Home Bio Schedule Sponsors Photos Contact

Monday, October 30, 2006

What would a sewing project be without making matching accessories? I used some extra fabric and ribbon to make a matching headband. Posted by Picasa

On my day off I decided to make a creation that had long been in my head: diaper pants. So called (by me) because you put them on like they are diapers with legs. The front part wraps around and ties in back (I used hook closures) and the back part comes around to tie in front. I like these pants because of the simplicity of the design. And then I started piecing them together and it turned out to be not so simple. The worst part was the ribbon piping along the front. I don't know what made me think that would be a good idea. I think I decided to do that so I wouldn't have to hem. Foolish girl. Somehow I finished, mostly because Kay let me use her sewing supplies, including the nicest sewing machine I've ever used. Maybe a little too fancy for me; a little teary-eyed face even popped up to tell me that my bobbin was running low on thread.
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Absolute Strength

Saturday evening we finished off our high intensity week with a session of absolute strength. This was my first experience with absolute strength and most of the time I spent practicing my incredulous/skeptical face. Let me describe the workout to you. The point, I think, is to execute several absolute maximum exercises to help clear lactate and refresh the muscles. Or something.

We started with a typical warmup, about ten minutes on a cardio machine in the MTU weight room. I chose to run backwards on the elliptical machine; it's not every day I get to run backwards. We finished the warmup with some medicine ball throws. Then we had our workout -- only three exercises, 6 sets of 1 rep. The first thing we did was leg press on the sliding machine thing. Totally normal, we just did so much weight that we could only barely do one rep. Then we moved to pull-ups. It gets a little weird here because we're supposed to do Russian pull-ups. Russian pull-ups are when (so they tell me) you start with a normal pull-up but then continue to raise your body above the bar. So your hands go from arms extended straight above your head to arms straight down by your sides. Yes, that is hard work. Since I am not very good at pull-ups, I just did normal pull-ups with enough weight so that I could only barely do one. Then, and this is when I started laughing uncontrollably, we went out to an empty corner of the MTU parking lot with our flavorful van and pushed it for 8-second intervals. Cook, Compton & I were on a team while Kuzzy and Gregg were on the other. It was about 8pm by this point and there seemed to be something a little wrong about hanging out in a dark parking lot, pushing our van. If you ever get a chance to watch Kuzzy try to push a van (Kuzzy & Gregg couldn't actually get the van to move, which made it even more funny), you should because he manages to contort his body in an entertaining manner.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Newell, 8th

Koos, Cook, & Newell raced the World Cup sprints in Dusseldorf, Germany today. Newell was the only one to make the heats, but crashed out in the Semi-final. He placed second in the B final to get 8th overall!! This was the first World Cup race, and 8th is GOOD!!

Michigan Tech

Hanging out with Kristina, I've been getting a feel for what it's like to have the big University experience. I'm beginning to realize that most schools aren't like Whitman. I mean, I've always known that, but it never really made an impression. We went to the hhockey game last night in which Mich Tech absolutely slaughtered University of Alaska Anchorage: 9 to 0. I had no idea hockey games could be so high scoring. I felt bad for UAA; that's a long way to come just to lose so badly.

Speaking of colleges, I met someone who graduated from Whitman yesterday who was taking our CXC Get Your Nordic On Clinic. I didn't know him from Whitman (he graduated in 2004), but it made me really unreasonably happy to run into another Whitman alum.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Houghton, MI

Actually, I'm in Hancock, MI. But they appear to be basically the same city, just on oposite sides of the portage canal which connects Portage Lake with Lake Superior (don't sound inane by calling it a river). I've decided Houghton is a very cute little place. As Kristina pointed out, it's nestled in a small valley so you don't actually notice the depressing flatness that surrounds you. And we've been able to find tons of good hills for training purposes. No mountains, but there's long enough and steep enough hills to get good interval workouts in.

Miss Kristina Owen is being a good hostess and showing me around Houghton and the Michigan Tech campus. We went out to Sheldon's to get pasties for lunch yesterday. Pasties are a midwest thing and not very healthy. They are meat/potatoe/carrot filled pastries and can be quite good and almost always are exceedingly cheap for the amount of calories they pack. Good stuff for poor skiers/students/anyone. Yesterday, we also played a fun little prank; we gave a certain dog a shower and in doing so stained the floor of the MichTech Women's nordic showers a little pink. The dog used to be brown and white and belongs to a certain guy on the MichTech ski team who painted Kristina's turtle. I'm kind of glad that I'll be out of the state before the escalates too far.

We've been checking out the courses that will be used for Senior Nationals this January; they look fun!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bryan Cook, post time trial, being dramatic on top of one of the high points in Michigan. Posted by Picasa

"Uphill" Time Trial

Fish had been talking up this big hill in the Porcupine "Mountains" in Michigan, that went up and up and up for miles and miles and miles. So he's had this big time trial looming over us for forever. We finally skied it today and I would say, "for the Midwest, it was a pretty good climb." Unfortunately, there was also quite a bit of flat between pitches so it wasn't quite the hill Fish made it out to be. We did get to hike up to some "summits" and check out some nice views. Before our TT we hiked (about 400m) to the Summit of the Porkys and afterwards we hiked (about 300m) to overlook the Lake of the Clouds. The time trial itself was, um, slow for me. slow. Leaving me wondering why I'm slow. I'm going to ponder that for awhile.

Now we are in Houghton, MI to preview the courses for Senior Nationals in January and get in some good intensity training. We had the good fortune (and someone, Fish, I think, had the good networking skillz) to set us up with host families. All four houses are close and it is super-duper nice to be staying in HOMES and not HOTELS. I dislike staying in hotels; I never really relax or feel welcome. Gregg and I are staying with Brian & Rima Carlson and right now there is a lasagna baking in the oven for dinner!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mock Sprint Relay

We ran a mock double pole sprint relay near Cresthill this morning. Three teams of two: Gregg & Compton, Kuzzy & Valaas, Cook & his imaginary friend Shamiqua. We had two races & each person did four laps each race. The boys sprinted each other & Caitlin & I sprinted each other, we also had to watch out for Shamiqua. The races were very exciting and both came down to the final legs. All told it added up to about twelve minutes of double pole sprint. Twelve, that's not really very much. But it made my back sore.

After training most of the summer and all fall, I'm surprised that 12 minutes could make me sore. And I'm reminded how specific skiing is. The only way to really get good at skiing is to ski & the only way to train you muscles to race is by skiing at race pace. Now is the time to start getting the training up to speed. So we don't discover hidden weaknesses only after the season starts.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Arts & Crafts

I've decided to pick up some of my crafty habits that I had dropped. There's this pair of pants that I want to make and Kay introduced me to her sewing room today, so that project is seeming very feasible. I also got a cross-stitch from the craft store in Hayward and started it. I thought about knitting, but knitting's not really my thing for some reason. Maybe because so many of my friends knit and I like to pretend that I'm somehow different from other people. I'm not the only one who had crafty aspirations today; Caitlin carved an intricate pumpkin and started an ambitious Halloween costume making project.

Tonight we went up to Dennis's for dinner. Cook made dinner, Gregg & Compton made the salad, Fish cleaned up, Dennis made brownies and hosted, and I, well, I carved a pumpkin and enjoyed the evening.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Dennis Kruse, representing the Seeley Hills Ski Club, had us and some other local skiers over to the Sawmill Saloon to help put together the race fliers for the Seeley Hills Classic. I was too busy sticking labels on the folded brochures to actually read one, otherwise I would tell you about the race. I do believe it takes place the 2nd or 3rd Saturday in January in Seeley, WI. And if you race it you get a cool hat, the style and colors of which Dennis has agonized over for months. We had a nice pizza dinner afterwards and drove home in a SNOWSTORM! I am hoping to wake up tomorrow to a blanket of snow on the ground!!

New Van!

We took our first team venture in the new CXC team van this morning. I wish I had pictures to show you, but my camera only complies with my picture taking intentions about 40% of the time and today was not one of those times. Maybe tomorrow. If I could take pictures I would show you the bright pink sign taped to the windshield reminding the driver, "9'4" Clearance, CAUTION." I'd show you the carpeted ceiling. I'd show you how the front passenger door is welded shut. The van was converted from an old handicapped accessible van so there's still lift operating instructions near the side doors. Yeah, it is pretty impressive, we'll definitely be arriving at the race scene with flair. This van is a prime candidate for MTV's Pimp my Ride show.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Why training* is good

One of my new hobbies was learning exercise physiology, so I read this textbook Fish had. Here's a summary of one of my favorite sections, titled Physiologic Consequences of Training.
From Aerobic (Endurance) Training:
*Mitochondria in muscles become larger and more numerous.
*Increased capacity to generate ATP, through increased enzymes & mitochondria.
*Increase in the muscles' ability to burn fat (lipid metabolism).
*Increase in the muscles' ability to oxidize carbohydrates.
*Muscle fibers get better at being muscle fibers.
*Increase in size of muscle fibers.
*Increase in heart weight and volume.
*Increase in plasma volume-->
- enhances circulatory reserve
- increases oxygen transport
- improves temperature regulation
*Decrease in resting heart rate.
*Increase in heart's stroke volume.
*Increase in maximum cardiac output.
*Increase in the quantity of oxygen extracted from blood.
*Ability to exercise at a lower cardiac output.
*Increase in cross-sectional area of arteries and veins.
*Increase in blood circulation during maximal exercise.
*Reduction in blood pressure.
*Increased breathing volumes.
*Changes in body composition, less fat, more muscle.
*Dissipate heat more economically and faster.
*You get faster.
*Psychological benefits-->
- Reduction in anxiety, stress, depression, neuroticism.
- Improvement in mood, self-esteem, self-concept.

Wow, how cool is that?

the other cool part of reading this book was coming across the studies that pointed out how fit nordic skiers were, for example:
-among olympic-caliber athletes, Nordic skiers have the highest VO2max.
-The only activities that burn more calories than "skiing, hard snow, uphill, fast" in their Energy Expenditure in Various Activities Appendix were "running, flat, 5:30 mile pace" and "Forestry, ax chopping, fast."

*I would say exercising, but I have a very difficult time spelling that word.

Mcardle, William, Frank Katch, Victor Katch. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance, Fourth ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Despite being a strange assortment of individuals thrown together, the CXC team functions almost like some kind of normal family. Mostly I say this because we share chores and eat together. I imagine it to be like running a farm, minus all of the actual hard work since we're only running a part-time household. But I'm still kind of impressed with us. Here's an example of how our chores break down. Yesterday, Caitlin and Gregg went grocery shopping for the group. I made dinner tonight (green chicken curry over brown rice, Cook actually made the rice). Kuzzy made a pumpkin pie, which we scandalously didn't get around to eating. After dinner everyone (except me, ha ha, because I cooked!) cleaned up and did dishes. I started the breadmachine so we will have a loaf (raisin/walnut/apple) done at 6:50am tomorrow. Gregg and Cook got the substantial pile of recycling ready to go out tomorrow; we've been receiving lots of Salomon gear lately. It's interesting to be in a household with peers where all this stuff gets done smoothly. In college I almost completely dropped anything that wasn't absolutely necesary for my school or skiing so now it's nice to enjoy a little bit of normality.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This has become my standard post-workout, post-shower outfit since I came back to Hayward. My Grandmother made me the fair isle hat, although I cycle through my hats so that changes. I made it until my senior year at Whitman without acquiring any Whitman clothes (other than for sports teams) and then I finangled my way into getting this one because one of the Whitman PR people was very nice and wanted me to wear it for my interview with Fox Sports Network and I was very nice and said that I would if I got to keep it. And now I have it and it's new/unworn enough to still be soft on the inside. Finally, look what I drug out from the bins under my bed while I was home! It's my pink polar fleece skirt! Only two like it in the world, you can't buy this kind of fashion, baby. The other belongs to Miss Kristina Owen and they are the result of one of our high school sewing escapades. Not that the sewing escapades stopped after we graduated from high school, hardly. In fact, I believe there's a couple of pairs of faux fur knee high boots that might make it out to the ski racing scene this season!  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's cold enough now to snow here, there was even some little flakes falling during this ski, but we're still rollerskiing. From L->R: Bryan Fish, Andre Watt, Brian Gregg, Garrott Kuzzy, Bryan Cook. Posted by Picasa

Hayward, late fall

It's that eerie time of year here in hayward when fall is ending, but there's no snow on the ground yet. (okay, it's actually snowing here right now, but it's not sticking.) The trees have shed their leaves and look skeletal without a blanket of white snow to soften their angles. It's too cold to want to bike, but there's no snow to ski on. It's cold enough to want to work hard in the intervals, but there's no snow to ski on. The fallen leaves and snow flakes melting on the asphalt make the roads slippery to ski on, but there's still no snow to ski on. In Wenatchee or Walla Walla I wouldn't usually get this antsy in October since I wouldn't expect to be able to ski until December, but here the approaching snow seems so close that it makes me impatient.
My bobsledding recap article is up on fasterskier.com.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Home, Again

I'm starting to feel like every place I go is my home. With so much travel, I guess figuring out how to feel at home anywhere might be a necessary survival skill. It was particularly nice to come back to Scott & Kay Wilsons' Cresthill Resort in Hayward, WI where I have my very own room that has some of my stuff in it waiting for me. Jake, the big stuffed dog on the bed. That nice ski bag my dad bought for himself and I have permanently borrowed leaning up in the corner. The World of Pooh book that RJ gave me. The American Poetry Anthology that Alan gave me. A closet and a dresser so I can finally take my clothes out of my duffel bag.

I was also very happy to see some of my teammates. Bryan Cook finally (after unfortunately being sick/injured all summer) made it to a camp. I drove up from the twin cities today with Caitlin Compton and Brian Gregg -- I'm sure it would have been an exciting trip with them but I fell asleep in the backseat. Matt Liebsch is sick and won't be up for a few days. Garrott Kuzzy's been holding down the Cresthill homestead for us. And Andre Watt, well, I never really know what he's doing. Bryan Fish will be over bright and early to get the camp started with some isometric strength tomorrow morning!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Torin Koos

I don't know if this is published anywhere, I only know because there's a plaque up on the wall in the OTC with a write-up and photos of Torin posted. And I'm sure Torin knows, but he's probably not going around announcing it, so...

Congratulations to Torin Koos for being the October Lake Placid OTC Athlete of the Month!

All the athletes of the month get a one-page write-up that goes into a big binder that sits in the lobby of the OTC for visitors to peruse. And Torin had a very nice write up that I'm not going to reproduce here because I'm lazy.

Friday, October 13, 2006


We had a couple crashes last night and this morning. Not my sled, that is why I am riding with Sara, who happens to be the second best woman bobsled driver in the U.S. and has been driving for 6 years. So don't worry about me, I just have collected a couple of strange bruises from riding in the sled: one on my left knuckles from squeezing the handle so hard I jam my hand into the side of the sled, a bunch on the inside of my right knee because I tuck my head down and my helmet gets slammed back and forth, and some on the insides of my arms which I think must be from hitting the top edges of the sled when I load. And my brain gets jostled. Sara claims she's lost a few IQ points after 6 years of sliding, I think I survived my 6 runs okay. Jeez- I've only done 6 runs? Each run though is draining and takes a lot of effort. The most effort is at the end of the run because if the track is slow (which it has been), you have to get out and push the sled to the top of the run-out. This morning was the first time that the track was fast enough that I had to pull the brakes to stop us at the top of the run-out.

yeah, crashes, I'm getting to it.

Since this is an Olympic venue, it's set up with a PA system which makes announcements something like this:
"15 minutes until sliding starts"
"10 minutes until sliding starts"
"Finish is clear"
"Track is now clear for Sara Sprung driving with Laura Valaas on brakes"
"Sled in the track"
"Start time of 6.30"
"Sliding Cliffside"
"Sliding Whiteface"
"Taking the Devil's Highway"
"Sliding Shady2"
"Through Labrynth"
"Taking Bennem's Bend" (some of these I'm definitely spelling wrong)
"Sliding the Chicanes"
"Through the Chicanes, Sliding the Heart"
"Through and down. Finishing with a down time of 59.90" (actual times from today)
"Finish is clear"
"Track is now clear for..."
and so on and so forth until,
"The track is now closed."

What you do NOT want to hear over the PA system is
"81 in the Heart" (or whichever corner)
Because that means they crashed. When you crash a bobsled you stay in the sled and try to keep your body off the ice because you're going so fast that it burns you, even through multiple layers of clothes and a kevlar burn suit. Sara said that a good trick was to use your helmet to keep the rest of your body off the ice. Anyway, I don't want to have to try that although everyone who's crashed so far has been fine, just with a couple of burns.

The track is about 1 mile long and has 20 corners. Each corner is referred to by number and some have specific names that the announcer uses. But most of the drivers seem to refer to all of them by number. The Lake Placid track, rumor has it, is the roughest of the North American tracks. Rough enought that they only take passangers from halfway up, whereas, for example, at Park City passangers/tourists can ride the entire track (for about $200). Here's the process for this morning's sliding session. It might be boring and long, so feel free not to read further.

-leave OTC, 8:30
-arrive at women's sled house below Mt. VanHoevenburg Sports Complex
-tighten down runners, put on scabbards which are long wooden sheaths with handles on the end that cover the runners, tip sleds right side up and load onto big flat-bed trucks. Brakemen load all the gear into the sleds and jump on the back of the truck while drivers shoe covers and walk up the track.
-arrive at start, 9:30, unload sleds, tip them onto their sides, remove scabbards, move them into a line on the ice covered staging area.
-warm-up by stretching, jogging, practice sprints, drills, whatever. Drivers warm up by visualizing the run and doing whatever they need to do to enable them to drive a bobsled at high speeds.
-First 2mens bobsled starts, 10:00, I change into my (Sara's) spikes.
-sleds go down about every 2-3 minutes.
-Put on mouthgaurd/helmet/gloves, 2 sleds before mine.
-help move sled into position when it's our turn, still on its side. Flip upright when "Finish is clear" and hole onto it while Sara puts her shoe covers in and gets ready.
-When we're both ready, Sara puts down her visor & we both get in position. I say, "backset," Sara says "frontset," Then I fall into the sled and spring forward (or so I would like to do) and sara runs at her push bar.
-sprint like crazy. The track starts to go down and I watch the inside of the sled where I'm going to jump.
-Sara loads. I'm not sure really how she loads, I mean, she has to go from a sprint to jumping sideways into a bobsled while avoiding the pushbar. It seems pretty tricky but I've always been too concerned with what I'm doing to really watch.
-I load. Like a long jump into the sled, two feet forward, use arms to lower into seat, tuck arms into sled, reach forward and grab the handles. Hold on. Don't fight the G-forces. Keep your teeth clenched so you don't bite your tongue. Brace yourself.
-At the end we have a long, straight, uphill run-out. If it's slow, we jump out before the sled stops and push it to the top. If it's fast, I watch where we are and pull the brake levers on bottom of the sled between my legs which simply push down teeth into the ice to stop us at the top. Then we get out.
-We tip the sled on its side and slide it out onto the deck, put the scabbards on (which are driven down in the truck for us) and load it into the truck. There's always a couple of athletes not sliding to help move sleds around and make sure stuff gets where it needs to go.
-Drive back up to the top and cycle through the sliding line-up again.
-Throw our bags in a truck to go down to the finish.
-slide again.
-Take the sleds down to the sled house, unload, flip upside down, remove scabbards, undo runners, dry runners, sand runners, leave.
-arrive OTC, noon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bad Ice

Because it was warm and raining this morning we didn't get to slide. The track gets slow and frosty when it's warm and the rain melts it. We're rescheduled for tonight. So I skied in the morning today instead of the afternoon. I wouldn't want to try this during a heavy training week because bobsledding takes up the entire morning but when I don't have a lot of hours of ski training to do, it works.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This afternoon a couple of the other girls and I went out to the push track with the head coach Sep and practiced our starts. Sara came too to help critique. The push track is about half a mile from the OTC at the Equestrian fields and has a flat to down to up straight rail track. The bobsleds are old ones with wheels. The pusher falls into the bobsled like I am here and then explodes forward to get the sled moving. I was really glad to get some dryland practices in and be able to work on my technique. I've also decided that every sport starts with the same basics, like good ankle flexion and forward lean. At the end of our practice the guys came out to train and I was glad that I'd gotten a few of my major flaws worked out before I had an audience.  Posted by Picasa

The top of the Lake Placid Bobsled run during 2 M/W Bob practice. There is a red sled in the track waiting to start. Sara's sled is the black one in the foreground. I've been pushing for her, but I only pushed her first run today and one of the skeleton sliders, Katie, pushed her second run. Katie, I might point out, almost didn't make the sled this morning, so I am not the only one who has trouble with that apparently.  Posted by Picasa

Looking down the start of the track. Shauna Rohbock with Jamia pushing (in blue). Shauna, along with her brakeman Valerie Fleming, won silver at the 2006 Olympics. Val's having hip a(b/d)ductor problems so she hasn't been pushing.  Posted by Picasa

The start of the push. you can see that Jamia has thrown her entire body weight against the sled to get it moving. Shauna starts back at the line with Jamia so by the time she takes a step to get to her push bar which is sticking out of the side of the sled, the sled is already moving. Then you sprint down the ice, the driver gets in and the brakeman gets in behind her. These girls have a LOT of power in their legs. Posted by Picasa

Two one-minute runs takes over two hours to orchestrate. Most of the time is spent transporting and moving around the 400lb sleds. I'm telling you these people are all basically professional weight lifters. After sliding we load the sleds into trucks (they have loading docks at the start and finish of the runs) and take them back to the shed. Then we flip them over, propping up the nose, before taking care of the runners. We remove the nuts and loosen the bolts and dry and sharpen (with sandpaper) the runners. And then we're back to the OTC in time for lunch. Posted by Picasa


The first day I stretched out because everyone else did. The second day I warmed up with conviction because I knew I was about to get beat up. I'm warning you, don't think about bobsledding unless you can touch your toes pretty easily. When those G-forces force your upper body down, it's going to bend whether you want it to or not. And if you're not that flexible, you're going to be sore. Oh wait, you'll be sore anyways. I hear you get used to it, but my upper back is sore from getting slammed around in the sled. Crazy. After I'm in the sled, I bite down on my mouthgaurd, grab the handles, put my head down, and close my eyes. I don't even notice I have them closed until I open them when the sled slows down. Wow. What a strange sport. I don't know how Sara can stay focused and sharp enough to drive while she's getting slammed into the side of the sled. I'm glad I'm not driving.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Okay, so despite Alan telling me over and over again not to go down the bobsled track outside of the bobsled, that's exactly what I did. I got into the OTC at midnight:30 monday night and tuesday morning we slid. Twice. The second time went better and I made it into the bobsled before it got going too fast. The first time when I tried to jump in, I tried too late with too little conviction. And I didn't make it. So I hung on because I thought I could get into the sled. And then we started going faster and I decided that I did not want to be anyway connected to the sled so I let go and slid to a stop right in front of the head coach. And now everyone makes fun of me. And now we have to go review video from today so I'm going to have to watch it and get made fun of even more. sigh.

Interview with Sara Sprung

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I've been on vacation. I know, it's tough to figure out how to take vacation when my entire life this year is just a series of vacations, but I managed. I got to spend the weekend up at my family's cabin, sleep in, read pointless books, eat good food, enjoy the mountains. In fact, Alan made me breakfast in the mornings and then would do dishes. I also got to hang out with my family: watch Kirsten's cross country running race; have dinner with Granny, Aunt Joan F., Aunt Lisa, and Cousin Valerie on Saturday; brunch with Ryan in Seattle last weekend; not to mention good parental talks.

But now it's back to the real world and tomorrow I fly out of SeaTac to...

ha! You'll have to wait to find out where I'm going until Monday.

I'm excited... and a little nervous!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just another strength workout

Except this afternoon, instead of lifting weights, I had to lift big log rounds and haul them around. My dad and I went over to my Grandmother's cabin and cleared some dead trees. My dad used the chain saw and felled and bucked the trees, then I had to move them to a truck accesible location on the side of the road so some other poor soul could come in and haul them away.

There's something disheartening about trying to keep up with someone with a chainsaw. I'd get hopeful because there was only two trees left to stack and then I hear the crash of another tree coming down and, with a sigh, realize that I'll have to move that tree too. And then there's another crash and another tree comes down. It's hard because there's really no end in sight for me, at least I don't know where the end is because as long as dad keeps cutting, I have to keep hauling. It's like being the dish rinser/dryer/puter-awayer in a room full of dishes and not knowing how many dishes your dishwasher is going to want to wash.

It was nice to pull on the beat-up carharts and work gloves and tromp around the forest for awhile.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It is a long way to Aasgard Pass, but we made it... and then we went through the Enchantments... and then down past Snow Lake. All told it took 10.5 hours on the trail and 8.5 hours hiking. A long way, I say. Now I am wearing my polar fleece blanket-skirt and not getting off of the couch because me feet hurt! Posted by Picasa

After second breakfast on the top of Aasgard Pass we made our way through the Upper Enchantments. Here my dad (Peter) admires the golden larches in front of Prusik Peak. Posted by Picasa

My dad claims that this is a famous sign, famous enough to have its picture in the Patagonia magazine a couple of years ago. Here I am, trying to soak up some alpine stardom. Posted by Picasa

Classic photo of the Enchantments, one of the beautiful places near my house! Posted by Picasa

What has happened to the water in Snow Lake? Walking along the shore was like walking through a strange desert. Posted by Picasa

This is what happened: A hole in the bottom of the lake with a tunnel that expels the water out of the side of the mountain. The lake serves as a natural reservoir for the irrigation canals in the valley. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Posted by Picasa

Hagens-Berman Star Crossed Cyclocross Race

So, post-LSAT I decided to try a cyclocross race in Seattle. I had considered the possibility earlier but thought that between the LSAT going until 2 and not having a cyclocross bike, I wouldn't be able get to the Marymoor Veldrome in time for the 3:15 race. BUT, while driving to the venue so Alan could race at 7pm, I decided that I absolutely wanted to race and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't make every attempt to race. Luckily, the Elite women were racing at 6pm & I thought I could sneak into that race. So I called my trusty friend RJ and said, "I want to race at 6, do you know of a bike I could borrow?"

Now, maybe I should explain cyclocross for those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing it before. Cyclocross is a cross between road and mountain biking. The bikes have knobby tires and cantilever brakes, but road-like handlebars and frames. The handlebars sometimes have a second set of brake levers so you can brake no matter where on the handlebars your hands are. The race is set up like a long criterium/short circuit race. The women's Elite race was 40 minutes (or so) which ended up being 6-8(?) laps, I lost track. Cyclocross racing is like riding an obstacle course; we had two sections of wooden barriers where you had to jump off your bike, run over barriers, and jump back on again, one set of log steps (again, requiring you to dismount), umpteen really tight corners, and one wooden bridge that went up (enough for people to walk comfortable underneath) at a 45 degree angle, flat for 3 feet, steep downhill, sharp curve. Let me tell you that 45degrees is SCARY.

So I show up, con my way into a number (thanks, Alan!), and RJ has, miraculously, found a bike for me to borrow. Miraculous because cyclocross is pretty tough on bikes, things tend to get broken, Luckily Chris-from-Walla-Walla was willing to let me ride his bike. I change into bike clothes, Alan adjusts my seat and removes the water bottle cages (apparently it's not cool to race with them), I try getting on and off the bike a couple times, ride one lap of the course, and then it's time to start! By now I am scared out of my mind. I haven't been on a bike in a month (probably since the fat tire triathlon), much less on a cyclocross bike or on a cyclocross course and I'm lining up with the Elite Women, with the Masters A field starting half a minute behind us. Oh, dear.

Yep, I got dropped right at the start. I thought I was last, but my mom claims there was one other girl behind me. Too bad, there's a certain honor in being last, and 'second-to-last' just doesn't have the same ring to it. The race itself, other than being way out-classed, was a riot. I didn't fall and only almost-fell once when I didn't quite get my second foot unclipped before I tried to step down on it. The mounting and dismounting was a problem for me. The real cyclocross racers take a flying leap onto their bikes and I kind of did a dainty hop that killed any momentum I had. I decided that cyclocross racing required some cyclocross skill and next time I should remember that before trying to race the pro women.

Interview with Laura

Gabcast! Laura Valaas #4

Blog Archive