Changes of Plans

First of all: for the guessers, yes! You are right. I’m headed to Oslo! I will get there late on Sunday night and spend the next week watching and reporting on World Championships. I will miss the sprints (good luck Ida!) and pursuits (darn!), but there will still be plenty of action for me to catch: individual classic races, team sprints, relays, and the marathons, not to mention ski jumping and nordic combined races.

I can’t wait!

But first I have to race in a marathon. Could I have skipped the Birkie, headed to Oslo earlier, and screamed my head off for my teammate Ida when she’s racing in the sprint? Of course. But the Birkie is a pretty big deal. I might not be much of a marathoner, but you can’t miss the Birkie. It will be either my second-to-last race weekend of the season or, if the snow disappears from New England, my last race of the year. Not only could I not justify skipping the race, I didn’t want to!

So, I headed to Wisconsin.

Things got wild pretty much immediately. We left Craftsbury at 6:40 on a Wednesday morning. We were supposed to leave at 6:30, but we discovered that the air mattress we had set up in the back of the van for mid-ride naps had popped overnight, and we had to take it out, remove all the bags, and put the last row of seats back in.

Then, less than an hour later, we closed in on the Canadian border and realized that my teammate Matt didn’t have his passport.

It wasn’t that he didn’t have a passport. The problem was that he didn’t have the right one. After our trip to Ottawa, we hadn’t paid enough attention when we redistributed the passports, and he had Pepa’s. Matt is many things, but a 40-year-old Bulgarian woman he is not. So, we turned around and headed back towards home. Pepa met us in Irasburg to swap the documents and then we were on our way again. We lost about an hour of time.

We thought maybe that was the end of our bad luck, but boy were we wrong. We arrived in Madison, Wisconsin, about the same time as the hordes of teachers and other reasonable people protesting against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to outlaw collective bargaining. While I saw more power to them – we checked out the protests and it was pretty awesome – unfortunately we were supposed to be ski racing on the block surrounding the capitol. With the thousands of protesters, it was a no-go.

It there had been snow in Madison, it wouldn’t have been a big deal – they could have moved the races to Elver Park, where we trained for a week last year. But, no snow, no go. The races were canceled.

Since there wasn’t any snow, we couldn’t train in Madison, so we had to say goodbye to Mimi and C.W. – the best hosts ever, it broke my heart to leave – and drive up to Birkie Country.

Unfortunately, Herm, the lady we are staying with outside of Hayward, wasn’t going to arrive until Tuesday. So in the meantime we rented a fishing cabin, which Ollie described as “looking as much like a trailer as a house can look without being a trailer”, 20 minutes outside of Cable. It wasn’t bad for me – I had a bed – but Ollie had a terrible pull-out couch. To top it all off, the shower was cold and there weren’t any dishtowels. Luckily, it was only for a few days, and I even managed to bake some bread in an iron pot (needless to say, there weren’t a lot of bread pans).

Now we’re back at Herm’s, which is a wonderful place to be, and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully our plans are done changing and we can focus on the big race which is coming up on Saturday!