Thursday, March 12, 2009

More gratuitous photos of snow

After last weekend's mini-vacation to Sovereign Lake/Silverstar, I had plans to stone grind my skis and to put on the summer storage wax for the rest of the year. I didn't get in nearly as much skiing as I would have liked this winter, but the season was late to start and now spring is (theoretically) pending. At this point my thoughts and energies are approximately 98% consumed with all things triathlon, but yesterday, the mountain called to Aaron and me. Sure, the Mt. Spokane Snowline reported that it was zero degrees Fahrenheit, but the sun was shining and the winds were calm. The result?

More pictures of Aaron skiing. The lucky guy always gets to be on the other end of the camera.
It was a gorgeous day on the mountain. We are so lucky to have it as a recreational resource not only in the winter, but for mountain biking, trail running, and berry picking in summer. Which seems really, really far away. Especially because it snowed for 2 days straight and then a deep freeze involving record low temperatures sets in afterwards. My last blog post about the roads being clear was a bit premature. We got just enough snow and just enough cold to negate the previous month's warming.

Nonetheless, after 3 consecutive days of trainer riding, I was determined to do today's 90 miler outside. It may have been 7 degrees when I woke up, but, like yesterday, it was sunny and windless, which makes just about any temperature tolerable. The ride was awesome. I didn't really get to stop and take pictures except during one food stop (mittens and zippers are not conducive to eating on the fly), but I was completely awed by the landscape of the snow covered Palouse on a sunny day. It's a beauty so different from the deciduous pastoral landscape I fell in love with in college in Vermont. Worlds away from the Tuscan olive groves and Italian Alps that wowed me when studying abroad, and drastically different from the rides I used to do along ocean side cliffs in New Zealand. The Palouse may not be as spectacular, but it is home, it is special, and it is undeniably beautiful. I only wish that the weather had been such that I could have actually taken pictures that do the landscape justice.
As much as I love living and training here, I'm sick of being cold. SOOOO, next week I'm off to San Diego/Guatemala. Hopefully then I will be able to post some pictures that actually involve a variety of colors.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More training, some racing, and psyched for spring

The good news is that the snow has been clear from the roads since the beginning of February, even though it hasn't been completely eliminated from the forecast. The bad news is that it's still too cold to bike without many, many layers. But the fact that I can ride outside is ALL GOOD. I brought the camera along a few weeks ago but only captured a fraction of the shots I wanted to because when biking in sub-freezing weather and wind, stopping is not an option.

I love my local roads and rides. I am so lucky to have so many long, interesting, variable, and traffic-free roads. Granted, there are only a few months each year when the riding is comfortable weather-wise, but the terrain (did I mention that there isn't any traffic?) rocks.

After finishing the above ride last weekend, Aaron and I headed up to Vernon, Canada for the BC Cup Biathlon Championships. I meant to take a lot of pictures, because it was a very well put on event and a pretty venue to boot, but I only managed one shot wherein I hit the picture button instead of accidentally turning the power off. It turns out that I can spend 4.5 hours biking in near-freezing rain, but I am the worlds most pathetic biathlon spectator. Even when wearing 5 layers (including wool and down), standing on snow completely drains all heat from my body. Fingers and toes go immediately numb and nearly all enjoyment is zapped from the experience. Except of course, when Aaron has a good shooting bout or when Ole Einar Bjorndalen skis by. He was really there!

Since getting back from Vernon, the weather has been pretty crummy. Luckily, I didn't have very much riding to do, but I did have my first non-snow related race in a long while - The Snake River Canyon half marathon. I'm not going to bother with too many race report details except to say that it was beautiful down in the canyon with snow on the canyon walls and the occasional appearance of blue sky.

The course is flat, but wind is almost always an obstacle. This year proved to be no different with a truly formidable head wind on the way out and a tailwind on the homestretch. Last year was the opposite, and we fought a ridiculous headwind on the way back. So really, conditions were easier this year. I did go a minute faster (1:23), but it wasn't quite what I was shooting for, especially given the reduced, albeit very much present, wind. I have to thank(?) Nicole C. for pushing me harder in the last couple miles than I really felt like going at the moment.

Annie was accidentally registered in the wheelchair division, which led to a minor pre-race snafu. She's now bitter that she didn't get to stay in the division because she would have come home with some snazzy hardware.

One thing I love about the race is that a good number of Spokanites head down, and because it's an out-and-back course, I get to see a lot of people I haven't seen all winter.. We're all just so eager to get off of the treadmills and trainers. I wasn't terribly conversational during the race today, but I did get to reconnect with a lot of friends post-race.
...and we were off

loving the wind

It was a pretty spectacular drive home, with some serious wind, sleet, and hail. Apparently the winds hit 52 mph in town. I couldn't resist this shot. With 5-10 inches of snow in the forecast, it's looking like it's going to be a fun 3 hour ride tomorrow. Sigh. Someday greenness will return to the area and my veggie garden will do this again. I actually dreamed last night that Aaron let me dig up the entire backyard to make a bigger, sunnier garden. Given the work he has done on the lawn, I doubt it will transpire. Seasons are pretty amazing.