After the last freeze/thaw cycle, quite a few laps were needed to transform the hard surface into something to ski on. The first attempt worked at the expense of a drive belt so I knew the setup I have is capable of performing the work. The next objective was learning how to break up the hard surface without destroying a drive belt of spending hours on the sled turning excessive laps of the trail.
The first pass was made with the teeth of the Tidd just touching the surface. This pass did little more than scarify the surface and cut deeper into the small ridges formed by skis and the settling of snow. A few turns of the jackscrew lowered the teeth a bit more and started cutting the hardpack. My belief is the first pass made weak spots in the hard surface and destroyed any support in a lateral direction. Without the support of surrounding material, pressure from the teeth caused the ice to fail and more easily chip away. A final pass had a nice bow wave of chipped ice and snow forming just ahead of the cutting teeth.
The surface consists of particles ranging in these sizes from the highest percentage down: snow flakes, fine sand, grains of rice, popcorn, peanuts with a few cashews and the occasional walnut. The skiing was fast on firm snow which sintered together into a durable surface. I’m a bit chuffed with myself about the results and no burned up belt.
Here is a virtual lap of the trails right outside the front door starting at the single point biathlon range. Clockwise is the direction of travel for this tour.
The firing point is a plywood platform to level the surface and provide support for the shooter. The platform also allows the height relative to the targets to remain the same regardless of the snow depth. The point is on one side of a gully and the targets the other eliminating the need for snow removal between the target and the firing point. The targets have a shed roof to keep them out of the weather and provide even lighting. The roof is recycled corrugated fiberglass panels.
The platform is anywhere between 6″ and 12″ off the ground. By packing in snow it becomes ski in/ski out. Immediately after exiting the point the skier makes this shallow downhill, left turn which then sweeps around to the right and travels along the band of light along the edge of the snow in this photo.
After an uphill with a grade causing the skier to choose V1 or V2 the trail turns right and passes behind the targets. Training is a solo affair unless the skiers use the trails behind the firing point. There is only one way into the trails here and they can be closed off to prevent someone from skiing into the area behind the targets. There is a bullet stopping backstop enclosing the rear of the targets but there is no reason to take any chances on someone getting shot while out for an afternoon ski.
The photo above shows the trail ascending and bending left. This turn brings the skiers into a shorts section of trail known as the Nose Loop. In this photo, the skier heads out on the left trail and returns on the right side of the photos. This is maybe 150 meters. The loop was named after my wife cut a sapling while clearing brush for the trail. The cut tree fell over pivoting in her hand and the fresh cut end popped her right in the bridge of the nose drawing a few drops of blood. No permanent damage to Jill or the trail.
After the Nose Loop the trail bends left into this short straight. This is the high point of the trail maybe 50 vertical feet above the lowest section. The far end of the straight marks the midpoint of the trail having a total length of 850 meters.
From the Top Straight the trail takes a hard right where a strong V2 adds speed for descent through a section of kinks in the trail. By brushing the left shoulder on a pine before scuffing the bark of the white birch on the right these kinks can be taken as a straight line. After the kinks the trail becomes a fast, left hand, off-camber sweeping corner which tests the nerves, balance and turning ability of a skier carrying an excess of speed. Skiing clockwise the corner opens up and you arrive at a 5 way intersection. Go left and enter the Wood Loop, another short Nose like section of trail where we collected several cord of good firewood. This loop is fun to ski and either keep going into the Drag Strip Corner or use it to reverse direction. Either option is fun.
The photos of this trails section were awful and left out.
Before entering the Drag Strip the skier must negotiate this right angled right hand turn. This corner requires a good setup to carry momentum into the Drag Strip.
This long straight section of trail has the most time spent going fast. A good exit of Drag Strip Corner and the skier is going fast enough to use an alternate V2 or tuck skate. A good indication of speed is roller coastering the short uphill at the end of the strip. Halfway down the strip on the right side is another trail entry coming in from the house.
Past the Drag Strip is a short off camber downhill which is fun to ski down and a challenge to ski back up. The trail re-enters he woods and transitions uphill where another sweeping but diminishing radius curve awaits the skier. This curve is followed by a short and steep hill with a 10′ elevation gain and might be the most difficult transition of the entire lap. A bad corner setup kills momentum going into the hill and instead of quick gear changes from Alt. V2 to a few quick V1s the skier can find themselves behind the power curve and just trying to get up the rise with some sense of ski form. The tight corner at the top of the rise is easily negotiated and you pass the glider trailer storage area. Not an official name.
The top of the difficult transition can be seen just above the doghouse of the trailer. The glider is a DWLKK PW-5. This section of trail moves uphill past the chicken coop and tool barn.
Passing the chicken coop on the left side is this short and perplexing uphill. The photos shows it slightly dished making the ski up a bit harder. The skier enters this hill after a slight climb so minimal momentum is carried into the base. The banking on both sides follows the rocky terrain and the trail isn’t wide enough to skate up until the snow depth builds allowing the trail to widen out. Early season skating makes this a DP event or a high tempo shallow V affair. The hill is also a fun sledding run.
From the top of the Steep Uphill the trail descends enough to make this next corner quite fun. The original trail turned hard left just after the small Beech tree on the left of the photo. The sled couldn’t make the turn so I bailed out threading the space between the Silver Birch and Red Maples. The result was a mistake turned awesome. The trail follows the edge of the yard instead of cutting across it. The sweeper brings the skier back to the range to start another lap. The Drag Strip is barely visible along the right hand corner of the photo.
The trail isn’t too long but is filled with enough technical issues to keep it fun. Grooming the trail has made it much faster and my skills have developed quite a bit. During races, corners followed by uphills are my weakest point of skiing. I lose so much momentum and spend huge amounts of energy getting back up to speed. It’ll be interesting to see if my skills have indeed improved or is the familiarity I have with these transitions great enough there is a false sense of improvement?
From the house, skiers can be seen as they move around the trails. The trail winds around and cloverleafs back towards the house which had the intent of my kids being able to get my attention every minute or so if they were in need of something. Now I watch them head out and come back into view which always makes me smile.