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Pierra Menta - Day 2

What a difference a day makes. Things didn't go perfectly but it was so much more satisfying that it's easy to overlook some of the glitches today. Nate essentially felt close to normal, not perfect, but his speed and endurance were what we were hoping for. We spent the day picking off dozens of competitors. I love doing that, of course. Feeds the rat within, I guess. But more importantly, we raced well, transitioned mostly like pros and skied all the descents cleanly, save for my little knee tweaking tumble 5 minutes from the finish. More details later.

The official profile

Only fast Italian skimo chicks can get away with suits like theseWe drove to the line this time which was better. We didn't need an additional 25 minutes of skinning before a 2,900 meter day. We were all good until the beacon check dude wouldn't let Nate to the start line without me. Problem was, I was already there. I was holding the drop bag wondering where the hell he was and he just made it. He was taking his jacket off and stuffing it away as the gun went off. At least we didn't have to worry about anyone stepping on our poles. There was no one behind us.

The next hiccup was at the first transition. They only ran us about 5 minutes uphill before turning us around and skiing 3km down to town. As I buckled my boot the cord came undone from the catch on the boot and I didn't have lock down mode. This required me to come out my skis, pull up my race suit pant cuff - no small task with the tight fit - reattach the cord and get going. The pack was out of sight. Not good. 

So, I tucked the decent and caught a few stragglers at the next tranny which started a 300 meter climb through town on roads and muddy trails. My plan to stay out of threshold today was cast aside as I ran past dozens of competitors in my quest to catch up. I felt surprisingly good. Fully recovered, even. I think I managed to get nearly back to where I was, recognizing many of the Lycra-clad butts in front of me and catching Nate before he skinned away, thinking I was in front of him.

Finally out of the treesThen started the endless series of switch backs up through the woods. We heard there would be 80 of them and that seemed about right. We mowed through people whenever the track allowed. Tight switch backs making for sometimes frustrating racing because, even if you're a good kick turner, you still have to wait. Some people absolutely suck at the skill and the bottlenecks get even worse. I can say that my technical skinning is pretty good after today.

Yes, I was actually participatingAnyway, the day became a blur of climbs and fun descents, always reeling in and passing our way to the middle of the pack. The final climb was long and involved the better part of an hour skinning up tight switch backs through trees. My skins were soaked and I new the failure was coming. One skin finally came off and I switched it out in short order. We came out of the trees to a ski area and there were lots of spectators with cow bells and such. 

Cow bell guys doing their thingThe final descent was pretty gnarly, taking us down a steep avalanche path, north facing, that was a combo of sugar, firm snow and big bumps with little trees all over to keep it spicy. We were duking it out with two aggressive women racers who were ripping it until one crashed. We got spit out onto a long, crazy cat track and we continued to vie for position with them. It was pretty funny. They were good skiers.

Just before the final piste I hit a pile of snow, caught an edge and ate shit. I rolled quickly but noticed a little tweak in my right knee. It didn't really bother me as we tucked to the finish. But when I stopped, it definitely felt wrong. Unfortunately, I know a little too much about this sort of thing and I quickly ran through a rather short list of what it could be. I recreated the rather sharp pain one more time with a deep knee lunge and suspected maybe a meniscus tear. But, as time passed, there was no swelling and no instability. I walked up to the store a couple of times and it was good. So, maybe just a little capsule sprain. Who knows? Who cares? If I can ski tomorrow then we'll never know.

Nate in full recovery mode, glad to have yesterday behind him

Stage 3

Rumor has it we're in for a significant weather change tomorrow. Rain and general unpleasantness on tap. It means we won't get to do the highlight of the event, the ridge walk on the Grand Mont. Hard to say where we'll go but I'm hoping it'll be shorter. We did 2,900 meters today in 4.5 hours. I'm tired but feel pretty good. We'll see.

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Reader Comments (1)

Keep crushing

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChorney

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