MSA: The First Three Days





After Xmas, I hit the trails at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Hit them hard.

The formula was simple:  Eat. Ski. Eat. Sleep. Ski. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Fri 12/27 AM: Skate, 20.7 km, 1:52, 1085 kcal  PM: Classic, 21 km, 1:42, 1033 kcal

Sat 12/28 AM: Classic, 22.1 km, 1:57, 1144 kcal PM: Skate, 28.1 km, 2:00, 1221 kcal

Sun 12/29 AM: Classic, 24.3 km, 2:08, 1279 kcal  PM: Skate, 14.8 km, 1:09, 685 kcal

The weather was perfect — mostly sunny, no wind, 20’s F — until today, when the cold air and wind started to move in.  Temps dropped to single digits.  The wind chill was brutal.  I had icicles in my whiskers; other tender body parts froze. Thus the shortened ski this afternoon.  The temps are predicted to drop further with minus 30 called for on New Year’s Day. I should be gone by then.

There is very little complicate the day.  I’m in bed early and I sleep the peaceful sleep of the dead because I am so tired.  Well, maybe some nightmares about the climbs and descents of trail 24.  It’s easy to loose myself in this simple, monastic ritual of skiing.

What day is today? Sunday?

No. It is Day 3.

First Time On Snow


With the cold temperatures and the guns blasting at Weston, I got onto snow for the first time this season. It was only a few hundred meters in either direction but as good a start as we’ve had in the past few years.

It didn’t take long to a get a feel for skate skis on the white stuff. There’s always that sudden lateral slippage that comes from being used to rollerskis. I was really happy to be off wheels.

My technique came back quickly, much faster than other years, it seemed. Maybe the snow was much better. Maybe after years of doing this, I’m finally retaining some muscle memory.

I took my son with me. I watched his technique return too. We made a few refinements. He looked taller, more stable than last season. I almost didn’t recognize him.

There’s a big storm expected this weekend. We may have the full course before the end of it.



In Chicago for business. Cold run in the morning along the Lakefront. It was 6F. Plus windchill. Running along the shore, into the wind, the cold found its way through my sleeve cuffs and froze my wrists. My face froze. And other tender parts, too. Because I had opted not to travel with my wind proof shorts.

On the way back, with the wind at my back, it was fine.

The Armstrong Lie

Armstrong Lie

If you’re not already tired of hearing lie after lie fall from the mouth of Lance Armstrong, you might go and see the Armstrong Lie.  I did over Thanksgiving weekend.  Even though I was sick of the lies.  I’ve been watching Armstrong lie for decades now, so there was nothing new here.  Just a renewed appreciation for how good he was at doing it. Damn, was he good.  His performances on the bike are far less impressive than the staunch assertions of innocence and denials of positive tests.

We all had our suspicions in the early 1990’s, before cancer, before he’d hit the really big time.  They were more than suspicions.  They were the skinny whisperings of the bike racing subculture. They were stories from the friends of friends, the guys we’d grown up racing with who’d made it.  Guys like George Hincapie.  Guys like Frankie Andreu.  Nobody actually talked about it.  But we all knew.  Yet we couldn’t prove anything.

So, in a way, it was satisfying to hear Armstrong and his teammates talk about the early doping days.  Because I was still racing against them in those days. So when I see them talk in those tight frame, documentary-style interviews about the drugs they did, I think back to the races where they chased me down, or dropped me, or blew up the race.  Actually, it was kind of frustrating.  And it made me angry for the next few days.

The documentary wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.  It was supposed to be the story of Armstrong’s comeback to win the 2009 Tour de France.  But that didn’t go as planned.  What was supposed to be the crowning moment in the Armstrong trilogy (pre-cancer, 7-times Tour winner, comeback king) turned into a sad little epilogue about a drug cheat, his fall from grace, and his pathological inability to take ownership for what he did.

I’m impressed that Alex Gibney was able to get him to sit down and talk at all.  And I’m still wondering why Armstrong agreed…though I suspect it is part of his rehabilitation effort so that he can get the lifetime ban lifted and compete again — I can’t imagine what he’d do otherwise.  He’s toxic from a sponsorship and endorsement perspective.  His own charity has severed ties with him. His assets are dwindling.  With the DOJ whistleblower suit moving forward, he’s likely to be sharing a fair portion of it with ex-teammate, Floyd Landis.