Tag Archives: Oslo

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.

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Winter techniques

17 Dec

A great thing about skiing is that it’s not just skiing. There are a whole host of related activities you need to master to be good. One, quite obvious one, is ski waxing. Both glide and grip. I feel like I’ve been doing that better lately. Yesterday, however, I failed miserably at grip waxing. I started out with violet wax and got no grip. Since most of my trip was downhill, I figured I’d just double pole and then put on some softer grip wax when I turned around to go back. Then, since I was slipping so bad when I tried to kick, I went straight for red wax. That was a bad choice and my skis instantly loaded up with with snow killing all my glide. As I struggled back to my start point I got passed by people. Not so usual for me.

Today I made a better choice. I focused on making the “wax pyramid” whose crest lies right in the middle of the curve of the ski in the kick zone. This structure along with the flavor of wax I had chosen worked well on my roughly 28km ski trip today. My skis slipped a tiny bit but glided extremely well.

The snow was light at the bottom of the hill but got progressively much better. I went with my old touring skis in the event there would be gravel at the start. But I took my good poles since the route had a lot of double-poling.

On the way back I got to hone another one of my skills. I love taking the bus to go ski. It makes me feel stronger than those who feel they need the comfort of a car. But when I’m lightly clothed and it’s cold, I need special bus techniques. With the current snow conditions I have to go far, with several bus changes. I therefore plan my route in advance with layovers in cafés and grocery stores. That way I can drink something hot and eat some energy while staying warm. The way home takes a little longer, but it’s bearable in spite of the cold.

As you say in Norwegian: alt skal læres. Everything will be learned.

Finally snow in Oslo!

7 Dec

The weather forecast didn’t see this coming. Happy happy happy! More later on how the skiing turned out.

Blame it on Spain

31 Jul

It’s been hot in Norway. Literally on fire:

Personally, I blame this on Spain. The nearly car-free calm I’ve been enjoying while rollerskiing in the Maridalen valley results from most of Norway leaving the country for Spain. And why wouldn’t the Norwegian weather gods, the ficklest and most black-hearted of the lot, follow suit? Maybe they’ve been inspired? Or are just too drunk to function?

But I still have to train, even in the oppressive heat. After all, the Spaniards do it:

This video reminds me of a very frightening experience in Spain. I was walking past a gym in Granada when I heard this American woman with an unbearably nasal accent screaming “encouragement” in English at her students:  “C’MON C’MON, GO GO, MOVE MOVE, FASTER FASTER!!!” or something like that. I really don’t understand how the Spanish mind ticks because I can’t conceive how that could be remotely motivating.

But then I guess the voices in my head that motivate me are even nastier. But please, don’t worry. They’re very specific. They never tell me to do anything other than (roller)ski faster. So it must boil down to different strokes for different folks, even if Spaniards are freaky masochists.

Moreover, Spain is responsible for a fashion atrocity. The last time I was there the 40+ degree heat pushed me over the edge and forced me to buy a “Marcel” :

(Image: http://www.fabuleuxmarcel.be/)

I was comforted as I wore it training yesterday when I saw that I had not sinned the worst fashion wise. A man cycled by in nothing but skimpy boxer shorts.

Vanity post from Grefsenkollen (again)

13 Jun

Grefsenkollen, my love, my nemesis, seen from Korsvolltoppen

I really wonder if it’s a good idea to vanity post yet again about my rollerski trainings up Grefsenkollen. Might be the sort of thing that blog-wise makes people walk away from you at the Internet party. Then again, there aren’t that many races, so this blog must mainly do with the everyday ups and downs of training. And many times that’s up GKollen.

Today was a good day. Did 47km yesterday, albeit nice and slow, so I wasn’t sure how my body would perform. Happily the answer was very well. I always find that long tours do me all the good in the world, so I try to schedule about one a week now that the days last forever.

In spite of my apprehensions, I logged my fastest time ever to the top of Grefsenkollen with slow wheels:

The best was that I didn’t really kill myself doing it. I just tried to keep an even pace. Moreover when I got near the top I had to gingerly deal with barriers and cables run over the road set up in preparation for the Scene Grefsenkollen Music Festival.

The obstacles in yesterday’s long tour came courtesy of the Norwegian Wood Festival going on in Frognerparken. Such are the current seasonal dangers of rollerskiing in Oslo.

Neither snow nor rain nor wind nor dark of night

2 Jun

So, there go the last bits of snow at the Tryvann ski area above Oslo. I keep tabs on what’s going on at higher altitudes in the Oslo forest via the webcam up there. While the snow-base is partially man-made,  I can check whether precipitation is falling as snow or rain by looking at the trees.

April was the warmest on record according to the very informative Voksenlia weather station website. They measured 76cm of snow at the start of the month and bare ground by the 15th. They tracked  the abnormally warm weather trend right up to the end of April.

But then May went to hell weather-wise. If it wasn’t rain, then it was wind.  And sometimes both. Temperatures hung resolutely around the 10C mark. But the wind was the worst. Oslo normally has remarkably light wind conditions. But not in May this year. It gets very tricky to control your rollerski poles when they’re being blown all over the place by random gusts.

The forecasters keep promising us better conditions, albeit at an ever-retreating date. Hope springs eternal. Today looks a little better, though still breezy.

Needless to say I’m getting better at skating through sticks and twigs and gravel and mud blown down or washed down onto the road surfaces.

However a big benefit of the season is that I’ve got time to wait out bad weather. Here in the land of midnight twilight, in June it never gets totally dark. I take advantage of that by going my long route from my house to Bæarums Verk, a little more than a marathon round-trip.

But that’s nothing compared with the Raid Roll’x 4 X 100 km happening this weekend. Wish I was there. Good luck (and good weather) to all the participants, and particularly to Oliver and the rollerski contingent!

Season’s last ski tour in Oslo

25 May

Early- and late-season specialist Tom Stensaker got in one last ski tour 19 May.  As usual, it happened in the Oppkuven area of the Northwest Oslo Forest. Story and pictures here.

He closes his account of the trip by saying  that upon his departure the frogs in the nearby Bittelille Oppkuvvann lake could mate in peace and quiet without being disturbed by skiers working overtime!