I’m not sure why it took me so long to get down here, but I am absolutely loving New Zealand! I also like singing the theme song from Lord of the Rings in my head when I’m skiing around the Mountains. I’ve been told that this is very, very nerdy, to which my only response is “SO IS CROSS COUNTRY SKIING”.
In all seriousness, this camp has been such a great experience so far, and we’re not even halfway done! We’re staying up at the Snow Farm, and I’m not sure why it’s called that except that they seem to farm excellent tracks and happy people up here. I am now one of those happy people.
For the first 5 days, we had perfect bluebird skies and hard tracks, and I couldn’t be happier. It was so great to work on classic striding in really awesome conditions before moving to trickier kicking situations. I mean, you need to learn to walk before you can run, right?
The skating has also been fantastic, and I love how playful the terrain is up here. The tracks on the Hanging Valley loop (my favorite) go out over the valley and if you’re not careful you could ski off the edge of the mountain! There are some great climbs but mostly rolling hills which is perfect for training.
Yesterday it rained early in the morning, which softened up the tracks for our 5km and 10km time trials. We got to work on our klister skiing, which is funny because just the other day Cork and I were saying how perfect the training here was, but the ONLY thing we’d change is getting to do a little klister skiing for good measure. Well….wish = granted.
The food up here is also pretty amazing. It’s this mix of Asian, Polynesian and British influences, and it’s always fresh. A typical dinner here would be roasted veggies, lamb or venison pie, salad, potatoes or polenta, and a delicious dessert like carrot cake. Which is great because with the amount of skiing we’re doing here, it takes a LOT of food. On an average day of 3.5 to 4 hours of skiing, I need to eat about 3,500 calories if I want to keep my muscle mass. Which I do, thanks very much. That kind of eating takes planning, people! You have to actually work hard to eat that much food in a day. Challenge accepted.
The other typical New Zealand foods we’ve gotten into are Vegemite, or Marmite. It’s this thick black spread that I guess has a lot of vitamins but it’s ridiculously salty. After careful experimentation we decided the best way to eat it is to spread it thin over toast with butter, and put an egg on top. And then of course, there are TimTams, a chocolate coated cookie that is probably the American equivalent of an Oreo in popularity. Ben has been getting very, very creative in his TimTam consumption.
We also eat a lot of rice and miso soup at lunch, because that’s when the workers from the Proving Grounds come in to get their mid-day meal. The Proving Grounds is the only other thing up on the mountains this side of the valley (that I know of) and it’s a big track for testing cars and tires. There’s cars rallying around on the snow and it looks like a lot of fun, to be honest.
For strength training, we’ve been driving the 45 minutes down and out to Wanaka. Wanaka is a stunning town right on this huge lake, and it’s nice to mix up the training by adding a little pre-lifting run in along the beach.
The other thing you must do if you come to Wanaka is go out on the docks and look for the eels. There are some huge slimy monsters under there! All I could picture when I saw the eels was that line from “The Princess Bride” about the shrieking eels. Then of course there’s the floating tree, which somehow grows right out of the lake.
It has been so wonderful having Anouk here at camp with us! She fits right into the team atmosphere and has been great to train with. She joins us in all our training sessions, and is game for whatever we have planned that day! Which included our off-day activities – we went down to Wanaka and walked around town, ending with a great cup of coffee.
Till next time!