A lot has happened since my last blog, probably because I’ve totally neglected my hardly ambitious target of one blog a month! In August I packed my poor car to capacity and began the LONG drive to Lillehammer, stopping off first in Lancaster to visit my pal Sam and secondly for a longer stop in Swansea to visit my girlfriend, Katie and her fam. I wouldn’t highly recommend the drive through northern France, Belgium and Germany with only 2 likeable CD’s and minimal sleep!
My new base couldn’t really be much more perfect for life as a cross country skier. In just two minutes of *slightly dodgy* descending on rollerskis you’re into the Birkebeiner stadium where there is, easily, the best rollerski track I’ve ever used, totally purpose build with 6km of tracks just like those we race on in the winter. There are no dog walkers, burnt out cars or kids on motor bikes in sight, quite a step up from the cycle paths around Edinburgh! The options for possible running routes are endless with literally thousands of little paths cutting through the forest and across the, many, marshes. Possibly the biggest advantage of living here lies with the sheer number of elite level skiers that base themselves in Lillehammer. Twice I’ve headed out to do a session on my own and somehow ended up doing it with a world cup medallist instead!
There wasn’t long to get settled in before it was time to jet off somewhere high. As could be easily deduced from watching cycle racing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, having lots of red blood cells makes you go very fast. The synthetic manipulation of an athlete’s blood is strictly prohibited, but going and living somewhere above 2000 metres for three weeks will make your body produce lots of new red blood cells and may just give you a turbo boost on skis. This is the theory anyway, so I headed off to Tignes, France for three weeks of cheese and crème brûlée.. Possibly cancelling out any desired performance benefit. There is a danger that pushing too hard at altitude can do real damage, so there was some serious chilling time outside of training! As well as reading I, along with James and Duncan, managed to get hooked on ‘Detectorists’ a BBC series centred round a metal detecting club in Hampshire. This possibly got slightly out of hand when Duncan started having dreams about the three of us going detecting together. James, impressively, put up with sharing a small room with me for three weeks despite my complete Anglo bastardisation of his mother tongue and accidental theft of his clothing and towels. Although we had access to the internet, James and I took it upon ourselves to stick rigorously to our unofficial Tignes playlist, consisting of just six songs and listened to at every waking opportunity. I probably never want to hear any of the following songs again:
Feeling Good – Nina Simone
Ain’t it fun – Guns and Roses
Free Angel – T.Rex
Folsum Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
Ain’t no Sunshine – Bill Withers
Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash
On another note, with the snow approaching fast (Natrudstilen is opening ski tracks next weekend!) I’m looking to upgrade my ski collection this season so that my skis can be truly competitive on the world cup. Salomon and the British team’s technicians are going to work with me to select and test skis that’ll hopefully let me go as fast as I plan to go! Unfortunately, this falls outside my budget for the season so I need your help! Please visit my crowdfunder page for more info. Any donation you could make would be greatly appreciated, otherwise PLEASE SHARE!