Solstice

Inlining on the longest day of the year-

This is Kim Kraan gliding through the sunset. Click on the image for a desktop friendly version.

If not now?

Thoughts to contemplate in Chris’ T-shirt, early in the morning, as the muscles loosen up & the day begins with some fast laps on the frozen hamster wheel.

For many years, when it comes to short track I used to agree with Ashley’s t-shirt though-

Short track always seemed like you had to be nuts to do it.

Maybe it is. But in my first few seasons I had neither the proper equipment nor the hip strength & stability to skate safely. Now I have both, and & even though I am far from an expert, for moments it now feels more like Andrea’s t-shirt.

(this is from the coolest t-shirt company on the planet- Threadless.com)

It’s still dangerous though, as I narrowly missed a potentially nasty crash on this day. But now there is control & fantastic moments to be felt & seen.

Like Robert Lawrence leading the group here. Robert’s skating so strong right now, coach Kooreman had him lead several 25 lap sets. Ouch.

I don’t have a helmet cam, but someday hope to, and I will send pictures of what it feels like to be in this agile & eternal turn.

Till then, this is the closest I can get. A group this size creates a sizeable wind blast as they rip by.

Skating circles & circles & circles on that frozen hamster wheel.

Your perspective within the circle often changes because of other circles.

Like this tungsten wedding ring newly worn on the hand of sprint LT national team member Chris Needham.

Congrats Chris!!

Maybe short track will always truly be a sport for the young and fearless, those who have not gone headfirst into the wall too many times, Chris himself transitioned to long track because of severe short track injuries.

However on those moments when you lean over, touch your hand to the ice, defy normal physics, and rip around that turn, it’s a rush like nothing else.

(note to self: remember- you can’t lean over that far when cornering hard on a bike…)

Morning Crunch

5:30am the alarm goes off… Sore from a Sunday of riding+lifting+yard work, I don’t want to get out of bed….

but for some, weird, irrational, psycho-driven reason, I do.

45 minutes later, coffee in hand, my car murmuring down the highway, the sunrise over the Wasatch hits me like a hammer….

Is this is why?

or maybe it’s that after 3 months away from the ice, I just had to get back, to put blade to ice; to again feel this:

I usually associate summer training with hill running, lifting, dryland, and sunblock/sweat mixing into a goop thick enough to leave a snail smear across anything touched

I’ve never really done much summer short track, but for those who do, I imagine that the unique sound of blades crunching during early mornings, steel chewing through soft ice corners, this “morning crunch” becomes the sound of summer.

Such choices, hill running or short track?

or other choices like Gasoline or Gatorade for your morning beverage?

(I am not sure who uses this gas can for their water bottle, but I thought it was hilarious.)

Here is Cory Williams, a typical member of the international skate tribe in Salt Lake. He is Australian, but is aiming to race the world cup circuit for New Zealand.

He just arrived in Salt Lake, and was skating all morning with a big grin on his face, hoping to get stronger & skate the world cup this winter.

I was smiling too. I’ve simply forgotten how much fun short track can be. I felt surprisingly good, and did some relays in the big group that were simply wonderful corner-bombing fun.

And as I was leaving, (my warmdown a fast jog to my car to get to work on time), I noted the various long track teams, all collecting for dryland.

And the morning light slanting across the empty concrete that will be ice in about a month.

I can’t wait for more morning crunch.

Word Needed

I have occasionally used the term “allskater” to refer to someone who skates ice & inline. But I think there is a new word needed. And Ryan Bedford is the perfect example of it-

Ryan has long been known as a short tracker, but last year at LT nationals, he finished 6th in the 5k. He went suddenly from being on the National ST team to skating the 10k at the Hamar LT world cup.

There needs to be a word for this, for folks who go back and forth like Trevor Marsicano, Shani Davis, and Ryan. A word that signifies how hard this is to do, even though there seem to be great benefits.

Actually, US skaters of prior generations did tons of short track, with LT being a brief 6 week window of midwinter outdoor racing. Maybe the recent generation has made a great unintentional error in separating the two disciplines.

When I was looking at the list of registered athletes for today’s Sugarhouse criterium bicycle race, there was Ryan on the registration list. Very cool. So maybe there is a new word needed for this as well? Spdscylaterist?

Sugarhouse is a hard race, with 2 hills that when taken repeatedly at race pace, hurt a lot.

It’s a course with such variety, it does not favor any particular kind of rider. It’s a beautiful, sweeping place for a bike race.

Ryan is scary strong on the bike, and about halfway through he got into a breakaway with 2 other riders from the Spin and Canyon cycling teams. Here is Ryan leading on the climb.

I saw this, moved to the front and did a long pull at the head of the pack contributing to the chase. Not because of Ryan neccesarily, but the Spin team races very smart, tactically, and has the strong riders to win races in many ways (note the one on my wheel).

But even when you are strong, this course can hurt. Speedskating takes a lot of mental strength, and so does cycling. Here are two of the Spin guys. Good fellows too.

I felt strong & smooth for the first half hour of the race, but the last 15 minutes of hauling my 195lbs up the hills hurt a good deal.

As the bell was ringing for the final lap, even though the speed was high, it was quite a slamfest for good position, with lots of handlebars banging around.

Somewhere in this maelstrom, two riders slipped away. With my heart machine-gunning along in the high 190’s I did not see the move go.

Final time up the hill, here is the winner cranking away, pain & pleasure mixing together.

Behind him the field sprint is boiling across the road like a pot of boiling water. The cyclists like noodles fighting to stay on top of the froth. A surge up the side of the road & I go from 3rd to 11th place in an instant.

Ryan leads it out, dang he has a motor!

Thanks for Jess for filming, she was cheering so hard, the camera was bouncing, but she caught this moment right before the line. Ryan won the field sprint, 3rd place overall, and I managed to claw back a few places to finish 7th.

But the great thing is, after a race, no matter how you have placed, no matter if it’s Le Tour, or just a local crit with a cool trophy, no matter if you are national team or not, at the end of the day, to your dog, you are still the same guy.

And loved with the intensity & loyalty only a good dog can give. The only difference is that you taste better because you are salty.

metamorphosis

The word-for-word definition of metamorphosis from MSN’s encarta.

  1. change of physical form: a complete or marked change of physical form, structure, or substance: the overnight metamorphosis of the pond water into ice
  2. change of appearance or character: a complete or marked change in appearance, character, or condition
  3. supposed supernatural transformation: a transformation caused by supposed supernatural powers
  4. transformed person or thing: somebody or something that has gone through a complete or marked change
  5. zoology change in animal form: a complete or marked change in the form of an animal as it develops into an adult, e.g. the change from tadpole to frog or from caterpillar to butterfly

This is the metamorphosis that my boots go through, twice a year.

I like definitions #1 and #3, it’s been so nice to be gliding along again.

I’m not sure I will be doing any inline races this year. There are no races I know of planned for Salt Lake, and when I can race my bike 3 times a week within easy riding distance, it feels selfish to consider a 10 hour drive, or flying to get my competition fix.

And I am profoundly sad to have come to that conclusion, and the following idea:

Will continued high gas prices, leading to vastly more expensive travel, have damaging long term consequences to a sport that requires frequent travel?