The Virtual Race
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Leg 2
A Norse Is a Norse, Of Course, Of Course

Tour de Norse
Kimberly: After checking with Phil, Patrick & I turned in our clue envelopes and headed for the hotel. We were satisfied with our 7th place finish, but after seeing the teams in action, Patrick & I were confident we could improve our standing - as long as he didn't take off without me again. We killed a little time in the hotel bar with a few of the other teams. I spent most of my time trying to assess each team's strengths and weaknesses. Patrick, on the other hand, spent most of his time trying to get the highest score on one of the bar's video games.

I managed to drag Patrick away once he trounced the game, and since we were too poor to enjoy a dip in the Blue Lagoon, we went back to our room and talked tactics. Just before we fell asleep, Patrick asked, "What country do you think we'll be going to next? I bet we're going to Scandinavia."

"Patrick, Scandinavia isn't a country."

"Well, we'll be going to one of the Scandinavian countries. Like where they give out that award they gave to Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind."

"The Nobel? They give out the prizes in Norway and Sweden."

"Norway, I think. They've got Vikings. All Sweden's got is a chef and meatballs."

In the morning, we were raring to go. When we ripped open the clue that told us to fly to Oslo, Patrick let out a triumphant "Woo hoo!" Besides winning our bet, he'd also guessed we'd be leaving Iceland at the start of the leg, because, as he put it, "I don't think there's anything else to see on this damn island."

We found our Amazing Truck in the parking lot and Patrick took off at his usual tear down the highway. Thanks to the map we got yesterday, we had no problem finding the airport, but try as he might, Patrick couldn't finagle an earlier flight to Oslo. "Great," he groaned. "We're stuck on another flight with that ass Jonathan." I'd never seen Patrick develop a full hate-on for anyone so quickly before. We made sure our seats were well away from Jonathan & Victoria's, and closer to the exit.

I Say Jump, You Say How High
We figured we wouldn't get much rest on the flight because of Jonathan's antics, but surprisingly, he slept almost the whole time. When we joked with Kris & Jon that maybe someone had drugged him, we got a wide smile from our stewardess. "It is more peaceful now than when he boarded, would you agree?" she asked with a grin. I glanced nervously at our sound guy, who I figured had caught the whole conversation. He exchanged a look with our cameraman, then grinned at us as he rewound his tape. "Damn, I didn't get any of that conversation," he said. Heh. I'd forgotten he'd suffered through Jonathan & Victoria on the previous leg.

When we got to the airport, Patrick took off like a shot for the parking area while I was still struggling to get my pack on. I kept him in my sights and managed to keep within a reasonable distance of him until I caught up with him outside, when he finally pulled up short to search for the Amazing SUVs. I saw Freddy & Kendra get into a car on an upper deck, and as soon as I pointed, he took off again, calling, "Come on, honey! We've got to hurry!"

"Really?" I shot back. "And I thought this thing was called The Amazing Amble."

We found the Amazing SUVs and headed down the highway, looking for the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. We were lost for a while, but we finally found the turnoff and pulled in just as Lori & Bolo and Adam & Rebecca did. We raced to the cluebox and read off our Roadblock clues. "It's all you, Kimber," Patrick said. Because of the six-Roadblock-per-racer limit imposed this time around, we'd agreed before the race that if an early Roadblock involved strength, endurance, driving, or flying, Patrick would take it. Otherwise, the Roadblock would be mine.

But ... I looked up at the ski jump. And I kept seeing that Wide World of Sports footage of the crashing ski jumper over and over in my head.
But ... I looked up at the ski jump. And I kept seeing that Wide World of Sports footage of the crashing ski jumper over and over in my head. "This could be considered flying, couldn't it?" I protested. "I mean, the decision we made about who'd do what Roadblock - that was kind of a loose agreement, really ..."

Patrick put his arm around me and walked me to the stairs. "Come on, hon, I believe in you. It'll be over before you know it! I'll be right down here cheering you on."

Easy for him to say! I trudged up the stairs. When I finally reached the top, I tried not to think about how high up I was, but I could hear Adam freaking out below me. Then Adam started down the zip line, looking like a spasmodic chimpanzee trying to ride an invisible tricycle. I cracked up and, amazingly, I felt myself calming down. After that, I found the zip line more exciting and fun than terrifying and scary. So when the race is over, I guess I'll have to thank Adam (of all people) for helping me through that Roadblock!

We got to the Viking village in 7th place, right after Adam & Rebecca. We were a little disappointed we hadn't moved up, but after Lena & Kristy told us that we missed Jonathan's rant, we didn't feel nearly as bad. We actually spent most of the rest of the evening talking with the two sisters, which I'm sure was real torture for Patrick, since they're just so, y'know, fat and ugly.

Afterwards, Patrick and I shared a laugh about the young tour guide Lena & Kristy'd had since the airport. "What I can't believe is that his father actually volunteered him," Patrick chuckled. "My father never did anything like that for me."

"Maybe it's because you're not Norwegian. It must've been a traditional coming-of-age ritual. Or maybe it was a test of his manhood," I giggled.

That really cracked him up. "Yeah, well, I'm sure Lena & Kristy weren't interested in seeing his manhood. Poor kid! I'm sure he was hoping for a whole lot more than 'Bye, and thanks a lot for your help!' I know I would!"

Rocking the Boat
The next morning the teams had to split into two groups to row Viking boats across a lake. We tried to sidle up with Lena & Christy again, but some of the teams had grouped themselves together already, so we ended up on the second boat ... with Jonathan. Yeah, it sounded bad to us, too. But it turned out to be even worse. We ended up not just with Jonathan, but directly in front of Jonathan. Patrick tried to convince the boatmaster to change our seats, but he wouldn't do it, because we were supposed to be arranged in the boat by weight.

We gritted our teeth, climbed in, and once the horn sounded, we started rowing. But no one was rowing with anyone else. Patrick tried to take the lead by counting off, which helped for a while. But when Jonathan screamed at one of the girls from Queens, Patrick lost his temper and started shouting at Jonathan to quit bossing the girls around and shut up. Jonathan yelled right back at Patrick, and after that, they both forgot about rowing, and then we really made progress! Except ... not so much.

I tried to calm Patrick down, but it just wasn't working. Thankfully, the trip across the lake was short. As soon as we reached the other side, I hustled us off the boat almost before it had stopped moving. We grabbed the clue and a vehicle and once we figured out where the Hønefoss train station was, we quickly left Jonathan behind. But Patrick was still fuming. "Did you see what an ASS he was?" he snorted. "He's a loudmouth bastard, and he treats everyone like shit."

"I know, hon, but you're letting him get under your skin," I said as evenly as I could. "We need to stay focused here. So let's concentrate on getting to the train station." Patrick responded by grumbling like he always does when he doesn't want to admit I'm right. By the time we got to the train station, he'd calmed himself down, and thank goodness for that. I didn't want us to be the first team sent home because one of us assaulted another racer!

Stop, Drop, and Roll
The train ride to Voss was long but pleasant enough. I took the opportunity to catch a few winks. Patrick talked to Gus & Hera and Hayden & Aaron. He confirmed that Gus had given up on alliances, which we had pretty much figured would happen. After all, I don't remember the last time I heard a marathon runner say, "I'm not going to cross the finish line until my buddy in the back of the pack catches up." Patrick & I also managed to earn a little extra money playing poker on the train. I knew our pack of cards would be worth their weight in gold! Or in Norway, their weight in kroner.

Patrick & I were among the first racers off the train, and we had no problem finding the cluebox for the Detour. "We have to do a bunch of different things for Accuracy," I told him after reading the more detailed clue instructions. "But with Endurance we just have to rollerski for a mile seventy-five."

Patrick looked doubtful. "But you've skied. I never have."

"You've rollerskated before, haven't you? It'll be like that, just with long roller-skates. How about ice-skating? Have you done that?"

"I've rollerskated. But no on the ice-skating."

"Don't worry," I assured him. "Just keep your knees loose and your center of gravity low, and you'll do fine." I was confident he could do it. I'd seen him pick up athletic routines in no time flat, and I figured this was just another one.

We quickly got all the gear on, and I pushed off experimentally. The rollerskis were awkward and a little heavier than I expected, but as long as I moved in a slow, steady, and fairly straight roll, I was fine. I bent into a tuck and rolled to the first hay bales marking our course, then turned around to check on Patrick. He was behind Aaron and moving slowly and cautiously, his long legs moving like the spindly limbs of a new-born colt.

"Are you all right, hon?" I tried to ask, but it burbled out as, "Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha!" I couldn't stop laughing. He looked like Bambi trying to skate on the icy pond.
"Good, honey - now push with your poles!" I called. Encouraged, he reached way out and pushed a little too hard against his poles. He flailed his arms wildly as his skis crossed. Patrick yelled, trying to get the skis under him, but they slid out in opposite directions. He jerked himself sideways, landed on his backside with a giant "Yaaah ... ugh!" and rolled a bit down the slight hill. "Are you all right, hon?" I tried to ask, but it burbled out as, "Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha!" I couldn't stop laughing. He looked like Bambi trying to skate on the icy pond.

Patrick got to his feet again, annoyed. "I'm so glad to see my suffering entertains you," he spat. He got back into position and pushed off with his poles again, a little more gently this time.

"I'm sorry, Patrick," I sidestepped my way past a struggling Aaron back in order to ski alongside Patrick. "You're doing really well, honey! You just fell that one time. You're doing much better than Aaron." As if to punctuate my last point, Aaron chose that exact moment to slip and fall with a giant "Oof!"

Patrick and I both fell a few more times on the course. We were just starting to get the hang of it when the rain started. "This is just perfect," Patrick said flatly. "Just when I thought I couldn't love this task more."

"So ... I guess we won't be doing any rollerskiing on our honeymoon?" I teased.

He grunted, but smiled anyway as he snuggled his Tilley hat on tighter. "Come on, let's just get this over with," he called. "Race you to the finish!" Patrick took off at a speed that would've made Jean-Claude Killy proud, and he beat me by at least 30 feet. I rolled right into a hug with Patrick. "You did it! I'm so proud of you, Patrick. Give me a snug."

"You want a snog?" he grinned. I whapped him on the shoulder, grinning back. At least I knew he wasn't upset anymore. We had no more time to waste, though - we could just see Lori & Bolo getting into their Amazing SUV, so we pulled our gear off, grabbed our clue, and raced after them to the Pit Stop.

The farm wasn't far, and though we tried passing Lori & Bolo a couple of times, we ended up tailing them into the Pit Stop. "Omigod, Lori's grabbed Phil!" Patrick yelled we scampered down the hill. "And we thought Mirna was bad last season," I laughed back at him. More Lori & Bolo Pit Stop antics! They could have their own show.

Patrick high-fived Bolo and I cheered Lori as we ran past them to the mat. "Patrick & Kimberly, you are team number six," he intoned. So we did improve, even if it wasn't by much. We were exhausted and could feel the bruises starting to develop from the rollerskiing, so we seriously hoped the next leg would involve more brainpower and less muscle power.

Next week: Ikea, you kea, they kea, we all kea - in great big bunches.

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