2009 Gatineau Loppet Report #2: My Gloppet
By: Gino Ainsley (2009/02/17)
This year, I was quite uncertain of what I could do at the Gatineau Loppet. After a stupid bike accident in the fall which kept me off training for almost 2 months followed by an all-time low in motivation, I started x-c skiing season very low on base training. However, things progressed fairly well for me since January and despite the lack of volume, I thought that if things went well I could do OK at this year's edition of the Gatineau Loppet. I did not think I could pull off a top ~20 as previously done but if the snow gods were with me, maybe I could pull off a top 25-30.
So I had an ok start, and quickly found a group that I was comfortable to ski with. By looking at the results later, this turned out to be guys from about position 22 to 28. I felt under control and the pace was not too hard. I felt confident that I could remain with this group until the end. I noticed that my skis were OK but not great - on long down hills I had to be careful because I was losing ground a bit. However, being in a group of 7-8 guys, the draft is good enough and people generally regroup naturally.
I never carry anything to drink, I always rely on the getting drinks from the feed zone. At Penguin, after 16-18km, I wanted to have some sugar - a Gatorade. However I was only handed water. So I had to stop for a brief 5 seconds to find the proper drink. I could not afford to lose the "mothership" so I had to catch up with my group of guys. In retrospect, I should have pushed a little more on the uphill to completely catch up. I was almost there and on the other side of the hill, on the long descent, I was only only meters behind when I crashed right in the middle of the hill (I'll spare you the details). So I lost the mothership. How do you catch up when these guys are going 40 km/h downhill and you start at 0 km/h? Answer: by spending a lot of energy - energy that I unfortunately did not have. I proceeded up to Champlain, picked up a couple of guys on the way, and at one point we caught up to Craig Storey (XCOttawa) - we then formed a group of 4 guys. We made it up to Champlain and on the way down, things started to turn sour for me - the elastic game really started. On every downhill, I would lose ground to my 3 companions and had to catch back every time. My 3 bigger friends seemed to just fly downhill and even in their draft I could barely hang on. The first big blow for me occurred down Black lake, when I saw Craig taking off like a rocket - jury is still out if this is due to his size or his Karhu skis :-). The final blow occurred down Pink lake - this is when I lost contact with this group of 3 and I had very little in the tank at that point. I tried to make up the lost distance but my body was not agreeing with this.
So roughly 5-6 km to go to the finish line seemed like a lot of distance to cover. Every once in a while I would look behind but I was not seeing anybody. Near Asticou, I started to see a big group. It seems like a pack of angry (and hungry) wolves chasing me! This is not far from the truth :-) - they passed me as I entered the turn-around point at Asticou with about 2.5 km to go. They were about 10 people, including the 2 XC Ottawa women, Sheila and Megan, and 2 of my training partners, Yves and Maurice. I proceeded to climb the Asticou hill with only sugar vapors in my body - I even had to take a little 5s pause in the middle. So I made it to the end along side with Dev Paul.
Conclusion, got a 42nd place but I was hoping for a better result. So next objective is Mont-Valin. I am hoping to have a better race there.