The more time I spend outside with people, the happier I am. This has a direct correlation to the fact that while exercising and being with people, my phone use drops significantly; in other words – freedom. I’ll admit that for myself, disconnecting permanently would do more harm than good. Although sometimes I daydream about just that.
This year I planned a trip focused on my favorite thing in the world: being outside with people. Of course, this took a lot of technology to plan.
In September of last year, I went onto the google calendar for our Moab house and reserved the first weekend of April. I made a Facebook event and invited 20 friends and college athletes. I updated the cover photo of the event to a picture of a road biker hammering a beer mid race- just so people would understand the theme for the weekend: “Bikes and Beers”. I texted people about items they should bring and coordinated arrival times. We used Google maps in order to take the correct route from Albuquerque to Moab, even though we’ve driven that road too many times to count. My co-captain Kornelius Groev connected to the Bluetooth in the truck and played straight bangers off Spotify for six hours.
This was all a productive use of technology because just minutes after arrival I was sitting around the campfire drinking beers with my friends. We arrived late, and others arrived later. By the time everyone was around the campfire it was really late. I looked at my friend Vegard and asked him what time it was, “2:00 am,” he said. While this was true, I responded, “No Vegard, it’s Now.”
We woke up the next day and drank far too strong coffee on the front porch, soaking up the sun and discussing rides for the day. We decided on Klondike Bluffs, rallied the troops, and drove out of town. Thirteen riders must be the largest group I’ve ever ridden with. This was basically a game of who will break their bike first.
I hit a tree about one hour into the ride, the same tree I always hit on Klondike Bluff. Also, probably the only tree on the entire trail. Since I had already come to a stop, we decided this was impeccable timing for a lunch break.
We looked over the gorgeous plain below the Klondike Bluff Rim while eating our bagels. We scoped each other’s bagels, all jealous of the next person’s. I mentioned that the view always reminds me of the Oregon Trail. I can always picture the covered wagons moving slowly across the plain below us. We talked about the wild west, feeling that if we just erased the thousand-dollar bikes sitting below us- we could have gone back in time.
We somehow ended up on a trail called EKG. For the rest of the ride we complained endlessly about EKG and tried to figure out who the hell lead us onto this trail in the first place. The group began to fan out a bit as the trail kicked our asses and rattled our bones. While we waited for others to catch up, each new arrival would say something to the likes of, “fuck this trail.” We all laughed because it could be worse-we could be hiking.
Whisperings of the cold beer hidden beneath the truck began. Personally, I had been thinking about the beers since I hit the tree an hour before. We arrived at the truck with numb arms, achy fingers from squeezing our brakes far too much, and empty stomachs. We all cracked a beer, clinked them together, and sipped them in the bed of the truck.
Some new members of the crew arrived that night. We inspected their bikes with laughs and cringes. One girl had arrived with a Rossignol hard tail rented from the University of Utah bike shop. The employee working that day had begged her not to bring the bike to Moab saying, “These bikes break so much.” Usually a good rule of thumb, don’t ride bikes made by ski brands. Another girl had arrived with her teammate’s campus bike, a very old hardtail. She could easily park that bike without a lock in Albuquerque and nobody would steal it. After our bike inspection we all checked our camelbacks and bike bags to ensure all our tools were ready. We thought, ‘tomorrow we become bike mechanics.’
That night we ran out of beer and regretted not bringing our own beer from Colorado or New Mexico. The beer selection at the Moab liquor store is concerning and expensive. This was probably the biggest mistake of the trip and I hope that readers can learn from our mistake. We also went to bed clueless of the next day’s adventure, like any good trip.
Friday’s coffee maker was fired, so on Saturday morning we discussed potential rides over a more balanced cup of joe. A Full Slickrock loop from the house was the decision. From the house means climbing up the grueling paved road which leads to the trailhead, but it also means not paying to get in- always worth it.
How do you get four girls who don’t mountain bike much, two of whom are essentially riding toaster ovens, to ride the full slickrock loop for the first time? That answer is easy. Simply don’t tell them there is a 1.6 mile practice loop.
Another strategy is to stop at the top of every hill and scream encouragement. Halfway through the ride, I had practically lost my voice. Also at halfway, my buddy Johan decided to jump into a pothole filled with rainwater nude. I think this gave us bad karma because the mechanicals arrived like a storm.
At the top of every hill, the girls would walk their bikes up to us with a new issue: Back brake not working, derailleur somehow rubbing on the wheel, snapped chain ring, the list goes on. With every new issue we would express outrageous positivity, and say something like, “Oh that’s fine, just don’t use your small ring.” As the bikes broke more the whole ride turned into cyclocross- a lot more running.
I was worried that these girls would hate me for dragging them on this death march. However, they would crest the hill each time, running their bikes, with the biggest smiles on their faces while screaming, “This is so cool!” I was absolutely stunned. After three hours, the bikes were destroyed, nobody hated me, and we were sitting in the backyard with cold drinks- a successful day.
That night we bought quesadillas at the famous Quesadilla Mobilla in town, then hiked up to Corona arch for sunset. That evening all twenty of us sat beneath the red sandstone playing High, Low, Hero (the best part of your trip, the worst part, and your hero). Each person spoke, while everyone listened attentively. Nobody could think of any real lows and we all laughed as each person claimed the two girls on the toaster oven bikes as their trip heroes.
I brought my camera on that hike and captured photos of my friends climbing up rocks and goofing around. As I looked through my viewfinder, I didn’t see people staring into their phones. Instead I saw people captivated and entertained by each other and the beauty surrounding them. I saw laughter, eye contact, and people really listening to each other. Most of all I saw solidarity between all. Solidarity that this weekend mattered.
These kinds of trips are always hard to exit. That’s why when everyone must leave, it isn’t as simple as one goodbye. We hug each other and awkwardly linger, just long enough to do it all over again. “Next years” and “next times” are promised as car doors slam and engines start.
As everyone departed, I noticed my phone in my pocket. I pulled it out and scrolled through all the notifications I missed while my phone slid around the trucks floor all weekend. I had multiple missed calls from my dad. I gave him a call.
“Hey dad, sorry I missed your calls. I lost my phone for the weekend.” He responded, “Well it must have been a good trip then.” As I backed out of the driveway I muttered, “yeah, it really was.”
You know those days where you somehow end up going to Wal Mart twice? Those are the worst days in the world. I honestly avoid Wal Mart like the plague. Yet I always get roped into a trip for some odd item which could be purchased on Amazon but that would take two days to arrive and time is of the essence.
The first thing that happens when I pull into the Wal Mart parking lot, cars just start throwing themselves at me. I almost get t boned in the parking lot six times. Due to anxiety, I park as far as possible from the store- it’s a ten-minute walk from my car to the store.
Before I’ve even arrived in the store someone begs me for money. I think to myself, ‘stay strong, you aren’t a bad person for saying no.’ Except this homeless person has the cutest dog I’ve ever seen and the dog is wearing a t shirt and has a crown on her head- she’s a princess dog. Inevitably this guy ends up with the twenty in my pocket and I walk into the store cursing how soft I am. Wal Mart is already winning.
I can’t see the back of the store from the front of the store. The depths of this store register as an unknown and I really don’t like that. I stumble through the maze that is Wal Mart for what seems like hours. I’m looking for a tarp to put under the twelve-foot pool my teammate Johan impulse bought at this very same store a week before. I realize I’ve found the tarp! Though I also realize that I’m holding an espresso machine, the game of spike ball, and t shirt that says, “not my job”. Once again, Wal Mart is winning.
I didn’t even think to grab a cart. There is no way in hell I’m going to risk finding a cart now; the odds of finding my way back to this aisle are slim at best. Instead I’m carrying everything back the way I came. I’m literally holding the entire game of spike ball by just my pinky finger- the pain is excruciating. I’m hobbling through the store grimacing and people are looking at me weird.
At the register I buy a Snickers bar and a pack of gum. The second that snickers bar gets scanned, my arm leaps across the counter and grabs it. I almost give the cashier a heart attack with this move and she needs a second to recover. While devouring that snickers bar, half of it drops on the floor. I look at the cashier, her eyes are saying, “don’t do it.” I pick it up and eat the rest in one bite. Anything to avoid that inevitable Wal Mart bonk. If germs had a taste, this second bite would have tasted like bear spray. When the cashier tells me how much I owe, I realize I’ll have to eat spaghetti and oatmeal for the next month to survive.
I pick up my supplies and hobble to the exit. From the exit, I would actually need binoculars to see my car. This calls for a change in strategy.
I’m now wearing the “not my job” shirt and have created a cape out of the tarp. I’ve transformed into some kind of Wal Mart superhero. With the espresso machine held beneath my right arm and spike ball cradled beneath my left- I begin to run. My legs are turning faster than they ever have; and possibly ever will. Then, about thirty rows in, next to a bright green Corolla; something incredible happens. With god as my witness and an incredibly dirty snickers bar as my fuel, I feel my cape tighten around my neck and my feet leave the ground. For just a brief instant, I swear I’m flying.
I get into my car, throw all the shit into the back, then reach into my pocket and grab the pack of gum. I turn on the car and with three taps on my phone, Nora Jones’s discography is playing. I carefully put every piece of gum into my mouth until the pack is empty, then I just violently chew the anxiety away.
A man walks by, the one man who may have witnessed me take flight. I roll my window down. “Hey did you just see that?” He holds his pace and flips me off.
I drive back to my teammates house and park in the driveway. I limp around the corner and through the fence. Ricardo is waiting for me in the backyard and says, “Why is the tarp around your neck?” I stare back at him with my now bloodshot eyes. I don’t respond, I just chew harder on the 24 pieces of gum in my mouth. Ricardo responds, “Well anyways, I guess the pool didn’t come with a pump, so we need to go back to Wal Mart and grab one.”
I awake to her cleaning. She would call it subtle organizing, however, I’m not as clueless as I am messy. Bless her heart for the subtlety as I know every alarm in her head is firing. With each sight of clutter, her insides grip tighter, anxiety boiling within. Though on the outside she stays mellow, as if she could begin humming any second. It’s an incredible illusion.
I take the hint and decide to start with a small task, a warm up of sorts. After unloading the dishwasher, there is now room inside it for the dishes which lounge cozily in the sink. I then take these dishes on a three-foot journey from the sink to the dishwasher. A wonderful balance has now been restored to the kitchen. Dishes go in the dishwasher, not in the sink- because that’s where they stink. A catchy new motto I suppose.
Now that I’m properly warmed up, I begin the tough part, scrubbing underneath the stove burners. This is uncharted territory and I open my eyes with surprise as the stove tops just pull right off. I’ve forever been clueless to this feature, I always believed the purpose stovetops was to imprison the crumbs of my frugal diet, mostly ground beef, rice, and beans. Cleaning this newly discovered area is a difficult task as even the rough side of my sponge stands little chance to these heat-tortured crumbs.
At first, I thought I was doing this for her. You know, the cleaning thing. Yet now I think I’ve been a clean person my entire life, trapped in a messy paradise. The signs are evident. The smell of bleach is almost arousing. The neat organization of materials around my apartment, it makes me feel fancy. You know the feeling where you decide jeans instead of sweatpants? Yeah, that kind of fancy. The whir of the vacuum brings me an odd sense of peace. The crumbs of food that have been sticking to my bare feet for weeks, as I transport them around the apartment, they disappear with the suck of this beautiful machine. I realize, I don’t miss those crumbs at all.
It’s crazy, I’ve lived my whole life thinking that cool dudes get hot babes. I’ve been wrong. Alas, this apartment is looking clean and with each shiny section of the house, I can sense her starting to like me again. In fact, a few minutes ago I smiled at her and she genuinely smiled back. The next time I see a man with a beautiful woman, I’m going to think to myself, ‘Holy shit that guy has a clean apartment.’
Brenna Egan’s voice carried through the room on this snowy January night in Bozeman, Montana, “This isn’t about you. There are twenty other people expecting you to go out there tomorrow and absolutely kill yourself.” We all gazed around the room at each other nodding in agreement, a contract not on paper though it might as well have been. This sport we ended up in, it hurts. It’s fucking grueling and some days that pain goes down easy. On other days though, that pain stings a little extra, or it hits you in an unexpected way. On those days you need something else to race for, because racing for yourself is never enough. Brenna finished her speech that night with three words, “Lobo’s don’t quit.”
That next day, the men’s team finished 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th. The women finished 13th, 14th, 16th, and 23rd. Seven of these finishes were personal bests. The conditions were tough and every single one of us absolutely gutted ourselves on that race course. Brenna’s speech that night perfectly embodied who we are as a team. Nobody cares who ends up in what place. It isn’t a numbers game. What matters is that everyone finishes the race looking like a severely less alive version of themselves. Essentially, that is the ticket earning yourself a place in the van for the drive home. Here, we race for each other because that is how respect is earned. I'm learning that this kind of culture, it’s powerful.
Next weekend the small quaint town of Red River, New Mexico will host well over 100 alpine and nordic skiers from all over the world. There will be no live stream, very few spectators, and hardly a glimpse about it in the news. In many ways and to many people it will be unremarkable. However, this may be the state of New Mexico’s silent farewell to high level skiing. After this winter, the University of New Mexico ski team will be cut. It will cease to exist.
I will forever cherish getting to be a part of this team. I will also forever be saddened by the countless young men and women who will never get to experience being on the University of New Mexico ski team. Many years from now I will look back upon my time here with a certain nostalgia. All the sunburns, the hot afternoon rollerskis in September which seemed more like death marches than training, the looks people gave us through their car windows on those same rollerskis, our long commutes to training filled with jokes and laughter, all the cards games, listening to music, hearing about my teammates lives back in their countries, and all the terrible grammar- bears are pronounced “beers” and beers are pronounced “bears”. Surely there are amazing years ahead, but this, nothing could quite equate to it.
I grew up with a hatred for team sports. I learned that in team sports, I could only control so much of the outcome. I fell in love with skiing because of its individuality. It separated me. It gave me full control. I think it’s only fitting that in my final year, my last hurrah- it’s being a part of this team that has reignited my love for skiing.
It’s crazy that not so long ago we were all awkwardly meeting each other for the first time, in mostly broken English. I keep wishing my time here would slow down. Surely, I must be the outlier as most college seniors can’t wait for it to all be over. I’ve been incredibly greedy with my one year here. I greedily latch onto these good times because I know the clock is ticking. In May, goodbyes will be spoken and we will all go our separate ways. Kornelius will go become a doctor, Johan will help run his families vacation cottages, Ricardo will go on to ski in World Championships and hopefully Olympics, Julie will become an Instagram model, Brenna and I will move back to Utah in pursuit of single track switchbacks and powder days, Dasha and Savanna will get recruited to new schools and continue college skiing.
College skiing will exist without the Lobos. However, it will not be the same. College skiing will be without twenty weird kids from the desert. Twenty Lobos who don’t ski a lot, but who ski for each other. That right there, that seems to make all the difference.
Before this winter, I had classic skied five times- in my life. All of which I remember thinking, ‘this is really hard and not very fun.’ Well now that I am a cross country skier, learning how to classic ski is simply necessary. This winter, all of the collegiate classic races are 20 km’s in distance. I’ve never raced more than 15 km’s before so calling this a challenge would be an understatement.
Luckily, the college season doesn’t start till the middle of January. This has been a serious blessing as it has given me ample time to go through all the phases of learning how to classic ski:
Phase one. Classic rollerskiing:
In this first phase, you spend countless hours rolling around on glorified rollerblades with the added addition of ski poles and cringeworthy spandex. You fend off cars as if you were another formidable vehicle on the road, forgetting just how vulnerable you are in said spandex. The one bonus is getting mighty tan but even that loses its appeal once you realize your skin maxes out at a still pasty white. All these hours are worth it though because, “It’s all for the cause.” The cause is, going wicked fast on skis and impressing mega hot babes.
Phase two. What the fuck am I doing:
This is the phase where you realize all those hours spent rollerskiing were basically pointless because classic rollerskiing doesn’t prepare you for classic skiing whatsoever. In this phase you daydream about all the things you could have been doing instead of rollerskiing through the road rage and pot hole filled neighborhoods of Albuquerque, New Mexico. You think about the pool down at Lobo Village which you didn’t visit enough, the mountain bike trails you didn’t ride enough, and golf, you think about golf.
This is also the phase where coaches try to walk you through drills such as classic skiing without poles. Here is the thing, if you don’t know how to classic ski with poles, you surely won’t find any success doing it without poles.
I vividly remember our first ski camp in Red River, New Mexico. I remember trying to classic ski up a small hill without poles. Instead of moving forwards, I was actually sliding backwards down the hill. In addition, Red River sits at 10,000 feet above sea level. So not only was I moving in the complete wrong direction, but I was out of breath doing so. This was concerning. Not in the sense of me winning any races, more in the sense of even being able to finish a race.
If you are bad at running, you just go slow. Being bad at classic skiing sucks far worse because not only are you slow but you actually can’t physically complete the task of moving forwards. I would compare classic skiing to someone asking you to draw a picture. Easy enough right? Then when you begin drawing, someone just repeatedly slaps you in the elbow.
Phase three. I figured it out. Nevermind:
In this phase, you get good enough at classic skiing to think you enjoy it. This is an illusion because all it takes is a slight change in snow conditions for everything to change. You will go out the next day and change your mind on the entire subject.
Phase four. Actually trying to go fast:
In all the previous phases, you have been basically walking around in circles on skis. In phase four you are asked to do intervals on classic skis. You begin this particular phase with confidence as by this point, walking around on skis is manageable. It turns out that the sport gets even more difficult when any kind of speed is involved. At this point you immediately go back to Phase two, “what the fuck am I doing”. Trying to go fast classic skiing is like putting on Heely's and trying to run across a frozen over lake. It’s not happening. I also always feel one step away from a severe rolled ankle as classic boots offer zero support.
Phase five. Shakira:
In this phase, people start to give you advice on how to improve as they are no longer scared of the constant anger which pools out of you. The weirdest part, all the advice seems to center around your hips. Thus, this phase being called the Shakira phase. Believe me, I can move my friggen hips, but when you tell me to, “dance up the hill on my skis,” that makes zero sense. Phrases like, “get your hips over” and “get your hips on top” get thrown around often and I end up just standing on the side of the trail throwing my hips in every direction possible.
Phase six. Racing:
I’m pretty proud to have made it through six stages of classic skiing. I wish I knew where it all ended but honestly there could be 100 phases. I just don’t know where the pain will stop. Last week I completed my first ever classic ski race. I hoped for the best but truly expected the worst. In the end, it was a lot better than I could have imagined.
I hate double poling because much to my dismay, I’m still built like a ski jumper. My preference is when the course gets steep because the only option is to run. I’m pretty fit so this is actually where I lose the least amount of time. My ideal course would just be one constant steep uphill.
Phase seven. 20 km NCAA mass start:
At this point, I’m no longer concerned about being able to complete a 20 km race. Now it’s just a matter of how fast I can do it. The whole thing could be extremely comical, or I could surprise myself- we will see. Really my only goal is to beat my teammate Johan, who is back in Norway utterly distracted by females. I’ll take any advantage I can get.
Lastly, I hope I haven't ruined classic skiing for anyone else. It truly is a great hobby. Just don't get yourself as deeply involved as I have.
After returning from a ten-day ski trip to Montana where I spent just as much time procrastinating school as I did skiing, my plate was looking pretty full for finals week.
Somehow, I managed to avoid the school library all semester. I’ve always chosen coffee shops over the library. Recently though, I’ve realized how much of a money suck coffee shops can be. Ten dollars down the drain per visit starts to add up quick as a college student. So, in the name of frugality, I decided to make a change and see what the Zimmerman library on campus is all about.
Upon entering the library, I was amazed. It felt as if I had entered a new world. The ceilings were so tall. The artwork on the walls, just mesmerizing. The lighting was neither brilliant nor sleepy, just perfect. There are different rooms throughout the Zimmerman library at UNM, each with different noise levels. As I descended further and further into the library, the noise continued to subside rapidly. It was like a museum of silence.
I’ll make one thing clear. I’m not a quiet person. My whisper is a talk, my talk is a yell, and my yell is a siren. I found my girlfriend (Brenna) in the very back of the library, in the ten-decibel room. I’ve never been familiar with decibels, so I had no idea what that meant. I did notice, the room was eerily quiet. Especially considering that the room was full of twenty year-old kids.
This day was one of my more prepared days. You know those days when you wake up fifteen minutes early and have time to pack snacks, finish your coffee, and even make the bed? It was one of those days. I was about five minutes into writing a paper which I should have started long ago, when I felt my stomach communicate to me. “What?” I whispered back angrily. “HUNGRYYYYYY,” my stomach grumbled at me. I unzipped my backpack and grabbed one of those snacks I so handily packed. After one bite I noticed my girlfriend Brenna snickering at me. My focus began to expand. With this expansion, I met glares and incredulous looks from just about everyone nearby. You see, I was eating the perfect apple, the kind of apple that’s crispy and juicy all at the same time. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I had packed the loudest snack possible.
I removed my headphones slowly and tried to chew the rest of my bite, which still resided in my mouth. Yup, this was surely the loudest noise in the library, by a long shot. In fact, this was the only noise in the library. I starvingly glanced at my apple, which had many bites left. Right then I knew I had a decision to make.
I gazed at the sign upon my desk which read ‘ten decibels’. I decided to use Google and find out just how much ten decibels really is. Google informed me that the average person breathes at ten decibels. I immediately began to sweat. Since I’m far louder than the average person, this meant I wasn’t even allowed to breathe here. I was literally going to suffocate of silence. Then, with all eyes upon me, and to my girlfriend’s embarrassment. I finished that apple. All 100 decibels of it.
Cheers - BB
I figure that if I'm going to be writing on this blog all season long, surely I must introduce the Lobos Ski Team.
Johan Eirik Meland:
aka "Johnny", aka "Johnny Bravo".
Johan's biggest problem in life is being too damn pretty. He claims that he has good luck but nobody has THIS GOOD of luck. His ignorance is surely endearing. The first week Johan was in Albuquerque, he had to take a bathroom break during a rollerski. He knocked on a random door in a random neighborhood. Let me make one thing clear, Albuquerque isn't the type of place where you go door knocking for a bathroom. In fact, this is something I've never even considered doing in my small hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Johan then proceeded to explain to the poor house tenant that he had to take a shit. Not only did they let him, it seemed they were ever grateful for that shit he dropped in their toilet.
When you ask Johan how his day was, it usually sounds like this. "I got my bike stolen so I was going to walk home. Then these girls drove by, so I smiled and waved. They gave me a ride home. They also gave me a bike. I have a date with one of the girls tonight. Then my tutor came over and she brought me cookies."
This is obviously where I interrupt.
"Wait wait wait, your tutor bakes you cookies?"
"Yeah," Johan replies, as if this is the norm.
In addition, Johan consistently orders the same size clothing as me. I keep trying to convince him that he is not a small but he refuses to agree. So, we mostly wear the same size clothing. Here is Johan and I standing next to each other. Now that I look at the picture, he doesn't really look much bigger than me, just fifteen shades darker than me.
Aka "Big Fudge", "Korn", "Korn Dog", "Kelly Slater", "Slenderman"
Kornelius is taking a break from his doctoral studies back in Norway to race for the Lobos. It's nice having a doctor on the team. All questions regarding health get directed towards Kornelius. He has a weakness for American fast food and Mr. Pibb soda. Whether or not those weaknesses correlate to the gas that comes out of his ass, that's yet to be determined. A few weeks ago, we went to go see the new Mission Impossible movie on campus. Brenna sat right in between Kornelius and I. This was a decision she later regretted after two hours of non stop farts. Don't sit in between the two of us, I feel as if people on the team should know better by now.
Kornelius is tall but not that tall. He actually looks taller than he is because his arms and legs never end. This dude is seriously gangly thus the nickname "Slenderman". During our team soccer games Kornelius just stands in front of the goal and waves is limbs around in all directions making it impossible to score a single goal.
Kornelius kept showing up to training in a Quicksilver rash guard. This was the beginning of the "Kelly Slater" nickname. I loved it so much that I created this.
Aka "Ricky", "Slick Rick"
Ricardo is a training god/fitness legend. This dude trains in his sleep I swear. A few weeks ago we had a 12X400 meter track workout. Ricardo ran his twelfth 400 meters of the day in 56 seconds. For those unfamiliar, this is stupid fast. We have decided that Ricky could probably be on scholarship for the track and cross country running teams as well. Slick Rick also set the new course record for the infamous Sand Hills time trial. (running up and down hills of shin deep sand). This record has been intact for six years. More recently, Ricky also broke the UNM Ski Team record for the 3,000 meter on the track. He ran it in 8:56, a whopping thirty seconds faster than the last record which was set seventeen years ago.
Sure this is all great but I do need to boast a little. I set the school record for pull ups. Exactly one minute later Ricky did one more pullup than me, record gone. Come on man. The former UNM Nordic Coach Fredrik Landstedt kept a very meticulous excel spreadsheet with every time for every time trial since about 1996 (one year after I was born). By the time Ricky leaves, his name will be at the top of almost every list.
We've also decided that when picking up girls, Ricky should just be French- not French Canadian. Canadian just isn't foreign enough for American girls.
Sidenote: I've decided that French Canadian is my favorite accent because it's a combination of two very polarizing things.
aka "Dasha", aka "Dash"
Somewhere in Russia
Also Steamboat Springs
Dasha is from Russia. She moved to Steamboat Springs a few years ago to finish high school. I plan on adopting Dasha someday because I love her so much. Dasha chews 6 pieces of gum at once: Three pieces of mint flavored gum, and three pieces of fruit flavored gum. As Dasha puts it, "Mint gum is too minty and fruit gum is too fruity." Honestly, that's pretty damn logical. As if a Russian accent isn't thick enough, don't expect to understand a word Dasha says when trying to communicate to you with six pieces of gum in her mouth.
Dasha is also an incredible artist. She only draws and sketches in black because Dasha says, "I don't like colors." She has started to print her drawings on t shirts. Here is one of the t shirts. If you are interested in buying one, let me know. I named the little guy on the front Leroy. As you can see Brenna completely destroyed her shirt for the sake of fashion. In fact, it looks more like a rag than a shirt. If you like, you can leave the sleeves and belly of the shirt intact. Your call.
Julie Stendahl Spets
We are currently teaching Julie how to wax her skis. How a 22 year old Norwegian skier doesn't know how to wax skis, that is beyond me. However, in typical Julie fashion, she has been incredibly shameless about the whole thing. Big kudos on this because I probably would have just lied to everyone then tried to watch some youtube tutorial videos on the matter. She is really taking a liking for waxing skis. In order to give her more practice, I'm going to ask her if she would like to wax my skis for the rest of the season.
Julie adds a lot of laughter to the team. You never know what laugh you are going to get from her either. She has three laughs: evil, over the top, and creepy.
Julie and Johan take home the award for best Instagram profiles. Also in Brenna's words, "If our team was in a scary movie, Julie and Johan are the two pretty ones who would be making out in the woods, and obviously get killed first." This is very dark Brenna, though I couldn't agree more.
Park City, Utah
Considering that Savanna was training in her puffy coat a month ago when it was still fairly temperate in Albuquerque, makes me concerned about how she will fair when the weather actually gets cold. Everyone will be doing intervals in shorts and t shirts meanwhile Savanna will be in long pants and a ski jacket.
Savanna may take home the prize of hardest school schedule. When I hear tales of the quantity of math and science homework she puts up with on a daily basis, I thank the liberal art gods. In addition, it turns out that Savanna is WICKED on cross country skis. She placed 11th in last weekends races in West Yellowstone, Montana.
The funniest part about this, a week ago Savanna was convinced our training plan wasn't working for her and she needed to write her own plan. Last weekend she was the fastest girl on the team and undoubtedly had the race of her life. I think our coach Christian Otto was loving this.
Savanna is one of two "foodies" on our team (Brenna is the other). You may ask, what does it mean to be a "foodie"? Well Savanna defined this for me just a few weekends ago. When tasked with cooking spaghetti out of the box, she needed help from the boys. We were pretty proud to be needed because truth is, we aren't needed for much. But, if there is one thing us boys know how to do, it is cook spaghetti out of the box. When I asked her, "you don't know how to cook spaghetti?" Savanna replied, "I've only made it from scratch before." BOOM! "foodie".
Park City, Utah
Brenna is my girlfriend. If I'm being totally unbiased, she is the hottest girl on the circuit by far. Also, without her existence in my life, I would have never been apart of this team. In fact, without her existence many things would be different:
1. I still wouldn't make my bed.
2. My cooking would mostly consist of nachos and quesadillas.
3. I wouldn't know the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.
4. I would spend far more time unknowingly walking around with food on my face and in my teeth.
This may sound fairly pathetic on my part but I look around at other gross, messy college aged boys and know that the only thing separating my world from theirs, a cute girlfriend.
This is Brenna's seventh semester on the UNM Ski Team. The next most tenured athlete is Ricardo who has been on the team for two semesters. Brenna is the rock on this team as the rest of us have basically no experience on the college skiing circuit. It's fair to say that Brenna has seniority around these parts.
Brenna is currently binging the show "Vampire Diaries". The plot isn't too hard to explain, it's about a bunch of sexy vampires. I think she feels guilty by sitting on the couch and watching a tv show so instead she is always multitasking. I've learned that four episodes usually equals one loaf of beer bread or one batch of cookies. How a show with such a basic plot has eight seasons, I have no idea, however I'm very okay with this show never ending.
Brenna usually listens to podcasts during her workouts. This means that after every session, she has a million fun facts to share with the team. Brenna is going to graduate in the spring with a Bachelor's in Environmental Science, then she is going to go change the world and ride her mountain bike a lot. Brenna shreds on a mountain bike. Don't ever let her catch you drinking out of a plastic water bottle or putting recyclables in the trash, she will kill you.
I've had coaches from Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Austria before. However, I must say that having a German head coach is unlike all of the above. There are a lot of stereotypes out there about Germans. Coach Otto seems determined to cement them all.
Christian is the most organized person I know. I receive more emails from Christian than I do from Pizza Hut, and Pizza Hut sends me a lot of emails.
In addition, the training log which he created on excel spreadsheet is so detailed and elaborate that it sometimes represents a maze which has no exit. Considering the amount of time it takes to fill out, I can't even imagine how much time it took to create.
Coach Otto has a very direct style of communication. There is no sugar coating. If he is unhappy with something, he says so. For the first few weeks this was unsettling because I'm very used to a lot of sugar on top (My mom is way too nice to me).
Coach Otto hates our roads and the way people drive in our country. He informs me of this frequently while reminiscing about the ease of the German Autobahn. "In the US you just seal the cracks on roads, in Germany we build a new road."
After every session in the weight room, Christian makes us take part in "mental toughness pushups". We are all convinced that he picked up this cruel torture in the German military. "Mental toughness pushups" consist of twenty pushups. This sounds easy except for the fact that Coach Otto makes us hold the pushups down at the bottom for five seconds. If anyone raises their butt we have to start over. This is also the kind of thing that never gets easier. I thought I would just get stronger but it actually just sucks every single time. Everyday we hope he forgets. He never does.
Before Christian joined the team as Head Coach, he was actually one of my best friends. I'm proud to say that we are still very close and having him consistently semi disappointed in me hasn't affected our friendship. He is doing a great job.
aka "Praznik", "AP", "Aljaz" pronounced "Alhaz", "Jersey"
Aljaz is from Slovenia and is a former Lobos skier. We have the perfect good cop, bad cop scenario on our team. Christian is the bad cop and Aljaz Praznik is the good cop. We aren't allowed to eat chips, however Aljaz will always get us chips. It's kind of like if you have one parent who says no to everything and one who always says yes. As a kid, you always knew which parent to ask if you wanted to have a sleepover. I think everyone on the team knows who to ask when we want chips.
Aljaz probably should have had ten years of eligibility. This dude is an athlete for life. He probably trains more than most of the athletes on our team. You can always find him doing pushups somewhere. He is notorious for trying to do intervals with us. This consists of him starting way too hard on the first interval and blowing us all up. Then he takes a break the rest of the intervals session while we are all dying. At the end, he hops in for the last interval and goes all out again. This tactic basically defeats the point of doing intervals in the first place so I've learned, "don't follow Aljaz."
Aljaz is known for always wearing tank tops. This is the right move because the key to any good wardrobe- clothing which shows off your best features. The tank tops really show off one of Aljaz's best features, very hairy shoulders.
So these are the Lobos. Maybe later in the year I can introduce our Alpine team as well, they are surely not lacking in personalities either. Thanks for reading. Cheers. - BB
I made it to college. I truly never thought I'd make it here, especially not by the ripe age of twenty-three. I’m a little older than most of the kids in my classes, though I haven’t hit creepy old yet. I feel I can still raise my hand in class to ask the professor a question, without kids imagining the plot of my mid-life crisis. This is good.
I forgot to tell my immune system I was going to college in the first place, which I feel terrible about. College is disgusting. I’ll never forget my first class in a big lecture hall. I was sitting in the front row (nerd). Behind me I could hear an orchestra of coughing and sneezing. I’m a renowned germaphobe, so this was stressful. I started to hold my breath, which is usually how I handle such a situation. The problem is, I can only hold my breath for forty-five seconds and the lecture is fifty minutes long. My fight or flight instinct kicked in. I chose fight. This was Monday. By Wednesday I was sick. Two weeks later I was sick again, even worse than the time before. Now though, my body is adjusting to the occasional sneeze on the back of my neck.
I look back on attending school from 8:00 – 3:00, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years straight and think, ‘How humane was that?’ Now I spend about two hours a day in class- It’s perfect. Also, you don't have to go. To be clear, I do go. I just like the idea that I technically don't have to.
I have the opportunity to take some really interesting classes here at UNM. My prior credits would only transfer into one degree. Liberal arts. This has given me a lot of flexibility with the classes I can take.
Me: Wait, I can take any classes I want?
Advisor: Yes, it’s liberal arts. You choose your degree.
Me: Cool. So why don’t more people do this?
Advisor: Well when you want a job…. No never mind. Enjoy your semester.
I'm using this flexibility to learn more about journalism, media, and entrepreneurship. Liberal arts is a lot like the Subaru Baja. Laugh all you want, but a Subaru with a truck bed? Genius.
Living in a city and attending a college which enrolls 30,000 students is a lot different than living in the small farm town of Ratece, Slovenia with six smelly dudes. In Slovenia I used to wake up to the sound of cows outside my window every morning. Here, I awake to souped up cars without mufflers and the couple in a nearby apartment screaming profanities at each other. I'm so tuned into their lives now that I find myself laying in bed thinking, 'Angie's right, it's her apartment, he should clean up after himself better.' I'm rooting for their breakup but love conquers all, especially my sleep.
Jokes about college kids eating terribly- yeah I relate to that. After a full day of school and training, the last thing I want to do is spend any time cooking. Thus my cereal addiction.
The difference between me carefully calculating every meal as a nordic combined skier and my current diet of Annie's Mac n Cheese, Cinnamon Life, pizza, croissants, peanut butter by the spoonful, then enough spinach to balance everything out- two pounds. This is startling.
I love skiing and I simply wasn't ready to give it up. However, I needed to make a change. It's hard work being a student athlete but I am finding it incredibly rewarding. I'm very proud to be a part of this team. Everyone here is balancing tough classes, crazy schedules, thriving social lives, and up to twenty hours of training a week. This is all new to me because before, I was just an athlete. Learning just how much we can all comfortably manage is pretty inspiring. I'm looking forward to seeing this team perform come winter time as I think it will be pretty special.
Here are some photos I've captured. I've always been a believer that where I am doesn't matter so much. Who I'm with, that is where the real importance lies. If I had one wish, it would surely be to slow down time- just a notch. So that I can enjoy a few more moments with all the weird and wonderful human beings pictured below. Cheers - BB
It was nice to escape the desert during fall break and go to the desert. Seriously though, a change of scenery was nice. Moab holds all the things which I miss while in the city of Albuquerque: Silent nights, bright starry skies, and miles of robust trail.
I basically grew up in Moab. My family bought a house down there when I was in the 5th grade. It was the perfect retreat during the cold springs and falls in the mountains. Sometimes my sister and I would get to bring friends on our weekend trips. Mostly though, this was family time.
I have the fondest memories of Klondike Bluffs, the trails where I learned how to ride the technical slickrock Moab is famous for. I remember pushing the limits of my old Giant hardtail to the point where I would lose my derailer more often than not. I remember the struggle our family encountered when trying to get my younger sister out the door and onto a bike. The temper tantrums would end once she realized riding bikes was the only option. Post ride she would always say, “that was pretty fun.” We would bring this statement up during the next temper tantrum but to no avail. My sister Sabina doesn’t mountain bike anymore but she owes her title of “the outdoorsy girl” in the CU Pi Phi chapter (which is a relative statement) to these forced family excursions- or what we used to call “forced family fun.”
I love Moab and I love sharing it with new people. That is what made me so excited about fall break with the University of New Mexico Ski Team, getting to share my second home with my teammates, mostly from Norway of course, like any good ski team. So, what happens when you take three Norwegians to Moab for the first time? They shred so hard, that’s what happens.
Meet Julie Spets and Kornelius Grov both from Trondheim, Norway. Prior to the trip, both had never mountain biked before.
Johan Eirik Meland (our third Norwegian) has some experience on a bike. He boasts this with glossy red Converse high tops, I <3 bikes socks, and copious amount of padding. Little does he know, this actually makes it look like he doesn’t bike. Johan purchased a mountain bike just weeks before our Moab trip. In Moab, he completed his 3rd and 4th rides ever. Here is the progression of Johan’s mountain bike career:
Ride 1: Rides with Alpine team in Albuquerque. Slowest rider on trail due to him snapchatting the entire ride.
Ride 2: Two-hour ride with Nordic team in Albuquerque. Goes guns blazing around a corner, sees trail disappear before him, squeezes his brakes like a fart in yoga class. Instead of going over the drop on his bike, Johan goes over the drop while simultaneously going over his handlebars, which most certainly added a few more feet to the drop.
Note: Between Ride 2 and 3, he buys an incredible amount of padding. He now looks like a three year old ready to try rollerblading for the first time.
Ride 3: Johan rides the entire Slickrock loop in Moab, hardly gets off bike.
Ride 4: To be discussed
For those who mountain bike or even road ride- imagine your first couple rides ever. It was probably a mellow trail ride or an hour town loop. We didn't give those kinds of opportunities to anyone. Julie, Kornelius, and Johan rode 45 km’s of technical Moab riding in 4.5 hours- without padded bike shorts, which I feel is important to note.
I’ve been mountain biking my entire life, much of it in Moab. I have spent hours upon those trails. What I’ve learned is even the best mountain bikers struggle with the technical riding.
Kornelius was dropping me on a rental bike with flat pedals and tennis shoes while I was cursing under my breath. When asked if she wanted to turn around and make the ride shorter, Julie smiled and said, “No thank you.” Johan was tight on my wheel and did show weakness saying, "maybe we should slow down a little." I didn't. He didn't either.
Around that same point, our coach proposed an option of splitting into a slower and faster group. We all looked around confused. Who was in the slower group? My girlfriend Brenna later revealed to me, “I realized I might be in the slow group.” Brenna is a Utah State Champion in mountain biking. So, who belonged in the slow group? The idea was scrapped because the answer was nobody.
The bikes are now in storage, with winter soon approaching. We are skiers, though there are already whisperings. Whisperings of Slickrock, suntans, and the Quesadilla Mobilla. By the end of March, these whisperings will be more like howls.
Views upon where people roamed
Before fast cars and big dumb homes
Open land so hard to find
We pull the earth straight out of mines
Is it beautiful or is it sour?
This human will, to devour
Things we want but do not need
Funded by paper at full speed
Fuck exploring outer space
What I want, this gorgeous place
Land with creatures hardly seen
In big cities where buildings gleam
It still exists and I reside
Along the mountains stretching wide
I refuse to leave this charming land
Here I am small, a grain of sand
A grain in this massive universe
A grain avoiding the human curse