If America was a fridge, Alaska would be the freezer with an ice cube dispenser…
Perhaps that’s why the freezer is always on top of the fridge? A tribute to Alaska being on top, freezing away, filled with weird frozen things that have probably been in there a little too long… Not sure if I’m talking about the freezer or Alaska now…. So how’s the training been you ask? Well the first week was warm (warm like a fridge) and there wasn’t much snow around. We would roller ski in Anchorage or drive an hour up to Hatchers pass for skiing. This first week of training was tough and I felt I was really a step behind a lot of the other men on the APU team.
Then the freezer got going and overnight Alaska was turned into an icy winter wonderland. Up high 3 and a half feet of snow fell, lower under a foot of snow but still making it possible to ski down low but there wasn’t enough snow for the groomers to head out. I started to find my rhythm a lot more and started to feel faster and more in the mix with the men. We have done 3 time trials which were great to remember what racing feels like and a lot of speed work, I think things are looking good. I still have a lot of work ahead of me but I think the base is looking good to build off. I had 3 weeks of good volume training and then this week a little easier. After the snow fall it set up the rest of my entire training block with cold hard snow that was just snowmobile/ skidoo packed and cold clear sunny days.
I’ll admit heading up from California all I was expecting was freezing rain and clouds so to get this much sun was amazing! However with clear skies means no heat is held so it got cold. Down to -16. Oh and that’s Fahrenheit, in the usual system that’s -26.6 C, cold enough that the moisture on your breath freezes to your face and of a night time you plug your car engine into power cable to make sure the engine doesn’t freeze and crack! Nippy. Another negative side to Jack Frost getting his ice dance on, is that the moose get angry. I mean it’s fairly understandable, the moose don’t have the two thermals, jacket, vest and face mask that we get to wear plus they still have to put up with ridiculous looking people sliding up and down hills. In one day on two separate occasions team members got chased and had to duck for cover in the thick trees where the moose can’t easily venture. Moose aversion intervals are relatively common, pre-snow fall I watched a spectacular nose dive on roller skis into the a ditch by one of the guys as we trained in Anchorage. That same day I counted 11 moose while out training. That’s 44 hooves the size of small plates wanting to plant one square on your behind.
Yes I have a mild fascination/ fear of the things. I luckily have only had one close ish call skiing up a cut out trail on the side of a very steep hill a moose came out of the bushes and stood right above myself and 3 others only a few meters from us and we had no where to go bar off the edge or try and about face and bomb back down the path we were on. Luckily the moose was almost as shocked to see us as we were of it and it’s pause gave us time to all sprint past it. So like any freezer that’s too cold, it freezes over a little too much, roads became bobsleigh runs with ruts for your wheels and the only way out it seems is with metal studded tyres. But… With the big freeze comes ice skating!!! The lagoons around Anchorage all froze over super solid and one night under a full moon a bunch of locals and I played pond hockey with only the moon to see the puck and a few old head torches one of the guys had. It was a blast, I only hit the deck 4 times so I was fairly happy with that although I think a goat performing swan lake on ice would have more of a chance at looking graceful than me.
Anyway I’ve left that frozen old goat all behind me. 4 weeks of great training have flown by and I’m now off to West Yellowstone to meet up with my coach August Teague (check out his new website out here!) and for the first races of the season! It’s the first round of the American National series so it should be great and there is always a very high level of racer there to test out how your autumn training went.