The Stoke Level is HIGH: First Turns 2018

It’s Thursday night, and on a whim our friend and his son are over for dinner. We’re sitting around the table discussing “intensives”. This time, it’s a baptism-by-fire ski program for elementary aged kids – two weeks of daily skiing at Alyeska resort. Lessons, free ski, lunch in the day lodge.

Anyway, we’re chatting about this program and the parental participation when it shifts: fresh powder at the resort… ski pass up for grabs… space in the truck… Want to join? The corners of my mouth literally lifted up like a Grinch smile (except without the sinister association). Quick eval of work load, coordinating a pair of skis with an AT setup (more on that later), agreeing on the ungodly hour that I needed to be ready and boom.

Friday found me, like:

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Running chair laps @ Alyeska

I had spent a week in Girdwood over the holidays with my backcountry setup, nordic setup, running shoes, and a sledding tube. I didn’t touch any of them, once.  The conditions have been good/bad/fine all season, and I haven’t gone skiing, once. Oof. I liken the feeling of making your first turns to working out the fascia of your body, or removing that clear plastic off the top of your brand new greek yogurt (you know the one I mean). They’re both invisible, under the covers, and barriers to entry of good food and/or movement… But once you break the seal, crackle the fascia, and click your heels in… Oo la la, it’s wonderful.

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Thank you to The Grind in Girdwood, AK for the wifi and dirty chai… #workingremotely

With all that good mojo and the seal broken, a girl’s just got to keep it moving. Saturday was Ladies Ski day, and a girlfriend and I hightailed it up to Hatcher Pass for a backcountry tour.

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Live your life in color!

Back to the AT setup: for the past 4 years or so I’ve been skiing with a telemark setup. Which is very cool in theory, but in practice I’m not comfortable with the unlocked heel and am not getting better as a skier. I want to be a better skier, and ski more, so my wonderful sister-in-law lent me her AT setup so I could give it a shot. In just two days of skiing, it was incredible the difference in my technique – add new bindings and boots to my 2018 Gear Wishlist.

And a word to the wise (or dingbats like me), figure out how to use your gear before you are standing in the parking lot. My ski partner and I took an extra 10-15 minutes trying to figure out how to put the Dynafits into touring mode, looking at the internet, beating it like monkeys, and laughing hard before we figured it out. After all that, I missed the crucial step of locking in my toe and kicked off both skis 1-3 times each on the skin up. What is this, amateur hour?

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Hi Mom!

The snow was good, save for a little wind crust here and there. We trucked up our usual route, calling it at the first bench and switching over for the run out. It was a gray day and our run was monochromatic, but who even cares? On Ladies Ski Day you go as fast or slow as you want, talk as much or as little as you want, and laugh as hard as you can. We accomplished all of those things.

With the seal broken, a renewed excitement for skiing (seriously, I need to replace my bindings stat), and eight weeks left until marathon training kicks off – my stoke level is high and I want to get after it!

Commuter Chronicles: It’s Still Winter

 

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#ThrowbackThursday: Originally written on March 8!

Oh, don’t let these longer days fool you. As of March 8, it’s still winter (and winter cycling) season in Anchorage.

After a week or two hiatus from bicycling (and running, and nordic skiing) because of travel, blisters, and life in general, it’s been amazing to be back on bicycle. After the Fur Rondy and ceremonial Iditarod start in town, the Chester Creek trail has been in amazing shape. It’s wonderful packed down and generally smooth of ruts and boot prints and ski tracks, etc. I’ve consistently made it to work in 35 minutes, and home in 40 (it’s uphill!) the three days I’ve ridden this week.

Of course, as you can see from the picture above smooth trails doesn’t necessarily mean smooth everything. I’m spoiled with a maintained bike rack and kennel. When bicyclists ask, they shovel snow out of the kennel. Unfortunately this isn’t a practice at all Anchorage offices. This East(ish) Anchorage office (which will go unnamed and unmapped) seems to have been shoveling their snow ON to their bike rack, instead of clearing it out. Whomp, whomp. And that’s not an optical illusion – the snow is as high as my bicycle seat.

Another reminder it’s not yet spring or summer in Alaska: cold temperatures at night/early morning. Thanks to Adam for generally communicating the temps to me everything morning this week (“It’s cold. Layer up.”). Of course, one morning it’s -2 F degrees and the next, -12 F. I didn’t check the temperature – my fellow rider mentioned it. Despite two pairs of socks, my toes were cold.

 

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I zipped both of these layers up after stuffing my phone in.

 

 

50 Spokes of Grey

*tap tap tap*

He strode to the door in a few steps, calm, powerful, sure of himself. He pulls open the door, “Welcome, darl-OH MY GOD! THE LIGHT! TURN IT OFF!”

He yanked his head behind the door, shielding his eyes from the blinding glare of all 950 lumens of her NiteRider helmet light.

“Oh, oh, sorry!” She fumbled to remove a bulky mitten with her teeth and turned off her light. “It’s off now. Sorry. Sorry.”

He leaned down to kiss her, and as he drew back he felt something damp on his upper lip. Was it simply frosty sweat, or something less innocent? He wiped his lip and the disgusting thought out of his mind as he stepped back to welcome her inside.

She came past him into the shadowy room, clumsily knocking her pannier and helmet into a corner table and sending a glass lamp precariously rocking. She steadied it with her hand and went back to the door to unlace her boots. Lace by lace, eye by eye, she loosened one boot and then the other, slowly removing her first outer layer. He watched from the shadows across the room, wondering how long this was going to take.

Boots removed, she came back to the center of the room, her gate still resembling the bundled up brother from “A Christmas Story”.

“Can I have a drink?” she asked, hoping a strong pour might warm her up from the inside. He nodded and turned to the bar. Turning back moments later, he saw her waving her jacket and arms above her head in some strange dance. Blinking, he realized she was trapped in her pullover. Simultaneously, he moved to set down the drinks and she pulled the jacket back down, realizing the zipper was still up.

Coming to her, he unzipped her jacket and for good measure, the layer beneath it too. Under the first two layers he caught a glimpse of a third and the wisp of a smell, the smell of physical activity. How much more could she be hiding under there?, he thought. She shivered under his gaze, arousing his curiosity. “Sorry”, she said, “I just got the sweaty chills.”

She watched him turn back to the bar and nurse his drink while she undressed. Jacket, fleece, top… No less than three layers on her top, and bottom.  She attempted to discreetly lay out the damp clothes, to allow some opportunity to air dry while she and him were otherwise occupied.  He turned back, noting that her thick, warm socks gave her otherwise dainty feet the appearance of being two sizes larger and quite flat-footed, too. Following his gaze, she pulled off the socks. It seemed quite suddenly, she was standing in the middle of his dark living room in nothing but her antimicrobial, mesh base layers.

He took her hand and they walked together down the dark hall.

He rolled over, blinking in the bright sun that was pouring through the bedroom window. Sounds from the other room brought him to life and he moved out of bed to pursue the source.

Coming from the hall into the main room, he saw her still there. “You’re here”, he said flatly, trying to contain his surprise. She was red in the face and breathing as if she was running on a treadmill in a sauna.

“Just on my way out. Layering, you know…”, she trailed off as she bent over her boot, attempting to shove her heavily socked foot back into the opening. In the daylight, her layers looked even more squishy and he noticed her limited range of movement, especially in the shoulders.

Eventually she stood up, taking a deep breath. Grabbing her panniers, helmet and opening the door she gave him one last look. Her eyes, what were they trying to say?

It’s cold AF outside, can you give me a ride?

The end.