Vasa Haka

Norrut Åker Vi

We fly to catch the shining Gustav lad,
our future king, for he was right,
the Danish Prince grows soft and lies too close to France,
and now has lost his pleasure in the simple things,
the wind that moans through needled bough,
the crow that caws on high above the ridge,
the warmth of fire as night draws in with edges hard.

Norrut åker vi.

Up North, we pray to find our hearts, our souls.
Up North, where friendships still do burn,
Up North, where loyalty once owed is paid.

Norrut åker vi.

2018/02/19 © paulGuernseyPlayer haka

Here is my entry for the “Tuesday Night Poetry Reading” contest. It started out as a Haka for the “All Whites” Nordic ski team (1 member: me). It sort of evolved into an anthem for all Nordic skiers who aspire to enter VasaLoppet. It is also a “note to self” about this whole “sojourn” of mine to Northern Michigan. All Whites, because that’s the color of my ski outfit, and because I am a fan of the All Blacks, the New Zealand national rugby team. Thus, the need for a haka. Still have to work out the dance moves. 😊

Because anyone who wants to be “unstoppable” needs a haka:

Because I’ve been working way too many hours and may be approaching the limits of sitting in one place too long. The random becomes more welcome.



North American Vasa 2018 -105 days

105 days [Sat] 23.1 km; 2:26:11; 173 m elevation; 09.5 km/h; SatSki bridge climb 4x
106 days [Fri] 13.0 km; 1:17:23; 087 m elevation; 10.1 km/h; FriSki bridge climb 2x
107 days [Thu] 10.3 km; 1:03:31; 098 m elevation; 09.8 km/h; ThuSki bluff climb 6x

Today’s ski was 1/2 the ski marathon distance With moderate elevation gain [173 m is a PR for me!]; challenging, but not de·bil·i·tat·ing. It has been cooler out this week and I got out early enough to avoid the heating of the day. Slowly gaining confidence.

Sidewalk Cracks
Do not plant your pole tip into the sidewalk cracks. Just onto the Clearwater Beach “board walk” at Pier 60 [no boards, just concrete sidewalk, with cracks], I “did a Toula”. Remember that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Ian walks into Toula’s travel agency office and Toula’s head gets held back by her headset cable while her body continues forward until she is flat on her back? [twit·ter·pat·ed]
Just so with me today. [ #NotTwitterpated ] The woman seated nearby, after the standard, “Are you OK?” said, “Just when I was about to say that looks like so much fun!” Yep. After a brief moment at near horizontal with my right arm stretched out behind and my skis (up where my poles should be), I went down on my right hip, mostly on the gluteus maximus. So, No Damage!

Sand Key Bridge.
Older than the Memorial Causeway Bridge and way less ski-friendly. Mind the expansion joints, nearly as wide and deep as a roller ski wheel. Prepare to stop and step over or jump completely over at speed. I did the slow step over method for all but one, which I did not see in time to jump completely over. Nearly. Got the front wheels over, but the rear whells took a good “thud.” Fortunately, I was also holding on to the rail, so No Fall, No Damage!
Also, the pedestrian pathways on the bridge are too narrow for climbing. Better to step over into the bike lane for climbing, then hop over the barrier and ski down on the pedestrian path. The sidewalk is Ok for descending while sliding a hand down the hand rail for stability and braking. #MindTheJoints Not sure I am ready for descending in the bike lane with the expansion joints and no rails, especially with No Brakes!

Sand Key Park.
Don’t bother skiing, pavement too rough for small wheels.

2018/01/27 -091 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/03 -098 days White Pine
2018/02/10 -105 days North American Vasa

2018/02/24 -119 days Birkebeiner

Am I about to enter a third ski marathon, the Birke?! It will be a long drive across the Upper Peninsula, but it looks like a Great Event, even part of WorldLoppet, whatever that is. Hey, will that help me qualify for the 2020 VasaLoppet?

Spirit of Triathlon*

Rode the fixie to the beach in the high heat of the Florida summer for a run and a swim. Today would have been [North American Vasa 2018 -188 days], but two an a quarter hours might be exercise enough.

I watched the first half of the 2013 Vasaloppet on youtube. The back of the pack had moved two kilometers in the time the leaders were passing the 20 km mark. Did they get cold waiting to climb that first hill? That hill looks H U G E, by the way. I would not have been surprised to see a ski lift.  The broadcast focused on the leaders. Way too much focus for a four hour race. Couldn’t watch any more, and I don’t know the players well enough to care who won. I, of course, am more interested in the back of the pack and what the race looked like for them. How did their form and speed compare to the leaders? Did they double-pole 98% of the race, too? Who were they? What were their stories?

I was also horrified by how much Swedish I have forgotten in forty years, since my year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Nyköping, Sweden (1977-1978). I was not extraordinarily fluent after just that one year, but Jag kunde Svenske, lite grand. Unfortunately now I do not know the difference between “Det gör inte,” and “Det går inte.” Watching the race reminded me so strongly of my life as a foreigner, not fully knowing the language. Every day straining to understand what was going on around me. Math class was the best. Though I did not fully comprehend the big picture of differentials, I could muddle through. And don’t talk to me about emotions. Oh, I had them, I just could not communicate them. I am seriously thinking of starting in on Rosetta Stone Swedish, just to recover some part of that time in my life. Did I mention my genetics are one eighth Norwegian? I am one of the rare Dark Haired Norsemen.

What was I saying? Triathlon, right.

Bike 5 miles; run/walk 3 miles; swim 0.6 miles; bike 5 miles; Gulf of Mexico water temperature: 87° F (30.5° C); Bath, anyone?

*Why do I call it “Spirit of Triathlon,” and not just Triathlon? Because I do not do organized Triathlon races any more. I did an IRONMAN distance race in 1992, and many other sprint and Olympic distance races, but I no longer care to pay the $100 entry fee and have a number painted on my body. Being disqualified in this year’s Dunedin Rotary Triathlon also turned me off to the Official Race idea. The race official did not allow either of the two bikes I brought. Why do I need this? I do not. I can ride to the beach any day of the week and run, splashing ankle-deep through the lapping waves, swim just as far as I want, and take my bloody time in the shower before getting back on my bike for the trip home. I imagine the original 1974 triathletes in Mission Bay, California where the modern incarnation of the sport was invented had this same Spirit. Enjoying the day is more important having a good race, perhaps more important than having a race AT ALL.

Vasaloppet is CLASSIC ONLY

Stunning discovery: Vasaloppet is CLASSIC ONLY.

Hat tip: Hótigris En Route to Vasaloppet 2018, day 124-126

I have now ordered a pair of used combi boots on eBay to go with my new NNN bindings. I’ll be able to switch back and forth between classic and skate technique with the new [Fisher Fischer Combi 5000 Centrix] boots, or go full skate with my current Fisher RSC Roller Skate boots.

But no need to get too far ahead of myself. First comes the American Vasa 2018. I have until 2017/10/21 to decide which race to enter: Saturday’s 48K skate, or Sunday’s 34K classic. What if I did both? Dreams are dreams, right?

Although a surprise, this news is really good. I like classic and I especially like the idea of being able to switch back and forth, allowing the depleted muscles of each style to rest periodically, and also for the mental variety. Breaks the monotony.

I started out on classic skis back in the 1970’s. Dad and I had matching equipment with 3-pin bindings. Did he buy the extra pair for Alice? I took up golf with Mom’s unused clubs that he had bought her, so why not use her skis, too? But either way, he and I struck out into the still falling wet snow along the bluffs of the Cass River. Who knows what kind of wax we had, or how it was applied, but the love in our hearts for the outdoors, for the not quite silent fluffy white flakes that stuck to our hats, and for each other made nothing else matter.