|One trip up & down Moose|
Mountain...one to go!
Lyndeborough, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Moose Mountain...you won't find it on a map or an AMC trail guide. But anyone who attempts (and finishes) the Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race become intimately familiar with it. Due to two consecutive postponements, FGF would be the opening race in the 2011 Granite State Snowshoe Series. Last winter was the first winter this event was included in the series and my first time in Lyndeborough. With over 3000' of climbing this may be the one of the toughest courses in NH...and perhaps in the northeast. As if one time up and down Moose Mountain weren't enough, the 5+ mile course travels TWO times up and down the mountain. The fabulous snow we had received the week before drew a very impressive field, both in number and in quality...Ferenc, Tilton, Nephew, Kelly, Cunningham, Therriault, Jackman, Wolfe, the Ferreira's, Snow, Principe, Welts, Fitzgibbon, Lavers, Myers, Curry, Wade, Smith and the list went on and on. A Top 20 finish in this crowd would be a HUGE accomplishment. The race started with a 250 meter 'sprint' around the parking lot on double wide semi-groomed track in an effort to get the field single file before we hit the singletrack which would comprise 99% of the race. As predicted, this first section of the course was a sprint with snow, knees, and elbows a flying. I tried to stay patient and tucked in behind my teammate Steve Wolfe. By the time we hit the singletrack there was a quite a line of 'shoers and I estimated myself to be somewhere in the Top 15ish. With the entire race in front of me and two trips up Moose Mountain ahead I was in no hurry to start pressing. As we negotiated the first 5 minutes of singletrack Steve, racing directly in front of me, fell straight forward landing on his chest. Figuring he'd dragged a tip, and knowing there were 50+ snowshoers directly behind us, I slipped by and encouraged him to go. In retrospect I should have stopped...but more on that later. Approaching the first climb I was in a very strong group consisting of David Principe, Sean Snow, and Amber Ferreira. Dave & Sean were ahead with Amber pressing hard in back. I asked her once or twice if she wanted the spot and each time she deferred. As the ascent pace slowed to a power hike Dave stepped aside and let Sean, myself, and Amber pass. Cresting Moose Mountain for the first time we began the gnarly steep descent that makes this race exciting and dangerous all at once. Typically conservative on the downs I was unable to hold off a very hard charging teammate, Ryan Welts who went around myself and Sean. No sooner had we lost nearly all the elevation that we had gained and we were once again climbing back up the mountain on a slightly steeper route. It was here that I stepped aside and let Amber press forward to Sean and Ryan who I was beginning to lose. Not long after Amber flew by two things happened...Ryan came back to me and Danny went around. Although Danny had raced the Winter Wild uphill snowshoe earlier than morning he had no trouble putting the hammer down on me on the climb no less! By the time we had made it around once (with one loop to go) Danny, myself, and Ryan were in a pace line doing our best to keep Amber and Sean in sight. But that wouldn't last long as those two, perhaps feeding off each other, seemed to accelerate on that third ascent. They would not be seen again...at least by Ryan and myself. Danny rallied in those final two climbs putting a gap on Ryan and myself (who traded paced several times) and closing the gap on Sean and Amber (who he eventually caught and beat by less than 30 seconds). On the final climb Ryan scooted around me and never looked back. Although I kept him in sight he was far too strong and never let me get any closer than our finishing gap...6 seconds. I crossed the line in 46:08 good enough for 13th place overall and 2nd 40+ behind Sean who beat me by more than 90 seconds. Individual accomplishment aside, acidotic RACING had an incredibly strong showing with 4 in the Top 10, 8 in the Top 20, 14 overall finishers, and one podium...Amber's female win!
PS. I had mentioned that I should have stopped and helped Wolfe when he fell. Apparently he pulled what's now referred to as an Wamber...stepping through one snowshoe with your other 'shoe hopelessly entangling your cleats. Believe it or not, Danny actually stopped to help him, was unable, and eventually continued...and still beat me! As I was finishing my last loop I noticed Steve taking pictures. Once he eventually untangled his 'shoes the Velcro straps had gotten covered with powder rendering them useless. He struggled to the finish the first lap with his snowshoes barely attached before wisely calling it a day. Knowing Steve he'll unleash the fury next weekend at Whitaker Woods...and I'll be the unfortunate recipient of his revenge.
NEXT UP: Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race, North Conway, NH (GSSS #2)
[Photos courtesy of Scott Mason Photography & Steve Wolfe]
|WAMBER: To punch the tip of one snowshoe|
through the top of the other causing an
immediate faceplant and possible DNF; named after
both Wolfe and Amber who popularized the method.