Sunday, December 30, 2007


My car needs another oil change, and I just got one three weeks ago.

Jess Snyder and I drove from Rochester to Houghton, after a stop at Wegman's to take advantage of their bulk food section. We got to the Canadian border and I realized I'd forgotten my passport, but since I've never needed one before, I didn't worry about it, until the border guard gave me grief. He did, however, let me into the country, and we did successfully make it out of the country, too. In the interim, I taught Jess to drive stick. She's a quick learner, and I think she managed to avoid destroying my clutch.

We spent the night at the canal between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior (I think?) and finished the drive in the morning, which meant we were able to ski today. I liked that part.

After the coaches' meeting, we headed to walmart, where we picked up material and puffy paint for our team flair for the team sprint. You'll have to wait for those awesome pictures...

Our fridge looks like a bloody garden during summer. check my recipe page for the new series I'll be posting this week, "eating like a PRO on the go". Yeah, we're cooking for ourselves this week, but we're eating daaaamn well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

snow report

For anyone in this wet gray city:

Harriet is skiable. Its icy, and not bad but not great, but the guy on the snowmobile has been out with a tiller. Lots of debris down, though.

Mendon Ponds at Quaker Pond area: skiable, as in, there is full snow cover. Icy under some wet slush. No major rocks that I could see. I don't speak for the ski trails, though.

Mt Pittsford: icy, very icy in places, but full coverage around the loop. Some places were actually good (the top of the hill). Avoid the horseshoe turn... its sheet ice.

I've gotten to ski with some Pittsford kids the past two days, and it makes me feel like I'm actually useful. They are so full of questions, and I don't always have the answers, but I try. Am I good enough to ski in college? Should I do JOs? How good were you in highschool? Why can't I kick up hills? Do I really have to classic if its a skate year? Can you give me technique tips? How do I improve my endurance? How did you decide on a school? Is it possible to have a long distance relationship in college? Do the college teams have to wax their own skis? What happens if you can't make the carnival team? Do all the schools have development teams? Did you have friends outside the ski team? Are there a lot of parties at college? Where do you ski when you're at college? Do you train on the race courses? How much do you have to travel? How often do you get to come home? Are you still in touch with your friends from highschool? If I'm not that good at skiing yet will the coach help me out or just kick me off the team? So-and-so is skiing at X school and I'm faster than her, does that mean I can automatically ski at that school? Should I do ski camps over the summer? Do I need rollerskis?

I was thinking about CSU, and the quality coaching that those kids get. Two to three to four practices a week, with a coach, often many coaches, getting technique work and drills and waxing tips and training tips from people who've been doing this sport for a long time, no wonder we turn out some pretty good skiers. I wish there were something equivalent in the Rochester area. If I had any desire whatsoever to live here, I would start a club, for kids from any highschool, of any ability, the only requirement is that they really want to become the best skiers they possibly can be. I want to start a club where eventually all the skiers are faster than me. If only there were something like that in this area; there are so many talented kids whose highschool coaches just don't have time for them, who are just dying for more information on how to become a faster skier. Pittsford has 103 skiers this year. Three coaches. All with a real job outside of coaching. How is that even supposed to be possible!??!

Section V turns out the best skiers in the state, aside from NYSEF. Is it any wonder that the Mid Atlantic Team is always last or second-to-last at JOs?? Every other region has clubs for juniors who want to become good skiers, so that they at least have the tools to take it to the next level. It burns me that there is nothing like that in this area. So much talent! So much potential! I know we don't have much snow, but hell, Boston gets less snow than Rochester and CSU turns out some damn good skiers! There is no reason that Rochester can't compete at that level! People say that the competition level in NYS is lower than New England--it is lower--but we can raise it. There is some good racing up in Lake Placid, the powerhouses of the D3 schools are in NY, and the numbers at the highschools are more than enough to foster some really quality skiing, if only someone were there to teach them. Sure, XCRochester has to work on the master and senior contingent, but why not have a junior club too? So that the kids who DO want to become superstars in this sport at least know what it takes? arrgh.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reindeer Roundup

I skipped the Osceola world famous christmas race (and my chance to win PIE!!! Enjoy that pie, Jess), and hit up the Reindeer Roundup in Lapland Lake on my way home. This was a two-fer, as there was a ski-o here in the afternoon, so I could hit up both. The race was a continuous pursuit, 5k-5k, and they held it on the same trail for both classic and skate. We all lined up, self-seeded, and I got in behind a girl in a Dartmouth suit, not sure who it was. We go off, and Steph Crocker takes the lead for the girls (amid rabid master men and wobbly highschool boys) until things thinned out a bit. Then I heard someone cheering for both Steph and for Ali, so I figured it was Alison Crocker I was behind. She was starting to let Steph get away, so I went around her and skied behind Stephanie for a while, until Alison caught back up, with a junior kid. We skied like that for the rest of the 5k, which was pretty flat, with gradual uphills and fast downhills in the tracks. The rain hadn't hit Lapland yet, but the snow was sure wet.

Switching to skate stuff (there wasn't enough room for a true stadium, so our skis were all stuck in the snow by a flag with our bib numbers), I discovered how tricky it is to skate well when you have a track on either side of a narrow trail. Ali and I had faster skis than Steph and the junior girl, so we pulled away, and proceeded to ski pretty easy for the rest of the 5k. It was hard to ski hard, marathon skate was the technique of the day, and as the tracks were so fast anyway, that seemed to work. I led for most of the middle of the loop, and then right before the end I let Ali go by, because I didn't want to be in the way... what was I thinking? there is no room to pass on this finishing straight! Anyway, that meant that she got in first and I was right behind her, wondering if there was a way to sneak a ski past her. This may be the first and last time I ever ski with Alison Crocker... I'll take it! We ended up 6th and 7th overall, which is always nice.

That afternoon I did the ski-o... I don't think I'd eaten nearly enough food after the ski race, because I bonked pretty hard. I also wore my warmups, because I'd been cold beforehand, but I ended up just steaming myself to death, and naturally I didn't have any water. I navigated horribly, making at least one mistake on every leg, and stopping a couple times just trying to re-orient. Overall, a miserable race for me. The straight-line distance was 8.8k, but with all the twists and turns at lapland, I ended up skiing about 15-20k, and it felt like 50. ugh.

Driving back to Rochester, I went through one of the heaviest rainstorms I've been in in a couple years. It wasn't so bad that I could feel the water bouncing off the road and hitting the bottom of the car, but I couldn't see much past 2 feet ahead of my bumper. I could barely make out the lines next to the car--that was kind of scary. If only it had been snow! All the snow here is essentially melted away... I guess its a good thing bristol now makes snow on a nordic loop. Ahhh, loop skiing on manmade snow... its a good thing I'm used to it!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

Nine hours of daylight today. Too bad I'm spending all of them indoors.

We've gotten more snow in the past month here in Boston than we did all last year. I'm going to go with the assumption that both years might be a little out of whack. Cities are not good places to have lots of snow. The lack of places to put the snow makes everyone grumpy, and then fewer people play in the snow, which leads to much unhappiness. Because after all, playing in the snow is the purpose of my being. I can't wait to go sledding when I get home!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ninja style

More self aggrandizement. What can I say, Dobie wanted someone to practice his fancy flash thingies on before the guys came through and me and Jess were skiing a cooldown. And since I have nothing interesting to say, I'll just keep putting pictures up here.

Russian grandmother style, or ninja style?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

At least I was having fun...

this scares me.

Presque Isle

(photo stolen from Jamie Doucett, more of them here).

I should preface this by saying, I love coming up to the County. The skiing is great, the people are super nice, the trails are fantastic, and there is generally really good competition. Unless everyone gets freaked out about driving in the snow and doesn't show up. This past weekend was mostly a Stratton exhibition on the women's side, with a couple UNH girls in there for show. Saturday was a skate sprint, and Sunday was a 5k classic. I love classic skiing on these trails, the gradual ups and twisty steep downs suit my skiing style. Unless of course I fall on my butt. We'll get to that.

Jess and I drove up there Friday, picking up NENSA's professional photographer Kris Dobie, and got there just in time for the sun to go down. It got really cold that night, and was only 3 degrees the next morning. I raced all day with a thing pulled over my face, since I didn't want to have as bad a post-race cough that I did after the west yellowstone sprints. My qualifier was so-so, I felt really weak and uncoordinated, but I knew with a field this small I'd be in the heats no matter what since they were taking 30. There was one long-ish hill near the end, I felt pretty sluggish up that. After cooling down, we made some origami reindeer. I don't know if they qualify as pure origami, because you needed to cut the antlers, and you needed to tape the two halves together, but they were pretty neat.

2:15 rolled around and the heats started. It was really chilly, and the sun was behind the trees so it wasn't getting any warmer. My first heat I got out in front and blocked up the hills next to Heather Zimmerman for most of it. Then I did something weird over the second little bump and lost my balance and Mae Foster got past me. She was pissed, and moving fast, so I hopped in behind her since it looked like she was going to get around Heather. Then halfway up the hill I stepped on her pole, and even though I moved my foot off the pole really quick and instantly went into "oh-god-I'm-so-sorry" mode, the damage was done, she slid sideways, took out Heather, and Isabelle Caldwell caught up to us and went up the side. I naturally followed her around the carnage and made the next heat. Oops.

There were about 30 min between each heat, which was way too long in my opinion, because I couldn't stay warm despite skiing and running around. In the semi, two stratton girls took it out fast, and Marlijne Cook and I were behind them until the long hill, when I got caught behind Marlijne and they got away. Then I settled for the B final and cruised in; the other two Stratton kids were pretty far back. At this point I was so cold I just wanted it to be over, I just didn't care anymore. I felt like I was standing on frozen icicles, gently poking at the snow with my poles from my straight-legged position. This was not a fast technique. I don't really remember the B final very well, I just know that based on the results I was 3rd in it. Qualified 7th, ended up 7th, why did there have to be so much coldness in between? I think I did a cooldown, but I don't remember that either. I don't remember much until I started to warm up in the shower.

Sunday felt a little warmer, although it was still 3 degrees in the morning. I ended up on a toko green binder, Rode light blue covered with multigrade green really lightly, and then some multigrade purple under the toe. It was good. Too bad the body was not so good. I felt pretty crummy in my warmup, but sometimes you have a good race anyway. The course starts down a hill, and its a fun one, twisty and fast, and for some reason I found myself skidding on one of the last turns. I told myself I had to step, I couldn't afford to lose momentum on this hill, so I stopped skidding, but for some reason I never started stepping and so I fell over when I went off the trail. There isn't much to say about the rest of the race, I basically played mind games with myself to keep myself from stopping and sitting down on the side of the trail to catch my breath. I guess I'm tired. I blame staying up till 1am baking cookies on thursday night. Oops. The cookies were totally worth it, though =).

Overall, I guess the weekend looks good on paper. Top 15 in the classic race, and I beat Tracey (who now claims to have asthma). But I felt like crap, and I don't think I should be feeling like crap right now. I need to get out of this negative slump soon, hopefully a couple rest weeks leading up to nationals will do just that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Craftsbury Opener

Alarm went off at 3:55, and I’m lying there wondering why someone set my alarm for the middle of the night and whether it’ll shut up on its own. Out the door by 4:01, even at 4am there are cars in the damn rotary around the masspike, what are they doing, where are they going? Too much thought for this hour.

A couple hours later, when my brain can function at a slightly higher level than just focusing on not falling off the road, I get bored. Start taking pictures, playing with my sunglasses, scrounging for breakfast foods in my car. I found that if you put an orange lens over one eye and a clear one over the other, it takes about 3 or 4 seconds before your eyes stop freaking out and adjust. And then they do it again when you take off the glasses. Wasn’t there some physics experiment where they gave a guy contacts that flipped the world upside down, and he was totally freaked out when he took the contacts out after his eyes adjusted and the world went upside down again? Eyes are some resilient pieces of magic, how the hell did something that complex ever evolve?

Many hours later I’ve arrived at the outdoor center. The course starts with some rollers then a downhill, longest one in the course, a couple good twists and turns, some flat along the bottom, then three hills of some consequence, separated by more rollers, before you roll into the finish. I have this theory that you don’t make up that much time on uphills, unless they’re super long, because everyone is going pretty slow, relatively speaking. Where you make up time is the crests of hills and the flats and transitions. So that is where I put the hammer down, no real point to going anaerobic on the long climbs and have nothing left for the flats, if you’re trying to ski a controlled race.

Lined up with Lucy Garrec from Burke, we take off and she tries to get ahead of me but I use my superior mass to block her and take it into the hill first. I could hear her breathing down my neck going up the hills, but by lap two I’d dropped her and passed Trina Hosmer, so I was feeling pretty good about life. Never really picked it up that much, but I was recovering well after the climbs, and skiing pretty smooth despite loose conditions and stiff skis (the grind was great, flex no so much). I’d used an ancient Norwegian trick, its called “pacing oneself”, and it worked surprisingly well. Finished the race and felt good about it, turns out I ended up third, behind Elsa Sargent (Dartmouth) and Rosie Brennan (US ski team).

I didn’t feel like going home after the race; I’d just driven 4.5 hrs, I wasn’t going to turn around without more skiing. There is an unwritten rule that you have to ski for longer than the one-way leg of your trip to the snow, so I whiled away the afternoon on the Craftsbury trails and had a lovely time skiing with myself, before heading back to the southern flatlands.

Monday, December 10, 2007


That happened maybe 10 miles from home, so I didn't make it to Great Glen for the sprints. I did however drive up to Craftsbury the next day for the opener, on my little donut at 55mph (which is considerably slower than my normal highway speed...), and that was totally worth the trip. The race report in words is coming, here is a photo essay, complete with a haiku:

Four AM wakeup
Ski racing at Craftsbury
Thank god for coffee

This is normal, right?

Heading towards Franconia Notch just before sunrise.

Self portrait a la Thom P.

Driving into Franconia Notch, Cannon has its head in the clouds.

Cannon mt.

Leaving the notch with the sunrise behind me.

Cloudy day heading into Craftsbury.

Craftsbury Common. The marathon finishes here.

Snowy trails and a grinning Ilke.

And then I went home. Long day, but thoroughly satisfying.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


For the last three years of crappy winters. Because it is December 5th, and I have been skiing on natural snow in Boston Massachusetts. Booyah!

(I'll admit, I skied a little on manmade snow, too. But the natural snow was more fun; if you're in the Boston area, go crust cruising anywhere you can find a field/golf course)

This means that Tuesday night sprints are imminent!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Times

Snow! Here!

Snow! Lots of it! (by Boston standards--I mean, people can barely handle driving in rain around here). Of course now its raining, which is blah. And the snow is more like white slush, thanks to the rain. But, that is ok, because Weston Ski Track thinks they can be open by Tuesday night, since apparently its cold enough at night to blow snow. Wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!

Also on that note, Craftsbury has 10k groomed for skate, so I'm going to hazard a guess that the Craftsbury opener is ON for this weekend. Woooooo ski racing!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For the love of skiing

I love to ski. This is fairly obvious, I think, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the training and the racing and the results that I forget the big picture of how much I love to ski. The past couple years I've elevated cross country skiing above alpine or telemark, and this has arguably led me to being a faster racer. Being hypercompetitive, I need to see how fast I can possibly be, and I love the racing side of skiing as much as I love skiing. Cross country ski racing defines a large part of who I am at this point of my life.

After Saturday's race, I was feeling a little bummed out, despite not having had a bad race. I was completely wrapped up in my own little world of analyzing how to make those skis work, what to do about this sort of situation in the future, how my body performed, how to make it recover faster, all the little details that matter after a ski race. And then my ski buddy Randy showed up, and we skied all day Sunday, and I realized how much of the big picture I miss by just racing. Sure, we were training, but it was in complete contrast to the focus that most training has at this point. We were goofing around, telling jokes, planning trips, and most importantly, just enjoying the fact that we were on skis sliding over snow. It was great to ski with a non-racer, someone removed from the intensity of it all, who skis because he loves to ski and be in shape and still can outski his 12-year-old kid.

Having that sort of contrast in your life is a good thing, I think. For me to become the fastest ski racer I can, I have to observe all the details, I have to be focused in my workouts, I have to analyze races to learn from mistakes. But for me to become the best person that I can, I have to remember to have fun on my skis, and to share this joy with those around me. And I wouldn't be surprised if that helps the racing, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Classic race

In brief: I have a pair of klister skis that I'm really, really, really trying to make work as powder skis. This experiment is not so successful, and I had very limited kick. But my doublepoling was on fire!

The longer version: I'm frustrated with those skis. They'll make a good klister ski, and I know that early season races is where you iron out these kinks, but I love that classic striding motion, and I get upset when I can't use it in a race. Listen to those thousand little violins playing for me. It was a good race. I think I can say that. I fought hard, I made do with my double poling, and I think the result was somewhere near where last season ended. That isn't a bad way to start the season. The course was flat, with one hill that they called the wall, so the double-pole and run technique wasn't nearly as disastrous as it would have been on a course like, say, Pineland, or Presque Isle.

So now I'm back in Boston. There is no snow here. Its not even cold here. The potential for being depressed is fairly high, except that I know the county has snow, so the first ECs are on, and I'm sure that Great Glen will do something to hold those sprints. No more 'cross for this girl, I'm a skier now =). A rollerskier...

Friday, November 23, 2007

The speed is there. Unfortunately, so is the spazz.

Cooooold this morning. Frosty breath on my jacket, well under zero at 8:30 when I showed up to pick up my bib. I like to give my lungs at least 45 minutes to get used to this sort of abuse when its this cold, run through all the paces, so a nice long warmup was in order. Rob showed up with my skis (yes, I had Toko wax for me), and they were faster than LF6, which is what I'd been skiing around on. Hard to have fast skis on snow this squeaky. The sun finally came up over the trees, making the air more bearable. I started fourth from last, behind some J2s from Craftsbury. Not a bad place to start from, as my skis were faster on snow that had been skied over.

The beeping starts, and I jump out. Smooth like a ninja, that was the goal. Second pole plant and my right pole strap un-velcroes itself. I managed to not let go of the pole, and tried to get into the downhill fast enough to have momentum to put the strap back on. Got it on, concentrating on not freaking out. At the bottom of the hill I realized I had to start my V2 a lot sooner than I had in my warmup- not a good sign. I caught up to the first Craftsbury girl on the short steep uphill, and she blocked me admirably. I almost had to ski over her before she'd move, but it still feels good to pass someone by 15 seconds in a 2 minute race. Slight downhill, I tucked here even though I probably should have used some V2-alt. Hit the uphill, which had been V2able yesterday, today it was a solid V1, but I'd watched Laura Valaas do that so clearly it was ok. Crested the steeper part and switched to a strong V2, remembering to compress and use my legs and all that. The burn had started, it wasn't pleasant, but its a sprint, so its supposed to hurt. Flattened out into the finish, had to fight to stay V2, still driving, always driving, passed the other Craftsbury girl before the finish lanes. Threw my foot in a halfhearted manner, and had to lie on the snow to catch my breath. Burning lungs, but its supposed to be that way--sprint race in the cold.

Bad luck with the pole strap, I have no idea how to determine how much time I lost by not being able to push the downhill, but I was only out of the heats by about 6 seconds (I'll know for sure what the time was when they publish the results). Still a solid result, not what I'd hoped for, but that is sprint racing. I knew going into this that to make the heats it would have to flow perfectly, and it was far from it. The speed is there, no doubt, but the spazz is still overpowering it.

Thanks Freddy B for the pictures.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Apprehension. Confidence. Fear. Excitement. Doubt. Mostly, doubt. Its all there in my head, its all running around, the course is zooming around my head in fast forward, over and over. Can't stop. Can't wait. Paralyzed. Ready to drop the hammer. Scared the hammer won't be found.

Its that feeling, on the line, when you are so nervous you can hardly breathe. Your heart hammers in your chest, the butterflies are practically in your throat. Poles are shaking, even planted in the snow. Your whole body is shaking, so nervous, so strung-out, any second now and you'll false start. Five ... beep, beep, beep, beeeeeep. Two strides into it and you've completely forgotten the butterflies of the start; your adrenaline is now working with you to make every stride as much as it can be. Hundredths of a second count, here, a tenth could separate 16th from 23rd. That feeling-- I live for that feeling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Its finally winter here; we got lots of snow last night. I took pictures, but my computer decided to have an identity crisis and no longer turns on, so I can't post these lovely pictures of snow everywhere. You'll just have to take my word for it.

The ski fest is on for real, now, there are ski company folks everywhere, and tons of people everywhere, and I think I may have preferred this town when I had it to myself. Although I definitely prefer it with snow on the ground! This also means that the races are ON, which is a big relief, because I didn't exactly come out here for a vacation... although its been a fun one! I can't WAIT to put the hammer down!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spring Skiing

Today I skied for a Long Time. Suffice it to say that I had to eat a lot of food afterwards, and everyone else had left the plateau except for one Finnish guy, who luckily felt like giving me a ride. Conditions would have been great in April. Absolutely FANTASTIC spring skiing. Too bad its November...

However, the forecast is calling for up to six inches tomorrow night and constant snow through Tuesday. They make the call Tuesday at noon whether or not they'll hold the supertours. If they cancel the races, I know someone who will be a very unhappy camper.

I ran into Freddy B today. I almost didn't recognize him without the Brikos. I tried to take a picture of both of us, but I was too short to fit into the frame, so I had to ask someone else to take the picture. Incompetent? Quite possibly.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today was a haiku day. The morning's haiku:

My skis kick and glide
I love extra blue weather
Effortless skiing

The afternoon's haiku:

Huffing and puffing
Slower than cold molasses
I don't belong here

I'm tempted to come up with a new haiku every day, but I don't think I'm that creative.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I was close to a breaking point. I could see the snow. I had to get to it. So, I rented a bicycle. The poles I could tape to the frame, but I later found out that the true purpose of the helmet was to protect my head from being bludgeoned to death by my skis while riding uphill.

Its not perfect, but its early season skiing, and its damn nice. And I ran into Sam Morse, who is now skiing with the national guard. Small world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I know I should be all down about there not being any snow here, but I don't think I mind. I went for a thoroughly satisfying rollerski into Yellowstone, and while I wouldn't call it fun, because rollerskiing in mid-November doesn't warrant that word, I felt better after that workout than I have in a long time. I don't mean physically, I've been riding the rollercoaster in terms of how my body has felt all fall, but mentally and emotionally, I was right where I wanted to be. It was hard not to feel inspired by the scenery of Yellowstone park, and the conditions were pretty perfect for rollerskiing, since the road is closed to motorized traffic this time of year.

After about a half hour, I realized how silent it was aside from me. All I could hear were the click of poles, the squeak of my bindings, and occasionally the breeze in my ears when it picked up. Unlike yesterday, when my brain was running overtime for no reason during my run, my head was utterly empty. No song in my head, no story playing out, no plans being made, no mantras about technique, just an awareness of my body and its setting. It was almost trance-like, except that I felt ultra aware of everything around me.

The cool part was when I saw a herd of elk (I think they were elk--some sort of leggy quadruped), crossing the road. They saw me and all stopped, so I stopped. We spent a while looking at each other, and then both decided that neither of us were a danger to each other, so kept on, the rollerskier on the road, the elk following the river that paralleled the road.

Just an excellent day, overall. I think Keither Urban says it right.

I got the one I love beside me
My troubles behind me
I'm alive and I'm free,
who wouldn't wanna be me

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

West Yellowstone

I'm here! The "real" ski season for me has really begun. Except for the minor fact that I'm not skiing, yet. I mean, I would be skiing if I could. In fact, I'm pretty sure that up on the plateau there is skiable snow, but I'm broke and under 25 which means I can't get up there until somebody else goes up there, and takes me along for the ride.

Yesterday when I got in, there was no snow in town, and Tim Weston (the coach at Bridger ski foundation in Bozeman, and is originally from Fairport so I felt ok with cold-calling him to get a ride) decided that we may as well drive up to the plateau. there was maybe 1-2 inches of fresh stuff, and some harder snow underneath that, but nobody has been skiing there yet. Maybe 3 inches total. Skiable with rock skis and a sense of adventure, maybe.

Last night it snowed a bit, but by now its mostly burned off the roads and sidewalks. I went for a run on the rendezvous trails, and there was full snow coverage, but it needs another couple inches to be skiable. The trails are in great condition, no potholes or rocks or dog shit, so I believe fasterskier when they say that 3-4 inches will allow for grooming. Back into the waiting game...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Putney CX

So, if you've been reading my recent race reports, they've been pretty negative. Sorry about that. This one went a lot better, I felt like I was finally racing about as fast as I was last year. I just came off of a pretty massive rest week, so its a good thing that I felt rested, and while I still didn't feel blazing fast on my bike, thats because its a bike, and cyclists sit down to do their sport. What is with that?

I liked the course, it had a sick run-up, and some fun corners and technique-y things that meant you had to stay on your toes. Of course there were the mandatory flats of death, in this case a cornfield that was just sticky enough to sap your life force, but thats par for the course. The wind started to pick up during my race, but the earlier part of the day had been just gorgeous--warm in the sun, and brisk in the shade. Its about time!!

Things spread out relatively quickly, and I hopped on Linnea's wheel because I trust she isn't going to do anything stupid on the downhill, and half the lap went well. Then in the cornfield we were behind some chick who was getting gapped, and I knew it got windy around the corner, so I punched it to get around her, but I didn't quite make it up to those nice looking wheels ahead before I hit the wind, and it literally took my wind right out of my sails. I had hoped to stay with Linnea because she always gets faster throughout the race, but I was pretty well gapped by the time we even hit the run-up. After the barriers I looked back, and it appeared that the girls behind me were also pretty well gapped, so it was on to chasing down some fast starters to see if I could reel them in. By the end of that lap, I noticed that Erin Duggan was off the back of that pack, and knowing that she has perfected the backward slide, I started to dig to try and catch her. I don't want to sound cocky, but I was definitely reeling her in, and very much looking forward to taking a rest when I got on her wheel... clearly, I was thinking ahead too much.

At the short forced run-up, the first two laps I had just dismounted and pushed my bike up, letting the rear of it bounce. I was pretty much right on Erin's wheel coming into that on lap three, and I went with the same method, but this time lost my chain. And, being a race, my attempts to put in on where neither efficient nor effective, and it took some serious shaky-hand yanking to get it out from where it was stuck between derailleur and frame, or wherever the hell it had gone. Not so pro. It felt like it took me 10 minutes, in reality it was probably only about 30 seconds, but three girls had gone by (the ones who I thought were so far back I'd never see them again). I caught the first pretty quickly, overtook the FTS girl on the downhill, and ineffectually chased the West Hill girl for the next three laps. Painful. As much as I like run-ups, because I'm good at them, they still hurt, and each time over the barriers I could tell how not-recovered I was.

Anyway, I got close (10 seconds?) to the Putney girl in the last lap, because she was fading hardcore and I didn't slow down too much, but it just wasn't enough, so I finished in 11th. I kind of wanted a top 10, but mechanicals are part of bike racing. And now I know that I'm faster at doing things if I take a deep breath first, and then think about what it is I'm doing. Fun race, though, and a great venue, I'll definitely be at this one next year.

And now its ski season!!!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Unscientific Experiments

1. Massage: Does it make a difference?

My legs were feeling pretty trashed after last weekend's double race at the end of a high volume, high intensity week. I was at the point where walking up stairs got me out of breath faster than a fat kid with asthma, so I considered getting a massage. However, my current monetary state prevents me from getting massages, so I decided to do an experiment. While I was doing laundry, I massaged out one leg, and then compared its recovery to the other one. I generally don't like massaging my own legs because I have to make a very conscious effort to keep the leg relaxed, but I successfully worked out some monster knots in ~40 minutes.

The conclusions to this experiment? On Tuesday, my left leg felt a lot better than the right one. Going up stairs, my left leg didn't really notice that it had to step up, it was all peppy and playful. The right leg was more or less paralyzed and felt at least 25 pounds heavier. On Wednesday, while walking up stairs, the left leg still felt a little better (more pep, felt like less work to get to the next step) than the right one, but I no longer sounded like the obese child with a breathing problem. By Thursday, both legs felt the same walking up stairs. So, maybe massage does help recovery. At least it felt like that leg was recovered faster. But with no control, how is one to know??

2. Drafting semi-trucks: Do you really get better gas mileage?

I was out in Northampton MA for work all week, and as that is ~100 miles from here, I figured I would see what was the best gas mileage I could possibly get. I have a 2002 civic, which is pretty new to me, and I've been getting between 33-38ish mpg. My old car (1993 accord with a multitude of problems) could manage 32 mpg when driven by an old lady (me), so I figured I could beat 40 mpg on the new car. I've gotten 40 mpg while driving on state highways over hills, so I thought I had a good chance of beating that driving on a flat interstate.

The method was to drive 65 mph on cruise control at all times unless a truck passed me, at which point I would just draft the truck. This worked, and most of the trucks I was drafting went between 60-70, so I wasn't losing any time. Granted, I don't think they liked that I was drafting (some might call it tailgating), because they couldn't see me. And it wasn't the most restful experience I've ever had. But I stuck to the plan, and was all excited to see if I got 45 mpg or something. Well, for 202 miles I got 5.1 gallons, so not any better than 40. Not doing that one again.

If you have ideas for other unscientific experiments (or even an idea of an experiment that can be done scientifically, with a hypothesis and method and stuff!), let me know, because I'm having fun with this!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ski Boots and Bindings for Sale

Thanks to my awesome sponsor Alpina, I am switching from SNS to NNN, so I have a lot of bindings for sale. I also have some boots for sale. Price is negotiable on all of these items, and I'll take special circumstances (trades, for instance, or if you're more broke than I am) into consideration. I am especially interested in trading for NNN2 bindings.

size 39 Sportful 6.9 Skating, pilot bindings. Bought in 2001 but never used. $50.

size 39 Salomon classic boots (bumblebee yellow). Used and abused for three seasons, including rollerskiing. $30.

4 pair of Salomon pilot bindings, good condition (all were on snow skis, not rollerskis) - $45 each.

2 pair of Salomon classic bindings, good condition (both from snow skis, not rollerskis) - $30 each.

1 pair of Salmon classic bindings, one of which is in good condition, the other one has a broken baseplate and was duct taped to the ski so is sticky. $20.

1 pair of Salomon skate bindings, not pilot. Had been on rollerskis. $25.

1 pair of Salomon classic bindings, from rollerskis. Binding clip part is in decent condition, but the baseplates were duct-taped to the rollerskis. $15.

(The rollerskis are not for sale. Sorry)

Shoot me an email or call me up if you're interested in any of this schwag. Or if you have some NNN bindings you want to trade me.

-Only 2 pair of pilot bindings left.
-The two pair of good classic bindings are sold.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

CSU Rollerski Race

This was a fun event. It was too bad it coincided with the Bowdoin Duathlon, because it was a pretty small turnout, but it was a nice, if windy, day, and I won some gels. It doesn't get much better than that.

I was pretty tired, so its a good thing that this is a rollerski race in eastern Massachusetts. Translation: flat. I had pretty much the slowest skis out there, but there was only one other girl racing the skate division and she was a Harvard skier, so I wasn't too worried. John Rich got away from me early (V2 aeros), and a Harvard guy (Chris Nabel I think) went after him (proskis), so I figured they were gone, but at the top of the hill my superior balance got the best of Chris and I caught back up. Another master on fast skis (ski skett sharks, which are essentially racing rollerskis) drafted me up to Chris, and I hauled them around until the first classic skiers caught up. I decided after the first lap that I had been going closer to 30k pace than 15k pace, so I picked it up and that really made me hurt. But I shook everyone off my tail except Chris, who I think was double poling behind me because he didn't quite have the balance to V2.

Pictures stolen without permission from Jamie Doucett:
The start. Giant fields, as you can tell... but a fun race, none the less!

Its a windy day. You think to yourself, oh, there is the smallest person on the course! I'll draft her! Meanwhile, I try in vain to catch Frank Feist.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chainbiter CX

Alternate title: last place needs love too.

I have to admit I didn't really have high hopes for placing well in this one. I'm sleep-deprived, overreached if not overtrained, not riding my bike, and mildly burned out on biking. But, I bought this damn UCI license, so I gotta do some more UCI races. GRRRR to being cheap and needing to justify purchases!

Going into this race, I just wanted to suffer. I wanted a good hard race pace effort that would put me at redline and make me hurt. Bingo! It was finally more like cross weather, although the torrential downpours never materialized, and I was a little disappointed about that. But the chilliness meant I finally got to whip out some nordie tights, gotta get those sponsors their air time; there ain't nobody around to clog the view when you're caboosing it! Yeah, so you know you're going to have a great race when you're getting gapped in the sprint for the hole shot, in this case a clusterfuck over a curb that a lot of the women were running over. Then into some sand, and whaddaya know, someone bites it and this genius here couldn't anticipate that happening and get off the bike early. Anyway, the early shenanigans didn't matter, because when we hit that false flat past the pits I found myself in dead last so fast it was like a kick in the gut, I wheezed and muscled my bike in my easiest gear all the way around the turn and them bombed the off camber to catch back on. Lost more time after that because, you know, we had to ride our bikes and I don't seem to be any good at that nowadays.

The first lap was the only interesting one by race report standards, because after that I was soloing it in second to last, desperately holding off that DFL spot. I quickly learned that my strengths lay in the second sand pit and the runup, other than that I just moved backwards. So, I rode my bike, I ran with my bike, and I suffered like a sick dog being kicked by third-grade bullies. Which is all I really wanted, really. What a sick sport. I will admit, I was having entirely too much fun just railing anything remotely technical, I haven't a clue how that compared to my competitors because I didn't see anyone, although I was hoping Lynne Bessette would lap me and put me out of my misery, but no such luck.

Apparently at some point during the race, I got a clod of dirt or sand in my right eye, I've spent the last six hours or so with my eyes closed, and I still can't see shit out of that eye. I couldn't find my glasses in the mess I'd made of the front seat of the car until after the race. I sure hope this is a temporary problem, because I almost wrecked myself riding a cooldown with one eye, and I have a rollerski race to dominate tomorrow (like someone this tired will be dominating anything, HAH), and its hard to do this stuff with no depth perception. Now I know how pirates feel; maybe I should dress up as a pirate tomorrow and wear an eye patch.

Don't worry, next week is a rest week, and I'll sleep a lot. Then maybe you can read a positive race report. Or training report. Or just a report on what my favorite type of halloween candy is. Right now I'd say laffy taffy is leading by a good shot, they have the unfair advantage of having jokes on the labels! How do you beat that?? Why was the policeman in bed? Because he was an undercover cop!!! groan I should really get more sleep...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Shark Attack!

My halloween costume involved a couple paper bags, and two cans of paint. Although I used white-out to get the teeth all shiny white. Please note the dorsal fin on the back. I was going to do a tail, too, but I ran out of cardboard. And biking to work with a hammerhead shark costume was no simple feat.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


For work, I've been doing some maps and reports for the Central Appalachian area's caves, and last monday and tuesday we had the meeting to talk about it all. The meeting was interesting, but the part that was even better was when they actually brought us into a cave. I didn't think I would like being in a cave, because I generally don't like small dark spaces that are underground. But, we were told that we would be going into one of the biggest caves in Virginia, so I was slightly reassured.

When we got there, two guys gave us a little talk on the history of the cave and caves in the area, and then explained where they would be taking us. The shorter guy was going on a slightly more strenuous route, for "those of us who like climbing up and down", while the taller dude was going to take the group more interested in the larger passageways. The Boston contingent chose the walkable passageways.

The cave opening was this door into a highway culvert--I guess that many of the caves on private land are gated, to keep out intruders and to keep the inside of the cave more like what it had been before us pesky humans had come and disturbed everything. We descended the culvert, which had a wooden ladder on it, and soon found ourselves clambering downhill through a big tunnel thing. It almost looked manmade, until you paid attention to the faults in the rock and the way the ceiling was formed. Occasionally we'd pass smaller passageways to the sides, some of them way up high, some of them half-filled with rocky debris from the last floods, most of them too small (according to my expert opinion here) for an adult. We saw the occasional bat, mostly eastern pipistrelles, which had the cave biologists in our group very excited. Frankly, there wasn't much life down there, so I guess seeing a cave beetle could set you off if you spend enough time underground.

We stopped at one of the side passageways to take a look down it. I poked my head up there, and decided there was no way I would ever fit through there. It disappeared off into the darkness, barely big enough for a small cat to squeeze through. Our guide said he'd been down there, apparently it leads into a much larger room, but there was no way that we were going there.

This cave apparently has 17 miles of passageways, and we saw barely a mile of it. Our guide took us up to the upper passageways, which were a little drier and a little larger, and we only had to crawl once. At one point, he showed us "the pit", and with my dinky little light I couldn't see the bottom, which is supposedly 150 feet down. We did get to see some sweet helectites (I really don't know what these are, they were described to me as "stalactites that have gone crazy"), they were these delicate little crystalline things, I guess they're pretty rare. Mostly, the cave just looked like slimy limestone, with not much happening biologically. One of the first things I noticed was the lack of airflow-- if you farted, it smelled for a looooong time. I did this experiment away from the group, luckily.

After the helectites, our guide was talking about taking us through "the rabbit hole", but luckily we were out of time. I know that I had no interest whatsoever in going through something called "the rabbit hole".

Cavers come up with some interesting names for their caves... I made a list of my favorite ones from the caves we were looking at during the meeting:

50 Foot Hell Cave
Commander Adama Killer Bat Cave
Dying Skunk Cave
Hellhole Pit
Holy Terror Cave
Mashed Finger Cave
Rubber Chicken Entrance
Salamander Suicide Pit
Sheepshit Cave
Thistle Ass Cave
Stupid Cave
Stupider Cave
Definitely Nasty Cave

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Moosilauke Hill Climb

After a thoroughly enjoyable rainy mountain bike ride, the kind of ride where you're reminded why you ride bikes, I headed up to NH for the Dartmouth ski team's time trial up Moosilauke. Sandwiched between these two events was the Belgian Beer Festival, something very worth attending, and I ate so many waffles and cheese-filled pretzels that my stomach was actually too full to drink any water when I got home.

I found myself on the starting line for the time trial, and all of a sudden I got really nervous. I'm not amazing at uphill running races, but I'm not horrible either, and although I had been telling myself that I just wanted to run as much of it as possible (often, you have to walk large parts of these things because they're too steep), I realized that I actually wanted to do well. Uphill running is generally a good indicator of where your ski fitness is, although there are exceptions. So, the course started out really flat and not-rocky along a river, and although I ran this, it was more of a jog/trot than a real run, because I didn't want to waste myself. I knew that the "last sure water" sign was at 1.6 miles, and the whole thing was 3.7, but that was all I knew about the course other than the fact that somewhere it "kicks up steeply", according to the trail description.

I had started fairly early, number 20, with 30 second interval starts, and the girls in front of me were mostly slow with slightly larger than normal behinds. I had caught most of them by the last water sign, I caught the last two shortly after that. Although this was good for my ego, it wasn't great for my time, and I was feeling pretty complacent. It got a little steeper for a while, and I speed hiked, trying to keep my tempo up and my strides light and quick. A couple guys came by me; the original plan had been to stick with anyone who passed me, but these guys were just flying.

I carried on with my plan of running wherever possible; there were many places where this was possible, in fact, most of the trail was runnable. I maybe should have taken that as a sign to run fast, but I kept waiting for it to get steep, when I knew I would need my legs and I didn't want my calves to cramp up. After a couple short switchbacks I got to the first open area, and I got blasted by some freezing mist. Note to self: when the top of the mountain is shrouded in a cloud, and you're perfectly comfortable running uphill in your layers, you will probably be cold if you are no longer running uphill. Just thoughts for next year...

I had no idea how long the open area lasted, I remembered from hiking Moosilauke last spring that it was open for a while, but I guess we had been on a different trail because before I knew it, a little hump of a rock appeared out of the mist and there were some bundled-up folks cheering me to the finish. Huh? Finish? Already? I guess you aren't supposed to finish an uphill running race and feel like you can do it again, but at least I didn't start to hard and blow up. I happen to be a queen of blowing up. Generally in a spectacular fashion, but sometimes just with a whimper and a tear. Although this wasn't a great race, in fact it didn't really feel like a race at all, I was pretty pleased with how it had played out, and I ended up just about mid-pack, and pretty close to some fast girls.

So, yeah, uphill time trials. woot. Two weeks until West Yellowstone, gotta stay ski specific here. I'll be at the Connecticut VERGE, though, getting lapped by Lynne Bessette. Gotta stay humble!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eighteen Days

Until I get to ski on snow!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The highlight of this weekend was biking home from a house warming party with a full quiche duct taped to my water bottle cage and top tube. It came home in perfect condition. I couldn't bring the salad home, though.

Oh, I raced, too. But it doesn't count, because I couldn't finish. Great course, free food afterwards, amazing day for a race. I'll be there next year. Too bad I haven't figured out this whole circular motion thing with your feet to propel you forwards on these strange steel machines. Maybe it takes practice. Although I'd say the bigger problem was falling on my face every chance I got. Apparently you have to pick up your feet higher than the barrier to jump over it.

Photo stolen from Josh, without permission. I'd say it sums up how my race went on Saturday.