Friday, November 25, 2011

Snow's Siren Song

Vermont got early snow this year, enough to ski before Thanksgiving.  Somehow the night before a storm and waking up in a world of white transports me back to my childhood.  Maybe it is where I live or how I grew up, but snowfall has always been special.  You can feel the excitement build.  There is the unbridled enthusiasm when you wake up in a world of white.  Then, there is actually being in snow.  

The excitement the night before is palpable.  Anyone and everyone you see is talking about the storm: how the weatherman is over exaggerating, how the new plow trucks are going to work, whether sand, soot or salt is what you put down in 'this type of snow,'  if Sue's fancy new Volvo actually can drive in the snow, and a million other variations.  Everybody is talking snow, thinking snow, some are even cursing snow.

Waking is never so exciting as in the face of a potential mountain of snow.  It like like maybe waking up to Christmass morning, or maybe not.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Without any promise, you don't know until you pull the blinds.  Sometimes all you get is an image or brown and grey, no snow has fallen.  Other times you get the magical transformation of a blanket of snow.  The world is made new again.  The surface of the snow is a uniform downy canvass,  yet untouched by the passage of time.  Streams have disappeared  tall brush land is lain flat, thick tangled forests are open for exploration.

When the snowfall isn't a rumor and it is actually here.  All of the excitement and the anticipation is realized and you can go outside.   Ever since I was a small kid nordic skiing has been a way to fly.  The rhythmic kick, glide..... kick, glide...... kick, glide..... will lure you in.  When done correctly it is the perfect balance between force and patience.  You push hard on the ski to go forward, but never rush the gliding.  A good skier can effortlessly cover miles, while a bull headed novice will flounder and struggle to cover ground that they could walk in a heart beat.   Athleticism and zen harmonize in this sort, as you explore a soft muted world.

Every year I look to find that balance, both on skis and in life.  To get the mixture right, when to exert all of my frenzied energy, and when to glide. With this year's snowfall I will try again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter Starts in October?!

In the last three days we have already had two measurable snowfalls.   Last night we got almost six inches.  Needless to say this bodes well for this winter.  (Because the weather follows patterns, right?!)

I think that some rock ski / grass skiing would have been possible today.  Sadly all of my skis are still in my parents garage.  Not a huge loss though.  Skiing in conditions like this put years of wear on your bases and usually isn't even that great.  Although, it would have been great to have my first day on snow be in October.

The snow has also made be think about where I am going to ski this year.  The Upper Valley has the Dartmouth areas, which are usually decently groomed, but are now almost 35 minutes away, without trafic.  I skied there last year and was happy with it, however I only live 10 minutes away then.   I am thinking about joining the Strafford Nordic Center.  They are only 13 miles from my house, but some of the road are really slow going and could be treacherous in snowy conditions.   The good news is that VLS is on the route between home and skiing, so it could work well for morning skiing (hopefully they have a shower / locker room there).

The summer tires on my car are so beat that I think driving anywhere today would be a death sentence.  I have been waiting to put on my snow tires, which are super fresh, so that I wouldn't have to buy a set of tires just to take them off after a week or two.  Usually I don't need the snows until Thanksgiving.....  I guess I can't complain too much.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter Just Won't Give Up

Guess what?   More Snow!!!!  Like a foot of it.

I am a huge advocate of going with the flow and doing what comes naturally.  I am the first to admit that I am way too weak to spend hours on rollers staring numbly at a poster of Mario Cippolini on the wall.  I also have weird conflicting feelings about rollercam.  It is kind of like tweeter, I am just old and don't understand it.  As a result both of those things mystify and terrify me.

Facebook has told me that many of you are b*%&ing and moaning about how long, cold and snowy the winter is.  Not this guy!  I have spent most of the winter on some skinny skis, sliding around with my heart pumping away furiously.  I welcome more snow.  If we get to Rutgers and I have only ridden outside (or at all) a handfull of times that will be a-ok.

Pardon we while I do my snow dance,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Approaches to team management.

Last night I made it out to one of Dartmouth's team seminars.  Now that I am living one town away from these guys I might as well interact.  This was the first of a weekly seminar series on bike racing.  At least this seminar seemed geared towards newer bike racers.  It also seems like the kids can get PE credit for going to the seminar series.

I was blown away not only by the people presenting, but by the attention that was directed at them.  The talk included nutrition, race explanations, specific warmups and cold weather clothing.  All of the information seemed really on point and well received.

Many teams simply let their new riders undergo a trial by fire. Start riding with the team and you will pick up what you need to know.  I doubt that this is a conscious choice by team leaders, it is most likely the product of indifference or simply an overworked schedule that doesn't include time for new riders.  having attended one of these meetings I think that teams could greatly benefit from running series like these.

When a new rider approaches the team about joining them they are taking a risk.  If the best you can offer them as a safety line is that there is an intro category, the uncertainty and shroud of mystery that surrounds bike racing is still pretty heavy.  If on the other hand you are able to talk about how the team runs a 3-5 week long seminar series that breaks down different aspects of racing, you are giving that person something tangible.  This enables them to approach he race season armed with some knowledge.

Does this make people better racers?  Who knows. Maybe.  But I will tell you what it does.  It makes retention of the the kid who casually talks to you (team member) about racing that much more likely to really get into it.  Teams prosper and thrive based on the numbers of racers they have, and this is a great way to build your team.