Category Archives: XC Skiing

Help Jake Egelhoff in his trip to Junior Olympics

We have the wonderful “problem” of having a great kid make the national team for the second straight year and now we need your help again. We need to take care of supporting him so he can work more on skiing and less on fund raising money for all the expenses. We’ve setup an donation site for Jake, though he gets slightly more of the money if checks are written to him directly. Let’s try to get people outside our normal volunteers and parents to help pay for the trip. Get local businesses, your employers, master skiers from the area, whomever you can think of to donate some money. Last year we were able to get all the funds needed for both Deedra and Paul, and let’s get this done for Jake this year!
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Getting ready for RAAM

RAAM is the Race Across America, a bicycle race from Oceanside California to Annapolis Maryland that starts in a couple of weeks. For solo riders it ranks up their with the Tour de France in difficulty. On the scale of crazy things to take on, this has to rank among the craziest! Cool, eh?

I was asked by some long time skier friends to join the team, Team Badger Bikers. I believe the qualification for me was that I like to have fun, so don’t worry about serious athletic expectations from this old boy. Actually, old boy doesn’t work at all on this team because the average age is 59 and I’m not quite ready for my AARP card. That makes me one of the kids on the team. Truthfully, every one of us has some fairly high expectations of ourselves, expectations that are driven by the athlete we dream of being. Having had a LOT of experience testing those dreams against reality, a reality that includes work and family life, discipline “issues”, genetic “issues”, and the real truth of how special our athlete heroes really are, it’s still OK to have dreams for motivation and face it, out and out fantasy. As citizen athletes we have one up on our couch occupying arm chair quarterbacks and coaches because we actually get out there and do it.

This race has a much more important reason to see it through. We are doing it as a charity fund raiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. From their own description:

Make-A-Wish Foundation
grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical
conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and
joy. Wishes provide a special type of medicine, diverting thoughts
from the difficult routine of medical treatments and hospital visits
to dreams of possibilities, fun and hope.”

Many of you may know kids that have gone through serious medical issues and know how truly awful that is. We like the idea that our team, made up of up people from an older generation are reaching out to help these kids. Some of you have probably already heard my pitch for a donation or will soon. Anybody else that is willing to donate to the effort should download the form here, and cough up a few bucks for us. The team and I would really appreciate it. Our goal is to raise $50,000 on the attention a race of this magnitude should provide. So help us out! You can check out our progress at our team site.

My training log is kept at DabbleDB, a very interesting online data application (note how I didn’t say database application). There isn’t tons of hours, but the training has been very specific. We take off on June 11th and I think I’ll be ready. It will still be hard.


Another season over

It’s been way over freezing here this week and the weekend looks even warmer with rain. That means the end of the ski season for us nordic buffs. I didn’t have much to say this year except for posting about the team that I helped coach this year. What great fun! How incredibly humbling! I’ve never tried to pass myself off as an elite athlete, but the geek in me has always loved the sport and it’s balance between technique, intense fitness, outdoor life, and nordic culture. Joining the coaching ranks is really my first experience with competition that mattered. I was surprised that it mattered to me as much as it did. It mattered to the kids on the team a lot and it mattered to the other parents and the head coach.

Houghton fun!

I haven’t written much yet this year about skiing. I have not been idle
though. This year I have been helping to coach our local high school
and it has been a great experience so far. Though I love the geeky
aspects of analyzing ski technique, so far I think helping beginners
has been the most rewarding. It has taken a lot of time, and I have not
spent as much time as the head coach or some of the kids. I really had
no clear idea of how much time this would take, though coming from a
coach family like I did, there was no good reason for it. But as a
result, in spite of having missed most of the summer and fall for
working out, I’m now spending 5-6 days per week on skis.

Last weekend was a trip to Houghton for their Christmas Classic race
series. Two races, one skate, one classic, skiing against many of the
best collegiate and high school racers in the Midwest. Bad for me, I
focus on skiing against previous year’s times where I have a prayer of
success, but the whole event was great. The snow was unbelievable too,
in the lake effect band of Lake Superior. I left tired but happy.

Green Bay Nordic

Join us for an organization meeting of Green Bay Nordic, a new ski club for our
(details below)

We think the time has come to make Green Bay the place where nordic skiing,
year round activities, a love of health and fitness and a sense of adventure
are combined into a new organization. We want this to be fun. We want this
to inspire people to get out and be active with friends. We want to be with
people who know how to use the whole year to appreciate winter. We want to join
together to get some unfinished business with trails, grooming and lack of
snow addressed. We want to get the next generation of skiers started. We want
to embrace the many ways to enjoy the winter and the different kinds of skiers
that make that happen. And, we want to you join.

Here are some specific things we want to accomplish.
– Combine the efforts of the Ashwaubenon Ski Club, trail groups, workout
groups, and coaching into one organization
– Promote and coordinate multi-sport, year round activity for people in
support of a variety of fitness goals
– Organize trips like those successful in many other parts of the country
– Support high school and junior competition in our area
– Increase the number of learning options available to new skiers by
coaching, clinics or just getting new skiers out with somebody who knows how to
have fun
– Develop night skiing options
– Develop snowmaking options
– Use our combined voice to better influence local government organizations
on trail issues
– Share in efforts to put on local events and to expand on the types of
events offered in our area

We feel that Green Bay and the surrounding area is ready for this type of
organization with many of the pieces already in place. We have seen Madison
take the idea of a club to new highs and look forward to doing even more

Please join us on Thursday, June 2nd at Green Isle Park to come and find out
more, to share your own ideas, and to organize the initial group of leaders to
get this club going. The meeting will begin at 7:30 but in the interest of fun,
you will have some options. There is a bike ride leaving from the Bike Hub at
5:30. There will also be a group of roller skiers leaving from Green Isle Park
at 5:30 skiing in the “Hills O’ Alloeuz”. Come, have a work out with friends,
bring some food, and we’ll sit around at the park and discuss the future of
this organization and what we can accomplish.

Philip Nelson
Scott Putman
Bryan Fish
Jim Krueger
Steve Hoffman

additional announcments (rain etc.) will be available at here

Weather for a fee

The long discussion in this blog , pretty much covers the range of opinion. That range is pretty much 99% opposed, 1% in favor of making it illegal for the National Weather Service to transmit feeds of the data it collects and forcasts it makes unless it’s a weather emergency. This is because the authors of the bill believe that this is something that the private sector should do and of course be able to make money at. They have more difficulty doing that when the government is providing the data for free.

Naturally this is supported by and Accuweather, the later of which is located in the bill sponor’s home state. Opposed is nearly everybody else. The blog comes from a private company that makes money repackaging the feeds from the government. They sell ads, and offer an add free subscription option that I have taken up for the last three years.

I think the bill is just another attempt by weak minded politicians and business people who look to make their money by squeezing the profits out of the existing competivie landscape rather than my outperforming the competition with innovative ideas, better skills, better service or new ideas that competitors haven’t come up with. A bill like this is the last thing America needs to support where innovation should be our emphasis rather than eliminating competition. Having a central source of basically raw weather data that everybody can use, and over which commerical pressures do not come into play is just good common sense. For me as a skier, I love the fact that private weather hobbyists, or academics, or professional weather people who love skiing will take the data and put a nordic skiing spin on the weather. Having a single network of data reporting and disemination of the data is by far the most efficient way to allow unique services to be built on top of the information. If this data was private, I would have to convince to build a nordic oriented web site with all the unique details skiers and wax techs are interested in, and based on the numbers, it just wouldn’t happen.</p?

Fortunately, opinion is wildly against this from what I can tell. That won’t stop me from writing some of the Senators involved.

End of the ski season

It’s 4 in the morning and I am waiting for a Storage Array Network to finish formatting and moving data as part of a logical drive expansion. My palms are sweaty. The last time I did anything like this, the array went south and I spent three full days, mostly without sleep while setting up, formatting, and reloading that piece of “high availability” gear.

So, in this late night hour, where the temperature is still above freezing, it occurs to me that I am probably done skiing for the year. That’s too bad, but like most people this time of year, the thought of a warm day, maybe on a bike, maybe sitting on the porch, sounds pretty good to me.

It was a very good year. The snow was not consistently here, but it was here on and off from December until now, and even now, a willful guy could find a way to ski without driving. This was not a six week winter. For me it was also a year where I decided to change focus off of technique and more on training well. Note, that does not exactly mean training hard in my case, though I had lots of hard days. It means that I followed a pattern of stress, strength and rest and kept it up reasonably well for an ameuter that I am. Alas, I am still not headed for the world cup, but it did end up getting my best ever Mora Vasaloppet time.

The year was especially good for all the things I was able to do this year. Once again, I headed off to Norway where I skied up in the mountains above Lillehammer. I skied alpine at Lutsen, xc at ABR, at Cable. I skied on groomed and ungroomed stuff. I skated and classical skied. Last weekend I did something I have always wanted to do but never found a way to get it done. I went winter camping in the McCormick Wilderness area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This was my first winter backcountry experience as well and it was great. Hopefully I’ll get pictures posted of all this stuff soon.

Of course, I did the American Birkiebeiner, lining up for the ninth time. My skis were good, the snow was good, the weather was COLD, but still good. I wasn’t so good. I dropped out at 18K into the 52K race and took the bus back to my cloths. The flu had made me weak. Ah well, there’s always next year.

Since this weekend is shaping up to be not much but sleeping after this system work, I doubt I’ll hit the skis then, and with the temps, I think it will be over. Time will tell but, I’m ready for the change of seasons!

Skiing in Norway

I made my second annual trip to Norway last week. Oslo looked terrible, having recieved and lost it’s snow 3 times already this season according to Terje. PS, Terje knows his sushi. On the way to Lillehammer, things didn’t look any better. Lillehammer looked like it had been done over by a christmas card company except for the fact that it was all rock hard ice.

So, I was getting nervous as we headed up toward Sjusjeon where I was to spend the next 3 days before my conference. I needn’t have worried. What had come as rain in Lillehammer was clearly snow in the mountains. And what a place it was. Sjusjeon is right alongside the Norwegian Birkiebeiner trail, at the high point I think. From there it’s about a 10k mad descent to the finish line. For me it was hours and hours of skiing where I literally walked out my door and skied. There are 250K+ trails there wandering off in every direction. You can go hard with hills everywhere. You can go easy with flat sections around lakes and valley bottoms. You can find easy or hard ways up the hills. I stayed at an old hotel called the Rustad that had very basic rooms, but a beautiful lodge that included, bestill my beating heart, a large waxing room with supplied stands. The place also included breakfast and dinner with price of the hotel. Basically, get up, eat, prepare skis, ski, ski, ski, yoga, sauna, shower, eat, read, sleep.

Like all of Norway, the trails are biased a bit towards classic skiing. First of all the snow tends to be drier than here in the midwest. The one day I did skate it was a humid -3c and my skis sounded like I was skiing on fresh -20 snow: squeak, squeak, crunch. While the trails are groomed with one or two tracks with a skating lane in the middle, the tracks get a *lot* more use so the skating area wasn’t nearly as set as I am used to here. I bet I didn’t see more than 1 in 50 skating, even among the serious skiers of which there were plenty. So I just went with the flow and had the best classic skiing I have enjoyed since, well honestly, since the last time is was in Norway. I hope the pictures turn out.

By the end of the week, I had 14 hours of skiing in, including 3 on alpine skis, and 3 1/2 on the last day with some of the other geeks I met at the conference. That day also included the unique thrill of seeing our car, having abdoned all hope of going up a hill on the ice in Lillehammer, slide down backwards, increasing in speed towards an unsuspecting pedestrian, until finally stopping in a snowbank. In all I more than doubled my on snow time here in Wisconsin. Our snow had completely melted just before I left, but we have a meager 6 inches now that will keep me moving until the next drop.

Norway Sweden – day three

So more than half a year has passed and I still hadn’t written about the third day of my trip to Norway and Sweden. Sweden was for a software workshop organized by Jimmy Nilsson, an event that was really worthwhile and enjoyable, and has been the fodder for lots of discussion, blogs and what have you. Norway on the other hand was just for fun.

The story of my third day actually began early in the morning. More precisely, it began the night before at a fabulous dinner party that I was miraculously invited to.

Birkie breakdown 2004, or Mark Ernst is right

This year’s Birkie was supposed to be a breakthrough year for me. In previous years I had the grand goal of making the third wave while training less than 150 hours per year. It was to be gradual improvement of technique that would do the trick for me. In fact, in spite of years of less than adequate training, I had worked my way from my worst starting wave in wave six to wave four. But I wasn’t going to improve on that, so last year I decided to find out what it would be like to take my skiing and health a little more seriously.

First of all, in November of 2002, I had gone through a long arduous streak at work, on top of a number of years of inadequate training, and found I had gained a little weight. I bought a scale. It was shocking, 254 pounds. I had never been any sort of elite athelete, but this was heading down a path of horrors that eventually could have kept me from doing many of the things I like, besides eating anyway. The ski season, in spite of the shortage of snow that year helped a lot, but there was a long ways to go.

Last spring I bought a new road ready bike. I liked enough I started doing club rides. By June it looked like I was on a pace for a 250+ hours training year, the most I had done by far. I continued that into the fall and then took part of Mark Ernst’s hill bounding workouts. 25 pounds lighter than that day in November. But what seemed to be the thing that would really push me over the edge was getting some one on one coaching, mostly with UWGB coach Bryan Fish. After a number of hours, and building on information I had gotten from Scott Wilson and Kine Torinous earlier, I realized I had a new weapon in getting speed out of my old body. The USSA techniques, of which I had blogged before, seemed like a rocket for me.

Talking about this with Mark, he said that he thought it wouldn’t matter that much because without a really good motor, you really can’t experience the finer points of technique. Shocking! Philistine! And frankly, since a lot of evidence seems to show that you can only gain about 15-20% aerobic capacity over your genetically determined VO2Max, technique seemed like the only option.