Monday Morning Slider: You’ve Come a Long Way

Yeah, Monday Morning Slider is coming to you on Wednesday. But it is sponsored by Subaru. Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru. There I said it. Actually my semester of crazy continued this week. Monday I was in Burlington, and when I got home, well, I needed to pick up my new “Love” so no time for writing.

car-1

My recurring theme this year in my sliding is that somehow things are clicking for me in my sliding. This is a little strange for me, but also means that sliding has been a lot of fun this winter.

Saturday night I slid 3 runs. The track was a little bit slow and so my times were down a little bit. But let me tell you, my first two runs were super clean, and under the proper track conditions would have challenged my personal best times and maybe even the magic 45 second barrier I am look at right now. Who knows, they were what they were. Clean runs I was really happy with.

While they were fun, my best run on the night was my last. It was also my slowest and “least clean” of the evening.

It started with some advice from the club guru. “Crank the steer hard at the bottom of the start ramp so you are pointing down the track when you get onto that first curve.” It’s good advice because you don’t have enough speed to actually get on the curve and lining the sled down the curve means you don’t skid, and so you don’t loose time. So I did that.

BUT, you can over crank (which I did) and drive yourself into the exit wall of the start ramp (which I did). Gold medal run gone. I laid back and decided to leave that behind and see what there was to see in the run. Historically my run would have gone to crap in my brain at this point, so progress.

The top portion of my run was just a little off, I was just a little behind or ahead of myself. But all in all it wasn’t bad. Till I got into the big corner that sets up the chicane. Well actually until I approached the big corner that approached the chicane. I realized I was going into it early, and I started to laugh in my head. It was funny because I realized that I realized what was going to happen.

“You are just a little off on this run dude. Get ready, the exit of this corner is going to be interesting.” And it was. I had to put a steer on to arrest my motion into the wall after that corner. Then I steered through the chicanes, just enough, to keep from the walls. Set up late into the lower section and had to continue correcting, just a little bit. I approached the second to last corner really early and my brain worked through the outcome of where I was and realized I would be early into the final corner and I adjusted accordingly. The transition to the final corner was off but I understood what was going to happen and kept it under control. Across the finish line. Slowest run of the night. Best run of the night.

We have coaches who watch us on the track and we talk with them after each run.

Laughing. “Hi its Doug. Let’s just call that run a throw away.”

“What happened?”

“I took some advice from the guru, and well it didn’t work.”

“THAT was your first mistake.” And we talked through the run.

Why was it my best run? Well in the past I would have been along for the ride rather than working with the ride. I likely would have tagged some walls in the chicane. In the final corner I probably would have skidded the back end of my sled and had to execute a fail, rather than just working with what I had. In other words, the run would have gone to crap, and I would have been bruised.

Instead, I was laughing at the end. I remained calm and in control of what I was doing. While I was off, I managed my “offness” and ended up with a slow, but not horrible run. Not what you would want in a race, but then again, it wasn’t a race. It was training. And if it had been a race, well it wouldn’t have been a disaster. And I wouldn’t have needed this.

2013_USLA_Masters_LP_259

Picture of the Day

track-1

“The track, from the top of Whiteface Mountain.”

Advertisements

Monday Morning Slider: Lowering the Bar

Author’s Note: Sorry I was absent the past two weeks. Sabbatical Part 2 has started and I am again finding myself in a position where I need to get my life organized in a new city. This time the big metropolis know as “Syracuse”.  Anything compared to Potsdam is a metropolis. Hopefully life will settle down and I can get back into some regular writing.

Three weeks ago I had my first luge session of the year. And well it could be described in one word. Slow. Track conditions were poor and so it was slow. I was supposed to slide two weekends ago but, as per the Author’s note above, I have been busy getting my life together. So I skipped the session. This week was cooler, no, it was down right cold and so I new the track would be more typical maybe bordering on hard. Regardless it was going to be faster.

One of the fun things about the club is having kids slide who are hoping to become Olympians and new “civilians” trying just to see what the sport is like. They add a excited nervous energy to the sessions that is fun to be around. Well, except when you are the only adult in charge of a bunch of kids and newbies. Then distraction changes pre-slide prep. And so I found myself Saturday night in the start house, running a little behind, and being scheduled to be first off the handles. Not the space I wanted to be in.

The start house had 3 pre-teen boys being 3 pre-teen boys (with all that energy), a very cool 17 year old young woman who I love to slide with, a new young woman who had been sliding for a couple of weeks, and a parent of one of the pre-teen boys. As the pre-teens whipped themselves into a pre-teen frenzy I asked them to quiet down a little bit and focus. Then the dad, who was just being friendly started to talking to me, a lot. 5 minutes to sliding. I made a command decision and went outside of the warm start house to get some quiet in the cold. I got myself centered, sorta and prepared for my first run.

ESG start4

They called my name and I pulled off the handles and had a pretty good run going through the top portion of the course. Clean through the area where I typically have trouble and into the not really straight straight away. At the end of the chicane I tapped the left wall which pushed me into the right wall just before the entrance to a big curve. Historically my response to hitting a wall in the chicane would have been to tense up and sit up a little bit on my sled. This is a bad idea because it leads to the following dynamics:

2013_USLA_Masters_LP_183

 

The correct response is to stay calm, stay back on the sled, relax, and get ready to deal with things.

I really have come a long way in my sliding. My brain stayed calm allowing me to absorb the collision. I quickly realized that I was aimed wrong into the corner and that I needed to steer a little bit more than normal in the corner to prevent really bad things from happening. And that’s what I did finishing with a 48.150 s run. Once that time would have made me really happy. Not any more. But I was really happy that I did the right things and managed the badness. I also realized that the track was fast because the ice was hard, but very driveable.

My next run started sideways on the start ramp. But I kept it together and had a clean run 47.312 s. There was a time when I would have been ecstatic with that time. Not any more. Now I was feeling it. I knew that there were better runs in me.

Third run, a little more effort at the start. Clean on the ramp, and clean on the run. Still too much steering in the chicane when I didn’t need to, but clean none the less. When I got up to the finish house I was going fast, the track workers jumped out of the track and I had to apply the breaks. A little smile broke out on my face. 46.873 s.

The track workers said we had time for one more run and so I went back up for one more run and got ready.

My goal for Saturday night was to really commit to laying back on my sled, staying calm and being aerodynamic. Good sliding form was my goal. As I prepared for my last run on the night I reminded myself to commit to good form.

My last start was the best of the night. I had a pretty good pull and then two pretty good paddles. (I stink at starts, partially because I haven’t really focused on them, because I have been focusing on what comes after the start.) I relaxed back onto my sled, put my head back to minimize wind resistance and went for it. Clean through the top section. Into the chicane. I applied a steer that I didn’t need and a correction steer that I did need to fix the steer I didn’t need, still not all bad. Through the last three corners clean and across the finish line. Lots of speed up to the finish house, track workers out of the way! Brakes applied, smile on face. 46.482 s. This turned out to be my second fastest time ever, on what was really my 4th run of the season.

There are two trends on a given night that make me feel good about my sliding. One is when I slide nearly the same time for all of my runs. That show’s consistency and is an indication you are sliding well. (Primarily because if you are not sliding well, then you cannot repeat runs.) The other kind of night that makes me feel good about my sliding is when each run gets faster than the last. That means you are putting things together. Saturday I put slide well and put things together.

My magic number right now is 45. I am hunting for a run that has “45” as the first two digits. It’s coming…….. Bar considered yourself lowered.

The icing on the cake was that the new people sliding, well they had a great time.

Monday Morning Slider: The 2015 Campaign Begins

Author’s note: For those of you who are new. Hey welcome. You might not know it, but in the winter my competitive sport switch from mtb biking to well luge. Luge is that crazy sport most people see for 30 minutes every 4 years during the winter Olympics. The feet first on your back one. Not the head first on your stomach thing, or the NASCAR on ice thingy. Nope, Luge.

doug_2014esg_practice

There are two ways to have a slow run in luge. One would be pilot error.  I am well versed in that particular version of the slow run. (For example…..)

Or for those of you who are more visually oriented…..

The second way to have a slow run is because of weather. The luge track in Lake Placid is refrigerated. (They can keep ice on it to about 65F.) It is also outside, which is key. Ice conditions are highly variable depending on the temperature and maybe even more importantly the humidity. Think about what happens when you open your freezer and the humidity is high. Water condenses on the cold things in the freezer and freezes forming frost. The track is just like that. When the humidity is high the track forms a layer of frost on it. The frost is soft and your sled plows rather than glides, making for a slow day.

It’s been cold, but the forecast for Saturday night was snow changing to sleet changing to ice changing to rain with temps rising into the 40’s.

I got to the track Yadda Yadda Yadda (Yadda yadda yadda here ignores the fact that 1 mile from my house I had my first deer on car contact ever. Stupid deer ran into the back of my moving car. No damage. It also ignores the ice on the road. But I digress) and got geared up. It was nice. It was familiar. I had missed the fall sliding sessions because I was in Michigan. So it was also about time!

When we got up to the start house I went to look at the start ramp and the track. The ice was a matte white color. The color of frost.

I was placed somewhere in the middle of the start order. Jim, the club guru was first. He pulled off and started his run. The track announcer talked through his run. And when it was finished he announced his time…… 51.something. All the people in the start house shook their heads.

Let me put this in perspective. Jim usually completes a run in 45.something seconds. Yeah, periodically he throws in a stinker, but that was really more than a stinker. It was a frost run.

Now there is one very very good thing about a frosty, slow track. It’s incredibly grippy. Your sled steers almost by itself. You really just need to think about where you need to go and the sled goes where you will it. It’s super forgiving. It is even forgiving of bad technique. So that means its a great time to practice technique. Because if things go badly, well you can recover pretty easily.

When it was my turn I got to the start handles there were no nerves. It was a perfect morning to remember how to get back onto a sled and get those first runs out of the way. I finished my first run. It was clean and it was 5+ seconds off my personal best. I got off my sled and walked up to the finish dock (another sure sign of a slow run). The guru was waiting.

Jim: “I got my coffee in turn 14.”

Me: “And drank it in the chicane I bet.” We laughed.

I took 4 runs. Pretty identical. Pretty slow. I didn’t want to take my 5th because I didn’t want my brain to lock these conditions into my short term muscle memory.  And while its fun to post fast times, it was a nice morning getting back onto the track. Sorry no exciting tales of near misses and epic saves. But……..

……….The forecast for this week is very cold. The track will NOT be like this next weekend.

 

Ska-weeee…..

This:

sled_2015-1

can mean only one thing.

No sleeping tonight AND Monday morning, after a 9 month hiatus….. Monday Morning Slider returns!

(That’s two things….. Shut up Yeti!)

Have a Very Bizzaro Christmas Part 2

Brown. Yeah brown. Ugh.

Well there was only one thing to do with brown and warm on Christmas. Get the mtb out. It was carefully stored in the garage tucked away for its long winter nap……

I wish this post would be about an epic ride(s). How I was able to do what I had longed for for a while on a bike. But, eh, it was well, just, ok. While it was nice to be out riding in the real world, it was damp and chilly outside. While I was on dirt and not a trainer having mud splattered on me, the trails had ice on them and they weren’t as much fun as they are when there is no ice on them.

Yeah, I would say it was “nice”…..

BTW. We had our movie “Christmas snow” event on…New Years Eve. When I came home form work it was still brown, ugh. Then the lake effect snow squalls moved north just enough to hit us. An hour later we had 3″ of very fluffy white snow on the ground. It continued to snow during the night and on New Years day. Just like in the movies…except a little late.

Picture of the Day

white_new_years-1

“Happy White New Year”