Yesss….

I wasn’t going to write anything today. Nothing much going on. Then I left my office and…… it was 35F outside. Notice….no minus. A veritable heatwave!

So…….

winter_bike-1

That’s a happy bike.

winter_me-1

And an even happier biker.

First outdoor ride of the year. It’s so much better than riding inside. So much better.

Going to be a fantastic weekend. The family is skiing Whiteface tomorrow. Then I get to luge Saturday night and Sunday morning.

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A Cure for the Whiny

When I moved to Potsdam my parents bought property to build a cabin so they could summer up here near us. (They winter in Florida close to my brother.) My dad built an awesome cabin himself. Turned out rather nice I would say.

cabin-1

Not bad for a retired social worker.

Last weekend I was walking my dog on the property and this is what I saw….

property-1

What do you see? Tell you what I saw. About 4 miles of single track winding around the property.It’s something I have been thinking about for a while, but the activities near the Pavements Edge (Hi Chris!) have inspired me to take action this year.

My parents have 80 acres of woods and wetlands. Winter is a nice time to walk around because the leaves are down and you can see paths. I walked around and kind of meandered where the topology and spacing between the trees took me. I think I can get a pretty good trail down in the woods. The property is pretty flat, but I am sure we can get some rolling pumping sections into it. Should be fun. It’s a little difficult to fully access the situation right now because we are covered in snow and ice. I know there is a lot under the snow that will need to be dealt with. That includes the fact that there are wet areas and streams that will need to be confronted, but are “hidden” right now.

My goal for February is to mark out the trail. I know the 40 acres right behind my parents cabin pretty well and so have a good picture in my mind how I want it to go. That will make a good start. Then I can branch out and expand the system into the areas of the woods that are less familiar to me. Noah, my hard working 11 year old, is psyched to get out and mark some trails that will be ours. Even Bailey the teen is excited to have his own trails to ride.

So even though spring is still a bit off, preparations for biking season are beginning!

Picture of the Day

owl

“Winter Guest”

(I saw this guy when I was checking on the cabin for my mom and dad a week ago. He’s looking down into the pond we dug behind my parents cabin. The picture doesn’t give you a real sense of the size of that bird.)

Monday Morning Slider: F is for…….

When I started sliding a couple of years ago one of my friends said “Relax, you are never going to make the Olympics. So just have fun.” (This is particularly funny if you know the friend who told me this…….)

I have reached the “fun” part of the learning curve. That’s the point when you are sitting on the handles, waiting to pull off, that you are pretty sure you are going to make it to the bottom without hurting yourself. Look, there is nothing like being on a sled going 50+ mph. When things go badly you really question your sanity. BUT when you are in control of what is happening its a lot of FUN.

My times this weekend were on the slow side of what I have been doing (upper 47 seconds). It was freaking cold (-7F). You might think that the ice would be hard. (And you would be correct!) You might also think that hard equates to fast. (But you would be wrong. 🙂 ) Hard ice is challenging because the sled doesn’t hold an edge as well. It just doesn’t bite into the ice the same way as when it is “soft”. You are rewarded on the track when you have good form. You really need to have your weight in the right spot to keep the sled from skidding. Sunday morning the ice qualified as hard. But…

The ice this weekend was also very sticky. When you looked at it there was a hazy layer on it. It looked white and matte. That was caused by a combination of the cold temps and the very dry conditions we had. It kind of forms a sticky layer on the top. You could really tell it was sticky when you were waiting to start. Usually you rock a little bit on the handles to warm up.

doug egs start

See how shiny the ice looks in that picture? When the ice is like this and you grab the handles there is very little friction. The sled moves easy. That was not from this Sunday morning…….

This weekend the ice was slow.

So what happened? Well I felt as good as I have ever felt position wise on my sled. I never skidded the back end of the sled out. My troubles were really track driving issues. Late into a corner, early into a corner. Not “the sled was unmanageable”. I was able to correct and keep some pretty good runs going. In fact my third run was, from top to bottom, my best effort of the season. The time wasn’t my best of the season, but that was environmental.

So I am at the point where I feel like I am in control. Now I need to work on my driving. The funny part is I am having problems in the upper section of the track. Where we are going “slow”. That section is very challenging when you do not have enough speed (its relatively “easy” when you are going from a higher start on the track, well they tell me its easier, I do not have first hand knowledge) because you do not have enough speed to ride the natural line of one of the curves. And so the learning continues.

One of my friends shot a little video of me from this weekend. This is why I slide. When you watch the video think about this. You are the parent of a 10 year old son. It’s -7F outside. You are standing around supporting your child. Your hands and feet are numb. You get to see this, exactly this, once every 30 minutes. Brutal. It was so brutal that I decided getting on a sled was better than that. (BTW. You still have numb hands and feet when you slide.)

But I am starting to look like a slider. Head still needs to come back some more and toes need to be pointed more. (But that’s right after the section where I am having problems, and som of that is the fact that I am trying to get relaxed again.) That’s why I continue to slide 🙂

I do need to get my GoPro back to the track. Maybe this weekend……..

Picture of the Day

team_tucker-1

Tucker West is one of the American Men’s sliders going to the Olympics this year. Tucker is the youngest ever American slider to be in the Olympics (18). Tucker  got his start with the Adirondack Luge Club. He started and learned on the same track as I did. I’ve slid with Tucker. He is a great kid young man. I still slide with his dad Brett (though Brett has been full on in “dad of Olympian” mode and we haven’t seen much of him at the track this year).

Good Luck Tucker!

Feeling Whiny

Winter is full on in the North Country. And except for the startling lack of snow, its been a real winter. And by “real winter” I mean really (really) cold. We are now in our 3rd day of -15F (or lower) lows with highs below or just at 0F. The biggest number on the 10 day forecast is 25F.

This is our third spell of seriously cold weather this winter. Let me tell you about what this weather is like, if you have never had the pleasure of experiencing it. The snow squeaks when you walk on it. Its kind of strange. Weirder than that, you can hear the trees crack. Little bits of moisture inside them freeze and expand. That causes the wood to split deep inside the tree resulting in an audible “crack”.

It’s starting to get to me. I miss my bikes. Yeah I have Frank (my road bike) set up in my house on a trainer, but seriously its not the same as getting out to ride. The cooped up feeling is ramping up  and we still have about 6-8 weeks minimum before riding outside can commence. I also do have luge season going, which is fun. But the weather forecast for Sunday morning is -6F. That’s pretty cold when you are in a spandex speed suit, even if you have a couple of base layers on.

Top that off with an email I got from Coach Drew this week. He said he was going to be out of communication for the next week or so. A client was flying him to Trinidad to do some biking. He lives in Florida in the winter. Where is the justice in that??????? He can ride outside anyway. It’s prime riding season in Florida. Drew doesn’t need Trinidad, I need Trinidad (or Arizona…..)

Hey Universe, how about throwing me a bone? Please?????

Yeah, I am feeling whiny.

Nothing a 1:44 ride doing Sufferfest “Blender” won’t cure. Right? RIGHT???

(Nope…….)

 

Travel Journal

Two fellow “Friends of Fatty” have a child (Hi Allison, David and Rune!) with a very cool school project. They send a journal to people they know around the country and have them describe where they live. Being well connected to the world of Fatty, they have access to cool people who live in cool places. Seeing as how I am “endearingly self-deprecating” and live not in a cool but exceptionally cold (and “exceptionally cold” means its is REALLY REALLY cool indeed)  I got in on the project. I thought I would give a preview of my entry….

 

 

Greetings from Potsdam New York! When you close your eyes and think about New York, you probably see the Statue of Liberty, sky scrapers and lots of people. You know, New York City. Potsdam is a world away from New York City.

Potsdam

Potsdam is located in northern New York. How far north? Well the closest city to my house is actually Ottawa which is the capital of Canada. We live in a region called the “North Country” by the local folks.

Potsdam got its name from a town in Germany called…well…Potsdam. The reason our towns share the same name is that we are the two places in the world that have a special kind of sand stone know as Potsdam Sandstone. (Bonus question….There are actually 3 places in the world with “Potsdam Sandstone”: Potsdam Germany, Potsdam NY and….where? Hint: No it’s not named Potsdam 😉 )

Let me tell you a little about it here. Because we are so far north, our weather is cool. In the summers it is usually about 75-80 degrees here. A hot summer day for us is about 85 degrees. In fact, it is cool enough here that most of the people I know do not have air conditioners in their homes. We also have “cool” weather here in the winter. Well it’s not “cool”, it really can be kind of cold. In the winter our high temps are usually below freezing. At night? Well, on New Year’s Day it was -20 F. (Authors note: It was -27F this morning in Potsdam)

Potsdam is in a rural section of New York. We don’t have a lot of people here. There are about 17,000 people who live in Potsdam. Some of people who live up here farm and log for a living. One of the things people make here is maple syrup. Yum. Right around Potsdam we have 4 universities. Those are the other places where a lot of people work. I work at Clarkson University as a professor of mechanical engineering. Working at the university allows me to meet people from around the world. I have friends who are from Canada, Australia, England, Kenya and Germany just to name a few. We have students from all over the world too. This makes Potsdam a really interesting place because we have lots of different cultures.

I will tell you the best thing (to me anyway!) about living in Potsdam and the North Country…. All of the fun stuff we can do outside. Potsdam is located on the edge of the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Park is a 10 million acre area in the Adirondack Mountains that was set aside to preserve wilderness in New York State. The Adirondack Park is the largest wilderness area in the US east of the Mississippi river.

My family and I do things like hiking, camping and rock climbing in the mountains. We canoe, sail and kayak on the streams and rivers around my house and in the mountains.

climbing

Me? When I am not teaching, you can find me on my bike in the summer. We have great roads for riding on, and even better trails for mountain biking. Each year I ride in a 70 mile mountain bike race in Lake Placid. We start out at a ski mountain (Whiteface) ride over a couple of mountains, and then come back to the ski mountain to ride up (then down) the ski slopes on our bikes.

wwz100_blueberry

In the winter I have two favorite outside activities. I ski at Whiteface Mountain (the same one I bike up and down in the summer!).

bailey_snowboard

Lake Placid NY was the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Have you ever heard of the “Miracle on Ice”? That happened in Lake Placid. Because of the Olympics, Lake Placid also has other things like ski jump towers where we watch people fly.

jumper_ramp

jump_flight

By far, my favorite place in Lake Placid is Mt. von Hovenberg. Mt. von Hovenberg has one of two luge/bobsled tracks in the US (the other is in Utah).

track

Of those two sports, luge is my favorite. Have you ever watched the winter Olympics and seen luge? That’s the sport where the athletes lay on a sled and go down the track feet first. It’s known as the Fastest Sport on Ice, and the speeds on a luge sled can reach up to 95 mph! When we moved to Potsdam my son saw an ad looking for kids to try luge. They put him on a luge sled with wheels on a small hill and taught him how to steer. Then a couple of months later they asked him to come to Lake Placid to train with the Olympic luge coaches on the track in Lake Placid. Pretty soon he was competing in national races.

bailey_luge

Then a funny thing happened. I found out that adults could luge too. And the next thing you know, I am on a luge sled learning how to slide.

Doug Bohl-USA Luge_014

I wasn’t great at first, but I got better. Soon I was racing too.

doug egs start

The best part of getting involved in luge has been racing against people who were in the Olympics. One of my friends is Duncan Kennedy who was in Olympics 3 times. He was in my first ever “big race”. He won the race. I…well…I wasn’t last!

Here is a picture of me and Duncan sliding in that race. We are at the same part of the track. Who do you think was faster????

doug_duncan_chicane

Like I say, I am better than that now. Still not as good as Duncan, but I am having fun learning and sliding!

So that’s Potsdam. It’s a great place to live. If you are here in the winter let me know, and I will take you luging. If you are here in the summer, bring your bike and we will ride!

doug cu xc smile-1

Monday Morning Slide: C is for…..

I would love to regale you with stories of things totally clicking in my sliding. Or at least entertaining you with stories of woe in my sliding. (Well I wouldn’t “love” to do that, but it makes for great stories.) But I cannot. In one word my sliding right now is “consistent”.

I slide Saturday night and Sunday morning. 8 runs in total. And of those 8 none were real (or even kind of ) stinkers. They were all solid runs with times that were within about 0.1 seconds of each other. I have reached the point where I am laying down the same run (more or less) each time down. It’s fun, but its also kind of frustrating.

That’s silly on one hand. My times are getting better. My last three runs on Sunday were the fastest 3 runs I have had this year and within spitting distance of my personal best. On a side note, I have NO idea how I slid that personal best time last year. That must have truly been a case of blind squirrel finding a nut. A combination of fast ice and good luck I guess. But I digress.

Over the past 4 sessions my times have been getting a little faster each time. It’s frustrating because I feel like I am actually sliding much better, form wise, not perfect but much better. The big jumps in time are not there right now. Probably time to put a little more effort into driving (or not driving) better. It’s also well past time to stop anticipating the problems I had and “fixing” them before I actually need to. I am loosing a little time in each of the sections of the track by steering when I don’t need to. (Right next to the wall is OK, no need to panic! In the wall is bad, but still not time to panic….). Time to stay patient with myself. The speeds and finish times will come.

One of the cool things about this weekend is we had a whole gaggle of new kids sliding with the club this weekend (and over the past couple of weeks). It makes for a really cool energy at the track. Three kids really stand out and tell the tail of luge.

The first kid was a sister of another kid who is on one of the development teams. She wanted to give it a try. So she geared up to slide with us Saturday night. She was all full of excitement at the start. I gave her the beginners instructional drill and chatted with her. I didn’t see her during the session since she was starting lower down the track. At the end of the night I caught up with her in the sled shed and she was really quiet. She had some difficulties sliding and well, didn’t enjoy the experience at all. She was quiet instead of chatty. It clearly wasn’t for her. We talked about how that is OK. Luge is not for everyone. I have one of those at my house. He would rather clean his room than get on a luge. Really, I think if you have him that choice he would pick cleaning his room over sliding. That’s saying something for an 11 year old. Luge should be first and foremost fun. If it isn’t, it’s not for you.

The second kid had been at a screening camp in November trying to make the development team. He was sliding with us along with 3 other kids who had also been in camp with him. That group of 4 kids started at the lower start. They were not super happy about that. They were chomping to get up higher on the track. I kept them at the lower start for Saturday night just to get them back onto the track. Sunday morning I offered them the option of moving up. Two decided to move up. This kid said he wanted to do one more session at the lower start. He was the last kid in the rotation to slide. I had finished for the morning and was in the timing booth to see his last run. (We have video cameras on the track to see what is going on so you can watch.) He took the “long path” through the chicanes (it looks like s straight section, but is a little more complicated). The “long path” is a ping pong approach. Into the right wall, into the left wall, repeat….. Here let me illustrate with a picture of me pulling off this move:

chicane sunday race

I don’t advise this as a line. It’s slow (and it hurts a lot).

When he got off the track he was clearly a hurting little dude. We called the medic over to finish and she took him down to the shed to check him out. He was fine, just a little bruised. When I caught up with him his mouth was going at 100mph. He was relating the story of his epic adventure down the track. I was off my sled, but I held onto the sled (which is what you were supposed to do and what we drill into sliders they MUST do). The sled was above my head, I pulled it down and back under me so I could finish the run…. You get the idea. My older son who slides has the same story, except in his he was going backwards on his sled (which he somehow managed to turn so he was GOING backwards, I believe this is physically impossible) and then got it turned around so he could finish his run. This kid will be fine. He has that spark. (His parents were calm too, which is also super important.)

The third kid has been sliding with the club for a couple of weeks and she moved up to the higher start last week. She has been doing fine. On her third run Sunday morning she also took the long path through the chicane, but her path was shorter. She was ejected from her sled and stopped in the chicanes. There are two kinds of sliders. Those of us who HAVE crashed, and those who WILL crash. The first time you crash is an amazing experience. Usually things on the run seam to be going ok then they spiral out of control, remarkably fast. You get a spike of adrenalin that lasts well after the crash. It’s a weird thing cause it comes too late to be helpful. All the bad things have stopped happening but you are left totally amped up. I remember being left with a “WTF just happened to me” feeling. The adrenalin made me feel like things were still going fast around me well after the crash. Crashing is an important skill to learn when you slide. You need to get that first one out of the way so that you know its not so bad (usually) and so you know what to do when you crash (critical, because it is going to happen again at some point). It’s also important to learn how to “save” a run when things go to crap. You need to learn when to go into survival mode and forget about run times. It’s usually better (and safer) to have those experiences and develop those skills at slower speeds than at higher speeds.

When I caught up with her she was with her dad. She had some bumps and bruises and ice on her hand. And that full on adrenaline rush going. I was pretty sure she was OK physically. Her dad wanted her to get back on her sled and do a 4th run. There is a balance between getting back on the sled and causing more harm. I thought that would have been a disaster and she agreed, so we pulled the plug on the night. Dad agreed too, so all was well. When I saw her back down at the shed after the session she was smiling and talking. The adrenaline had gone down She will be fine too.

Luge shout out!

It’s a big weekend in the luge wold. It’s US Luge National Master’s weekend. That’s the weekend where we brittle folks get a little bit of luge spot light. Now granted that spot light is about equivalent to a single LED flashlight in the sporting world. But it’s still our weekend. And I find that I am a little sad right now. Well not so much sad, as jealous. This year the Masters race is in Park City Utah. I’m sitting in Potsdam. For the first time since I started sliding 4 years ago, I am not competing in Masters.

After living dangerously for the past year it just wasn’t in the cards to make the trip out to Utah for this race. I am wearing a super expensive belt buckle instead. So I am missing the race.

I slid in the Masters race in Utah 2 years ago. It was awesome. The track is fast (faster than Lake Placid’s track). The ice is smooth.

IMG_1151

And, well, Park City is really really cool.

utah olympic park from junior start

I had a good race 2 years ago and finished 4th. I almost looked like a slider.

2012 masters doug start

doug at nationals

I know I would do better this year.

And of course I left a lot on the track last year at Masters in Lake Placid

chicane sunday race

I clearly have unfinished business with this race.

Next year. Next year.

Instead I will be sliding in Lake Placid this weekend, so it’s not all bad. We have two big races left in the season. Empire State Games in February and the ADK Luge Club race in March. I’m looking forward to ESG. It’s the same weekend as the Olympic Men’s race and there will be a lot of energy because of both.

Anyway, I want to give a big shout out the the ADK Luge Club Masters racers who are in Park City this weekend. Do well my friends. Enjoy the ride!

Picture of the Day

IMG_1156

“Park City Spectators”

That’s a moose cow and calf, watching the Masters race in 2012…….