Our trip so far has been defined by the weather, (as is our sport in general; and the earth, now that I think of it) more so than most. Flying into Boston we had to rush to the rental car agency to get a head start on a “historic” storm that was expected to land in Boston and creep North to hit Vermont the following day. We had become aware of the storm at our layover in the carpeted hallways of the Portland Airport where we saw CNN anchors proclaiming that “Stormzilla” and “Stormgate” would break all records. Driving out of the traffic jams in Boston we saw electric billboards displaying emergency messages: “By order of the governor all travel banned after midnight”. We had escaped by just four hours.
We arrived at the idyllic Lakeview Inn close to midnight and went to sleep under the softly falling snow. The inn, at which we stayed last year, is spacious and beautiful, with wooden floors and trim throughout the house, and venetian blinds on every window. It looks like a place that presidents would have gone on vacations with their ministers at in the early 1900s, though there are strange modern renovations that try to camouflage themselves against the old-fashioned decor. We have an electric-ignited wood pellet stove in the living area that spews a torch-like flame to heat the whole house, and the windows, on close inspection reveal themselves to be quadruple-paned. And we have an industrial kitchen with a walk-in refrigerator.
The drive to the venue the next day was equally defined by the weather, as the two wheel drive minivan we had rented was no match for the two inches of wet snow that covered the uneven Eastern roads. On our drive home we had to circle around three times to try to make it up the steep, windy Ketchum hill with enough speed, only to have to backtrack to an alternate route when we learned it was even steeper at the top than it was at the bottom.
After a few days of mild temperatures, a cold front came in just after our first race, the 30km. We watched the Craftsbury Marathon, a 50km conducted in sub-zero temperatures. It warmed up enough to be the FIS legal -4 for our classic sprint, but not by much.
This morning I woke up after another 6 inch snow storm to -15F temperatures. We will get really good at playing “Wagon Wheel” since we don’t have much else to do.