Saturday, January 23, 2010

When in Germany....

I will try and keep this brief. It has been quite a week since I last wrote an update. After leaving Steinkjer, Norway I have travel via train to Trondheim - stayed in the airport hotel overnight. Flew to Munich via Amsterdam on a 6am flight from Norway. Arrived in Munich and waited 3 hrs to catch a train to Sonthofen, Germany in the Allgua region (famous for it's I know why!).

I chose a later train ride because it had only one transfer which when you are carrying a 45lb duffle bag, a backpack and a 65lb ski bag it's crucial to not have to change trains often. Despite having only one transfer I had quite an experience. I had a transfer in a place called Passing where I boarded a train to Sonthofen. However, what I didn't realize was that at the stop just before mine the 10-car train would separate into two trains of 5 cars. One heading to Oberstdorf and one to Lindau. Unfortunately for me I got on at the front of the train and was now 5 cars from where I needed to be. I was told I had to move in limited English (which is better than my German). It was a train with it's own rooms and not one with a nice aisle down the center. I began my trip to the back of the train with my duffle and backpack which was not that easy going between cars. So when I was about the start the trek with my ski bag the train came to a stop, I decided I would jump off the train with my ski bag and run down the platform to the back. However, I was not off the train 5 seconds and all the doors closed....except for one at the very back being held open for me. I took off running one arm waving in the air and the other dragging my ski bag (on wheels) down the platform. I jumped back onto the train to some not so kind German words mixed with a bit of English. I didn't really listen as I was absorbed with thought about watching the train leave with my other bags containing my passport, wallet and phone.

Once in Sonthofen, where my friend Thomas Freimuth lives with his girlfriend Nicole Fessel (Germany National team) he and I headed out for a short night ski by headlight in the foothills of the German Alps. Afterwards we went to friends of theirs for a traditional German meal which included fried cheese! One of my favourite past times. I ate and drank like a king which as the week has past has become the rule not the exception. I had my first Heffewiesen/Cola mix and I must say I am a fan.

I was in Sonthofen for not quite two days when we began driving to Lindberg in the Bavarian Forest where Thomas' parents live. On the way we stopped at the Munich airport to drop Nicole off as she was headed to Rybinsk, Russia for a World Cup and her last chance to make the German Olympic team. She needed a top 8....she came 9th twice! It is in the hands now of the upper brass at the German ski federation. Fingers crossed.

After just two days in Lindberg (looks much like the Appalacians in Vermont area) it was time to get back on the road....and the Autobahn! Where Audi's, BMW's, and Mercedes are the norm and the slow lane is for 140 km per hour. Before I left though I went for a walk on a rest day with Thomas' mom to a wildlife "zoo" in the Bavaria Forest National Park. On the walk with their two dogs (one was a 2 month old Australian Shepard pup) we saw a pack of 12 wolves which the pup barked loudly at - from the other side of the fence of course. We also saw 3 Linx, a herd of the original breed of horse from the steppes of Kazakstan as well as the original cow. Very cool for sure.

From Lindberg, we drove to Deddendorf where we picked up Thomas' wax tech Edward, originally from Russia and then onto to Leinz, Austria. We passed along the edge of Salzberg and close to Ramsau and the famous Dachstein glacier. We were driving in style in the Fischer/Subaru racing team's logoed Subaru Forester which ran on two tanks of fuel. One was propane (which Thomas got blasted by when filling up - hand turned red and skin tightened but otherwise okay), and the other regular gasoline.

We arrived in Leinz about 75 minutes before the start of the Dolomitenlauf street sprint. Thomas and I both took part. The course was 350m long and consisted of the 7m long start ramp (only double pole), and a bridge that had the course corkscrew off of itself (much like water in a drain) and back underneath to a one meter drop jump and a 180 turn to the finish. We did 3 laps. Thomas warned me that it was almost impossible to pass once on the course. In my quarterfinal I got myself into second behind the 3 time champion (he won again last night) and cruised through to the semi-finals. Once there I blew my start and ended up 4th of 4 out of the double pole section and stayed there to the finish. It was a great experience though to participate and also watch how Europeans appreciate snow sports.

Today I skied with Thomas and Edward at the race site for the marathon. This weekend is part of the World Loppet circuit. I knew Thomas was a very good skier but I didn't realize how good until a van drove by with a picture of him on the side!

Time for bed now, as I have to get ready for a 25km mass start skate race tomorrow.

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