The adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer… Please, they got to have a scenic boat ride for a few weeks down the Mississippi, a raging river as fierce as a draining bathtub! I feel like a kitten loose on a Fijian boat cruise sounds more ferocious! So here I stood one afternoon gazing out at the giant river. Admittedly the river was frozen solid so to compare current speeds is a little loose and the story is set a thousand miles south but still, I feel I have some authority on the matter, besides I’ve even driven over the river! I will say this. If old mate Huck’ did that trip up further north he would be a frozen popsicle in overalls.
The first thing I noticed after flying from the east coast to central US was it was cold! While parts of the US are having the warmest winter ever, St Paul is having one of the coldest with 61 out of the last 87 days below -18C at one point during the day. So pretty much everything is frozen solid!
The skiing was quite strange but fun. We were racing in a large park in the centre of the “Twin Cities” of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, which has a population of 3 million! They groomed a series of trails winding through the trees that I guess in summer are walking tracks. This made for some tight and winding racing!
The weekend suited me with two distance races only a 15km classic mass start and a 10km skate.
The 15km went well, I was going through the park with the front bunch of skiers, winding in and out through all the trees. Frustratingly my skis were not kicking well, they were fast but slippery, as I may of chosen the wrong ski, which was a little annoying on my part. I started yo-yoing off the back of the pack and was finally dropped off around 8 or 9 kilometers in. I then skied with a few other skiers who had fallen off the back too. Sadly I was feeling really good but just couldn’t quite put it down onto the snow. On the last lap I went to the front of the group I was skiing with and put the pace on. It was really satisfying to feel strong enough to put the hurt on the other guys and watch them drop off the back because of the pace. I came in 19th, which was my first top 20 for the US season, which was nice.
The next day I was really hoping my legs would still be feeling fresh and ready to go. I went out hard the first lap of the two-lap race and early in I got a split I was the fastest skier so far into the race. I paced fairly well but in the last few kilometers my legs weren’t quite as fresh as I’d hoped. The course that was great for classic was a little hard for the skate with the hill being a weird gradient for skating on. I still had a top 30 but not quite what I had hoped for.
I’m now in Hayward for the American Birkibeiner. It’s crazy here with 10,300 entrants for the race tomorrow. I will write a proper blog for the week after the race! The race tomorrow will be crazy with 14 inches of snow falling in the last 24 hours!
Train hard, Rest easy, Live for the moment