Before I begin I would like to introduce myself. My name is Jordan Woods and I am the brand new Marketing Director of the Northshore Rollerski Race. I am in my second year of my undergrad at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I have been nordic skiing since I was nine years old and have been racing since 12. I ski with the club at UMD where I am a Co-President. I am starting a series of blogs following my racing career and how it relates to roller skiing and summer training in general. If you have ideas for specific blogs posts or questions regarding existing blog posts, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
False Flats and a Fallaciously Frigid Forecast. These “F-words” were thrown around often at the 11th annual Sisu Ski Fest this past weekend in Ironwood, Michigan. Pulling into Ironwood after the two hour drive from Duluth, Minnesota, the abundance of snow was noticeable. I thought Duluth had a lot of snow. Holy cow, these guys have more. Everything in town was covered with several feet of pristine powder. On my pre-race shakeout on the Wolverine Ski Trails, my skis were flying. I was using Fischer Twinskin Carbons with Rex G21 spray wax on the glide zones. Everything was perfect. I waxed up my race skis (Fischer Speedmax 3D with a 902 base) with Rex Glide Cleaner, a layer of HFG41 spray, and a topcoat of Rex TK-73 pure fluoro block for glide. For kick, I ironed in a base binder, followed by four layers of Rex ProGrip Green, and a topcoat of 30G. The forecast called for a temperature of seven degrees at the start of the 30 kilometer classic race, so I figured it would be cold. Unfortunately for me, it was not that cold. The temperatures stayed mild overnight with complete cloud coverage. With this coverage also came a half inch of snow fall. This was not ideal for my wax situation. When I got to the starting line the next morning, my doubts came to fruition when I strapped on my skis. They were “draggy” but had plenty of kick. I figured I could just muscle my way through the race; at that point, I didn’t have a choice. Within the first 5 kilometers, I knew I would be riding the pain train for a long time. The new snow proved to be a real nuisance. I crossed the finish line 1:50.23 after I started. Overall, I can’t complain. It was a solid race on absolutely beautiful trails.
Over half of the 30k race takes place on the ABR trails, while the rest of the race winds you through the Miners Memorial trail system before bringing you to a downtown finish in Ironwood. At the 22k mark, there is a grueling “false flat” uphill that lasts roughly 3 kilometers. A false flat is an uphill that doesn’t look like an uphill, but feels like it after you’ve skied it for awhile. I am well aware of this notorious climb, as are the rest of the “elite” level racers. This brings me back to my summer/fall training on rollerskis. I remember one windy day in October in particular. I was in the middle of a 20 mile classic rollerski when I turned onto a long, straight, flat section of road surrounded by nothing but soybean fields. As I turned onto the sad county road, the wind hit me dead in the face. As I skied this section of road, it reminded me of the “False Flat” section of the Sisu course. I was using the same technique roller skiing that I used on race day: a short, quick abdominal crunch while leaning hard on my poles. The section of county road taught me how to keep my head down and push through the pain, even when it felt like I was at a stand still.
While this race was melancholically disappointing, I was able to relate my experience on the “False Flat” to my training this summer on rollerskis. This made me feel like the training was worthwhile. In conclusion, while the race didn’t end exactly how I wanted it to, I learned how to relate race experiences with training experiences and had a blast in the process. After all, citizen races are all about having fun, yet another “F-Word” I can add to my arsenal.