Canada!

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View coming in to land in Iceland

The trip from Finland to Ottawa, Canada was unfortunately far from smooth but I suppose looking back at our travel histories, what can you really expect? Upon arrival in Ottawa (which was the equivalent of 5am Finnish time) I was dealt with a lost ski bag courtesy of the airlines along with no transport to my accommodation… The lack of car came about because the car hire company didn’t even have a desk at the airport. They never actually tell you that and they are suppose to be there for when your flight arrives to drive you to their depot directly. When no-one is there to do so, their cunning, shady operation quickly falls apart, particularly when their ’24hr phone number’ goes straight to message bank every time! After a $60 taxi ride, I was not a happy customer. With a free upgrade to this beast, along with free insurance for the duration of the rent, I suppose it makes up for the inconvenience somewhat.

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After badgering Air Canada for 3 days straight, I finally received my ski bag. So training for those first few days with a mixed array of equipment was certainly not ideal, but with great skiing conditions here in Canada it was hard to be too upset.

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I really knew I couldn’t be too upset with my situation when 3 days after I arrived, Phil had only just made it in…. He got caught in the unstable weather and managed to get an unlucky sequence of cancelled, delayed and almost crash landing flights for those 3 days straight! After all safely arriving, training and preparation for the Tour went really well and it was a great time staying with our generous hosts, the Allain family.

OW Glove Support!

Gloves are always a product that skiers generally go through in rapid fashion! I however seem to have the knack of going through even more standard and as a result I have often decided to rollerski and ski in warm conditions without gloves. This means an initially painful process of toughening up the hands, however quickly becomes worth it especially when you don’t wear holes through every last pair of gloves that you own!

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With thanks to our National Team clothing sponsor OneWay, this is now less of a problem with recent glove support. Thanks OW

Travel Day Done Right!

Travel days, as you may have figured from a previous post, are frequently troublesome for us boys. Maybe our trip to Estonia was enough bad luck to last us a while because the trip went almost unbelievably smoothly! I was quite certain that we hadn’t paid for bags in our air tickets but luck was so good that they all went through for free! Since when does that happen?

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The only unlucky part of the trip so far is that our coach Mattias got a severe case of the deadly ‘man flu’ and is stuck at home recovering and feeling sorry for himself. In all seriousness though, it was smart for him to stay home and recover as risking getting us sick at this point would not be worth it. Get well soon Boss!

As a replacement, local skier and Redbull Nordix / Jerry of the day Superstar Johan Eriksson has joined us as coach and wax tech assistant for the Lahti World Cup. Him joining up with our legendary wax tech Randy Gibbs makes an unbeatable team. Unlike last weekend, I’m sure getting fast skis will be entirely hassle free.

 

 

South Nordic Shipment!

Don’t you just love it when you get more than you expect? Well picking up a shipment from South Nordic today gave me exactly that! 6kg and just over 1600EUR worth of the best quality casual and sports clothing ever produced!

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Yeah ‘talk it up’ is what you are probably thinking right about now, but go and test some of this gear and then trying telling me you disagree!This company takes no short cuts. They are all class, and have the approach of only using the best performing and highest quality materials in their products. There is more technology that has gone into making this race suit than there is in the car I drive! Just take a look at this info sheet:

Race suit

Performance, practicality, comfort and style are all boxes that are ticked! The underlayers and warm up kit is no different either with the same technology going into those products. In terms of the way it feels to ski in, the only way I can explain it is that it feels like nothing! Ski clothes that are a boxy fit, don’t breath, don’t keep you warm, rough in the wrong places, and are without any true shape feel like something and it’s not pleasant. Skiing in SN gear just feels like it keeps you warm without making you sweat, supports in all the right places and fits as though it was specifically designed for me!

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The casual gear shows some of the only Nordic focused clothing that doesn’t shout ‘unfashionable’. It’s Nordic and damn proud of it, but keeps a calm, subtle and tidy look which is just perfect for someone’s who’s life is Cross Country Skiing, but likes to stay with the current trends of every day fashion.

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I absolutely love the gear and if you would like to know more about any of the items of clothing for sale on the website, just let me know and I’ll give you a full run down of what it’s actually like! Checkout the website and online store at www.southnordic.com

 

Travel Day Nightmare

If you ever want to know just how well you can mess up a travel day, you’ve come to the right place. Jackson, Phil and I have all had pretty good experience when it comes to traveling, however don’t let this fool you into thinking that we have it dialed. Sweden and Estonia are right next to one another, but even still we found a way to mess it up!

So there is usually a part of any trip that is considered smooth sailing. This just didn’t exist! First up was the air ticket blunder. A few days ago I suggested that it would be a good idea to have the one person book the tickets so that we could all be on the same flight. So when it came to booking the flights, both Phil and Jacko were looking for the best deals and found a good one. I wasn’t there so Jacko booked a ticket for me. Next day, Phil says in a sigh of relief something along the lines of ‘well I’m glad I’m finally getting my life sorted, it’s good that you got those tickets booked yesterday Jacko’. Jacko, then responds with, ‘ah didn’t you book your own ticket in the end though?’ After a quick rush back to the website, and undoubtedly a bit of cursing as they discovered the flight was full, and Phil found himself having to fly via Moscow. He had to leave 3 hrs earlier and should have arrived 20mins later than us – pretty indirect to say the least.

When we left yesterday morning on the train to Stockholm, Phil sends a message saying that he only just made his flight because the tracks were knackered after Uppsalla. This cost him $80 for a 20min taxi ride but gladly just got him there. We therefore were on the same line but had fortunately left just a little more time than he had done. So we risked it, waited for the next train on a different line and only just made it in time as well.

Then it came to the flying part. Now I’ve done a lot of flying during my ski career and have only ever been scared on a plane a couple of times in my life. This was something else though! As we were landing, the plane was now only dropping suddenly and wing tipping, but also getting blown sideways. This is all fine when we were higher off the ground but when it only got worse and we were just 10min above the runway, that burger I had eaten just before we took off was about ready to be tasted a second time over. With an almighty thud, bounce, thud, we managed to land, mostly sideways, but thankfully we made. How the wheels didn’t get torn off is beyond me!

After going to the connecting gate in Riga and back onto the next flight, I recognized the flight attendant as we were boarding. As I was the asking Jacko if he thought it was the same plane, the flight attendant unenthusiastically says in a thick, Russian accent ‘It’s the same plane’. She was obviously about as pleased with going out there again in the same plane as we were! Turns out after the Pilot has started to fire up the engines, there was a ‘technical problem’ and we would have to be put on a different plane. Essentially, something had broken in that crazy landing!

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1hr later, we were on the next flight and arrived safely in Tallinn only to discover Phil (who had kindly waited for us) only had a plastic bag! We had all packed lightly to avoid having a checked in bag and his skis had already been taken to Estonia. After discovering he had a free check in bag anyway, he came up with the awesome idea of checking in his carry on – I completely understand it, it’s dead miles to be carrying around that extra weight through the airport. So the plan fell apart when this bag got lost…. He had nothing except the clothes he was wearing! Not ideal when you are going to a ski race. The latest update is that his bag has gone to Beijing, China!

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After all this, we had missed the final bus to Tartu and would have to spend the night in Tallinn. So in a positive light to finish, at least we got to see the old city of Tallinn. Quite a nice sight really

Ice Hockey! (with a ball..)

Today was a day to try and get my life ironed out and get things sorted. Sometimes this process is a little like trying to iron a cheap chinese shirt. No matter how many times you go over it, very little progress is made! With time and perseverance, some cheap chinese shirts can actually look quite good and seem like the real deal! So that’s what I’m going for with my life planning – eventually I’ll have it sorted.

The day was made brilliant however by a game of Ice Hockey with the crew! Yes, technically we used a ball, so it should be called ‘Bandy’ or something, but that doesn’t sounds anywhere near as cool and besides, I’m not Swedish so I’ll call it what I want!

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Philpot is actually pretty good on the skates so we disadvantaged him by giving him the strap in skates that didn’t really quite fit his salomon running shoes. ‘Blow outs’ (where his shoes would fall out of the skates under pressure) were therefore a frequent occurrence….

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Postis Back Up On Stands

So as I mentioned in my original post about Postis (my disgustingly yellow Volvo v40), I indicated that when you buy a car for so such a small amount of money, there may/undoubtedly will be some issues that will arise. So last week, I found myself back in Bilfix (thanks to Jonaton Steen) with the car up on stands….

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Fortunately, the Idle Air Control valve is working fine now after I took it apart and cleaned it, however the day before we were going to travel to Stockholm, the old dog decided to lose all power again whilst Teresa was driving it to work. I was pretty sure it would have been the same problem as last time with the intercooler for the turbo freezing again and blocking the air flow to the engine.

Surely enough, when I swapped cars with Teresa so that she could get to work, I looked under the bonnet and that same top intercooler hose was collapsing under suction, starving the engine of air. This time it was even worse than before and could only manage about 30km/hr as I limped it home. Last time this had happened, I just left it in the warm garage over night, and when I started it again it was fine again and I was just revving the engine hard to suck any moisture through and out of the system. This was just the easy fix solution, and not so good for the engine, but without any tools, it was all I could do. Obviously there must have been a lot of moisture still in the system for it to block up again!

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So here I was, out in -22 with a hair dryer blowing hot air down through the outlet of the intercooler in our car park. At first it seemed useless and even I was having my doubts and was thinking that maybe the turbo was in fact throwing in the towel and I had mis-diagnosed. It was a sure possibility, but if the turbo was in fact causing the lack of airflow, the bottom tube going into the inlet of the intercooler would be sucking down also which it wasn’t. So I kept on, as I had no other choice! I couldn’t drive it to Bilfix as now the issue had become worse meaning the engine would stall if it revved harder than an idle. So after 45mins had passed and the Tessa’s hairdryer had overheated 4 times, I finally decided to try one last time. And amazingly it worked and some form of  power was regained!

So I quickly took drove it in to Bilfix where Jonaton has a sweet 22 degree C mechanics workshop with a bunch of tools. Getting the undertray of the car off was the first nightmare. Something that should be so simple took almost 50mins! Every bolt had ceased with rust and it was frustratingly tedious work trying to pry the buggers off! Meanwhile I was getting dripped on by all the melting snow and frozen road grime melting off the car!

After finally gaining access and removing the lower intercooler pipe, I had never been so relieved to see so much oily water!

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Not to mention seeing this big junk of ice!

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This meant that my diagnosis was in fact correct! So after removing the ice and blowing hot air through the intercooler, I successfully fixed the problem entirely. All it cost was a few hours of my time and a bloody good shower afterwards. So the lessen to learn is that these older Volvo’s need to have cardboard or leather placed over part of their radiator/intercooler to avoid the moisture from the air condensing and then freezing at such low temperatures. An old pizza box is therefore my latest modification to Postis 😉

 

A Short Trip to Stockholm

I have spent a lot of time in Sweden over the last 2 years, however have unfortunately kept all touristy things to a minimum until now. We decided to travel down and meet Teresa’s Aunt and cousins on Saturday morning after I had completed a pretty cold and slow 2.5hr ski that I wrote about in the ski blog. It was only for a day and a half, however it was exactly the kind of break we needed!

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Their apartment was amazingly comfortable and welcoming and it was so fun to meet some more of Teresa’a relatives. I come from a family with very few relatives, and Teresa is quite the opposite. But I can certainly say it is so enjoyable getting to experience that sort of family life a little more.

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We went for a boat ride from where they lived, closer to the city centre and then walked along the waterfront going into a couple of museums, shops and whilst learning a little more about the history of the place. That’s the other big difference between European countries and Australia. We have such minimal history as a result of being such a young country, whereas these cities have so much history being them. It all can be seen in the buildings alone. I didn’t take too many photos, mainly because I was quite happy just keeping my hand in my gloves on the day. But travelling on the boat, breaking through the ice was something I had never done but really enjoyed! I think Stockholm definitely needs a visit in summer though where it sounds like the place really offers some amazing things to do and see!

Teresa hopefully feeling as though it's worth dealing with the cold wind on the top deck

Teresa hopefully feeling as though it’s worth dealing with the cold wind on the top deck

 

The Right to Win

Senna has known to be one of the all time greats of F1. The level of skill particularly on a wet track is something that is still unmatched today. He fought the hardest on track, but he also pushed harder than anyone to increase awareness for the need of increased safety measures in a sport which needed it the most. He was a hero to all of his Fans, and a legend in my eyes. Here’s why: