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Training Log: danfoster

In the last 7 days:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Adventure Racing2 8:42:00 22.89(22:48) 36.84(14:10)
  Paddling1 2:19:00 5.9(23:34) 9.49(14:38)
  Mountain Biking w/ Jess2 2:08:00 15.7(8:09) 25.27(5:04)
  Road Biking1 1:50:00 23.8(4:37) 38.3(2:52)
  Total5 14:59:00 68.29(13:10) 109.91(8:11)
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Wednesday Apr 21 #

Mountain Biking w/ Jess 1:00:00 [3] 7.0 mi (8:34 / mi)

Up at 3AM, couldn't sleep. The times, they are a-changin', and the tires need to change along with them. Pulled the knobbies off the Cutthroat, and swapped the summer slicks back on. Couldn't get them to seat with the floor pump, and it seemed wrong to fire up the air compressor at 4AM, directly below the bedroom. Swapped out the 30t bikepacking chainring for a faster 34t. Goodbye, granny gear!

Since the back wheel was off, and the chain and cassette are both on their last miles, I pulled off the hub driver and matched pictures online until I was confident I had found the correct XD driver to replace the stock 11s driver. If the new one actually shows up in a month (shipping from China), I'll try a wide range 9-46 e13 cassette and have a true go-anywhere bike.

As soon as creatures besides mouses were stirring, I fired up the compressor and popped both tires on. Then banished the bikes and gear bins to another room and vacuumed and steam cleaned a winter's-worth of grit and grease off of the carpet.

Took Jess out at lunchtime for what was supposed to be a quick shakedown to bounce the sealant around and make sure the shifting still worked. Passed an enormous snapper laying eggs on the way in. Jess went straight to the muddiest of mud holes, and so we extended the ride in hopes of shedding mud and finding cleaner water. Ran into Crazy Daisy and the two of them ran each other ragged for a while. A few minutes later we heard a crack and watched a 100' pine come crashing down, a bit too close for comfort. Nearly got blown over sideways as we exited the woods onto the narrow, fast runout into the main field. Rain is imminent.

Tuesday Apr 20 #

Mountain Biking w/ Jess 1:08:00 [3] 8.7 mi (7:49 / mi)

CP flag pickup in Stow Town Forest with Jess. Thankfully the two remaining flags were still there. Jess got some good runs in as we bombed around the singletrack (she cut a corner - cheater!) and several dips in the river and Elizabeth Brook. The deer carcass we found early in the winter is now just a pile of white hair, but Jess still paid it a visit. Almost made it to the top of Gardner Hill from the north side. One more tricky set of roots to get around, and I would have been home free.

Road Biking 1:50:00 [3] 23.8 mi (4:37 / mi)

Vaughn Hill loop with the Daves. 70 and windy. I'm really looking forward to these rides as the apple trees begin to bloom. I need to put the road slicks on, or grow a bigger set of legs, though.

Monday Apr 19 #

Paddling 2:19:00 [3] 5.9 mi (23:34 / mi)

Another "first descent" in the packraft. This time a miserable 1.5 mile trek along busy, shoulderless Rt 117 from Bolton Flats to a tick-infested launch on a grassy bank, 6 ft above the water. This gave access to a 4.5 mile paddle down the North and South branches of the Nashua River, completing the triangle back to the car. Both rivers carve their way through fertile bottomland, surrounded by woods and farms. In reality, this meant the whole trip was looking up at sheer 6ft muddy banks to a floodplain covered in knotweed, poison ivy stems, and No Hunting signs. The scenery wasn't that great, but the rivers were moving along at a healthy clip, with lots of quick water and eddies behind every fallen tree and obstruction. I had a great time hopping from eddy to eddy, ferrying across the current, and doing figure eights in places.

The first river-wide obstruction was surrounded by high, muddy banks, and I crept up, hoping to find a way through. When their wasn't one, I found myself in a bit of a pickle, frantically back-paddling and trying to retreat back upstream to an eddy while water started piling up against the stern. I really wished I had some sort of boat leash or tow line, as I needed to throw the boat and paddle up onto the high bank and then climb up a bunch of tree roots to get up to the flood plain above.

After that, it was smooth sailing for a few miles downstream, joining the South Nashua at a confluence with a huge paper wasp nest on a bridge abutment. When I reached the dead oxbow of the South Nashua, there was a huge pileup of detritus on trees spanning both forward options, and thankfully I chose to pull off on a grassy point just upstream to scout around the corner. It was a scary mess ahead, with the current funneling into a nasty strainer in the small portion of the river that wasn't completely filled with drifted wood.

I don't think I could have portaged around with anything other than a 5 lb packraft. I ended up smashing my way through a forest of dried, head-high Japanese Knotweed stalks, tossing the boat over a fallen oak, and then clamoring down the muddy bank a hundred feet downstream. What a shame that the river is basically blocked to boat traffic here, and will probably remain so for a year or more. I'd managed to paddle upstream to here years ago, and probably got stopped by the same blockage.

After that, it was smooth sailing down to the car, with one notable play spot at a submerged v-shaped log that set up the perfect surfing hole, on a scale that I was comfortable tackling (that is, very, very small). I spent some time with the boat stuck to the wave, hopping in and out of the eddy on either side, and edging the boat against the downstream current.

I finally peeled off and drifted the remainder of the way down to the highway and a muddy takeout, flicking the last remaining (I hope) tick off of my neck and out the window on the short drive home.

Sunday Apr 18 #

Adventure Racing 5:30:00 [3] 19.6 mi (16:50 / mi)

Ran my "Stow Faux 6hr AR" training course with Janet and Steph, in preparation for their first AR (NYARA Trilogy) at the end of the month. Postponed from yesterday so we wouldn't have to train in the lingering nor'easter slush and drizzle. A good call! We had temps from 48-60, with chilly parts and even a bit of sun later in the day.

Started with map handout and route plotting on the hood of the car. They came up with the route choices, which worked out almost perfectly into two-hour segments for each stage. First up was biking, and Steph took my map board and led us around the southern portion of the course through the wildlife refuge, taking us right to the controls. One little bobble where an abandoned trail lured them in, which they quickly caught and reversed. One mistake on my part, promising open bathrooms outside the visitors center, which weren't.

We allowed ourselves 7 minutes off the clock to break down bikes and lock them in cars for security, but then the transition to paddling was back on the timer. The warm sun was quickly replaced by a cold breeze, and I pulled out my rain jacket at the first shore visit. Lots of practice hopping in and out of sea kayaks into cold river water while wearing bike shoes. Janet was very happy to find a tricky on-shore control right where she expected it. The team made the decision to skip a shoreline point rather than land and disturb two fishermen who had just arrived right at the spot we needed to be. They also made a smart call to skip a 20 minute out-and-back for a single point to bank more time for the final orienteering stage.

After the boats were back on the cars, we stopped the clock and drove a few miles to the scout reservation, where NEOC had a set of practice orienteering courses, complete with streamers. To keep things complicated, I gave them both the Yellow and Orange maps, and told them they could get points from either map, in any order. They were very strong on the orienteering section, and we flew through the course, having to add back the CPs they'd initially decided to skip. Saw several other orienteerers out in the woods, and one of them was kind enough to mention that they'd started taking down the controls. So our last two points were "virtual", but clearly at the correct locations. We finished with about 30 minutes to spare on the race clock.

Total distances:
Bike: 11.3 miles in 1:51
Paddle: 3.9 miles in 1:26
Trek: 4.4 miles in 1:54
Two transitions: fairly quick

Saturday Apr 17 #

Adventure Racing 3:12:00 [3] 5.3 km (36:14 / km)

Packraft training on the Squannacook and Nashua Rivers - my own personal Two Rivers AR, complete with giant rootstock.

Another cold, raw, day after two days of Nor'easter-driven snow and spitting rain. But at least the rivers are running now! 3.4 ft on the Squanny gage. Trekked in 1.7 mi from the car through Groton Town Forest to an old ford across the river, where the current was ripping and audible long before I arrived. An intimidating spot to launch into, and probably crux of the trip.
There's a perfect, boat-sized eddy to launch from, and the first paddle stroke takes you out into the main current, under a sweeper (more of a face slapper), and then you immediately need to cross the river to avoid a half-river strainer, and then the river disappears around a tight corner with the promise of more debris in fast-moving water, just out of sight.

It actually wasn't that bad, and I'd scouted it with Jess earlier this winter (it snowed on us that day, too). I spent the first quarter mile hopping from eddy to eddy, making sure I could catch them before proceeding downstream. The water velocity mellowed out, and the game now became how to pick a way through the frequent strainers and river-wide obstructions. I lost count of the portages, although only two of them really took much effort. At this flow, I was able to butt-scoot over a number of submerged logs and some of the marsh grass, and shoot a few of the beaver dams through gaps that barely seemed wide enough.

The wildlife was incredible. Lots of wood ducks. Nesting geese. A chickadee with a perfectly-cylindrical nest hole carved into the end of a rotted-out tree limb. And in the most peaceful, wild backwater, the river backed up to the Shirley Rod and Gun Club, which added a "woodpecker-esque" rat-a-tat to the otherwise enjoyable surroundings.

It took me well over an hour to work my way down 1.7 miles of the fast-flowing Squannacook, mainly due to the frequent obstructions. Once I paddled into the north-flowing Nashua, the river was clear (despite a river-wide disaster area just upstream of the confluence) and my pace quickened considerably. I paddled over to get a closer look at a mink, who darted into a riverbank hole when he caught wind of my approach.

1.5 miles down the Nashua, I passed the fancy boathouse of the Groton School's crew team, and then pulled ashore to deflate the boat, doff the drysuit, and step back into soaked trail runners for a quick hike back to the car. Having stowed all of my gear in my pack for the packrafting portion of the day, I was very happy to have access to my bag of gorp again, and chowed down on the trek and drive back home to a warm shower.

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