Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter's Not Over Yet

Last ski race of the season (for me anyway) tomorrow morning, and I'm pretty darn excited. The Black Mountain served as my introduction to nordic ski racing a few years back, and since then I've become more and more enamored with the sport every year. I'm even starting to think about cutting the bike season a little short in the fall in order to build up a better base (i.e. upper body workouts and running) for the ski racing season. Granted, once it warms up and I'm out ripping up singletrack on my singlespeed I may be singing a different tune. We'll just have to wait and see. I found a cool ski racing video on the old YouTube this afternoon for your viewing pleasure. It's the finish of some big deal race across the pond. Take care out there this weekend, and get out skiing while you still can.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ski In/Ski Out

Well, we survived our weekend adventure up at Wilderness State Park with nary a scratch. The ski in took right around one hour and fifteen minutes with heavy sleds. The cabin was pretty cold when we arrived (duh), but once we got a fire going it was downright cozy. We made it an early night due to the lack of electricity and a mini keg of Bell's Two Hearted. Saturday we explored around out on Waugoshance Point for a little while before heading back to the cabin to wait for Hugh and Denise's arrival. They skied in around four o' clock. After getting them unpacked, we all headed down the beach for a little hike and sunset viewing. The dinner was wonderfully prepared by Denise and quite tasty. We had a few heated games of eucher after dinner (along with an inordinately excessive amount of beer and wine). Sunday morning Sarah cooked a big breakfast, and we began our preparations to ski out. The return trip only took just shy of an hour (I'm pretty sure that had something to do with the box of empty cans and bottles in the back of my sled). All in all, we had a great time this weekend, and I'm sure we'll do it again next year. This week I'll be busy getting ready for my last ski race of the season on saturday morning over at Black Mountain. I'll still try and keep skiing, but it's also getting to be that time of year where I need to be getting back on the bike. The Cohutta 100 is less than two months away. Over and out.

The sleds loaded for the trip out.

A nice German lady took this shot of Sarah and I on the way out.

Home sweet home.

Sunset over Sturgeon Bay (hi Jack).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


It was -2 degrees out this morning on the commute in. The cold hasn't really been bothering me too much this winter, but I'll admit I was a little chilly this morning. It's supposed to warm up to 12 by this afternoon, and that sounds just perfect to me. I'm meeting Hugh over at Chestnut for a skate ski workout. I'm shooting for an hour and forty-five minutes with 4 5 minute race pace intervals thrown in for good measure. I anticipate being quite tired by the time it's all said and done, but then again that's kind of the point. Sarah and I are getting off the grid this weekend. We've rented the Sturgeon Bay Cabin up at Wilderness State Park for both nights. Our only source of heat will be the wood stove in the cabin, and our only source of light will be headlamps and candles. We'll ski in friday afternoon and get a fire going. If it's as cool as I hope it's going to be, we'll have to see about inviting a full entourage next time. Have a good one.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What The F**k?

At first, they were calling it the biggest storm of the winter, 20 inches of snow. I'm thinking all right, this is gonna be fun. Then, they downgraded their initial assessment, 5 to 8 inches of snow. I'm thinking okay, that's still gonna make for some nice skiing. When the sun came up yesterday morning, none of it was true. Instead, we were treated to an entire day of light and variable freezing drizzle. Boo. But as the wise man once said: "when life (or mother nature in this case) hands you a sack full of lemons, you just gotta make some lemonade". I didn't really make lemonade. But to make out on the missed skiing/training, I did spend two solid hours on my indoor training bicycles. After that, I fired up the old sauna to 165 degrees and had myself a good sweat. All in all not too bad a day (if you were able to ignore the fact that it was kind of raining out). Bonus: The race down in Grayling ended up being cancelled anyway. It's been rescheduled for the day after the Black Mountain race, so we'll have to see how frisky I'm feeling in a couple of weeks. They say more snow is on the way, but I'm not holding my breath. I won't believe it till I see it. Over and out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

National Weather Service Report For Grayling

Sunday: Periods of snow, mixing with freezing rain after 1pm. High near 34. Southeast wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch possible. New snow accumulation of 5 to 8 inches possible.

That pretty much made up my mind when I got to work this morning. No racing for Pete tomorrow. The forecast here is the same, minus the freezing rain. I'll try and get out for a good workout in the morning (either skate or classic) before meeting up with the boys for what's looking like will be an epic afternoon of telemarking in the backcountry. Drive safely out there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Perfect Storm?

I've had quite a few people in the store today talking about a big storm coming to town this weekend. Apparently, there are two huge systems that will merge on sunday dumping up to 20 inches over the entire state. I'll believe it when I see it. That puts sundays race in Grayling squarely in the maybe column. It would be a shame to miss it because I've recovered really quickly from the marathon, and I'm feeling super strong. Be that as it may, I'm not going to spend 4+ hours on the freeway in a snowstorm just to race for less than an hour. As my dad is so fond of saying, "we're just going to have to play it by ear." Have a good weekend, and be safe out there everybody.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Slip Sliding Away

Saturday: North American VASA 50 km Classic Race
When my alarm went off at 5:00 am saturday morning, I was actually already a little bit awake. I didn’t sleep all that well because I was worried about getting down to T.C. in time for the 8:30 start. We made it, but with only a few minutes to billy dally around getting ready. In all the rushing around, I managed to forget my GPS/HRM sitting back at the car. Not the end of the world by any means, but a tad frustrating when you realize it one minute before the gun goes off. So it’s back to old school racing for me, no time, heart rate, or distance info. available. Just me and the snow. It was actually a tad liberating to be honest, but that feeling of liberation was soon replaced by a new and much less pleasant emotion: Frustration. The temperature was about 5 degrees warmer than predicted, and that meant my kick wax wasn’t all. There was no grip at all. This meant my only options for forward motion were to herringbone up the steeper hills and to use my poles everywhere else. My arms were real tired after just shy of five hours of work, but all in all I’d say things worked out pretty well. I wasn’t pushing the pace too much in the beginning because I was still a little concerned about finishing the race. But near the end, I did have the strength and motivation to pass four or five fellow classic skiers in the last 10 km with a good final push (literally). I ended up 3rd in my age group and 16th overall, finishing in 4 hours 51 minutes. So my first official ski marathon is in the books, and I feel way better than expected. I may just have to do a few of those next winter. Thanks to Sarah for driving and taking some cool pictures.

This shot is from right before the start. Check out the cool ski art I'm skiing under.

Here I am at the 27 km check point (where I normally would be done). I'm fueling up before heading out for the 23 km loop.

Here's a video of me crossing the finish line. Notice how my legs aren't moving and I'm using my poles to push myself forward. That's what I was doing the whole race. Let's just say it's not the easiest way to get around on skis and leave it at that.

Sunday: Backcountry Skiing @ The Tower: 1 hour 45 minutes, 1277 vertical feet.
After snowblowing the driveway yesterday morning, I met up with Marcus, John, and Dylan for a great (albeit a little chilly) powder day up at The Tower. It was cold, but once you got moving it wasn't too bad. The six inches of fresh powder were an absolute delight, and we got in some great runs.

This is what my thermometer in the Passatt read yesterday morning when I met up with the boys around 11:00. Brrr.

Monday: Getting back on the bike this afternoon for the first time in over a week for some light intervals. It should feel nice since I won't have to really use my arms much. Then I'm skiing the rest of the week and getting ready for the 12 km race at Hanson Hills on sunday. Hope everybody had as much fun as I did this weekend. Take care, and thanks for reading.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ice, Ice Baby

I was at a real loss yesterday as to how to occupy my afternoon. I had another day off from training in order to rest up for the race, but I didn't feel like resting so I opted for something in the middle. I hiked down to the beach on Hugh and Denise's stairs (144 actual wooden steps by my count). The sun was shining and the ice was magnificent. I can't really think of a way to explain the phenomenon I encountered a little out further on the ice. I was watching the actual formation of the ice as far as I can tell. This video is a little boring but it may make it a little easier to understand what I'm talking about. The ice sheet was expanding towards land and breaking itself off against the solid bluff of ice. At any rate, it was pretty flipping cool.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

WNS Report

I'm afraid I'm going to have to pull the plug on the whole WNS thing due to a severe lack of interest. This does not mean that I won't be skiing on wednesday night anymore. It just means that I will not be necessarily be doing it in a specific spot at a specific time. If you're ever interested in going out on wednesday night (or any other night for that matter) give me a call and we can try and set something up. Anyway, I got my last hard workout before the race in yesterday out at Nub's in the afternoon, and conditions were downright dreadful. They hadn't groomed since tuesday morning, and the subsequent thaw/freeze cycle left huge uneven frozen creases and cracks in the trail. To top it off, the icy conditions scraped off most of my kick wax almost immediately. But to look on the bright side, at least I had my poles. I got in the whole 1hr15min with 4 5 min. race pace intervals, so at least it wasn't a total bust. Feeling good heading in to race this weekend. All I've got left to do is wax and rest up. Take care and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Own Super Tuesday

Less than a week to go until the VASA, and there's not much more I can do at this point. I've been skiing my butt off for the last few weeks, and so now all I have to do is take it easy this week and rest up for saturday. Weather predictions so far should make for a little easier waxing (low of 22 on friday night and a high of 28 on saturday). Got back into the yoga groove this morning, and I hurt in a very good way. Mary has been in India for a month studying with Iyengar himself. I think we got a very small glimpse of what's in store for us this morning. Apparently we've been neglecting our shoulders and ankles forever. That stops now as far as I can tell from this mornings work. Actually, it should turn out to be a good thing considering those are two areas of my body that I use on a very regular basis, and that can also become quite sore from time to time. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: give yoga a try. It certainly won't kill you, and who knows? you may even like it. WNS ski @ MVSC this week. I'll be there with my headlamp, ready to go at 6:30. I've also added a poll feature to the blog on the top right column. I'll try and change the question every couple of weeks or so if I get some decent voter turnout. Think of it as a way to vote that you can actually feel good about. I'll go ahead and cast my ballot as soon as I finish up here. I'll give a full election recap when the polls close in two weeks. Take care out there, and thanks for reading.