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Rollerskiing in the French Alps

29 Jul

I spent last week in the French Alps. I brought my rollerskis with me even though I wasn’t sure if I’d get the chance to use them.

As you can see from the video, it was a wise choice. I rollerskied almost every day up the same 5km route to the Col de la Madeleine.

The weather was delightful and it made for really efficient training. The sign in town said I started at 1650 meters and the sign at the top of the pass said 2000 meters (the GPS actually claimed another 25 meters).

The top

Today, back in Oslo and nearly at sea-level, climbing Grefsenkollen felt amazingly easy in comparison.

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Thank you winter!

10 Apr

winter

L.A. Rollerski

5 Jun

Spent the last week in Los Angeles. Went out almost twice daily on the bike path along the San Gabriel River channel.
Starting in the relatively high mountains behind Los Angeles, the San Gabriel river emerges into the vast flood plane where most of the L.A. area lies. There the mountain river is transformed into an inglorious drainage ditch carrying rainwater from city streets to the ocean 50 odd kilometers to the South.
While most of the channel is dry outside of the winter wettish season, the stretch I trained along begins with a fully concrete lined segment carrying a steady flow of treated sewer water. A bit further down I that turns into a brackish segment with some natural looking riparian habitat where the sewer water met the tidewater. There you see a lot of waterbirds, including ducks, herons and egrets.
The path itself is quite flat, except the small segments where it drops down and rises up again to go under bridges. The asphalt was fresh and good in three of the four cities I traversed: Cerritos, Long Beach and Seal Beach. The exception was the second city, Lakewood. I broke two pole tips there before finally deciding I would always free skate that stretch of deeply cracked asphalt. The cracks were so wide I had to be careful about falling going over them and they looked like they might even be seismic damage.
The other factor that made the route interesting was the wind. A dependable sea breeze comes up mid-morning getting stronger throughout the afternoon before sometimes tapering off in the evening. This is the result of a cool, if not downright cold ocean, coupled with extremely hot inland desert areas. The air over the latter rises letting the cool coastal wind stream in. The cold water, incidentally, isn’t the only thing that clashes with the California stereotype. Once it comes ashore, the moisture in the sea air condenses during the night time cool down, ensuring that most mornings start with fog and low clouds that burn off mid-morning.
These geographical details aside, the morning clouds gave me welcome cover from the hot sun, while the sea breeze gave me some resistance to work against while heading toward the beach and a strong push when heading back.
The other detail of note was the reaction of the other bike trail users. Quite a few shouted positive things as came by them, or at least I suppose comments like “that’s dog, man” weren’t insults. Some cyclists sternly shouted “on your left”, startling me a bit, but I think they do that even when you’re on two wheels.
So it ended up being a relatively good week of training that hopefully helped me maintain my fitness gains after the 300 km marathon in France.

Great rollerski video – Col d’Iseran

11 May

Roll’X 3 x 100 Tour

21 Mar

Just got back from a ski weekend at Lygnasætre, 80km north of Oslo. The hotel was pleasant, and right next to the ski trails. Conditions Saturday were surprisingly good for skating. Today we went earlier before the snow softened up enough for the grooming machine to pass, so the trail was very hard and a bit challenging. Still, the 10 km loop trail was again fun.

But the season is coming to an end and my thoughts are naturally drifting back towards rollerskiing. The first big rollerski thing I’ve done already is sign up for the Roll’X 3x110km tour the 17-19 may. The event that attracts both inline skaters and rollerskiers will go from Mulhouse on the Swiss border in France to Mâcon in the French region of Burgundy.

There are a ton of rollerski events the same weekend in France, but the program of three nights with meals, acommodations and a full support team proved too much to resist.

Nevertheless it’s definitely worth mentioning the other choices. First the 106km rollerski challenge in Brittany and then the 100km Rollathlon race aling the banks of the Rhône River, in France but not far from Geneva.

But the idea of 330km in the company of friends and what looks like a great group of participants finally won me over.

The pace should be relatively fast because most, including myself, will be using fast wheels made in France by Roll’X, the organiser of the event in conjunction with Alliance Glisse Franche Comté rollerskating club.

Moreover, I’ve never been to that part of France and think that rollerskiing through it will be a great way to get to know it.

The winter of my discontent?

27 Feb

What I feared has come. After three excellent winters in a row, Oslo has finally got a bad one. We’ve had very little snow and now spring has come horribly early.

Even though the calendar says February, temperatures are now regularly climbing up toward the teens. Today skies are clear but a good bit of the little precipitation we’ve had has come as rain.

So now it’s already Easter conditions requiring sticky klister wax if you go classic. I’ve preferred to skate to avoid depression. The up side with that is you can climb fast on an icy track. Then, whatever technique you choose, you scream through the downhill. Just requires steely nerves because ice is not forgiving, particularly when you’re going fast.

But maybe the risk is bigger to my mood than to my body. Skiing keeps my mood on an even keel. Happily it’s still possible to ski right now in the Oslo forest. But I have to travel because conditions on my home trail are getting hopeless.

In years past that trail got prepared double-wide for skating. I would go before work on a new prepared trail and it was pure joy. I could hone the way I took every corner and every change in elevation. It was great technique practice and extremely pleasurable. This year the trail has only been prepped single-wide because there’s not enough snow. And now conditions are such that it’s not even worth skiing classic.

But no use being bitter about what you can’t change. Maybe there are other things in life than skiing. Maybe. Perhaps I should just hope for an early rollerski season. Less heartbreak there.

Still, maybe there’s hope. I spoke to a very kind conductor on the train to the closest remaining snow. She assured me that we would “get another winter” in week or two’s time. Let’s hope she’s better at foretelling weather than her employer is at predicting train arrival times.

Alive and cold

3 Feb

Sorry bloggy-blog. I’ve been neglecting you lately. But rest assured I’m alive. And cold. When you’re cold you feel alive! And happy.