The ironic coincidence is not lost on me that today i took my final training run on waxless, c 1979 jumble-sale skis while the mini birkebeiner today was won with a goodly margin by Skinstad on Salomon skin skis....apt name too!
The weather forecssters got it wrong - today it should have become steadily more cloudy and then colder, but the sun burnt away the light cloud and the wind which came was quite mild and dry. This all happened as i parked up on a roadside pile of snow, hoping i would be able to drive out later as the sun began to beat down!
I decided two rounds at around 13.2 km total would suffice, and opted for skating style on my ancient jumble sale skis. They are Trak "winner" model with a fish scale pattern which must be a full meter of the ski - but the scales are shallower in the leading 20 cm. The whole effect seems to be as good if not better than modern , shorter "3D" machined angular textured grip zones, and i reckon they glide much better while not losing anything much in adhesion against them.
In any case they glide damn well enough for skating progress without any cursing about noise and jittering. They are about 50mm wide with very little side cut (in swing) and about 205 cm long with quite a soft, long camber. Ok my Madshus Ultrasonic are miles faster, but I am not going to hit gravel on them, especially when grinding down a deep track in the softest snow. The 50mm wide skis float better on the slush, while being less jittery on the ice.
"Awefully variable conditions today" said the guy who often drives the piste machine. He is a pensioner with immense stamina, but today cracked him- he had fastmed himself to a pair of Atomic Skintec's in a narrower verson it looked like than mine. Fairly useless on the icey sections which followed the shaded parts of the forrest road like a hand in glove of course. The route was about 60% hard- like concrete, while the sunnier slopes were more like the freshly poured consistency of cement.
Skating gave me an really good work out and also i was able to practice my two weak points - timing/weight transfer and breathing. Glide was very variable as was edge adhesion, but I was able to get enough feel of it and also keep to a rhythm, modifying it slightly for good glide strokes or 'braking' type ones. Also going over to double dance and paddling with a change in tempo and style as required.
I practiced a bit without poles and also was conscious to use them a little less so as to feel the effect of the three body movements- extending the bent leg out, pushing up and risong off it and then transfering weight to the new ski. The skis had a lot of 'float' on the softer stuff, but little edge on the ice- it meant exagerrating the edging in paddling up shadowy hills. The slush sucked power out, but it was quite rewarding to get up some of the hills quicker than in diagonal kicking. The ice defeated me some times, while other attempts suceeded in really quick ascents. I tried diagonal a few times in the slush and the skis did a good job!
I elected to go a third round, bringing the tour up to just under 20 klicks. This round sucked me of stregnth but I was determined to keep up skating as much as possible and avoid any breaks or reversion to classic. The snow was melting now, and in some of my deeper cuts on the sunnier slopes it had turned it's own gangrenous grey - crystals dissolving. The icier parts had a glaze of water on top with the mild wind now blowing. After some paddling hills, I went over to baby steps double dance just to keep going as the sweat ran into my eyes.
I drank the rest of my water and felt the delicious cooling of the stronger breeze which filled in as I turned back on myself to complete the last homeward leg. About half way back i lost interest in rhytmic dancing, did 100m diagonal and decided to take some scenic photos. The route has a 600m mostly uphill start, usually including a fair bit of fiah boning so this is to be avoided on the repeat circuits when it gets icey. My piste machine compatriot had chosen discression as the better part of valour and walked down it. I decided as this was likely the last trainin tour of the season, to ski down it, and took plough and half plough to negotiate the steep hill with bend at the foot, as my own better part of valour.
The run back down to the main road was fast after this and i needed a good anchor plough to brake up in the icey 'kick off' zone at the very end where folk trample about with skis on. Skis off i jogged back to the car. 70km last week, just under 60 this week. A seaon I can put behind me with some degree of satisfaction on both fitness and technique in both styles.