Deutscher Bob

Thursday, March 31, 2005


<-- sandino has quit (Client closed connection)

--- You are now known as deutscherbob-out

Monday, March 28, 2005

der Autobahn, die Alpen (again)

I rented a car for Sunday. They were fresh out of Porsches.

Driving on the Autobahn was fun. I could get used to that. If you really don't need a car though, it would be cheaper and easier to take the train any real distance.

I drove to the Garmisch area. I brought my skis, hoping to do some backcountry stuff. A variety of forces conspired to prevent that from happening though. I was disorganized and left a little later than I planned. The time changed so I lost an hour there in addition. It was Easter so none of the outdoor store type places I had hoped to stop in and ask at were open. All the snow had melted.

There was really a Spring feeling going on in the area. Road biking, mountain biking and white water kayaking were going on all over.

I eventually found a little hike to do.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Österreichische Alpen II

I couldn't leave well enough alone, and so I went back to Innsbruck on Friday. I skipped the hotel reservation, otherwise the formula was the same.

I felt I should try to branch out and see if Stubai Glacier was an anomaly of ridiculous greatness in the Innsbruck area or not. Looking at the area ski map, it did look the best, but I decided to check out an area called Kuhtai which also looked pretty respectable. The bus ride was longer, and when I got there, conditions were a little different than at Stubai the previous weekend.

I really can't make an objective judgment on the place. There were no views. It was raining, sleeting, or hailing, depending on one's elevation, all day. It was the stickiest snow I've ever skied on, and it alternated between feeling like you were skiing on a wet shag carpet and half-dried rubber cement. Only the steepest trails were suffcient to overcome the anomalously-high coefficient of friction of this stuff. Could this be related to their mysterious upside-down cow logo?

The bus ride home was nearly infinitely long and in an incident whose details aren't fit for Deutscher Bob publication, I likely left my practically-new ice climbing gloves on the bus; At any rate, I don't have them anymore. I got lucky in that the next day I was able to survive without them with almost no discomfort.

In an affront to my recently developed perception that crowds and lines aren't an issue in the Alps, I had to wait in mob when I arrived back at Stubai Glacier on Sunday.

The day improved drastically from there, though. The lines worked themselves out, the clouds became sparse, and contrary to my expectations, the snow conditions were excellent once again.

My skiing continued to improve, with some runs being better than others.

I was pretty comfortable skiing any trail on the mountain when I came across the start to Route 13.

High alpin Piste? Skilled skier? Alpine experience? All punctuated with an exclamation point? It's simply not in my nature to resist an invitation like that.

The route diverged well skier's right to any of the normal trails, and it really did have an alpine feel to it. It was a little taste of ski mountaineering without any of that pesky uphill part. It took some work, and a touch of survival skiing to get down, but I managed it with no unsavory incidents.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Österreichische Alpen

I took a train to Innsbruck, Austria on Friday evening. Orbitz botched my hotel reservation. Luckily I found another hotel for much cheaper nearby. From town, you can see large mountains in every direction. There are something like 7 ski areas immediately surrounding Innsbruck. On Saturday morning, I found out just in time that there was a free Skibus leaving from near my hotel at 8:45. The driver I talked to suggested Stubai Glacier, and told me to trust him that it was good. I did and it was.

This was going to be the first time I'd done any non-cross-country skiing since I tore my ACL. A year and two months since surgery, I was totally cleared for this type of activity. I was a bit tentative about it though.

I brought my telemark skis. I spent the morning doing some cautious, seriously-speed-shedding tele-turns. The great thing about this place is there are long, open, easy trails from every gondola, lift, and rope tow on the mountain. There's only a handful of groomed intermediate trails, and I don't recall seeing any expert trails at all. However, the whole ski area is above treeline, and there's nothing to stop you from skiing wherever you want (off cliffs, etc.)

After lunch, I gained a bit more confidence, and remembered both how to do an aggresive tele-turn and what the accompanying thigh burn feels like. I did a couple intermediate trails, and took the gondola back down to the Skibus for the 4:30 departure time.

It was too much fun to not do it again the next day, so I did. It was an even more beautiful day- not a cloud in the sky- and even better snow conditions. It seemed like they got a couple inches over night.

By the second afternoon, I had really remembered how to ski, and started using the chair lift rides up to scout cool routes off the groomed trails. It was really easy to find nice powder this way. There were plenty of routes like this that people were skiing that I wouldn't go near though. My favorite spot was a powdery slope off-piste on the back side of the mountain just below the coolest little chairlift. I did it several times.

Day two ended as perfectly as is possible. There is one ungroomed ski route below the top of lowest gondola which leads all the way back to the parking lot. It was pretty tricky to get down several sections of it. There were even some- gasp!- icy sections. I had to call on all my New England experience for that. At first, I wasn't sure if I was making a horrible mistake by taking the route (I wasn't 100% sure where it lead), but it turned out I was able to ski to within a couple of feet from my bus, where the driver was selling beer for 1 euro each. The bus even had bottle holders.

The train ride home was a bit long, but quite comfortable.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


One of my first experiences in Germany was that of watching a German Sheperd relieve himself directly under a No Dogs Allowed sign (the apparent owner watching from a nearby doorwell) and then proceed to kick his handywork no less than 10 feet behind him with uncanny accuracy into my person. Turned out this owner was the exception to the rule, as ever since then I've been amazed and bothered by the German people's propensity for rule following (read: waiting for 5 minutes at a cross walk at 2 am with a No Walk sign and no cars anywhere in sight). As a general rule though, German dogs always seem to remind me of German people.

And, of course, Estonian cats are exactly like Estonians.

Karlos Santana: a perfect Czech.

I wasn't there, but the cat Shelley photographed in Provence sure looks French to me.

"Research at the University of California, San Diego indicates that when people pick a dog, they look for one that, at some level, bears some resemblance to them. And when they get a purebred dog, they get what they want. When given a choice of two dogs, judges correctly matched 25 purebreds with their owners nearly two out of three times."

Did that study need any more evidence than the pair I saw at an RER station in Paris?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Course au Soleil

I needed to get from Marseille to Nuernberg i.e. from crisp blue skies, warm sun, delicious food, wine, coastal mountains, and Mediterranean ocean to cold, flat, cloudy, smoky, schnitzel-land. (Okay, France is pretty smoky too.)

The saving grace was that I would be passing through Paris again, and the prologue of the first race of the cycling ProTour would be going on in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, the "village at the gates of Paris". Apparently its a very sporting town. There is a huge sports complex there, and my impression is lots of sporting events are centered here.

Lance Armstrong had announced a few weeks earlier that he would indeed be doing the Tour de France again, and that Paris-Nice would be part of his schedule. It's supposed to be a classic race, but interest in it had recently waned, as many of the biggest name cyclists had been skipping it. The announcement that Lance, and several other big name riders, would be participating was good news for the race.

By late Sunday morning I had wandered into Issy, having no idea what time or where the event might be. Before long I found some workers setting up the finish line, and heard a rumor that the race started at 1:00. It turned out the race started at 2:00, and I was quite cold after staking out a position near the start for 2 hours. I then proceeded to stay there for entirely too long. It was a time-trial event, which means each rider goes individually and is racing only against the clock. Not being able to understand the loud-speaker commentary in French very well, but just occasionally hearing the words Lance and/or Armstrong, really made me paranoid that if I left my spot I would miss him. I spent a couple more hours perfecting my timing with the camera.

When Lance still did not show up on the starting line, it occured to me he might go last or close to it. Not knowing how many riders there were or what time the event would end, I decided to wander around. It was a lot more fun, and I was able to shake off the hypothermia in no time.

Last year's Tour was the last event with Lance and U.S. Postal. I was able to find his new team's bus.

My timing was perfect.

I was able to capture this Deutscher Bob Exclusive Footage of Lance warming up. He was amazingly friendly to the mob that had gathered around him. People kept yelling "Lance" "Lance!" "Hey Lance.." in an effort to get him to look up for their pictures. When one guy yelled, "Come... on... Lance.." with an attitude meant to convey that Lance needed to be warming up better somehow, or faster, or something, Lance finally looked up, laughed and said something like "I'm going.. I'm going.. what do you want me to do here?"

Lance finished 140th in the stage.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Le Mistral

On Friday, Shelley took the bus to Aix-en-Provence. She went hiking.

On Saturday, we dropped Shelley off at the airport. Then, I explored the waterfront of Marseille. There is a cool water sports scene going on there.

I was jealous of people wavesailing in perfect side-off conditions in strong Mistral winds.

They were even renting boards and wetsuits. I didn't have the time or confidence to go though. It was really windy, with great potential for being bashed into the rocky shoreline downwind of the sailing school.