Norway has oil-money pouring out of its ears and everyone seems to have enough of it to spend on healthy food, sweet bikes, and new rollerski equipment. The only problem is, everything costs a fortune for us foreigners! I went into the ski shop Milslukkernen, in Oslo, to get my rollerski tips sharpened last week. It turns out that they don't even know what a stone sharpener is. They said that all Norwegians just buy a new set of tips when theirs get dull, and pay three times what we would pay in America! So, it's been another few weeks of training on dull tips for me...
Adventuring in Oslo never stops. In my final week and a half here I finished up my Norwegian final exam, partook in more night-time wandering and camping, and got in an excellent training week with NMU skier, NCAA All-American, and native Oslo-ite Fredrick Schwenke.
Fredrick is an excellent double-poler and it really showed when we would do speeds "together" (He crushed me!). Training with him for the last week certainly showed me my strengths (running and uphills) and weaknesses (power and double poling). One memorable workout we did last week were skate L3-intervals from down in Sørkedal valley all the way up to the top of Holmenkollen, at dusk. The hill is so long that we never had to ski downhill during our rests. So for 40 minutes of intervals, we never skied the same section of hill twice! As we turned a corner on the last interval, you could see the sun setting over the farmland, rolling hills, and lakes in the Sørkedal valley below. It was definitely a sight of Norway I will not forget. Truly beautiful.
A few of us at the International Summer School really got into late-night adventuring. Twice in the last week and five times this summer, after dinner, we ventured out the woods with no real plans for the night. We'd hop on the metro train, maybe take a random bus, and hike up into the woods wherever our feet felt like walking. Once the sun started to drop below the horizon, we'd start to look for a place to sleep. Every time, as it seemed, we hit the jackpot and found a campsite with a teepee or two (which are publicly owned and located everywhere throughout "Nordmarka" - that's the name of the woods around Oslo), a fantastic swimming hole, and campfire pit we would use for roasting... peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches (which we would sneak out of the dining hall)!
On Thursday I raced through my Norwegian final in half of the scheduled time so that I could get up to the Holmenkollen world cup rollerski track for one last solid rollerski workout in Oslo. I tried to combine my favorite parts of Oslo training into one ski: a 20-minute L3 hill climb from my dorm at the University up backroads to Holmenkollen, then double pole speeds in the biathlon stadium, striding speeds out on the rollerski track, and a metro train ride back down the hill. I'll miss training in Oslo, but I'm looking forward to the fall training and winter racing seasons in the Midwest!
Before going home, I'm off to northern Norway for an easier week of hiking and backpacking, hopefully with a stop in Olympic-legendary Lillehammer.
Roasting peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches after a hike up to Båntjern- a small swimming lake complete with rope-swings just a short jog north of the University of Oslo-Blindern campus.
Training makes me tired. And camping gives me a chance to put up the old hammock and get a good night sleep.
Fredrick Schwenke of NMU and I racing last January at Mt. Itasca. Now that I know how quick he is, maybe next winter I can be ready for his big end-of-the-race-move that he used to gap me at the end of this one last year!
-Posted by Jake Brown on Aug 14th 2014