Haulin’ Aussies

Yesterday, Gus, August, and two Austrailian National Team members, PK and Callum, came down to Reno from Truckee to do some low-altitude skate rollerski intervals up Mario Hill. The hill is pretty solid V1, but a strong skier can V2 it. It takes a little under two minutes going all out. Callum and PK were really putting the hurt on us. It was great to get to mix it up with such strong skiers that we don’t often see around Tahoe. They are training with August in Truckee until Thanksgiving camp at West Yellowstone, then are off to do world cups.

The October surprise skiing we had over the weekend might be over for a little while now that the snow is pretty much gone, but the mountain biking is still good. Here’s a photo from a ride Gus and I did today in the foothills below Mt. Rose. Fall colors are getting good, but it ain’t New England colors.

Billy Dutton Uphill

Yesterday, as I gazed up at the daunting wall in front of me on the start line of the Billy Dutton Uphill at Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl Academy coach Jeff Schloss reassured me there was only one climb. He wasn’t kidding: one climb, two thousand feet, and 5k from the base lodge to High Camp.

Ouch. That one hurt. But that was one of the most rewarding races I’ve ever done. The views at the top were incredible, and simply realizing  what you just climbed gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment.  It was also great to see so many people out there on all sorts of climbing contraptions, like home-made skins, snow-shoes, and rubber cramp-ons, in addition to all the basic skate skis, running shoes, and snow shoes.

The party continued that evening at the Far West team Banquet at ASC. There was great food and it was a perfect capstone to a great season. As always, it was neat to see how much support and friendships the nordic community provides for its athletes. Congrats to all the graduating seniors and good luck if you continue skiing in college! I would like to thank the all parents, volunteers, juniors, and especially the coaches for their their support and involvement with the Far West team this season. Can’t wait till next year!

Mammoth Marathon

It was a great day in Mammoth. We had sunshine, a new 4-lap course with fun climbs and a crazy s-turn downhill, a fun, low-key atmosphere, great volunteers, tasty post-race grub, and seemingly endless raffle prizes. I had a good one: my coach August Teague and I broke away from the field in the first lap and traded off leads until about half way through the last lap, when I made a move on the last steep hill. It was an awesome workout too – nothing like hammering at 9000 feet.

The raffle was awesome. I won a pound of fudge at the local chocolate shop. But I don’t eat fudge (ya, I’m trying to watch my figure), so I traded August for his prize, a $10 gift card to the dollar store. I proceeded to go nuts for trinkets and such – bacon bits, sun glasses, hot peppers, super glue, postcard for mom’s b-day.

Nothing like 40 kilometers in the sunshine, the high sierra, and free stuff.

 

Yellowstone Redezvous 50K

After the Great Race got cancelled because of lack of snow – on the day we got a bunch of new snow, unfortunately – I decided I would drive up to West Yellowstone for the Rendezvous. I had to get some revenge for my Birkie. This time I wasn’t going to freeze. All bundled with balaclava and all, this one went a whole lot better. I ended up 5th, only about 15 seconds from the podium. It was a really fun race. And a tougher workout than anyone could have imagined when we woke up to blistering winds and 5″ of new snow on the track. You know it’s slow out there when the winners are in the 2:40 range. Way fun though. And great to mix it up for real with all the old Idaho master blasters from back home. A few Far West folks made the trip as well.

As an addendum  to the Birkie report, here’s a great part of northern Wisconsin: live bait in gas stations.

live minnows year-round

Brrrrrrkie

That was a crazy race. I started in the first wave, where there’s about 700 or so skiers all jostling to get a spot on the front line before the start. As soon as the official lets us move up to the line, it’s a mad dash to the line. I did my best from the front of the mass of people, but still only ended up getting a spot in the third row. Stage one over, 54 k to go.

I got out to a decent start, was moving up steadily, then got tripped up in the first 1.5 k. Just as I finished passing all the people that had gone by at the top of “power line hill” and was descending down the back side, I thought, “dang, it’s really cold here.” It was about 10 degrees, but the sun was still below the trees and the humidity was high (at least compared to Nevada). 8 k in I caught my Colby college buddie Jeremy Blazar. Two man wolf pack. Time to start catching some elite wave skiers, baby!

But another 10k later I started to get really cold. Another 5k and Jeremy dropped me as I began to shiver on the downhills. Then the birchleggins crowd and other gray old master blasters began to blow by me. I was practically walking. At the second to last aid station, with 12 or so k left, I skied up to a volunteer with feeds and said, “I need a coat”. She said, “You’re coming with me.” Inside the warming hut, I was given massages, hot drinks, food, and a spot next to a wood stove. For 20 minutes. Until I finally stopped shivering. Then, determined to finish, I took off with a donated purple patagonia sweater beneath my race bib.

I felt great after that as I slalomed through about 200 people on my last leg – many of whom were old skiers and tourists wearing bulky clothing under their bibs just like me. The crowds on the last stretch were awesome, and I had a blast soaking up the Birkie madness.

The purple sweater that saved my race

All in all it was a great day and a ton of fun. It was also a great learning experience: wear plenty of clothing and eat a lot, especially early in the race. It’s easy to ski a bit overheated; skiing frozen is slow and dangerous. Hypothermia isn’t fun and isn’t something to mess with. Lesson learned.

Prez Day Skate

Wow. That was a fun race. It was great to mix it up today with juniors and masters alike for a little under 10k at Auburn Ski Club this morning. We actually had the entire Farm Team racing today. I’m glad I did it, even though I’m still getting over a cold. I figure either I can flush out the remaining sickness, or just get sick and then recover by the Birkie. Probably not the smartest Idea, but hey, I’ve gotta get all the racing I can in. The Birkie is in less than a week for Smokey (Michael) and me, and that’s a fever I’ve got for sure. Thanks to all the volunteers and race organizers; as usual, they did awesome job and were totally cheerful and friendly. Congrats to all the juniors on crushing the last qualifier and good luck to those off to SOHO for junior olympics.

Boulder Mountain Tour

Just got back from possibly one of the best ski marathons you can do anywhere: the Boulder Mountain Tour. Amazing scenery beneath the towering Boulders; consistently perfect snow; a competitive, national-caliber field; great cheering sections in one of the most active nordic ski communities in the country; hot Big Wood Bread and soup at the finish. Not to mention the race is a 32 K that skis more like a 22 K because it drops 1100 feet from start to finish. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Boulder because it was one of the first long races I did as a J4 way back in the day. Plus, I’m still an Idaho boy. Of course, I haven’t raced the Birkie yet – that’s coming up for me in three weeks. Maybe my perspective will change after that.

Gus, Me, and Elias at the finish