I went up to my teammate Liz Stephen’s house last night to celebrate Midsummer, a Swedish (European) holiday on the summer solstice. (We know we were a day late.) Liz really likes Sweden and can see herself living there someday. She made us a Swedish meal for the occasion. She recruited our coach Jason Cork to make the bulle (Swedish Pastry).
Jason is a fantastic cook.
Liz made Swedish Meatballs.
We had them with lingonberry jam and potatoes. I felt like I was back in Falun. The bulle was a great way to finish it off.
This morning was the second annual U.S. Ski Team Sufferfest uphill road bike race. We met at the ski area of Sundance bright and early this morning. It was chilly.
It was a beautiful day.
Sufferfest is put on by head U.S. Ski Team strength and conditioning coach Alex Moore. It is open to all U.S. Ski Team staff, interns and athletes. There were almost 50 riders this year. It is an eight mile hill climb from Provo Canyon to the top of the Alpine Loop. The race is handicapped to try to get everyone to finish at the same time (and give everyone a chance to win). Alex has a great time before the start making a snide remark about each competitor. He is hilarious.
I started last with Nordic Combined athlete Taylor Fletcher. Taylor does a lot of road bike racing and has been riding very well. He beat me in last year’s race. Both he and Alex felt that I should get a head start. However, I declined to take it. I don’t like the idea of starting an endurance race with a handicap.
Going into the race I wasn’t concerned about beating anybody but Taylor. I was treating it as an important race and good race practice. I was nervous because everyone has been talking about how strong Taylor has been recently. He also started very fast last year and dropped me early on. I was nervous about that happening again.
I got a good warm-up so I was ready to go fast from the start. My plan was to sit on Taylor’s wheel and do no work.
In the race I didn’t find it too difficult to stay with Taylor. He asked me to lead several times, but I ignored him. I focused on saving my energy and making it as easy as possible. Finally, at about the half way point (4 miles), Taylor got fed up with me following him. He pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. At that point I decided to attack so he couldn’t just follow me. I was able to drop him. Soon after that I caught the other Nordic Combined athletes who started between two and three minutes ahead of us. I stuck with them briefly before deciding I could go faster than them. I attacked them as well and nobody was able to go with me. I road the rest of the race alone, catching many of the early starters.
I crossed the finish line in third place. The first person across the line was world cup slalom skier Will Brandenburg. He had started 31 minutes ahead of me and held me off by 48 seconds. The second person across the line was world cup winning mogul skier Heather McPhie. I finished the race in 38 minutes and 2 seconds, about a minute and forty five seconds ahead of Taylor. I road more than two and half minutes faster than I did last year. I also road almost a minute and a half faster than the Strava (an app that is a digital time trial record book) record for the same course.
I am happy with my effort because it shows that I have come through the restricted part of my shoulder recovery with good fitness. I also have access to some high end gears (aerobically). That is a good thing, but not something that I need to keep available this time of year.
I owe a huge thank you to my friend from Salt Lake City Chris Davidson. Chris tuned up my bike for this race in the same way he would do a bike for a Pro Tour rider. My bike was much more effort than it would have been for a Pro Tour rider because it was in much worse shape. He also lent me a pair of race wheels (which make a huge difference) and lent me a skin suit. I would not have been nearly as fast today without Chris’s help!
The race tuckered the non-endurance athletes out. Here’s Alex:
And mogul skier Joe Disco:
Here is a rider who isn’t associated with the U.S. Ski Team but was invited into the race as a guest:
Here is strength and conditioning intern Alex Stadnik:
And physiologist Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen:
The race is super social and fun.
Alex made an incredible trophy for the winner:
After the race we all rode back down to Sundance resort for an amazing brunch. They gave it to us half off, and it is truly spectacular.
Alex thanked everyone involved in putting on the race.
And presented Will with his trophy.
When I got home the Adam’s puppy Prince was passed out.
This afternoon I played Bocce in the park with a bunch of skiers from other disciplines.