The Sanki Sliding Center is seen from a gondola after the men's luge competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SOCHI SCENE: Cardio climb

February 12, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) 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?''

- By Tom Withers - Twitter


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter:

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