Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week One

This is sort of Insel's equivalent to 161 back home. 

        Bavaria isn't such a bad place to train after all! The USBA mens team patented term "Rainpholding" prove justified towards the end of the week, but even then it worked out just fine. Training is going well enough. Some things are on good pace, others not so much, if nothing else the fresh pine smell of our cabins never fails to lightnen the mood.
        The rest week prior was adequate enough to give me a that fresh feeling in the legs again. That feeling is hard to come by this time of year. With a three week camp ahead of me the goal was to hold onto to it as long as a I could.  The training cycles for this summer have been all over the place. Ranging anywhere from one high volume week on followed by a rest week to six weeks of medium weeks. This camp brings us back to the three weeks on, one week off model. This isn't going to be any easier, but at least it's a tried and true system that I'm used to.
        The roller loop is stellar to say the least. Europe does not mess around with their roller loops. I have to mention that Antholz is an exception to that rule of thumb. Ruhpholding however, has some close to perfect pavement, nice variety of terrain, and a fairly laid back atmosphere to it. It's difficult to say if I like Ostersund's, Oberhof's, Obertilliach's, or Toblachs roller loops more or not, but it doesn't really matter because the're all ten fold better than the half backed loop in Lake Placid! So yes, the roller ski sessions have been about as good as roller ski sessions can be.
        On Wednesday we did a three and a half hour ride. The bike that I borrowed wasn't the best fit, but it got the job done. No deaths, no flat tires, and no mental break downs alone can make for a good ride sometimes. The traffic is tight and yet I never feel like I'm in any danger. Euros just know how to maneuver das Auto I guess.
        On Thursday afternoon I found myself half awake in Salzburg. At what what could be considered an Austrian OTC. They have an indoor shooting range and equipment to measure some otherwise unknown components to the shooting process. I've done this test before a couple of years ago. Long story short the results were indifferent this time. Scientifically speaking I'm a good shooter. We all had a strength session planned that afternoon and with different shooting times set up no one was really sure how the afternoon was going to pan out. I got on the wrong end of this and didn't bring enough food with me to make it through a short 90  minute work out. I haven't truly hit the wall since I was 15 and that was a four hour bike ride. To make a long story short again, I don't think that afternoon in Salzburg was really necessary.
       Saturday brought a time trial. The rain mostly held off. It helped keep the heat down, so it was a fair trade. After a week of training I wasn't feeling as fresh as I had on Monday, but I was pleased with what energy I did have left. I warmed up and zeroed as professionally as I could. The skiing was solid. Tim took the fastest time with myself 20 some odd seconds behind. Comparing times is somewhat irrelevant due to the difference from one rollerski to the next, but it's better than nothing. Shooting was not so inspiring. Range time was awful, and I didn't really hit much. This is why I don't care what the numbers from Thursday dictate. You can't argue with results and a 60% shooting combined with a primitive 2:55 four stage range time is not a good result. I'm not going to make excuses, but I do have a few ideas to combat days like these. I always do. The way I see it, I can shoot as badly as I want today, tomorrow and the day after. All I have to do is put it together when is matters. WC1 in Ostersund come December would be a good time to start hitting targets. Until then it doesn't "technically" matter.
        That about sums up the first week of training for this year's Euro camp. We are staying in a small valley about 20 minutes from Ruhpolding called Insel. It's about as Bavarian as you can get. We're stationed here for another week before heading over to Oberhof for some pseudo winter skiing. Today is a rest day. If I keep movement to a minimum I should be solid for another week through the gauntlet.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stock Investments

       This might not be about what you think it is. Finding the perfect biathlon rifle is similar to fighting an incurable disease. Modifying the barrel is one thing, but altering the stock is the real clutch. Most of the time we can only make changes to the barrel and action when we're in Europe where we can work with Fortner or Anschutz for a rare request. The wooden stock that the metal sits in is another story. With the right tools and adequate patients you can do a lot to the stock. It might make a big difference or it might only be subtle. Either way, it's seldom a quick fix. This year I've made a hand full of tweaks on my stock. I'm very close to be being done for the year. Chances are, next year I'll have a list of new improvements to deal with.
       I own an Antila stock. It Finish and don't ask me what kind of wood it's made from. If I were a betting man I would say maple, cherry, or maybe walnut. It was nice from the start, but “nice” isn't perfect and since perfection is what we're going for here, changes were inedible. A friend of Armin's in Antholze helped with the first round of changes. I still use the butt plate he carved for me. He was a very talented wood worker who recently started making his own line of biathlon stocks (bachmann-biathlonstocks).
        Last year we made some significant additions to the standing grip. This is was where I got to know wood filler and how to use a dremel tool. The first touch is always the hardest. Once you've hacked away at it a little or added any amount of material it's pretty easy to get carried away. The goal was to mold the wood filler to fit the grip of my left hand while in the standing position. This could help with stability and ultimately raise the probability of hitting the target. The problem with wood filler is that you can only add a thin layer at a time. That thin layer is never smooth and always needs to my sanded down once it hardens. This meant going back in forth to the rifle room at the OTC frequently. When I thought it was close to being done and feeling good I gave it a trial run during combos. It only took one sessions for my back to start bleeding from the extension that I'd worked on so diligently to set me back to the drawing board. The extra grove where my fingers slipped into were digging into my back when ever I skied with the rifle on. To fix this we had to add enough wood filler on the outside edges of the groves to increase the surface area to a less painful level. That seemed to help. I added in some dimpling for grip and varnish for durability. It wasn't the prettiest looking stock on the circuit but I was proud of it.
        When May of this year rolled around Armin and I sat down for one short session. About two hours later we had laid out the ground work for what I knew would take me all summer to finalize. It didn't seem like too many changes, but I know enough now that small projects always take longer than they should. The changes weren’t limited to the material side of things. There were a lot of refinements in the set up for both prone and standing in an effort to bring range time down. Some of the ideas we had will have to wait until next week when we're in Germany. The rest was up to me to do.
        Yesterday I lathered on the final layer of stain. The additions now look somewhat like they originally belonged on the stock. Most of what I did was move the standing grip from last year ahead an inch or two. This made my left hand during standing less crooked. It wasn't as simple as just moving it ahead, however. I have to hack away all of last years work and then rebuild it again. I also had to flesh out the pistol grip for prone to accommodate smoother bolting. I also came up with the idea of added something to my arm sling to make it more accessible and less awkward when hooking into my cuff for prone. I couldn’t start any of this until I got back from the training camp in Bend. And even then I had to borrow Lowell's dremel tool and buy more wood filler. Do you see how obnoxious a simple task can be?
I'm in the midst of looking into getting a better camera. 

        Most of that is done. I will see Armin next week and look forward to his opinion on it. We will test my new sprint barrel against the old fat one in a cold chamber to see if it's worth using this winter. Assuming it is, we will make a few minor changes to the clip chamber to allow smoother loading. The other guys on the team have always made new changes to there stock year after year, if not that than just bought a whole new one. I'd like to think that I've found the perfect fit, but at this point I'm pretty sure that's a pipe dream. Training camp in Europe marks the first 3:1 week cycle of the training season. It's about two weeks of rain in Ruhpolding, and one week of ski tunnel snow in Oberhof. If they have internet, and they just may not, I'll keep you posted.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Report Card

Mt. Marcy was a little foggy on Tuesday. 
          I tossed around a few ideas of what to wright about today. I decided to go with the most unoriginal update a US biathlete I could do. Life has been just fine lately. Perhaps a little boring, but I would say it's been on the better side of boring. Thus far my car is still in tact. So if nothing else, I have that going for me. Without further adieu, here is a brief summary of the doldrums of summer.
           The camp in Jericho was solid. I had been struggling with prone some prior. We added an extra breath in between each shot and that made a positive difference with out adding too much range time. Unfortunately, the prone range time wasn't very fast even with out the two breath cadence. So, you can see I still have a ways to go on that goal. Spending any more than 32 to 35 seconds on the shooting mat is too much these days. This was a real clutch last season and I made it clear that I wanted to raise the bar a little. Thus far I'm behind schedule. Fortunately, there are few things I can do to catch up. Mostly in the coordination of set up and few minor details on the rifle. Nevertheless, the camp in Jericho was fine.
"hey we can burn this right?"
           Last week, as you can see, soaked up a lot of my time. I'm delighted to say I handled it very well. Volume training has always been a strong point and last week didn't prove otherwise by any means. Energy levels were perfect through the three hour rollerski on Wednesday. The legs were pretty heavy by Thursday, but the heart rate response was still in check. Friday was the killer one. I did 90 minutes of double pole rollerskiing and then proceeded to change into my biking kit and hit up what I thought might be a four hour loop... It was less, and I had to doodle around on random roads near the OTC to finish out the day. It was hot and humid and I was feeling the week's volume. I was glad, that I felt as good as I had up to that point in the week, but afterwords I honestly had no idea how I was going to make it through another four and a half hours on Saturday.
         Well, long story short, I did. It was hot, but all we had to do was ski around on a short roller loop / parking lot (almost got hit by a car btw) and shoot standing. Between the heat and general end of the week fatigue the team as a whole had trouble keeping the focus up for quality shooting. I mustered up some decent shooting on the day for an 83% average. The skiing felt decent and I killed off two and half hours. With only two hours left in the week I was running out of ideas for training modes. Forget rollerskiing. The pole tips were too dull anyways. The legs didn't want to run and I don't have a kayak on hand. The biking kit went back on and I was out on the road bike yet again. I lived to blog about it. In fact I didn't feel half bad. It was hot out, can't say training in an oven is optimal, but it can be done.
          The LP Ironman was entertaining. The bike loop goes by Tim's lawn so we had a good vantage point. Should also mention that the team of Tim and Russell were undefeated in the corn hole world championships of LP.... In case you were wondering. It's been nice to have the Olympics on the screen instead of ESPN's battery of America only sports. We put together a solid bon fire last night at Lowell's place. At one point we were running low on burning substance. So in a commanding fashion we threw a chair on. In retro spec, despite all the training the fun factor has been holding it's own.
The sanctuary.
            We got our blood test results back. WBC is strangely low as usual. I'm not sick, so it all works out.  RBC is only 13.2! Hematocrit level was low too. Similar to my WBC, they are also just naturally low. All iron levels were in good shape. The only number that concerned me was the vitamin D value. It wasn't detrimentally low, but worth looking into. How I'm not getting enough sunlight is beyond me.
             Next week isn't a rest week by any means, but it's tamed down from last week. There are roller ski races are in Jericho next weekend. Time trials are always the best test of progress. After that I'm homeward bound. Wish I could say I'll be home for longer, but the Euro camp starts on the 14th. Not too many reasons to complain right now. Come to think of it, I'll be driving home in a week's time from now.