Cardio climb

Updated: 2014-02-13 13:57:25

( Agencies)

Cardio climb
Canada's Eric Neilson speeds down the track during a men's skeleton training at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor, a venue for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, near Sochi, February 12, 2014.  [Photo/Agencies]

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - Loading up on carbs with Russian bread and potatoes for a long Olympic day has consequences. There's one way to burn those extra calories: Walk the world's longest bobsled track.

From the bottom up.

With Springsteen queued up on my iPod, I began the long climb up the Sanki Sliding Center track, which snakes down the side of one of the snow-kissed Caucasus Mountains northeast of Sochi. With "Born to Run" blasting in my ears _ Sorry, Boss, I'm walking _ I passed a trio of smiling volunteers who seemed amused to see the "friendly American writer" on his trek.

After crossing a pedestrian bridge, the incline got super steep. As I navigated Curve 6, my heart rate soared well into triple digits. Two purple-clad Russian police barely nodded as I huffed and puffed my way around several tourists stopping to take photos next to the icy track.

After a quick pit stop to catch my breath and soak in the breathtaking view, I powered past two guys dressed in red-white-and-blue onesies decorated like an American flag. They turned out to be the brothers of U.S. luger Erin Hamlin, who won a bronze medal, the first for an American singles slider. Rounding another turn, I saw the start house and imagined how Hillary felt staring at Everest's summit.

Well, hardly the Himalayas. But my Olympic conquest.

When I reached the top, another Russian volunteer asked if he could help.

Sure, I said. "How about a ride down?"