(Fall)se Hope

Fall. Autumn. A time of year that many people seem to cherish. When the air turns crisp and cold. When evenings become clear and still. The sun sets lower and lower over the mountain casting longer and longer rays of sunshine through the forests. The leaves turn bright beautiful colours before blanketing the land. It is truly beautiful and breathtaking.

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A perfect ridge run kinda day. Photo credit Lauren Fritz
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A final summit for the day. Photo credit Lauren Fritz

Or are you suddenly gasping and out of breath because you have slammed into the concrete once again from leaves and twigs covering up the cracks and rocks or jamming your wheels. Is the low sun now blinding you and the oncoming car leaving everyone to play chicken and hoping for the best as you rollerski along. Is the air nicely crisp, so crisp in fact that it’s time to throw fashion and dignity to the northern autumn winds and wear a beanie under your helmet trying to prevent your ears from falling off.

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Frost still lingering after lunch. Things are chilly!

Are there smatterings of snow in the mountains, promising a false sense of winter as it pours rain lower down as you try to train through what seems like the Alaskan monsoon season.

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Yep… It’s wet…

However the most special or most annoying fall phenomenon is the wildlife. As leaves blanket the ground covering much of the green pickings, the moose come out of the forest to areas clear of leaves and full of tasty green treats. Just like your front lawn or along roads and bike paths. To add to this gathering of huge 600 kilo plus monsters, its rutting season. A time when all the males are fighting for a right to mate and tempers are high! During other times of the year a moose will often walk off the track slowly if you come upon them on a run however now during rutting these bad boys stand their ground or even slowly waltz towards you flashing a nice rack of antlers that can easily be 1.3 metres wide!

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Caught in the act of nibbling someone’s little garden
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El Jefe just chilling. Pass if you dare.

Here is just one example. Recently I was doing a classic time trial. A 12 km, two lap course in our local rollerski area. I went out on my warm up as usual and just after coming off a hill, a big bull moose was on the trail. No big deal, I jumped over to the road to avoid him and kept going. Better now than in the TT right? After warming up I started the time trial. I’m halfway though the first loop and BAM, right on the trail a big old bull. I quickly look at my watch and then start yelling and banging my rollerskis at it to see if it would move. But to make it worse someone was there photographing the moose and he’s not to impressed with my impromptu drumming and chanting routine. So I turn around and go the way I had come until I can get back onto the road. But then once I’m on the road there is a moose on my side of the road. So I veer into the other lane to avoid it and continue on. On my second lap I skip the bull but still have to deal with the moose in the road a second time. Not ideal for a time trial. But perhaps just a daily occurrence with the wildlife.

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A bull moose takes his time crossing.
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Just waiting for this little guy to cross.
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Moose lying in wait, ready to spring out in front of unsuspecting rollerskiers.

Now as winter is fast approaching things are starting to turn up and I’m really trying to build the top gear of my racing. Doing lots of speed work, lots of short and sharp intervals trying to really find the feeling of racing again and bring it back bigger and better than ever. I do really hope that winter comes soon and we can put on snow everything that has been gained this summer.

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Double poling with the boys.

All jokes aside at poor old autumn, it has actually been nice in general and I think the opportunities and training have been almost the best they could be.

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On top of mountains. Photo credit Lauren Fritz

Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.

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