North American Vasa 2018 -133 days

16.0 km; 1:39:15; 112 m elevation; avg 9.7 km/hr; Memorial Causeway Bridge Climb

PR on Corkscrew (34 sec) 🙂
PR (tie) skiing elevation (112 m)
PR(?) skiing max speed (32.4 km/h)

[Running Older Woman, met at top of bridge, with thumbs up sign] Great workout.
[Skier 1] Thank you.

[Super boat crew member 1] Brrrrrrrr!
[Skier 1 (thought bubble)] Neanderthal, purebred; possibly from southern Georgia.

[Sheriff at top of hill blocking traffic from entering the super boat ex·hi·bi·tion area] That’s a great workout. Do you do that every morning?
[Skier 1] Usually in the afternoon, but pretty much every day, yeah.
[Sheriff] It’s way to hot to do that. You should take advantage of the mornings when it’s nicer. You could hurt yourself.
[Skier 1] I know. It’s all true.
[Sheriff] Yep. It is a burden to be always right, just ask my kids.
[Skier 1] I know!

Only two falls today.

The first was on the return climb over the Memorial Causeway Bridge. The bridge’s expansion joint proved a bit tricky to me in my weakened state, weakened by climbing, no doubt. The second was on a minor climb back behind the old North Ward school building. This time I was guilty of keeping my weight too centered and not shifting it fully to each foot. I had probably been guilty of this all morning, but this was at the last mile and I just got my skis too wide apart and went down. Both falls occurred while skiing V2 at near idle speed and were very gentle.

The Climbing Factor

I have a feeling climbing is going to be an important factor in my marathons and my training will either prepare me or let me down. But I have one ace in the hole: I am training on asphalt and concrete and get nearly zero additional power from my poles while climbing. The bridges are all concrete and provide no purchase to my steel tips.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -119 days

White Pine Stampede -126 days

North American Vasa -133 days

North American Vasa 2018 -135 days

11.3 km; 59:16; 11.5 km/hr; 27 m elevation; strava

Skiing in daylight is easier than skiing in darkness. Have I said that before? Still true.

Speed ticked up today. I have been slow since starting back up with the new skis. I am certain the bearings are tighter than the old V2s. Has nothing to do with skill, technique, loss of strength and stamina after the two week lay off. Yeah, that’s right.

Trying to strike a balance between getting back on schedule with my training and not over-doing it. I usually know when I am approaching the edges of my comfort zone when my abductors start to complain. That happens most often when I extend further out laterally. Usually, my strides are pretty tight and conservative. Partly because greater extension requires greater exertion, and partly for lack of confidence. It takes a couple of weeks of startup time for me to start feeling Grand about my skiing, even after a short break (two weeks, in this case). For me, speed comes at a cost.

If V2 is double poling on every stride (symmetrical), and V1 is double poling every other stride (repeatedly on the same side – asymmetrical), what is it called when you double-pole on every third stride, one third V? V3? This would be

left (pole) – right – left –

right (pole) – left – right – … Symmetrical, but what is this called? Perhaps if I knew why V2 is called V2 I would know and understand.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -121 days

White Pine Stampede -128 days

North American Vasa -135 days

North American Vasa 2018 -136 days

8.1 km; 47:10; 21 m elevation;

[Dunedin couple 1] Where did you get those?

[Skier 1] On-line, basically. You won’t find them here. You see them more Up North. They’re used for training for cross country skiing. Cross Country Ski Shop, or Nordic Skater, but just search for roller skis.

[Woman 1] About $400?

[Skier 1] Yes, that’s about it.

[Woman 1] Do you do it because it is really good exercise?

[Skier 1] I’m training for races this winter in Michigan, but I do it because I love skiing.

I just wanted to get out tonight and not miss. My goal was to “ski until it feels good.” Although I did fall, tripping over a stick in the road that the V2 Aero XLs would have sailed over, I was feeling pretty good. I had been extending my V2 glides when I met the stick, and the next ski was not ready to take my weight. But the fall was as gentle as they come. The right thumb was the most offended. I think I even smiled as I lay prone with my knees bent, skis safely swaying in the air. “I’m ok. No problem. Yep, that was a stick.”

The V2 is definitely becoming more of a staple. I’ve especially liking it since starting with the new Ski Skett Sharks. There were a few blocks of V1 that I think qualified as “feeling good,” too, so mission accomplished for the night.

A Holly Brooks training video on V2.

And, I would be remiss if I did not point out the time of tonight’s workout to Susan: 10:19. If you do not know why that matters, you do not know Susan.

North American Vasa 2018 -137 days

am: 7.1 km; 42:36;

pm: 10.5 km; 1:00:22

total: 17.6 km

At least I felt like I was beginning to pick up a bit of speed. It’s OK, though. There is no hurry. The extra V2 work is good for me, probably. Right knee still a bit tender, but the frequency of catching my poles inside my skis is lessening. Only went down once in the last two days, and it was from a standstill. I plan to hold off on any serious climbing until I get my stamina and balance back to confidence levels. So, here we go.

North American Vasa 2018 -138 days

11.7 km; 1:11:24; 24 m elevation; first skidåkning on the new ski skett sharks

The first thing I notice is the tightness of the bearings, speed wise. It’s the bearings, right? I’m not slow because of taking two weeks off. Right? Second thing is the height. I am slightly higher off the ground then on my V2 Aero skis. Also, the wheels are narrower, so the contact with the ground is smaller. Thirdly, the solid wheels are obviously less forgiving of rough pavement than the V2s’ pneumatic tires. But mostly, I had skis on my feet and was rolling. hal·le·lu·jah!

I have to mention what it took to prep these skis for use, considering I am 30 pounds over their max weight. As suggested by Jason at, I inserted planks of hardwood [mahogany] into the interiors to prevent sagging or even bending. But for $168 (plus shipping), complete with NNN bindings, I was willing to do the work.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -124 days

White Pine Stampede -131 days

North American Vasa -138 days

North American Vasa 2018 -139 days

Skied 6 km, nice and slowly on my new replacement RCS Roller Skate boots from Fischer.  The new boots worked just fine, nestled comfortably into my familiar V2 Aero skis. Thanks to Heather at the Cross Country Ski Shop in Grayling, Michigan for seeing this through.

I also finished prepping the new skis for first use [more on this later] and re-glued the old Fischer boots (with the correct glue this time). Fischer said I could keep the old broken pair and try to repair them, if I could. The glue will take 7 days to cure [more on this later, too].

The important thing about tonight was its uneventfulness. Nothing broke, nothing failed, nothing went flat. I even managed to not fall, despite the moonless darkness and catching a pole inside my left ski once or twice. I skied for the first time in thirteen days,  since my boot failed after Hurricane Irma, but I skied.

And I now have backup skis.

And I soon will have backup boots, as well.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -125 days

White Pine Stampede -132 days

North American Vasa -139 days

Vic Guernsey grooves on cross-country skiing

[Our brother Craig Guernsey sent this Cass City Chronicle [@CassCityChronicle] article [circa 1978] glued to a construction paper scrapbook page.

And yes, I was with “Guernsey” on those first classic runs when we cross-country “pioneers” faced the barbs of the natives (“Where’s the hill? Ha, ha, ha!”), as well as the big wet flakes clinging to our hats and filling our souls. But comments like those did not stick to Vic Guernsey. On the contrary, I think they cheered him on.

I loved re-reading Dad’s enthusiasm for cross-country skiing. That was his approach to just about everything. May some of it rub off on us all.]

Cass City, Michigan, ~1978, from the Cass City Chronicle

Skiing may not be one of Cass City’s major tourist attractions, but there’s at least one breed of skier who thinks it’s just fine.

For cross-country skiers such as Vic Guernsey and his family, all you need is a little snow, a little equipment and a little time for some good, healthy exercise.

Guernsey is one of the pioneer cross-country skiers in Cass City and loves it just as much today as he did when he strapped on his first set of skis about six years ago.

Since then, the sport has grown from relative obscurity to a family sport enjoyed by an estimated 200 Cass City residents. And by all indications the boom has only begun.

It wasn’t’ always that way. Less than a decade ago, no one had seen a cross-country skier around Cass City, much less knew anything about the sport.

“I remember when I first started. I’d ski down the street and people would stop what they were doing to look,” Guernsey recalled.

Today, things are different. Just five years ago, 20,000 pairs of cross-country skis were imported to the United States. Last year, that number jumped to a half-million.

What’s the fascination with a sport knows to Scandinavians for hundreds of years? Simplicity, Guernsey says.

“It’s inexpensive compared to downhill skiing,” he says. “Your equipment is simpler, and it costs you less. And you can do it locally. You don’t have a long trip to make to a ski resort.

“And once you’ve bought your equipment, that’s it. You don’t have the expense of a rope tow each time you want to go skiing.”

Guernsey took up the sport after reading an article in a newspaper. He saw his first pair of cross-country skis at Marshall Fields in Chicago and decided to give a presentation on the differences between cross-country and Alpine skiing for Gavel Club.

“I borrowed a pair of skis from a shop in Bay City for the lecture and from there I talked myself into it,” he says.


Cross-country equipment differs from Alpine basically in size. Cross-country skis are thinner and narrower than downhill skis.

They’re more flexible and you have a closer contact with the ground, Guernsey says.

The boots are also smaller than those worn by downhill skiers. They weigh about a pound compared with an average of seven pounds for Alpine boots.

There’s also a difference in how the cross-country skier’s foot is anchored to the ski.

“In an Alpine ski, your foot is clamped completely to the ski,” he says. “In a cross-country ski, your heel is free to move up and down. You have more flexibility and it’s comparable to walking or skating.”

Guernsey likes to get out on his skis at least once a week, sometimes as often as three times a week if time and weather permit.

“I like it because you can use any degree of vigor you want,” he says. “The techniques are easy and can be learned quickly.”

His wife Alice and son Paul especially like the sport. Often the trio will head out across the park or into woodlots nearby.

They’ve also skied in the vicinity of Sleeper State Park  and in trails near the Hartwick Pines in Northern Michigan.

There really isn’t much to learn, Guernsey says.

“About all you have to pick up is moving your arms and legs in balance,” he says, “along with learning to use the poles.”

He says beginning cross-country skiers often dress too warmly, not realizing they’ll be exercising practically every muscle.

“You’ll find most cross-country skiers will never complain about being too cold,” he says.

What the Guernseys enjoy most about the sport is the quiet and getting back to nature it provides.

“You feel more in rapport with what’s around you,” Mrs. Guernsey says.

The sport also lets you feel more rapport with your wallet. Guernsey says anywhere from $80 to $120 should outfit you completely. A good pair fo Alpine boots would cost you nearly that much, he says.

But above all, the Guernseys love the simplicity of it.

“If you can walk, you can ski,” he says.

When will the Power Come Back On?

Coming home from a full day of work to no air conditioning and no power got to me tonight. I had no desire to stoke up the fire and cook dinner, even after the cold shower. Some great Israeli food was waiting for me, though, complements of Mana Mana via my lovely assistant, Susan. Her original suggestion of A/C by cinema was abandoned in favor of A/C by book store, and here we sit, side-by-side sharing an electric outlet in the “C” aisle of the Fiction & Literature section. We’ll have three hours of relative normalcy before heading home to the warm, damp, dark stickiness. 

When will the power come back on? 

It is not just about the air conditioner, even with Florida’s heat and humidity. No. Nor it is just about being able to cook on the stove nor even just about having to go out to piggy-back on someone else’s WIFI. It is about feeling Normal, feeing that life is your own and the Danger is fully over. The hurricane is not a single day’s event, though it passes through in about a day’s time. The storm appears on the consciousness’ horizon a full week ahead with the first satellite images of the Atlantic tropical storm forming off the African coast. The apprehension builds slowly with the preparations. Buy charcoal. Use up all the food in the freezer and fridge. Accept an evacuation invitation from friends up the road on higher ground. Select just your most valuable possessions and pack all the vehicles with them. Eat your last meal in the home you may never see again.

When will the power come back on?

Watch the storm reports in relative safety. Start to breathe again, if your home was spared. Start the process of cleaning up. Watch the economy begin to spin itself back up from dead stop imposed by the counter-clockwise rotation of the storm. Marvel at the sudden helpfulness of neighbors.

Begin the final arrangements for grandpa who lasted through the night of the storm, but passed from our reach before we could check in on him the Day After. The Day After offers a blessed overcast coolness before the full heat of Florida’s September sun returns to sear and illuminate every scar.

We are  5 days since Irma’s visit, but the kitchen will not be fully cleaned until the light switch similiarly reveals just what a disaster it has become. The fridge will not be scrubbed clean until there is a load of groceries ready and able to be kept cold.

 When will the power come back on? When will this chapter be over? When can we finally turn the page? 

North American Vasa 2018 -152 days

The Morning After Hurricane Irma, Coming Home

Turning onto our street, I saw a somewhat staggering amount of branches and debris strewn over all the houses, yards and street. The driveway was blocked, so I parked in the front yard and got to work hauling the bigger branches out to the curb, clearing the driveway and making the yard look less like a disaster. I soon built up enough courage to take a peek at the back yard to find that not only did the main house still stand, but so did my Tiny House. There had been no storm surge from Hurricane Irma to speak of and there was no apparent damage to the structures. “Wow.” The somber, humble kind of “Wow.” The neighbor’s dock had one metal roof panel flapping up and down, banging in the wind, and that was it. We were OK. We were VERY OK.


Irma was too distracted by the hoop to do any real damage, “Two points, nothin’ but net!”

Coming into the house was like a reunion with old friends. After coming to grips with the possibility of never seeing any of these things again, I greeted each item a silent, “Hello.” “Hello, window blinds.” “Hello, unmade bed.” “Hello, spring clamps! Perhaps, we’ll build another boat together, yet.” The spring clamps “Had me at ‘Hello'”.

After a cold shower and a bit of puttering around, I tried to sit down and relax, but I really wanted to ski, so out came the tire pump (I will never get used to need to inflate something before I can go skiing). I laced up the boots, snapped on the gloves, slipped my Zip-lock baggie encased cell phone into my pocket and headed out to clip in.

First skate, Hurricane Irma +1 day;

Heading South, the trail was blocked by a downed tree. Heading North, the trail was blocked even worse by a downed tree, but since it was further away, I was committed to north, which is always better, in any case.

2017-09-irma.WP_20170911_18_29_31_Pro.tree down across trail

Tree down across the trail, but Roller Skis are way shorter than Snow Skis, so no problem.

Lots of leaves and twigs made for great “agility training.” Tried jumping one of the Bigger Sticks, but only managed to get the front wheels over it. I had to struggle to stay up. Feeling confident, I’d have to try that again, later. But I did not get the chance. A few dozen meters later something else snagged up and I went to the pavement, and then I discovered the very unexpected:

2017-09-irma.WP_20170912_10_48_03_Pro.fisher boot failure 2

Failure of my new (this season) “state-of-the-art” carbon fiber FISCHER Carbonlite Skate – rollerski ski boots !

No, no, no! Not another training week off. I’ve got to get miles under my wheels and really get going on my up-hill climbing if I’m going to be ready for the Noque  in January. Hopefully, the good people at the Cross Country Ski Shop can help. They will know what to do and they will make things right. They always do.

Had to put that out of my mind and get a fire built to cook dinner and make something nice for my family to come home to, other than darkness, i.e. hot dogs.

[ADDENDUM] 2017/09/12 Clearwater, Florida

Got the fire hot again, cooked a couple lamb steaks, poured the remains of the previously frozen strawberries into a big bowl, and…


Instant breakfast! Ready for a big day of hunting for businesses with the triple play of air conditioning, electric outlets for phone recharging, and WIFI. Found the first two at the Clearwater Public Library, but hit the mother lode here at the Bunny Hop Café and Nature’s Food Patch. Oh, I love the Patch!


Hurricane Irma, from an Evacuee

Safety Harbor, Florida

Hurricane Irma has weakened significantly, but is still intense.

We are snug and safe with our friends in their “over-engineered” home, built on high ground, just up the road from our house. Our small house, down on the creek that feeds into bay that empties out into the Gulf, survivor of a dozen or more hurricanes, but tonight with windows unboarded. And our Tiny House, built with my own hands, sitting on her trailer, dangerously close to the water’s edge, within reach of the predicted 2-4 feet of storm surge, in addition to the simultaneous high tide.

It feels almost treasonous to be so safe when my property lies in potential ruin. Nothing could I do if I were there, but here I sit, helpless to fight the ravaging storm. Will hurricane Irma’s 60-100 mile per hour winds breach any of the old home’s numerous weaknesses? Did I, the untrained amateur builder construct a Tiny House capable of protecting our home business from a full-blown hurricane? Will life resume tomorrow as normal? What about that seam below the dormer window that I know was not done right – the one that is facing directly into tomorrow morning’s strongest wind driven rains?

But we are safe, snug nearly to the point of luxury. Here I sit, with electric power, internet access and a full tummy, blogging to the world. Things could be worse. Much, much worse.