From snow to roller ski in an eyeblink

10 Apr

Oslo's Akerselva river early March 2011

A lot of people in Norway people are interested in “signs of spring”. Seeing a rollerskier is the clearest one. I’m not trying to make anyone sick of winter happy. I just need to hold onto my level of physical condition. And if rollerskiing is the way forward, so be it.

I actually enjoy rollerskiing, but would have wished to ski a little longer. This winter started early, was exceptionally cold and snowy, but then hit the brakes hard at the end. Conditions went from super good to dead in no time flat. But maybe that’s better than a long, lingering decline.

There is still some skiable snow. But conditions are marginal. The problem is that the nightly refreeze rarely happened in April. So, even with lots of snow, the normally colder spots suffered just as much as the trails down low where I live. Here around the house skiing stayed good right up until last Sunday. While the snow was soft, obliging me to go classic with klister wax instead of skating, there weren’t any bare spots.

But now, only a week later, it’s over. I tried yesterday to go to my usual season-ending spot in Sørkedalen. There the snow usually stays skiable into mid April. Since we had a good freeze overnight, I had high hopes. But alas the prep machine didn’t go out. Sad, because the car park was filled with eager skiers.

The trail had been prepped the day before. I had planned to skate but gave up, turned around, and went home. It’s just no fun to skate over hard-frozen slashes left by those skating when the snow is too soupy. Moreover, an exceptionally strong wind storm had littered the trail with sticks and pine cones and needles. While it was possible to ski, it would not have been pleasant, so why bother?

I went instead for my first rollerski in the Maridalen Valley. I was a little apprehensive about conditions. I didn’t think ice would be a problem, but worried about wet roads and gravel. Those fears were mostly unfounded. While there’s still a fair amount of snow on the road edges, there were only a few places where meltwater was running across the road. And since that’s clean, fresh water, it’s a lot nicer to my equipment than the end of rollerski season road salt that rusted all my wheel ball-bearings.

Moreover cars had chased almost all the gravel off to the side of the road. But that’s about the only good they do. For the second time now I saw a poor run-over viper in the road. This one was still alive with bloody guts hanging out. The snake reared up in a defensive striking position as I rolled by at a respectful distance. Trust me, my scaly little friend, I’ll avoid running over your kind. Hope you don’t harbour any ill will towards me. Know that we share a common enemy.

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3 Responses to “From snow to roller ski in an eyeblink”

  1. engelski April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Thx for the tip about Maridalen. Were you able to go flat out? Did you go from Brekke to Skar?

    • fallwest April 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

      I went up Gamle Maridalsveien after Hammeren. Less traffic and nice terrain. No serious hazards other than a little water and the poor squished viper. Probably safer than usual because if your speed got out of control on the last steep bit rejoining Maridalsveien you could dive off into a snow-bank

  2. engelski April 11, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Always avoided Gamle Maridalsveien as I didn’t like the look of that bit. It’ll be a couple of more weeks until I get out the rollerskis. Hoping I can keep the skin on my elbows & knees this year

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