Ah yes, another trip to Bend. Every
year at this time, I pack up all of my favorite toys and head to
Bend for a week of training. Skis, mountain bike, running shoes,
kayak if there is room (not this year), and other outdoor equipment
are all stuffed into the car for the 11 hour ride to Oregon. The
skiing at Mt. Bachelor is always good this time of year and this
week serves as the kickoff for summer training. Even though I have
been training for a month or so now, this week will give me a good
idea of where I am at, fitness-wise, and give me my first "big"
week of training since last fall. This year will be especially good
because the list of elite skiers who will be there is the longest
it has been in recent history. The National Teams and National Development
Groups for both cross country and Biathlon are going to be there,
as well as the Canadian National Team, and other elite skiers such
as Ben Husaby, Pat Weaver, Nathan Schultz, Phil Bowen, Chad Geise,
Scott Loomis, and the list goes on.
So after Erik Stange and I got out
of work last night, we loaded as many toys as we could fit into
and onto the car and headed west towards the land of snow and the
Taco Stand. We arrived in Bend this afternoon and after a couple
hours to unwind and settle in, we started off the training camp
with a run on some of the extensive single track trails. Just an
hour and a half to loosen up and prepare for the big week ahead.
The first morning of skiing. We arrived
at Mt. Bachelor at about 7:30 am. Because it is essentially summer,
we have to ski early while the track is still firm. By 11:00, the
track has turned to mush and becomes impossible to ski on. The routine
for the week will be ski early and dryland train in the afternoon.
I was surprised by two things during my ski today. First, there
is not nearly as much snow as usual. Bachelor typically still has
about six feet of snow on the cross country trails this time of
year, but this year the average depth was probably only 2-3 feet
with a few bare spots (!) here and there. As a result, there was
only one 5K loop groomed. Typically there is between 10 & 15
kilometers of trails groomed. The other thing I noticed was that
there was hardly anyone on the trails. A few biathletes, but that
was it. Where were all the elite skiers who had said they would
be here? Did the marginal conditions keep them away? (Only in Bend
can you classify 2-3 feet of snow as "marginal." Back
east that would be excellent midwinter conditions!) Not that their
presence would affect my own training that much, but it is always
nice to ski with other people and catch up on their various goings
on. The very curious thing was that even people who I knew were
in town, such as Scott Loomis, Pat Weaver, and Justin Wadsworth,
were nowhere to be found. I figured that maybe they had all taken
the day off or gone crust skiing, though such unilateral organization
would have been unprecedented. No matter, I skated for two hours
and enjoyed having the trails to myself.
This afternoon, I was feeling a bit
tired already, only a day into the camp, and I was fighting a pretty
severe headache. I still wanted to get in a PM session, but it would
have to be easy. So I hopped on my mountain bike for a leisurely
ride on the trails behind the house I am staying at. I cruised on
the flats for quite a while before finally tackling some hills.
In the end, I rode for about 1:50 and ended up feeling better at
the end than I had at the beginning.
Usually the routine is skate one
day, classic the next, then repeat. But since we did not see any
classic tracks yesterday and the biathlon teams are paying for the
grooming, we figured that we might not see any today either. We
knew that starting tomorrow, Tuesday, the Master's Camp would take
over grooming expenses and would have classic tracks. So we figured
it would be better to skate two days, then do two days of classic
once we had tracks. Today I was really surprised at how little snow
there was and how fast it was going. It really looked as if we had
lost an entire foot of base in the past 24 hours. Granted it had
been almost 90 degrees in town yesterday, but at this rate, we would
be out of snow in a matter of days. There were all ready a few "one-lane
bridges," as I called the sections where the trail was only
wide enough for one skier to double pole. Better take advantage
of it while I can, I thought.
Today we saw more people. Turns out
that there had been a false rumor circulated that there would be
no grooming yesterday, and as a result most people took the day
off. But today, the trails were filled with Masters who arrived
early for Torbjørn's camp, the US Ski Team, and a bunch of
other individuals such as myself. I also heard that the Canadians,
the US Disabled Team, and the US Development Group were all arriving
tomorrow and staying for up to 10 days. My first thought was that
there would be no snow left for the last half of their respective
camps and I was happy I came when I did. I skied with Torbjorn for
a while and he pointed out some technique tips for me to work on.
My favorite was "ski like you are riding a horse." Unfortunately,
this horse did not go any faster when I whipped him. After galloping
around for two hours, I called it a morning and headed back to town.
I still felt a little sluggish today and I am hoping that a little
classic skiing tomorrow will give my legs some rest and help me
get back on track. After skiing, it was off to the Taco Stand for
the best post-workout lunch anywhere.
This afternoon I went to the local
community college's weight room for a strength session. It was a
pretty basic weight room without all the equipment I usually use
at the racquet club in Park City, but with some free weights, plyometric
exercises and a squat rack, I was able to put in a session that
had me quite sore on the way home. I think that lunges (like squats
except that you step forward with one leg as you go down) are becoming
my favorite exercise. I can usually feel them working all the right
areas of my lower body. And today I put on a little extra weight
and my quads, hamstrings, and a bunch of muscles in my butt (I don't
think that's there technical name) were all very tired when I finished.
Yessir, the party has arrived. Everyone
was on the trails today. It was like being at a Continental Cup
race in the middle of winter. Well, except that the US Ski Team
was there, so it couldn't have been a Continental Cup. But the time
flew by today. I skied for over two hours, and I must have skied
with at least 15 different people in that time, just catching up
and sharing stories of the past few months. Every time I turned
around, there was someone I wanted to talk to. In addition, I was
feeling very strong on my classic skis, so I didn't really feel
like I was working. I was thinking that I would ski for 2:30, but
right at the two hour mark, I ran into Torbjorn who told me that
there was no reason to overload on hours this week. I should try
to feel strong, not run myself into the ground. He said that my
on-snow sessions should be between 1:30 and 2 hours. I guess I agree
with him on that because last year I trained about thirty hours
at this camp and it took me at least a week to recover afterward.
So, holding back a bit doesn't seem like a bad idea. So I packed
up my warm-ups and waterbottle and made my way to the car.
I was kind of at a lost of what to
do for a PM workout today. I had already done one bike ride and
I did weights yesterday. I could rollerski, but I see no point in
that when I am skiing every morning. As I was trying to figure out
what to do, Julie, one of our hosts, suggested that we drive up
to Tumulo Falls and go for a run. Having never been to that area,
it sounded like a good idea to me. We started our run right by the
falls, which were pretty cool, but with memories of Yosemite's many
waterfalls still fresh in my mind, this just didn't compare. It
was maybe a 30 foot drop, as opposed to the 1000+ drops we saw last
week. With a "been there, done that" attitude I checked
out the falls and then ran up stream and back for a total run of
1:20. When we returned to the falls, we followed a small "renegade"
trail that went down to the falls where you could actually stand
behind the water, between the rock wall and the cascades. Now THAT
was cool. The power of the water from this eight foot wide stream
was incredible. I just kept thinking of the unbelievable force that
the water falling off of cliffs in Yosemite must posses. Not something
I want to get in the way of.
This early in the year, it really
doesn't make sense to do many intervals. Since we are still building
base endurance and won't be racing for five months, speed is not
a priority. Instead, it is important to work on technique. A camp
like this is a good place to analyze your technique and figure our
exactly what to work on during summer rollerski sessions. But after
a couple weeks without any hard workouts, I have been itching to
pick up the pace a little bit. So today, I decided to do a few intervals
and focus on going fast while still maintaining good technique.
I did a four minute interval at level III, followed by a 3 min,
2, 3, 3, all at level III with a little IV thrown in for good measure.
It felt good to go fast again, even on such slow, draggy snow. I
felt much better than I did the first couple days here, but it was
still enough to tire me out. After doing intervals, we grabbed the
video camera and shot a couple passes of classic technique on a
hill, which we will analyze with Torbjorn later. By the time we
were done, I had been skiing for almost 2:30 and I was tired.
This afternoon, I had planned another
weight workout, but keeping in mind Torbjørn's suggestion
for hours this week and the fact that I had been dragging recently,
I decided to get a headstart on tomorrow's day off by relaxing this
afternoon. My hours are already a little high for the week and I
want to make sure that I am rest for the last half of the camp.
A day off. It seems kind of ridiculous
to take a day off when we are only here for a week, especially when
the snow is disappearing as fast as it is. But I have been feeling
tired and it makes sense to ski in blocks of four days, then rest.
It is long enough that you get solid training, but short enough
that it doesn't wear you out completely. So on the fifth day, I
rest. A leisurely breakfast at the West Side Cafe ( a glaring omission
from my list of best places to eat in ski towns), then a bunch of
computer work, and some quality TV time took up most of my day.
Erik did some work on his skis, but I never got around to it. Because
the snow lasts so long here, there is a lot of dirt on top of the
snow. Everything that has fallen from the air and trees and over
the last eight months is now in one layer on top of the snow. The
trails remain relatively clean because they are groomed daily, but
if you ski 30K, your skis are going to have a nice layer of gunk
on the bottom when you are done. Ideally it is good to clean and
wax them everyday so that they will be fairly fast, but I haven't
really bothered this week. I'm not using race skis and I don't really
mind if they are a little slow. So my skis stay dirty and work-free,
while I rest.
When I showed up at the trails today,
I was surprised to see a half inch of new snow on the ground. So
much for all the dirt. I skied for two hours in what can only be
described as midwinter conditions. Fresh snow and chilly temperatures
made for a very satisfying ski. At one point I took off my hat,
but I had to put it back on a few minutes later. It was cold out!
The best part about this was that the snow and cold had temporarily
halted the deterioration in the snowpack. In fact, today they had
groomed about 13K, the most yet! I spent most of the time out on
the trails shaking my head at how ridiculous it was to be skiing
on new snow, in full winter clothes, in mid-June.
This afternoon, I did another weight
workout, but I was hindered by a pain in my knee. I noticed it when
I finished skiing this morning. I had been practicing my horse-riding
technique while skiing, which essentially means skiing more bowlegged
- keeping my legs further apart. I think that it was putting extra
strain on my right knee and it did not appreciate it. I tried to
do squats and lunges, but they hurt too much, so I stuck to arms
and stomach exercises, as well as side-to-side jumps, which did
not bother it.
I am starting to see the light at
the end of this camp tunnel. As much as I love to ski and just train,
I am excited to get home, because I have a new truck and a new home
waiting for me when I get there. I bought another old 4Runner to
replace mine and I also finally found a place to live. With those
two major pieces of my life finally set, I am looking forward to
a little less stress in my life. And I can't wait to finally unpack
my bags after five months. But before I get to do that, I have two
days left to take advantage of the beautifully miserable weather.
Once again, it snowed last night and was even snowing while I was
out skiing! The kick waxing was a little tricky, but I put on a
layer of Start Universal Klister, covered with Toko new snow Red
hard wax (hard wax in June?) and it was great. Most other people
I ran into on the trail were complaining about their wax and how
it was either icing or slipping, or both. As I would ski by people,
I would ask how it was going and invariably, I would get a response
like "My wax sucks" or "Not very good." I would
give them an understanding response like, "I know how you feel"
and throw in an intentional slip or two for their benefit, then
ski away, knowing that I had lucked into probably the best wax combination
of the day. Once again it was midwinter during summer. I love this
This afternoon the biathletes organized
a game of Ultimate Frisbee. I was pretty fired up to place, because
I love the game. About 3:00, I decided to lay down for a little
rest before riding my bike to the 4:00 game. I didn't feel that
tired, so I figured I would just lay there for a few minutes, then
get ready to play. Well, next thing I knew, I woke up and it was
4:15. I was bummed and surprised, and started to get ready to head
over to the game. But by the time I was on my bike, I figured that
I wouldn't get to the field (about five miles away) until 4:45.
Figuring I had already missed most of the game, I just went for
a bike ride instead. Which wasn't exactly a bad second option because
I found yet another great single track trail near Shevlin Park and
rode for two hours before heading home.
Tonight we went our for dinner with
our hosts. As we sat down, Erik and I joked that we could probably
see more people we knew in the Bend Brew Pub than we would in a
restaurant in Park City. Partially due to the tight-knit outdoor
community in Bend and partially due to the pricey, snobbish restaurants
in Park City. Sure enough, over the course of dinner, a total of
nine people we knew came through the door. Granted they were all
skiers, but no one had made plans to show up here. Everyone just
did. The more time I spend in Bend, the more I like it.
This morning was yet another great
ski in new snow. I'm kind of glad that I never bothered to clean
my skis, because after these last few days, they have cleaned themselves.
I relished my last ski of the camp, and reflected on the fact that
despite my initial worries of snow cover, the last three days were
some of the best skiing all year! With only a slight regret that
I have to leave, I ended my ski, said good-bye to snow for a few
months and got out of Dodge. Another successful camp. Now I just
have to keep this training momentum going into the summer. Bring
on the Rollerski Series!