. I think it went Melzar, Todd Vigland, Jon Folz, Don Camp and Luke Menet skied in with those guys also.
So Christian is lean & mean for this season, and he had a very good race (2nd place). Dave Maclean is phenomenal as ever, and it will be fun to see how a fit Dave Maclean & a fit Milan Baic stack up (Milan raced in Houghton this weekend). Dave demurs that Milan would hand him his lunch, but I think it would be a great matchup.
Melzar Coulter (new GRNST’er, TC native) is 26, is “barely training”, had no idea how his first race in 5 years would go, and was on fire. Don Camp still knows how to fight it out as always, and “Big Vig” (my private nickname for talented Todd Vigland, like Big Mig Miguel Indurain) is very fit again this year and will be finding new levels in his race results. If Big Vig could have made the gap to G1 early, he would likely have had a real good race with that group.
I’ll see you & your team mates for that weekday classic race !!! I loved racing again, and had a ton of fun. It was a super hard effort that took a large toll on me which is a great result for an early season race.