This week’s workout comes from Far West coach Mark Nadell on the very day that his athletes will be doing the “Drifter Time Trial” at Tahoe Donner XC in Truckee, Calif. Course records have some weight; they were set by Noah Hoffman in 2007 and Caitlin Gregg just last year in 2013.
Wednesday’s nickname is “Hump Day,” and that will have special meaning today for a large group of Nordic athletes training in the Sierra Nevada. Park City has it’s famed Agony Hill, but Truckee has the “Drifter Time Trial,” a 2 kilometer, 200 meter climb (that’s 1.3 miles and almost 700 feet in elevation, for you metric-impaired) to a high point on the Tahoe Donner Cross Country ski trails — the Drifter Hut.
“If someone actually took the time to look around (without their eyes being blurry from the effort), they’d see some of the most beautiful scenes in the Truckee Tahoe area, with views of Castle Peak and the Sierra Crest unfolding before them.”
Part of the incredibly scenic Donner Rim Trail, the Drifter TT begins its warm-up just off of Interstate 80, about halfway to Auburn Ski Club from Truckee, at the Donner Lake Interchange Exit. You begin by hiking up Negro Canyon, starting at the 6,400 foot elevation, and warm up by ascending the Rim Connector Trail to the beginning of the real climb, where you meet the actual Rim Trail.
From the start of the TT, coaches usually send out the athletes at 15 second intervals in order to spread things out, fastest going first, so that passing is at a minimum. The trail switchbacks through the trees, up and up, eventually coming out into the open slopes, and if someone actually took the time to look around (without their eyes being blurry from the effort), they’d see some of the most beautiful scenes in the Truckee Tahoe area, with views of Castle Peak and the Sierra Crest unfolding before them. The trail tops out at almost 7,600 feet, so not only is it tough, the altitude alone can turn those visiting flatlanders inside out.
The cool down is simple: an easy jog or hike back down the way you came up, with the added bonus of an incredibly refreshing dip in Donner Lake on the way back to Truckee.
The Drifter Time Trial has a long history of accurate times, so that athletes can compare themselves to some of the top racers in the area, and even the country. The course records were set by none other than Noah Hoffman (in 2007, here for a Regional Elite Group camp), with a time of 10 minutes and 7 seconds, and Caitlin Gregg (just last year in 2013), with a time of 12 minutes and 18 seconds. Top local junior boys are generally in the 12 to 14 minute time frame, with the girls completing the course in 13 to 16 minutes. You can view a complete list of times, dating back to 2005, on the Far West Nordic website.
Today marks the first summer Time Trial of the season for our group of Junior and Senior athletes, from the Auburn Ski Club Development and Competition Teams, the Sugar Bowl Academy Nordic athletes, and Far West’s Summer College Residency program skiers here from points east. We’ll see if anyone will challenge Noah or Caitlin’s time!
From Far West: It’s Summer Training Season! Far West Nordic has a crew of College Summer Athletes in town, and along with Sugar Bowl Academy and Auburn Ski Club Nordic Team skiers, they can be seen all over the roads and trails of Truckee. Check out these pics from Sunday’s rollerski interval session: http://macbethgraphics.