Simi Hamilton

 

Archive for August, 2015

Digging deep, striding up the Burbakken during the final stage of Toppidrettsveka

Putting the bib on in August

Topic: General News

As August winds down and the Fall seems to be drawing closer and closer with shorter days, a few leaves already spinning off their trees, and more, harder intensity added to the training schedule, things always start to zoom by way too fast. It’s hard to imagine that in a little over two short months, we’ll be getting back on a plane to Europe, bound for the season’s World Cup openers in Scandinavia. But it’s always a good sort of hard-to-imagine feeling because come this time of year, you can start to reflect back on a summer filled with 8 hour long training adventures, too many roller ski sessions in 90 degree heat that leave your feet red and blistered, and the general absence of donning a World Cup race bib every weekend. There’s a definite satisfaction that comes with abandoning those summer norms, and you can start to taste how authentic that satisfaction is every year around this time.

We wrapped up our last, true ‘summer’ training camp in Trondheim, Norway this past weekend, finishing the camp off with a bang as we took part in the world’s biggest multi-day roller ski race festival on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I could talk my head off about how massively hyped the competition was, but you can’t really appreciate it’s magnitude until you’re standing half-way up the 20% grade Brubakken climb at 2 km for the final stage of the Toppidrettsveka race. You’re one of 40,000 spectators out there in the sunshine, drinking beer and yelling your head off for your favorite skier. It’s a good atmosphere, and it certainly got us riled up to ski fast.

I was fairly happy with how the whole race series went. It started out well for me last Thursday when I placed 13th out of 100+ guys in the opening stage, a 5.5 km running hill climb up a 2,300 vertical ft peak rising above the fjords a hundred km southwest of Trondheim. I haven’t done much running this season because of a flaring patella tendon and because we were on snow in New Zealand for most of July, so I surprised myself with how fast I was able to get my big butt up that big mountain. I guess I have my parents to thank for that… running is in my blood and because of that I can sometimes fake my way to a respectable result. With a quick turnaround before a classic sprint that same afternoon in the seaside town of Aure, I was a little fatigued and didn’t quite have the sprint race I wanted to have. Double poling has always been, and still is, my achilles’ heel but it is progressing and there is still plenty of time to make the adjustments I need to make before the race season starts in earnest. It’s always good to have something that you’re pretty bad at I guess. Keeps you plugging away at those small things and gives you purpose every time you head out the door for a training session. Friday’s race was a 15km skiathlon (half classic, half skate, with an on-the-fly change of equipment halfway thru) at the Knyken roller ski track just outside of Orkanger, another small port city nestled a couple fjords from Trondheim. The adrenaline spike you feel when you head into a 90 degree corner on rollerkis going 40 mph, in a mass start group of 100 guys, is fairly indescribable. But once you’re thru the traffic and the pack starts to get strung out a bit, you can focus on skiing your own race at your own pace. I was encouraged by how I felt for that one. I think my general fitness right now is better than it has ever been at this time of year, and I was able to hold a heart rate of 195+ for about 20 minutes straight as I wound my thru 6 laps of the 2.5 km course, placing 27th in a field that consisted of quite a few guys that have been on the podium at a distance World Cup. The race series finished off on Saturday with a 15km classic pursuit start (you started based on time-back from the previous 3 races) in downtown Trondheim. The first 2 km of double poling took you across flats with over 20,000 fans cheering from the sidewalk before you turned and headed up the insanely steep Brubakken climb, which was around 200 vertical ft. Cresting the climb, which will be the closest feeling I’ll ever have to riding a Tour de France mountain stage, brought you into the downhill section of the course. Much like cycling, when you’re skiing in a pack your speed on the descents gets ratcheted up 10-fold. There were a couple sections of the downhill where we were exceeding 40 mph and at the bottom you would get spit into a 90 degree corner where they had to lay pavement down between the threshold of the road and the sidewalk just so you would have enough room to make it out of the corner. Exciting to say the least. Unfortunately for me, a broken pole on lap 2 resulted in my getting shelled off the back of the group I was skiing in, and it was a serious chore to try to get time back after I got a new pole. Still, I was psyched with how the day turned out result-wise, and with how hard I was able to push my body classic skiing (I’ve always been a much better skater, both sprint and distance racing). It’d be pretty tough to have a bad day, no matter how your body felt or where you ended up on the results sheet, with a race atmosphere like the one found in downtown Trondheim, on a perfect sunny day. I have to give a huge shout out of gratitude to the organizers of Toppidrettsveka; they made our entire two week camp possible for us and gave us a ton of support while we were there. When it comes down to it, the xc skiing world community is ridiculously awesome and selfless, and it shows when you can fly half way around the world and have everything from meals to lodging to transportation to racing completely lined out for you. So thanks.

Sophie and I will spend a few much needed recovery days back in Colorado, adventuring in the high peaks, sleeping a ton, and eating a ton of the brown cheese we brought home, before we head back to the east coast to kick off the fall training season. Thanks for checking in, come back soon for stories and photos from our recovery week in Colorado.

Jessie nearing the finish line of the opening running hill climb stage. The race started down by the water in the background.

Jessie nearing the finish line of the opening running hill climb stage. The race started down by the water in the background.

Liz and Noah crushed the uphill running stage, both placing 3rd in an extremely hard field. My teammates have seriously big engines and can run up mountains QUICKLY.

Liz and Noah crushed the uphill running stage, both placing 3rd in an extremely hard field. My teammates have seriously big engines and can run up mountains QUICKLY.

The Hoff sporting his sweet life jacket that he won for his 3rd place in the hill climb. I suggested he wear it on the plane home to see what kind of looks he got from people. He didn't

The Hoff sporting his sweet life jacket that he won for his 3rd place in the hill climb. I suggested he wear it on the plane home to see what kind of looks he got from people. He didn’t

Digging deep, striding up the Burbakken during the final stage of Toppidrettsveka

Digging deep, striding up the Burbakken during the final stage of Toppidrettsveka

With a day to kill in Trondheim after the race were over, we did some trail exploring with our friend from home Conor Bolger, who works for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

With a day to kill in Trondheim after the race were over, we did some trail exploring with our friend from home Conor Bolger, who works for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Most of our crew, catching some final Norwegian rays on the trails above Trondheim

Most of our crew, catching some final Norwegian rays on the trails above Trondheim

 

08.25

2015

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10 p.m. Sunshine

Topic: General News

Norway’s been great to us. It’s always amazing being here. Great food, good living, cold fjords to jump in on all the hot days, and driver’s don’t give you the bird when they pass you during your roller ski. I feel like after leaving New Zealand a couple of weeks ago, my body has almost caught up to what the watch on my wrist reads, and I’ll probably be 100% synced up the night before I get back on a plane to head home. Oh well. I can’t complain too much. Highlights of the trip so far include: getting out on a fishing expedition on our off day, hucking big back flips off a big bridge, skiing on the best roads I’ve maybe ever skied on, and seeing the sun set a little after 10 o’clock each night. Look for an update after our races this weekend. It should be a good time as we sprint thru a small seaside town on the coast, on a paved roller ski loop in the middle of the forest, and thru downtown Trondheim with tens of thousands lining the course on Saturday.

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Caught a big one! (and then dealt with the killing and cleaning). Photo: Noah Hoffman

Liz and Team Fjord

Liz leading the charge. Photo: Matt Whitcomb

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Finding big bridges and cold water on hot days. Photo: Noah Hoffman

Simi Andy Aure-1

Andy and I mid-skate speed. Photo: Matt Whitcomb

 

08.18

2015

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