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Green Racing Project Blog

A Need to See Mountains

25.Jul.2014 by Susan Dunklee

One of my favorite things about being a biathlete is traveling to all sorts of interesting places. One of the more frustrating things is not getting to really see them. We get to know our competition venues, our hotel rooms and maybe the neighborhood grocery stores extremely well, but we often don’t see much else due to our competition and training schedules.

This summer, I wanted to truly see one of the cool places we go. We had a National Team training camp in Scandinavia scheduled for July so I flew to Oslo early and spent my recovery week beforehand exploring on my own. I love backpacking and had always dreamed of seeing Norway’s mountains so I spent a few days hiking across Jotunheimen National Park.

Logistics were simple to plan. The Norwegian hut system provided dinners, breakfasts and sleeping dormitories. I just needed to carry the basics, like clothes, a sleeping bag liner, a map, lunch food and water. Hiking mid-week, I didn’t really need to make reservations ahead of time. The trickiest planning? Figuring out good trailheads to start and end at that would work well with public transportation schedules.

Hut #1: Songefjellshytta. It was pure coincidence that the most convenient trailhead to begin my hike sat next to one of the country’s main spring xc skiing centers, although one I had never heard of. Biathlon and XC national teams from Norway and elsewhere often visit in June for well groomed snow and precisely salted trails. The owner of the hut told me that he closed the trails for the season only three days before I arrived. I could still see the remains of the ski course on the back side of the lake.

Jotunheimen, “the home of giants,” is almost entirely above tree line and several of the mountains have glaciers like these ones above Sognefjellshytta.

It is also the home of lemmings, lots of them. These little critters were everywhere in the rocky tundra. (Photo:

Perhaps my favorite thing to spot was a rare patch of color that jumped out at me during my drizzly first day of hiking.

Hut # 2: Skogadalsbøen, an oasis of lush, verdant plant life. Unfortunately my camera battery died at this point, so I didn’t get any fun pictures of the people I met. I arrived at the hut in the early afternoon and befriend a group of four Norwegian soldiers. Although everyone I met spoke incredible English, my Norwegian-English pocket dictionary came in quite handy playing a Pictionary-like board game with them. I was able to look up the words on my cards so I knew what picture I was supposed to draw. The guys also taught me a bunch of fun facts about their homeland. For example, Norway’s proud claims to fame include inventing the paperclip and the cheese slicer.

All trails were blazed with the bright red “T” of the Norwegian Trekking Association. My next day of hiking was marked as 11 hiking hours. Distances on trail maps are marked with hiking hours rather than distance. Back home in the States, experience has taught me that I can usually halve a guide book’s estimated hiking time. Not so in Norway. 11 hours means 11 hours of a fit person moving at a brisk pace and taking very few breaks. I was able to shave off a bit of time, but still put in a long day on the trail.

Hut #3: Gjendbu. This hut is a popular stop for visitors hiking Norway’s arguably most picturesque hike over the Besseggen ridge. I stayed at the hut but avoided hiking Besseggen due to large holiday crowds. (Photo:

Lake Gjende from above. Most of the lakes and streams contain glacial “rock flour” which lends them a turquoise tint. Also in this picture, notice one of the only forested sections of Jotunheimen National Park. (Photo:

Mountain time is great for the soul. I left Jotunheimen feeling refreshed and relaxed, having met many friendly and fascinating hikers at the huts and having spent quality hours alone on the trails. Norway is certainly a place I could see myself returning to again and again for more outdoorsy adventures, but for now I’m ready to return to the highly structured biathlon lifestyle.

Life on the Edge (of the Pavement)

24.Jul.2014 by Liz Guiney

Skiing? In the summer? Like with those rollie-thingies?

If I had a penny for every time that someone started this conversation with me.… well I wouldn’t be rich, but I could definitely afford to upgrade my whole rollerski fleet. But the truth is it’s a valid question. As a winter sports athlete who grew up with a love of snow and mountains, I often find myself questioning what exactly I’m doing in the middle of a hot, humid Vermont summer day out on my rollerskis trying not to get run over by a tractor AND somehow nailing perfect technique for the video camera hanging out of the van window (excuse my run-one sentence). Call it nordic confusion.

But the truth is that like most of the GRP skier’s summer workouts, training during the months of July and August is just putting hay in the barn. It might not be the most exciting time of year, and at times it feels like the work load is both challenging and never-ending, but it is useful. By the time fall and winter roll around, we’re going to want to draw on our reserves of endurance and strength. Every skier has heard it a hundred times: skiers are made in the summer.

So back to rollersking- we all know that it’s necessary for training, but it just doesn’t quite measure up to real snow skiing. I haven’t met too many nordic skiers who LOVE rollerskiing, but since we have to do it in order to be fast come winter time, we’re constantly looking for ways to keep it from getting stale. So how exactly do we escape insanity and burnout when those long days of over-distance happen to coincide with the hottest, most humid dog days of summer? Read on! (there are pictures too, I promise).

Ok, first, find your training buddy. Do you have your training buddy?
In case you somehow missed the Pixar craze of the early 2000’s and don’t know my reference, please watch this:


And then, just for good measure, go watch the rest of the movie because it’s a classic. Remember: rip it, roll it, punch it!

Okay, back to training partners! Not only do teammates get you out of the bed for morning training with their smoothie-making, bacon-frying, coffee-grinding dawn-patrol breakfast routine, but they make training a thousand times more fun. We have a good vibe on our team that seems to bounce between genuine encouragement, having fun pushing our limits, and giving each other a hard time.

Good teammates are there to push you out of your comfort zone when you need it. You can learn a lot by following someone and imitating their technique, and chances are they can learn something from following you too. Then again, teammates are also there for those days when you feel like you got run over by a tractor before the first 30 minutes of the workout are over. Everyone has those days! (Yes, everyone). The key is to get over it with good humor and a little motivation from a friend, and then to take the rest you need so you can get back at it.

Ladies crew during a skate/double pole pursuit OD back in June

Ladies crew during a skate/double pole pursuit OD back in June

A beautiful Vermont day for a rollerski!

A beautiful Vermont day for a rollerski!

The Sprinter + treats+ coca-cola = happy skiers

The Sprinter + treats+ coca-cola = happy skiers

200m sprints on the Morrisville track were really fun with this crew!

200m sprints on the Morrisville track were really fun with this crew!

Obligatory back of the van selfie (us-ie?) post Willoughby/Pisgah OD

Obligatory back of the van selfie (us-ie?) post Willoughby/Pisgah OD

Mix it up!

We’re really lucky in Craftsbury to have great access to training- miles upon miles of dirt roads and trails, nearby pavement, and several ponds for swimming, rowing, or kayaking. But after putting in some volume weeks, we slowly but surely burn through the possible training options, which means it’s time to switch it up and go seek out new roads! Last week we did a great point-to-point double pole from Eden to Smuggler’s Notch. Another fun OD from earlier this summer was rollerskiing out to Lake Willoughby by Barton, then hoofing it up Mt. Pisgah. We’re also lucky to be close enough to Stowe to make workouts there a possibility, and the mountain running in that area is great with scenic views of Mansfield.

The path less traveled by. Classic New England scrambling over rocks, roots, and wet soil!

The path less traveled by. Classic New England scrambling over rocks, roots, and wet soil!

View from Mt. Pisgah overlook, definitely a hidden gem in the NEK

View from Mt. Pisgah overlook, definitely a hidden gem in the NEK

Susan, Caitlin, and I did a new (for me) loop around Willoughby during our big volume week

Susan, Caitlin, and I did a new (for me) bike loop around Willoughby during our big volume week


Do activities that aren’t training! (gasp)

Which interestingly enough, leads to my second point, which is: talk about something besides training! All the nordorks out there like to talk VO2 max and lactate thresholds and how their heart rate monitor calculates recovery time (guilty!), but I’m becoming more and more convinced that recovery time has as much of a mental component as physical. That’s why it’s important to give your mind a rest from training too. Talk technique, and then for goodness sake, talk about something else!

One of the reasons why I like the training environment at Craftsbury is that we get the opportunity to develop other interests through our work contributions to the Center. It gives us a chance to get outside ourselves as athletes, and focus on how we can help out with the Center in other ways. Whether it’s growing local produce, taking care of the farm animals, coaching juniors, building trails, or planning and promoting events at the Center, we’re always busy with something in between training sessions.

Baby tomatoes in the greenhouse, they must have grown at least 4x this size since I took this photo.

Baby tomatoes in the greenhouse, they must have grown at least 4x this size since I took this photo.

Gordo and Pete have put in a lot of work on mountain bike signage, and I've joined for a few stenciling/spray paint sessions.

Gordo and Pete have put in a lot of work on mountain bike signage, and I’ve joined for a few stenciling/spray paint sessions.

Coming to the Craftsbury single-track trail system soon!

This is an old picture, because the signs are now out and about on the mountain bike trails. Exciting stuff!

A new project this summer has been scuba diving with the milfoil management team in Big Hosmer Pond. In case you don’t live by a lake or know northeastern Vermont, the short story is that milfoil is an invasive aquatic weed that grows in the bottom of the pond (Big Hosmer) that Craftsbury uses for rowing training. If the milfoil gets too out of hand it will clog the waterway and rowing, boating, swimming, etc will become nearly impossible. The scuba diving team here hand-pulls the milfoil from the bottom of the lake and tries to alleviate the problem. It’s a tough battle of divers versus a very prodigious weed, but we’re trying our best. I didn’t really think that I would be using my SCUBA certification to go underwater weeding in Vermont, but hey, life will surprise you like that! It’s also nice to feel like I’m making a small difference for the environment in our little section of the world.

Coming to the surface with a full bag of milfoil in tow.

Coming to the surface with a full bag of milfoil in tow.

Mmmm milfoil...

Mmmm milfoil…

And last but not least, kick back!

Off days are great for relaxation and recovery, so I always try to make the most of them. When I think of Vermont summers I think of riding in the backs of trucks, launching off rope swings, and picking berries wherever they pop up! This summer we also celebrated 4th of July, have stepped up our Saturday afternoon lawn games, and watched enough World Cup soccer to get us through the next 4 years (maybe). The pictures pretty much sum it up:

Our favorite little swimming hole in Stowe

Our favorite little swimming hole in Stowe

If that isn't patriotism, I'm not sure what is!

If that isn’t patriotism ladies and gents, I’m not sure what is!

Lawn games Craftsbury style

Lawn games Craftsbury style

A Hosmer Pond sunset parting shot, our little slice of paradise!

Yeah, sunset shots are cliché, but this post-dinner view of Big Hosmer really never gets old..

Thanks for reading! Summer is a great time to be a skier, and the Greenies will be up in Craftsbury enjoying the Northeast Kingdom life and training hard all summer long.

America’s biggest fans in Lillehammer

20.Jul.2014 by Susan Dunklee

It’s time for the biathlon national team’s annual European training camp. We will spend the next three weeks training at various locations across Scandinavia. I flew over a week early to enjoy some time on my own first. I did a four day hiking trip through Norway’s highest mountains (check back soon for photos) and visited some American friends living in Lillehammer.

Greta and Henrik, US Biathlon’s 2 newest fans

It’s a mini Ida Sargent!

Greta’s school assignment during Sochi- draw your two favorite Olympic heros- hangs framed on the wall, complete with phonetic spelling.

Greta made sure I had a good visit to Lillehammer- she showed me the ’94 Olympic ski jump (we counted over one hundred and thirty-ten steps walking up), the Maihaugen open air museum, and she warned me about the local trolls who live in the mountains.

I also lucked out by visiting in prime raspberry season.

Greta sent me off with a fresh jar of homemade raspberry jam that she made. She doesn’t realize it, but I think Greta will have two new fans of her own as soon as I share the jam with my teammates Hannah and Annelies. We all love fresh raspberry jam!

Thanks for a wonderful visit Erik, Emily, Greta and Henrik! I hope to come back again soon.

Exploring the Lowell Mountain Range With the Boys

13.Jul.2014 by Pete Hegman

A few days ago the GRP skiing boys set off on a long dirt road cruise. We didn’t really have a plan of where we were going but wanted to get as close to the windmills on top of the Lowell mountain range as possible. After riding some dirt roads and some class 4 roads we ended up pretty close to the windmills.


The windmills from a distance

At this point, this was as close as we could get to the windmills using only dirt roads so we started up what looked like an old unmaintained  trail.


Heading into the old unmaintained trail

The trail ended up not really being ridable so we just got off our bikes, picked them up and started hiking straight up the mountain. After about half an hour of bushwhacking we finally made it to the top!


The windmills are massive at about 450 ft tall!



Gordon and Alex next to the windmill for a little perspective


The crew minus myself. There are 21 wind turbines in total.


Trying to get everyone in the photo….


Not a bad way to spend a Friday morning!

After exploring the ridge line, we ripped down the access road. It heads down the other side of the ridge and is about a 6 minute fast fun downhill!