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Posts Tagged ‘VT living’

My First Summer in Craftsbury, and other Firsts

21.Sep.2011 by Clare Egan

I arrived at “Elinor’s,” as our farmhouse-turned-athlete-compound is known, in the first week of June. My first impression of my new home was highlighted by Hannah’s remarkably good paintings of local scenery, which line the living room walls, and ‘infused’ by the distinctive smells of stale chain saw gas and sweat mingling in the stairwell, emanating from the drying racks outside of Pat and Dylan’s Man Cave room. With this impression, I began an endless list of firsts. Not surprisingly, my transformation from college runner-skier ( I put “runner” first on purpose) to Green Racing Project skier required a major overhaul of the intensity, variety, and quantity of my daily athletic commitments. What I did not expect, however, was the extent to which my lifestyle outside of training would change upon moving to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (should’ve known!).

My first workout of the summer, with my new team and my new coach, was an 80-minute classic roller-ski the morning after I moved in. I am a novice (though not outright first-time) roller-skier, and in the beginning, I spent about as much time roller-skiing as I did filming my teammates from Pepa’s passenger-side window, as they skied for twice as long as I could. Ah, those were the good ol’ days. Within the first week, I tried rowing, ski erging, hill bounding, and Pepa’s ab-wrenching hill jumps for the first time. “And on the 7th day,” I slept for 10.5 hours and began a 20-day bout with semi-paralysis which required that I sit myself up in bed each morning using my arms. By the end of June, as NENSA’s junior development camp was underway at the Outdoor Center, Pepa thought I was ready for my first roller-ski intervals. Of course she was right; I managed to evade both physical catastrophe and mental ruin, staying ahead of most, if not all of the J2 age group participants. In early July, I survived my first “speed week,” comprised of at least seven (7) interval sessions, including my first 15km running race. Admittedly, the comments section of my training log from that particular week contains the entry, “OMG HORRIBLE,” but hey, I made it. It had been a struggle for me to finish those 80-minute roller-skis when I first came to Craftsbury, but on the last Sunday of July, I completed a 3-hour and 45-minute death march roller-ski odyssey to Lake Willoughby, closing out my first “volume week” with a grand total of 20.1 hours of training success. The comments for that day were “Felt good! Surprise.” I am capable now now of things that I never would have thought possible a year or a month ago, or even yesterday. Most days, in fact, I find I do at least one impossible thing before sitting down to lunch!

My days and hours off from ski practice have been flooded with a torrent of exciting, new activities and opportunities to learn. Writing this blog entry is undoubtedly the most time I’ve spent indoors since coming to Craftsbury. In the garden I have learned to seed, weed, water, identify, harvest, wash, and store no fewer than 15 kinds of edible plants. Thank you, Anna Schultz! I fulfilled a life-long dream by assisting in the care of 4 piglets at Hosmer Point, the summer camp down the lake which is newly affiliated with the Outdoor Center. I fed them at least once every day, and cried honestly upon their recent demise. Brian Gluck, the Outdoor Center’s carpenter and maintenance guru, taught me that every life form is worth crying over, and also how to put on a metal roof. In the evenings, after spending some quality time with my porcine friends at Hosmer Point, I often partook in whatever absurdity was underway at camp. Most notably, perhaps, was my on-call appearance at Carnival Night as a gypsy fortune teller. I knew I had succeeded when two weeks later, on the last night of the session, a camper confided to me: “My fortune came true!…About the treasure!!” I can only hope that my achievements in gardening, farming, and fortune telling might be equaled on the trails come wintertime.

My first impression of Elinor’s hasn’t changed; it has been supplemented by gems like that time we stayed home and cooked local beef and artichokes and sweet corn in the middle of the summer and sat around the campfire in the yard eating it all, and how on days when we were up early enough we could see the cloud of morning mist floating in the valley between our house and the Creek Road, and the way the house smelled when our ingenious Vermonter girl teammates made and preserved 10 jars of pickles during hurricane Irene, and by finding scrawled messages by the communal phone like, “Pat your uncle Bob called he says congrats on the big win.” It is true that the deer flies were abominable (and immune to deet) for approximately three weeks in the middle of July, and it seems that the power goes out for a day or so at least once a month here, and the staircase scent did for a brief time become truly intolerable due to an unfortunate and critical misunderstanding of our septic system’s layout. But for the most part, the grass isn’t greener on any side that I know of. Here’s to hoping that my summer of firsts was the first of many. Happy Fall!

Posing proudly with the world's first documented Beet/Swiss Chard cross-breed, grown in our very own organic garden.

Posing proudly with the world's first documented Beet/Swiss Chard cross-breed, grown in our very own organic garden.

Susan (Left), Hannah (vintage skating costume), and I working together in the Climb to the Castle roller-ski race up Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

Susan (Left), Hannah (vintage skating costume), and I working together in the Climb to the Castle roller-ski race up Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

High Rollers: Susan and I "working" at Casino Night at Hosmer Point.

High Rollers: Susan and I "working" at Casino Night at Hosmer Point.

Feeding Spots his last supper.

Feeding Spots his last supper.

Suns out, guns out, funs out

18.Feb.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

Over the last month, the skiing here at Craftsbury has gone from really good to incredible. We haven’t gotten any huge storms but we also haven’t had a big  thaw resulting  in considerable snow pack with all of the Center’s core and peripheral trails open and in great shape. Yesterday was one of the first few days that has been well above freezing but none of us were complaining in any way; I don’t think we could have asked for better spring skiing!

Perfect tracks right from our front door

Perfect tracks right from our front door

Dylan, Tim, and I started out for a long skate OD this morning with the goal of skiing all of the Center’s open trails. Temps started out around freezing with the sun starting to climb in the sky and not a cloud to be seen.  In a few hours we were starting to shed layers and the snow was really starting to transform and slow down.  By the end of the ski, it felt way more like a spring day skiing out west than mid February in Vermont! My highlight from the ski (aside from the incredible weather and perfect grooming) had to be racing down Elinor’s field right behind Tim and witnessing one of the more impressive Superman diggers I have seen in a while.  Too bad I didn’t have my camera out for it, but for those of you curious it looked somewhat like this, especially with our flow and shades…

Grand Tour- hour 1

Grand Tour- hour 1

GT- hour 2

GT- hour 2

Cranking out some turns down Elinors

Cranking out some turns down Elinor's towards the house

Although temps were warm and the snow really settled down, there should be enough to last us well into the spring. A great day of skiing up in Craftsbury!

Stockpiled snow in preperation for the 2011 Sprint Tour

Checking out stockpiled snow in preparation for the 2011 Sprint Tour

A day in the life: (semi) Pro

12.Dec.2010 by Patrick O'Brien

Racing in high school and college I wondered what was the mark of a full time professional athlete? Was it winning prize money at a Supertour? Racing in high level domestic competition or even in Europe? Was it having a full fleet of skis and a wax tech to make those hard calls for you on race day? Was it having a high strike rate?

I found out today the answer is winning eggs and toilet paper as prizes. 10 athletes living in a house go through lots of food. Eggs (and of course it follows, TP)  go particularly quick around here and this morning we were pretty much out of both.  I really can’t think of a better prize for race organizer to give out! Big congrats to the organizers at Bolton today (for their prize/raffle selections of course) and pulling off a well run race despite natures best efforts to intervene.

3 days worth of eggs!

3 days worth of eggs!

The haul: 7th gen. dish soap, dish washer powder, and tasty homemade baked goods!

The haul: 7th gen. dish soap, dish detergent, and tasty homemade baked goods!

Today I think we saw just about every type of precipitation imaginable over a two hour period. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, all thrown sideways at us from some monster wind gusts. It really speaks to how nasty it is outside when a Casco visor, one of the few choices of eye wear that doesen’t fog, is completely covered in a layer of snow and ice by the end of the first climb. The best tactic for descending today I found was to simply hope the racer ahead was keeping it on the course and follow their blurred outline down the hills. A pretty epic one in the books!

Overall we had a great day as a team with  Chelsea taking second in the woman’s race and Dylan Ollie and I placing sixth, fifth, and first in the guys field. It also felt great to get out and blow some carbon off the valves after some steady volume training here in Craftsbury following our Finland racing trip.

Link to full results

Weather outlook bleak- try back later...

Weather outlook bleak- try back later...

So what about the EC Opener this coming week? Hopefully the rain that is falling right now will turn to snow later tonight and leave us with a good solid base with some accumulation on top. I guess it will be pretty obvious if were going to have the races here in Craftsbury or have to move them by the morning. Looking at the current weather forecast right now (and hearing the rain falling outside) I would be pleasantly surprised if we still had much white stuff on the ground come Monday. But maybe, just maybe?

Quebec and Home

11.Dec.2010 by Patrick O'Brien

This last weekend members from the GRP headed to Foret Montmorency for a great weekend of skiing. When we arrived conditions were good, although only 10k or so of skiing was opened and had been groomed. But thanks to the steady snowfall the groomers continued to open more skiing every day and conditions steadily improved. By Sunday during our OD ski we were able to ski 20+k that had been groomed with the PB and much more that had been packed down previously. It had been a while since I had been to Foret so it was nice to head back there and enjoy a steady block of training on good snow. The additional elevation on some of the forest service roads really meant for some impressive snowfall accumulation while we were skiing. By the end of our skis the tracks that had been recently groomed had already filled in and were practically non-existent!

"Enemies of the forest" poster in our dorms- I never realized that la negligence  and l'urbanization were such problems...

"Enemies of the forest" poster in our dorms- I never realized that la negligence and l'urbanization were such problems...

Midwinter conditions in Foret

Midwinter conditions in Foret

The snowstorm that hit Quebec also brought us some white stuff here in Craftsbury. We probably got 6-7 inches of snow here in Craftsbury although the snow has been so light and fluffy that has packed down to practically nothing. Thanks to all the trail work and smoothing this summer coupled with extensive snow farming from the parking lots and along side the trail we have some great skiing despite the light snowfall so far. A big storm looks to be shaping up for this coming Sunday although it is uncertain if we will be getting some heavy snowfall accumulation or just rain instead.  Fingers crossed!

Overnight fluffies this whole last week- we're going to need a bit more accumulation before the opening Eastern Cups this comming weekend

Overnight flurries this whole last week- we're going to need a bit more accumulation before the opening Eastern Cups this comming weekend