Monday, April 30, 2007
There's nothing like some playful intervals to get the party started! (And more intervals anticipated for tomorrow!!) Now I find myself delightfully fatigued and happy to be sitting at my "desk" (I've taken over a table while at home) and working. Hmm, I feel overly ambitious to be using the term working, compared to what kinds of things the majority of the world's population does for work, this can only be considered leisure.
I also had a good talk with my new coach at APU, Erik Flora. He has a tough standard to follow after Bryan Fish, but after talking for an hour I think that we will get along swimmingly.
The real question here is whether or not Erik is the kind of coach who will let me include time spent playing Wii Tennis against my sister?
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Racing on the CXC Team last season was a phenomenal experience for me. To be surrounded by motivated teammates and a dedicated coach and support staff really helped motivate me to put all of my effort into skiing. The support of the CXC Team was instrumental in having all of that effort culminate in a successful 06-07 season. I certainly adore the people that I got the opportunity to train/live/travel/race/visit with this past year and so, while I'm excited for the upcoming season, I'm also a little sad because I'm going to leave my CXC Team and instead train with the APU Team up in Anchorage this year.
Since there's no reason to leave CXC, there must be a good reason to go to Anchorage. And there is, although it's not very complicated... I like the Western U.S., miss the mountains, want to be near the ocean. Mostly, it simply feels like the right decision.
Now I'm looking forward to working with Erik Flora as my coach, training with the rest of the APU Team members, a little summer skiing on the Eagle Galcier, and summertime in AK. While the APU Team is affiliated with a college (um... Alaska Pacific University
, if you didn't already pick that up) it's not a NCAA program so it works very differently than mainstream college athletics. APU is a fairly small, private, Methodist college that enrolls high school students in its Early Honors program, has eight undergrad majors (mostly environmental something-or-other), nine graduate degrees, and also continuing education classes and distance learning classes. Right now I don't have any ambitious get-a-degree plans but I could see myself taking a class here or there!
Saturday, April 28, 2007
2006-2007 Season Review
On Monday the first official day of the new training year starts. Of course, we all know that the training necessary to succeed next year started last April. In fact, it's been building on itself ever since we started exercising. But to make it easier to analyze the effects of our training we break it into arbitrary blocks. So Monday is the start of the next yearly block. In order to purify the mind of last year's thoughts and to prepare it for another 12 months of being a ski racer (and also and mostly because Erik pointed out that I should) here's my 2006-2007 season recap.
I fell into skiing this year almost by accident. It was springtime, I had no job lined up for the summer, no admissions letters inviting me to continue my schooling in the fall. In fact, I didn't know what kind of work I wanted to do or what I wanted to study. I did know that I loved to ski. So, with the blessings of my parents I decided to take a year entirely off and simply ski. Once that decision was made I forgot about skiing for a while, raced my road bike a little bit, graduated, went to Peru. It wasn't until the first week of July when I moved out to Wisconsin to join the CXC Team that I turned my focus to skiing. In Spring and Early Summer, despite being hectic, exciting, and eventful, I did no ski-specific training and a very poor job of training in general.
Once in Wisconsin and with the team I saw how far behind I was and got serious (remember, I had Compton and the boys team to use as yardsticks for my fitness). Guided by Bryan Fish, I thought a lot of things went well over the late summer and fall. I maintained a very consistent training schedule and kept up on interval sessions, endurance work, speed work, and strength training. I was able to rest well between training sessions and thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to train. A couple of times after very tough blocks of training I started to feel worn down but I freaked out when I wasn't excited to train and was able to back down the training intensity until I was fired up again. By paying close attention to my body and how I was feeling, I was able to prevent getting sick, injured, or burned out. This year I would like to do more and longer intervals, more stretching, more adventure training, and learn how to do pull-ups. The Late Summer and Fall dryland period went well and probably contributed the most to my success this year. This is also the time when I most questioned the validity of what I was doing and if it was a justifiable indulgence.
We were in West Yellowstone for our first time on snow and, after a very nervous week of skiing, finally got to race and see how our training was going to pay off. Then it was full into the race season and from Nov until April I raced and traveled. I think I did a good job of keeping my racing in perspective and not getting too caught up in my successes to forget that I was only there because of a lot of hard work on my part and a lot of help from other people. I wish that my strength training had been more consistently maintained throughout the race season; it started our pretty well but by the second half of the season I hardly did any strength. I handled the travel remarkably well, I thought, and never felt too worn down from traveling or life on the road. I wish that I were better at taking naps, though. Mostly, during the race season I had a lot of fun and surpassed my expectations of how I would be skiing so there were very few disappointments to distress me.
Now I feel even more committed and ready to work hard than I did last year. I think that the training I did worked well for me and don't want to change too much. Being on the CXC Team was a huge benefit to me and I most assuredly would have foundered without the support and encouragement of my teammates, Bryan Fish, Yuriy Gusev, Scott & Kay Wilson, among others. This upcoming year I would really like to improve my distance skiing. While I'm certainly grateful for my seemingly innate talent as a sprinter, I don't see any reason that I shouldn't be able to bring my distance racing up to par.
I don't believe that my ski racing life exists in a vacuum independent of the rest of my life. I strongly believe, although this certainly may not be true for everyone, that in order to be a happy and successful skier I have to be satisfied with all the other aspects of myself and my life. While this year wasn't nearly as academically rigorous as my years at Whitman I did maintain intellectual growth. I read incessantly, practiced sketching, painting in acrylics, vastly improved my Spanish, increased my familiarity with French, wrote (if not high quality, a lot of quantity), scored well enough on the GRE to give me a fair shot at admittance into any grad school, likewise with the LSAT and Law school, and generally increased my awareness of myself and the people around me. This year I want to continue improving my Spanish and French skills, write to a higher standard, and pass the first two actuarial exams (May 15th and early Nov).
Phew, that's my season in review. Overall... AWESOME!
Friday, April 27, 2007
U.S. Continental Cup Team
I was nominated to the U.S. Continental Cup Team today! Or maybe it was yesterday, I just didn't get the email until today. If you're not in the ski-racing scene, the CC Team is like the development team or the B Team, as opposed to the World Cup team. Anyway, that's exciting, sorry if I don't actually sound excited, I'd foreseen it for awhile but now it's actually official.
I have no idea who was nominated for the team or who was nominated for which team, but I'll tell you what I do know. The CC Team is bigger than last year and Rosie Brennen and Alexa Turzian where nominated to it also. (I'm guessing that everyone who was racing on the US Ski Team last year is again this year.)
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The cherry blossom trees in our front yard are in full bloom. They look like giant cotton candy trees. They're so pink you can't even tell that they're trees. It's very beautiful and I wish I could say that it means that soon we'll have scrumptious cherries to eat from the trees. But I can't because they're only cherry blossom trees and don't actually make edible cherries. What all this blossoming DOES mean, however, is that it's Apple Blossom Festival
time in Wenatchee Valley. This is the first time since High School that I've been in town for all of the festivities and I am looking forward to it (the hardcore festival weekend is May 4-6). If I wasn't concerned about being generally complementary instead of disparaging I would say that this is the one weekend when all of the less presentable denizens of the Wenatchee Valley crawl out from under their rocks and mingle at the craft/food fair in the park during the day and at the carnival and on the Avenue after dark. But I do try to be nice so I'll just say that it's a very interesting mix of people and you end up seeing almost everybody who lives around Wenatchee at some point during the festival if you spend enough time outside. "They" claim there's over 100,000 visitors to the festival and since only 60,000 people live in Wenatchee that allows for a lot of out-of-towners. I'm always skeptical of numbers given on the authority of the mysterious "they" so I wouldn't swear that's accurate.
I went rollerskiing today. True, only for half an hour, but it's indubitably the first time in my life I've rollerskied in April. Not that I'm proud of never rollerskiing in the spring before. I'm pleased that I am this year, though. I'm also racing at another level than I've raced at before and that calls for more specific training more frequently. I also like the word indubitably.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Being a guest
One of the best aspects of being an athlete is the travel. The travel is most enjoyable when I get the opportunity to stay in real homes instead of hotels. Not only are homes, well, homey, there's also interesting people to get to know. Last weekend at the Tour de Walla Walla I stayed with Michael and Sophia Scholar on Boyer Street. I rollerskied/biked/walked/ran by their home several times a week while I was in college because it's on the way to the Mill Creek path and always enjoyed their huge dogwoods, pretty house, and resident ducks (Ducks are a ubiquitous part of the Whitman campus). So it was especially fun to get to stay in a house that I had previously admired. I made me sad that I hadn't gotten to know Michael and Sophia while I was living in Walla Walla though since they are both very accomplished, fascinating people. And they have lots of sweet animals to play with. The Scholars were so friendly and hospitable; someday, when I have a home, I hope that I can be as good of a hostess. I'm always amazed at how nice people are (not to mention what good cooks the Scholars were too!).
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Fun to see
I went to the USACycling page and up popped a photo from last year's nationals in Lawrence, KS. Ahh, fond memories.USACycling
Apply for the CXC Team
Here's the press release. Apply to Yuriy (email@example.com) before May 1st.
Central Cross Country Skiing with the support of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is pleased to announce athlete openings for CXC Ski Team. The team size will be expanded for the 2007-2008 season. CXC Team is a full time year round Olympic Development Program. The preparation period will begin in May.
Athletes must be out of college and committed full time to the program. Athletes will be selected among applicants on May 1st based on USSA points and coach’s discretion.
Athletes should provide the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org for the scheduling of interviews and further discussions of program objectives and benefits:
- Full name
- USSA #
- Mailing Address
- Phone Number
- E-mail Address
- Brief resume
The CXC Olympic Development Team includes full time year round professional coaching, monthly training camp structure and direct individual attention. The CXC Olympic Development Team is led by Head Coach Bryan Fish, Athletic Advisor Yuriy Gusev, Logistics Director Scott Wilson, High Performance Advisor Igor Badamshin and CXC’s sports science support group of nutrition scientist, physical therapist and exercise physiologist.
CXC Ski Team Vision: The vision of CXC Team is to close the gap between junior and senior athlete’s development by providing professional world class training and coaching opportunities. The vision objectives are critical elements toward the drive for the USSA achievement of Cross Country Olympic podiums by 2010 and Olympic Gold by 2014.
CXC Ski Team Mission: The mission of CXC Team is to make the vision a reality by selecting, training and supporting a team of world-class athletes and by involving those athletes in the regional ski communities. The team will deliver role models, ski specific education and motivational support for young athletes throughout the Central Region.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I was full of aspirations of things that I wanted to accomplish today. I had my wisdom teeth taken out this morning and thought that since I wouldn't get out to train it would be a good idea to finish off all the tasks I've been constantly putting off. And then I slept a-l-l-d-a-y-l-o-n-g. Only getting up to go to surgery, come back, have some miso soup in the afternoon and then drink some gatorade this evening. I even saved the rest of Sense and Sensibility to finish today while I was bored laying on the couch... such will power! and then I spent all my time on the couch sleeping. So typing this right now is my one short burst of activity for the day and now it's bed time again!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Decision Making Algorithms
We all have to make decisions on some kind of reasoning.
I raced Friday afternoon. My dad was partly right, I basically got dropped on the first hill. It was fun to be in a bike race again. After getting dropped I worked with a group of girls sometimes collaborating and pacelining and sometimes trying to drop each other. Pack racing is exhilarating. I also realized that doing a couple of long slow rides does not make you a very fast cyclist.
Then Saturday rolled around. Saturday was the start of the omnium (so you had to do all three races and then got an over-all ranking) and I had to make a decision. Because of, in my opinion, bad policy on the organizers' part one of my friends couldn't race unless someone else pulled out of the Women's 1-2-3 race. So she came to the TT start and was ready to race just in case she got the opportunity. So here's how I saw the possible situations (the numbers represent happiness levels):
Current situation: L racing, K not racing
Optional situation: K racing, L not racing
plus points for K's friends being happier when she's happier.
So I didn't race. And don't even try to accuse me of being altruistic because this is just the reality that I live in. I did get to thoroughly enjoy seeing a ton of friends in Walla Walla, riding up Tracy Rd on Saturday, running the Walla Walla College half marathon on Sunday, and the delightful hospitality of Sophia and Michael Scholar.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Today I head back down to Walla Walla Wa for a 35mi RR this afternoon, a 7.5mi TT Saturday morning, a 59mi RR Saturday afternoon, and a 40min Crit Sunday morning. I must admit that I am decidedly NOT interested in racing. All I hope for is to enjoy some nice rides in the Walla Walla countryside, keep up with as many people for as long as possible and, as always when I'm planning on spending a lot of time in bike spandex, prevent the sun from marring my skin. While I don't have any competitive ambitions or high expectations for this weekend I do hope that my dad's prophesy doesn't prove true: "As soon as you hit the first hill you're going to get dropped."
It's more about the socializing anyway. There will be a lot of Whitman College Cycling alumni at this race as well as all of my friends still in school. Plus cousin Kelsey is racing and I believe this will be the first time that we've both been at the same race racing in the same category. And cousin Valerie's senior art thesis opens today, along with other of my art major friends' theses. So, minus the dying on the bike trying to keep up, it should be, all in all, a very pleasant weekend!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Again in a Canoe
"Laura, how many strokes per side are you doing?" my mom asks from the back of the canoe.
"Oh, around ten," I respond, as though I expect that to be fine. I'm not being completely honest here since I'm doing exactly ten and doing it with the conviction that ten strokes per side is definitely not okay. I know that my mom and Kathleen take five strokes per side, but Kathleen is in Arizona for a couple of weeks so I'm taking her place for today in the front of the canoe.
"Why don't you do around five strokes," advises my mom. Knowing better than to disagree, I switch to exactly five strokes per side. So much for being rebellious.
Except apparently five strokes isn't the norm; it's actually supposed to be six strokes because a few switches later I hear, "why don't you try about six strokes per side." Then I switch to exactly six strokes per side and we settle into a rhythm with the river. It's windy and we have to paddle with conviction to make headway up the Columbia, especially when we hit the current going around Windy Point. To avoid the wind we dodge into the estuaries at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers. Once we get away from the wide open expanse of the Columbia
the urgency of paddling abates and I'm reminded of the last time I was in a canoe ten months ago.
It was in the Peruvian Amazon on the Black River, el rio negro, except that it wasn't even called el rio negro because it was "the black river" in Quechua, the indigenous language of Peru, not in Spanish. Six days paddling through narrow tortuous jungle streams with exotic flora and fauna at every turn. There's a world of difference between my paddle today and that trip. My mom and I are in a stable, unbelievably lightweight canoe as opposed to a handmade, cumbersome, dugout canoe. While my wooden paddle is arduously heavy when I compare it to my mom's sleek black carbon fiber paddle, it's eons fancier than the rough-hewn, bulky paddles we were using in Peru. Those paddles were only sanded by the friction from our hands, only varnished by the murky jungle water.
one. two. three. four. five. six. switch. The paddle flips up in front of me and strikes back into the water on the other side of the canoe. I focus on switching quickly to reduce the amount of time between power applications. I can't dwell on how my hands swap position so quickly or the impossibility of it befuddles me and I falter. I know when I miscount my strokes because I can feel when my mom switches one stroke earlier or one stroke later than I. The six stroke count is embedded in her muscle memory and she doesn't need to count it, but up front the constant chant marches through the back of my mind, a sturdy and regular trellis for the thought tendrils growing in my mind.
I wonder at the differences between these two streams, and whether one could claim to be more fascinating than the other. Surely the lush verdure of the amazon affronts you and the abundance of life astounds. My mom and I glide through the estuary past the birds and the beaver carvings without leaving a mark behind us; Cammie and I were not so gentle on the jungle river.
We ate fish out of it for dinner, lunch, and... breakfast (here I am clubbing to death a fish that Jose speared, "con fuerza, con fuerza," he urged me). Our guides insisted on seizing anything they could out of the water to impress us, and we were duly impressed. Jose abruptly stopped the canoe, paused looking over the side of the boat, shot both his arm into the river and heaved this monster out. Needless to say, I wore shoes when we went swimming and was very very scared that I would disturb an electric eel or a crocodile or an anaconda or one of the numerous other poisonous or dangerous animals we saw.
Today I am more concerned with my cadence and power, with using my torso and locking out my arms than searching for wildlife. I know the herons and eagles, the beavers and river otters are here and if they don't show themselves while I'm out today, I'll be back another day. Just to be in the water is enough and I know, somehow, that what Sigurd Olson wrote is true: "When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known."
Salomon Athlete Force
If you are a ski racer, coach, or hometown hero and want to be using Salomon gear next year be sure and apply for the Salomon Athlete Force
. I've found Salomon to be a great company to work with and, obviously, there boots/bindings/skis are top notch. The deadline is April 30.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Whitman Nordic Coaching Position
Walla Walla, Wa photo by Rebecca Jensen.
Whitman (my alma mater) is looking for a new head Nordic Coach, see ad below, deadline May 1st. I think very highly of Whitman and Walla Walla. But then again, I'm rather partial.
SPORTS STUDIES, RECREATION AND ATHLETICS (SSRA) (HEAD COACH OF MEN’S AND WOMEN’S NORDIC SKIING): Whitman College, a private, residential liberal arts college located in Walla Walla, Washington and a member of NCAA Division III, invites applications for the position of Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Nordic Skiing, beginning August 2007. The successful applicant will administer and organize all aspects of the Nordic Ski program including recruiting, structuring practice (dryland and on-snow), scheduling, and travel arrangements. A strong preference will be given to those candidates who can serve as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s cross country running program. Additional duties as assigned by the Director of Athletics. Master’s degree preferred. Undergraduate degree and experience as a coach and/or collegiate athlete in Nordic skiing are required, and experience as a coach and/or collegiate athlete in cross country running is desirable. Send a letter of application, resume and the names of three references to: Dean Snider, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington 99362. Deadline: May 1, 2007. Further information about Whitman College: www.whitman.edu. Whitman College is building a diverse academic community and encourages minorities and persons with disabilities to apply. Experience that contributes to the diversity of the college is appreciated.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Since the walking is still quite painful from Saturday's R2R I went for a nice long bike ride today. I don't know how it's possible that walking around makes me cringe but I can ride my bike for 4.5hrs without a problem. Oh well, I'll take what I can get.This is from the top of the bluffs to the East of Wenatchee looking back over the valley.The descent down to Waterville
One of my favorite things -- when the grade of a hill is too steep to pave so the pavement simply disappears for a stretch!
Yet another favorite ride checked off the list of things to do while in Wenatchee! Up past Fancher Heights and out Badger Mountain Road to Waterville. Then a 4mile windy canyon descent to the banks of the Columbia. The only sad part is riding the highway back into town, but at least it's pretty flat and fast.
Sumi-e bamboo painting
Being back home always makes me feel somewhat like a renaissance woman. Except I think the term is "renaissance man." I don't know if or why it is only applicable to males. Maybe I can be one of the accomplished young ladies from Jane Austen's world (currently rereading S. and S.) except they're never serious athletes. Anyway. When I come home there's a lot to take advantage of... a fully stocked kitchen, assorted art supplies, various musical instruments, a wide selection of reading material. Most recently, Kirsten and I attempted Sumi-e, the art of Japanese brush painting. I made some bamboo. I also made a plum tree, but had a lot of trouble with the blossoms.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
A tour operator has a bus that can accommodate 20 tourists. The operator knows that tourists may not show up, so he sells 21 tickets. The probability that an idividual tourist will not show up is 0.02, independent of all other tourists.
Each ticket costs 50, and is non-refundable if a tourist fails to show up. If a tourist shows up and a seat is not available, the tour operator has to pay 100 (ticket cost + 50 penalty) to the tourist.
What is the expected revenue of the tour operator?
The answer is 984.6. Which makes me wonder why the tour operator wouldn't just sell 20 tickets exactly because then his expected revenue would be 1000. Sometimes the absurdity of the problems distract me from the math. Although I suppose the tour operator might be wondering if it is a good idea to sell that 21st ticket in the first place and then I would tell hir not to. In this case if the penalty was less than 26.4 ze should sell 21 tickets, since it's more than that ze should only sell 20.
So I raced Ridge to River on saturday and now I can't walk downstairs very well. I won the women's iron (17th overall) and Koos won the men's iron (3rd overall). I wonder if Koos went tele skiing today like he was talking about... somehow I doubt it -- the 4mi downhill run on pavement then road bike then a good hour in the kayak does NOT make the legs feel good the next day. nope, nope, nope.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Today is Friday
And if you have a fear of Friday the 13th then you have paraskavedekatriaphobia. Say it out loud a couple times!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Had there been even the slightest vestiges of smugness over my athletic prowess this year, it's been destroyed this week. That's right, trampled into the dust. My shoulders are sore from paddling, my obliques and ribs are tender (also from paddling). And my poor hands, my nice, soft, encased-in-gloves-always hands are quickly callusing from holding the paddle and from supporting my weight on the handlebars of the bike. Not to mention blackening with grease from mechanicking on my bikes. Bikes are hard on hands. Although that does mean I get to use the Gojo and any day that your hand soap of choice is Gojo is a good day. So yes, I've been suitably humbled by trying to get race-ready for ski/ski/run/bike/paddle in a week!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Well, I had to climb back up onto my boat twice during the trip down the Wenatchee R. My goal on race day is to make it down without falling out of the boat. Despite the cold water immersions paddling down the Wenatchee is pretty thrilling. Now let me pause here and warn you not to get impressed. When I say the waves were big and scary I mean that the waves were big and scary to a girl who hasn't been in a surfski for a couple years. I went down the river with my mom and Kathleen in a canoe and Shaun and Torin Koos also in surfskis. Torin's racing the r2r iron division too, but I don't think I'll be able to beat him. So I fell out of the surfski in the first set of rapids. And then fell out in the second set of rapids through the "fingers." After that I managed to stay in the boat. Although, in my defense, the surfski isn't the easiest boat to take through rapids. It's a sit-on-top kayak, about 20' long and 18" at it's widest. I'm paddling a carrera; it's real fast as long as I don't waste time in the water. Through the rapids I grit my teeth and switch into survival mode -- not so much legitimately paddling as frantically swatting at the waves with my paddle blades.
There's something pretty special about paddling though. I think it has to do with control. Most of the time people (myself included) strictly control their life -- jobs, training plans, their kids' or spouse's schedules, routine, tradition, deadlines. But when you're in an element as strong as water, and not the domesticated pool water but the feral kind, you only have the power to respond to the water. When I got into a set of big and scary rollers and would climb up one and seem to pause on top before the bow of my surfski slapped resoundingly down into the next trough I had to channel all of my focus and energy into absorbing the forces from the wind and waves and transform that into a relative serenity. It's good.
oh dear, the newspaper just came... front page: Koos, Valaas to compete in R2R iron. Wow, I just signed up yesterday. And whatever happened to the days when no one noticed what I did? On more r2r news: I'll be on the radio tomorrow/thursday morning 8:30am pst on 560 KPQ
to do an interview with Eric Granstrom. I hardly feel like the polished athlete that he probably expects, especially for a multi-sport race when I haven't run fast since last summer, alpine skied since last winter, my TT bike is still in it's travel case from college, I just fell into the Wenatchee River twice...
Somehow I've gone from, "oh, is Ridge to River this Saturday? Isn't that interesting." to, "um...I'm racing." Really it's all Mike Hansen's fault from Biosports
since I asked him if Biosports wanted to sponsor me in R2R and he straightaway registered me for the race. So now I'm frantically trying to pull my sports knowledge together and get ready for the race.
R2R is a multisport event most often done as a relay team, I'm doing it solo. So it's a cross country ski at the top of Mission Ridge, then alpine ski to the base, then downhill road run, then road bike, then paddle. All in all it takes about 3 hours. Unfortunately, the only thing I'm really good at is the xc ski, and, aside from the alpine leg, that's the shortest leg. And it's first, and I prefer to leave my strengths to finish with. Instead the paddle is last and they made it even longer this year so it will probably be about 1.5hrs in the water. This is troublesome since I haven't really paddled for about two year since I wasn't in Wenatchee to paddle last summer. So today I'm taking my (borrowed) surf ski down the Wenatchee to check out the technical part of the river. It's cold today and I know that it wouldn't take much of a lack of attention/judgement to get me dumped into the river, so wish me a dry trip. Who am I kidding? In a surf ski, I'll get soaked from the waves, so let's just hope I stay on top of the boat.
Monday, April 09, 2007
saturday- the first bike ride
reassemble the old pink-tape-on-the-handlebars aluminum road bike and head out the road to malaga. then up into the hills. there's a lot of elevation to be gained today but the pitch and scenery changes constantly. worry when the very first section of hill sends me retreating into my smallest gear, 39/25. it's a long way to the top and there's steeper pitches than the one i'm on. it's good to be back in the orchards up on the hillside. even though it's saturday, there's still a few workers out pruning. Getting passed by the few trucks out on this road, both pick-up trucks being driven by guys in cowboy hats with a girl sitting in the middle of the bench seat and beat up orcharding work trucks. my dad was right about not needing the knee warmers and wind jacket i have stuffed in my jersey pockets. so much for spring; it's summer here. pass the church and head up over stemilt hill. at a primitive parking area a cluster of fellows unload their four wheelers for an afternoon of fun. they bemusedly glance my way as i glide past and i smile at how bike-racer get-up is an anomaly on this paved-but-sandy back road. at the top, the road doesn't climb any higher and i'm sad to head down the other side and again towards town. A truck passes me and the dog in the truck bed turns to bark. picking up speed and the truck takes a long time to pull away from me. scream down a nice descent overlooking the valley and wish, as i have on this section of road many times before, that there wasn't a hairpin corner approaching. glance at the speedometer-- 42mph, then 46.5, 48.5. can i hold it? can i break 50? decide that my first time on the bike in six months is not the ride to be attempting to set speed records so i settle for 49mph and sit up and brake for the corner. then back on a bigger road and ten minutes of downhill tedium where i spin out my 53/12 at around 32mph and so mostly coast back down to the valley floor. back in the residential area and people are out enjoying the day, lounging around their trucks, visiting, doing yard work. dodge one truck that's paused in the middle of my lane while the driver leans out his window and chats with someone standing outside. over skyline hill which is still harder than i ever expect it to be. decide to jaunt up #2 canyon rd. my dad often tells me when he rides up it on his commuter bike so i think i'll just spin up to the top quickly before returning home. struggle. gain new appreciation for my dad. hear echoing reports before i pass a handful of dudes shooting hand guns at the gun club. in breathless calm and hot sun as i tack back and forth at four mph across the narrow road i am unpleasantly reminded that i haven't showered since tuesday. the unfortunate side affects of not training for a week. the top. desperately suck at my waterbottle; i've been torquing on the handlebars too forcefully for the last mile to be able to drink. know that from here i can be home without a single peddle stroke. but if i merely wanted to sit i would have chosen a lawn chair rather than my fi'zi:k vitesse saddle. brake heavily until i get down to the canyon starts to level out. the gun of choice seems to have shifted to the rifle as i blow by the gun club. back on wesern ave and i know exactly when to stand up for the jarring dips in the road. home and pull the hard boiled egg i had in my pocket out, wipe off the sweat, and return it to the fridge. mom's bemused.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
wisconsin is easy, just to duluth and then you already have one state behind you. minnesota also goes by quickly, you're fresh and rested still with the sun shining down from behind you. north dakota is hardly worth mentioning. it's a straight shot through starting with milepost 351 in fargo and counting down rapidly at freeway speed to the badlands on the far edge of the state. then the badlands. fascinating and puzzling and a welcome break from the monotony of the previous hours. montana is where the drive starts to dull. at least the speed limit is high and the traffic is low. after navigating several snow squalls we pull into bozeman at nine thirty and meet andre for dinner. making good time so far but we're both glad to pass out at andre's house at eleven. five am and we head back on the road to make it to coeur d'alene in time to meet bruce who will take gregg on the last section of his drive up to the methow. we both hope for a rosy sunrise to illuminate the mountains we drive through, but the sky disappoints and the morning remains cloudy. the mountains, however, do not disappoint and gregg touches the rumble strip briefly for the first time in our drive while being distracted by the rugged landscape we drive through. somewhere in idaho i inadvertantly jump when the first bug splats on the windshield. and as quickly as that we've left winter in montana and have driven into spring. i abandon gregg at a holiday gas station, leave the freeway, and head south to walla walla. once off the freeway i lose the driving pressure to be home. the road rolls and sways with the soft countours of the hills like it's been pressed into the landscape and i sit back and enjoy the flow of the road. colfax. dusty. dodge. starbuck. dayton. waitsburg. dixie. as i draw nearer to walla walla i realize that i've never been as glad to be approaching walla walla as i am now. i don't have to look to the left to see biscuit ridge road as i drive by; i know it's there, leading to my favorite hill on tracy road as well as inumerable dirt roads lacing the accessible countryside. then i'm in walla walla. cammie, charlie, rj, mia, nathan, tom, whitney, lindsay, greg. it's good to see old friends. the three hours to wentatchee fly by, i know i'm almost home. and then i am, and my parents and sis are still up to greet me and do more talking than i'm interested in this late in the evening, forty hours after leaving wisconsin, four days after leaving maine. and it's good to be here.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The last leg of the journey
I walked back into Cresthill to find my room full of stuff. My stuff. None of which I missed during my two month long absence. I was tempted simply to throw it all away. But stuff though it is, it's mostly nice quality stuff and I can't bear to trash any of it. So I repack the Subaru, more full than on the way out here this summer (but at least my road bike still fits inside where it belongs) and prepare to start the drive back to Wenatchee tomorrow morning. When I get home I'm taking some trips to the goodwill, which is slightly ironic because that's also where I buy a lot of clothes. oh well. The worst part is that I know that I have another full room of stuff in Wenatchee (and spilling out into piles in the garage). How have I accumulated so much? Why have I kept it?
Gregg's coming with; I left the front seat empty for him, but that's about all. He said that as long as I could fit him and his telemark boots, he was going to catch a ride back to his home state of WA. So it's the last trip of the season for me, but really just the start of another season!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Back in Hayward
One 24 hour car ride later and 309 songs into Watt's ipod, the CXC Team is back home in Hayward, WI (Fish, Kuzzy, Gregg, Valaas), Rhinelander, WI (Cook), or Duluth, MN (Watt). And what did we find as we approached Wisconsin? Yes, a snow storm. April 4th, all I want to do is take my road bike out for a nice long spin and there's a good 4" of fresh snow blanketing Cresthill
The drive seemed a breeze because I was reading "The Long Walk" by Slavomir Rawicz, a true story of 7 prisoners' escape from a Siberian labor camp to India. While reading about their year-long trek with little food, across the Gobi desert with no water, through the Himalayas in the spring and numerous other hardships, a 24 hour van ride seemed like a pleasant stroll through the park.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
The race of the day definitely goes to Haley Johnson of the Maine Winter Sports Center.
Haley finished in 4th, which is a phenomenal result for her. But more importantly than that she fought harder then anyone else out there. Of course, that's just my armchair opinion, but it was very sweet to see her do so well. It came down to a sprint between her and Kate Whitcomb for 3rd place that Whitcomb won. As much as I like Whitcomb, I was rooting for Haley on that one.
Torin Koos gets the stellar race result for the men's since he was 4th today (and 5th Friday). I do like to see the "sprinters" kick butt in the distance races... especially a 50km marathon! And don't let me forget the Kuzzy got 3rd both today and Friday- Stellar!After 30km it came down to a sprint where Taz Mannix held of Liz Stephen.Morgan Arritola leading Evelyn Dong and Kate Whitcomb through the biathlon range.
I didn't take any photos of the men's 50km because I was offering them feeds. I didn't even do a good job of cheering because I was concentrating so hard on trying to get them what they wanted if they wanted something. Giving feeds requires a certain skill (and I don't claim to be a master of it). First, you have to choose your location. You want to be at the top of a non-technical downhill so the racers can drink without getting dropped. And then you want the next 1km or so after the feed to be pretty easy so they don't have to work really hard immediately after ingesting food. Then you have to be ready. Ready to hand off what the racer wants: water, gatorade, food, because they come up fast. Then the actual handoff. Handing off a feed in a ski race is a lot harder than in cycling or running. Running they're not going very fast so the hand off happens in slow-mo. Cycling, they're going fast but travel in a straight line with no up-down or side-to-side movement so that's relatively simple. But skate skiers are moving fast and moving side to side and up and down and are already holding poles in their hands, not to mention that they're usually ridiculously tired. Luckily I only botched one hand-off. That was to Gregg on his last lap but he managed to trap the bottle upright against his chest and still get a drink, so it worked out.
I'd still rather be the one receiving the feed than giving.