Monday, February 28, 2011

Embracing Winter

My weather preference would be warm blue sunny skied days, day after day. But, well, I live in Vancouver, and while the weather here is in my opinion better than pretty much anywhere else in Canada, we still do have winter, and wintry days. It is a La Nina year, and my expectations were that we’d have a lot of snow on the ground close to sea level this year, similar to the winter of a few years ago. I decided in the fall that I would embrace winter. While I do enjoy skiing, it is not my thing as much as it is Graeme’s, but I knew between that and some other snowy weather activities, I would enjoy the winter more.

Luckily the expected winter snow hasn’t really materialized, but this past week we did have real snow. Between that and the cold and the rain, I have had enough of weekday trainer riding to want to do that on the weekend too. With a snowy weekend on tap, we decided to make the most of it.

Saturday morning we were driving up to Squamish by 7:30am. We stopped in Britannia Beach as we always do, for coffee at Galileo Roasting House. I wish this coffee shop was closer to home. I love it.

By 9:00 we were starting our skin into Red Heather Hut at Elfin Lakes. It snowed lightly the entire skin in, which was 1:20 continuous. My legs were ok, but I am having some blistering issues with my feet. I thought between my new ski socks and body glide I would be ok, but it didn’t seem to help much. Unfortunately this meant not much actual skiing. We skinned up from Red Heather Hut and skied down, but my feet just didn’t have more skinning in them.

We were driving back down to Squamish and in the Howe Sound Brew Pub for lunch by 12:30. We had our first try of Total Eclipse of the Hop, which is their great new IPA. We bought a couple bottles to go along with the new red ale.

Sunday I had a longer trainer ride planned, but I was having a hard time getting up for it. With the dump of fresh snow, we instead decided to head up to Cypress to play. With my feet still not happy from Saturday I went the snowshoe route while Graeme went on skis again. It was puking snow and I have never seen such fluffy snow at Cypress. We headed up to Hollyburn and back, a good 1:15 of hard working snowshoeing. This meant only an hour was necessary on the trainer which was a lot better than the alternative!

My snowy weekend was also highlighted by snowy runs on both Saturday and Sunday. Footing was fine, but some drivers really need to either properly equip their cars for winter driving or leave their cars at home. I had one close call with an out of control driver who ended up running a stop sign and veering into the oncoming traffic lane while laying on her horn at me, all because she was going too fast down a slight hill. I think she thought she was closer to hitting me than she actually was, but still!

Of course, it's Monday and the snow is quickly melting away.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mt Cain

The Mt Cain adventure was last weekend but this weekend was very busily trying to finish up my assignments for my realtors license (a work requirement) and then being sick, and unmotivated and thefore I didn't get around to writing about it.

Last Friday we took a half day and headed up to Mt Cain which is a non-profit ski hill north of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I have been north of Campbell River (on the island) once, back in gr. 8 and that wasn't this far north. Once we got to Campbell River the winter weather started. The previously pouring rain (some of the heaviest I have seen) turned to snow and back to rain and back to snow. All the way to Mt Cain. High beams were a no go and the drive was slow going. When we finally got to the base of the mountain, and drove up the dirt road (snow covered) I was finally able to relax.

The hill itself is very funny. There are maybe 20 cabins, plus a lodge and hostel. There are 2 t-bars and no other lifts, and its all volunteer run. Everyone knows each other. The ratio of ski patrollers to actual mountain patrons was unlike anything I have seen before.

The heavy snow/rain continued through Saturday and it made for cement like "powder" skiing. I'd say the guys (there were 7 of us) enjoyed this day more than the girls - they are also better skiers/boarders than us. I did something to my knee and between that and being soaked through, it was a half day on the hill for me.

Sunday it had cooled down, and was maybe -2, but it made a huge difference in the snow. I would say this is the first day I have ever really "got" powder skiing. All day long there was fresh tracks available. I haven't skied as much this year as I had last year by this time (mostly due to my back) and my legs were really feeling it. Between that and the t-bar I was done by 1:30. We had to get going anyway and were on our way down the hill by 2:30. Instead of over 4.5 hours which it took us to get to the hill from Nanaimo, it took us 3 hours to get back. Light and a lack of snowstorm make a huge difference!

The t-bar

Riding the t-bar

The funny cabin

Digging the car out

The road out

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New purchase

I bought a bike. But this is not one of those I BOUGHT A NEW BIKE! posts. I think I did that last year anyway, but then I didn't actually get the bike due to issues with Argon 18.

This time I actually have that bike, but it's still not an I BOUGHT A NEW BIKE! post.

It's not that I'm not excited. I am. But, I also have I'mnotworthy feelings. It feels weird to say it so publicly, but its true. The bike is much more fancy then I am, and I'm going to have to work really hard to live up to it. I guess that is motivation?

I know there are a lot of way more accomplished triathletes who don't have as nice as bike, and I guess that is part of what makes me feel not worthy, but Graeme keeps telling me I'm wrong and I need to listen to him. And work hard to feel worthy I guess. Thank you once again to Speedtheory in Vancouver. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, this is where you should be going for all your tri-related needs. They always do such a great job and are great guys.

It hasn't been ridden outside yet, but it has made it's debut on the trainer. I think a new saddle is going to be in order too! And possibly a name or at least a gender but I haven't figured that out yet either. I need to get to know it more first!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another winter sport!

Graeme and I have been talking about learning to cross country ski for some time now. A few people had told us about the Learn to Skate Ski package at Cypress Mountain, which is 5 progressive lessons, over 5 weeks and they sounded really good. Luckily for us, Cypress is close to home and easily accessible on a weeknight.

So, for the last 3 Tuesday nights, we have spent a few hours at Cypress learning how to skate ski. Graeme of course is a natural, and while I am moving in the right direction, it is taking a little bit longer for me to pick it up!

The snow conditions have been really different all three lessons so far, with the loose snow of this Tuesday proving to be the hardest. While I have spent more time falling on my ass the last three weeks, then in years on skis, I think I have laughed with every fall. A few times out of frustration maybe, but I am having a blast.

Tuesday nights also happens to be when a local race series takes place and it is fun to watch those guys! Maybe with another year (or few) or practice!

So, another sport to add to the rotation, and another fun way to spend a wet North Vancouver evening, as that means its likely snowing up on Cypress.

I can't wait until we can head up to Callaghan Valley (home of the nordic events for the Winter Olympics) and try out our "skills" there.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


With backcountry skiing you can never be too prepared or too educated. Graeme and the people we ski with have all done avalanche training and continue to take courses. In general they won't go with anyone who hasn't. I've done some basic training with them and have attended some talks on recognizing snow conditions, but I needed to take the avalanche safety training myself.

The course is done over 2 days. I was supposed to take this course back in December (on what was a beautiful weekend) but had to postpone it as I wasn't confident enough in my back.

The dates I postponed to was this weekend. And so instead of beautiful sunny days, I spent the weekend outside in a combination of gray, damp and zero visibilty conditions to a complete downpour and zero visibility.

I don't think I have ever been as wet as I was today.

Saturday was day 1. We started off in the classroom for the morning and then headed out in 2 groups. We skinned up the trail at Mt. Seymour on corn soft snow. Luckily at this time it wasn't actually raining. We did some beacon practice, learned how to mobilize properly in case of an avalanche and learned things such as proper shoveling technique. The rain started during the session and it was wet, but manageable.

The forecast for Sunday was better. Never trust the forecast! It's not as though I could have worn something more appropriate anyway, so that wasn't the problem. The problem was the complete downpouring rain. We skinned up at 8:15am and learned how to dig a pit. Soon enough, even my goretex jacket was wet through. We were supposed to be out most of the day, but it just wasn't possible. we went back to the cabin, did some inside work while we tried to dry out a little and then headed back out for multiple beacon practice. Putting back on my soaking wet ski pants was not fun!

Overall it was a great course and I'm glad I took it, but the weather really left something to be desired!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2010 - Year in Review

2010 started off really well. I pushed my limits on skis, both with backcountry skiing and in bounds. Scary at times, but moving forward and I did see some improvement (still lots more to be had).

I had some mystery virus that took a lot out of me in the early part of the year, but after that training went really well. I pushed my limits in riding, doing 2 160km rides (the Penticton IMC course and the Earls Cove Ride) prior to Seattle to Portland, which was over 330kms in 2 days. A great couple of days with fun people.

Unfortunately after that is when my body started to rebel. I tried to push through it for the rest of July and August, but not only wasn’t it getting better, it got worse. September started the hard push of physio and rehab and by November I was back to activity, and in December feeling mostly like myself.

One of my goals over the last few years has been to increase my average weekly training time over the previous year. With the few months of downtime, that did not happen last year, but taking those months out, I was right in line with where I wanted to be.

On the non-training side, I really enjoyed our time off this year, even if we didn’t make it that far afield. January was our hut ski trip, February was a Big White ski trip with friends, end of March and beginning of April we were in San Diego, May we were in Victoria for a race for Graeme, and Penticton with the tri club, June I headed to Minneapolis, July was Seattle to Portland, August was Cowichan Lake with a big group, followed by Saltspring Island where we had some alone time before being joined by another big group of friends. September we headed out on Graeme’s parents boat for Labour Day weekend and October I was in San Francisco. Aside from a day tip down to Seattle in November, November and December have been about staying home!

I wouldn’t say 2010 was a bad year, my life is too good for that! But I didn’t accomplish as much as I had hoped I would. I am looking to accomplish some of those things this year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Break

I’m back at it. Pun intended.

My back is continuing to improve and because of that I have been able to start to build some fitness. I am very out of shape, but I am already starting to see some improvements. I had a small flare up, which I thought was going to lead to more downtime, but it seems I really have turned the corner, because I was feeling better in only a few days.

I am getting stronger and this was really evident to me during yesterdays snowshoe up to the peak of Hollyburn Mountain. I snowshoed this same route about a month ago with a big group of girls. Only a few of us were really in shape (even in my out of shape state) and the trek was very slow going. Still, my back was getting sore with all of the uphill and we didn’t even attempt the peak. Yesterday with Graeme we were pushing the pace the whole way, and my back didn’t have any issues.

Not only that, but this was only 2 days after a ski tour of Elfin Lakes on New Year’s Day. Way more skinning than actual skiing, but the skiing still felt ok. And my hip flexors seem to be stronger from the rehab work.

Christmas and the holidays were a lot of fun. We hosted Christmas dinner for the first time. 9 people for dinner, which included a turkey – even though I don’t eat meat! Thankfully Graeme is very good at following recipe instructions and the turkey was apparently very good.

I gave and received some fun presents. One of my favourite gifts was my Kindle. I didn’t even know I really wanted one, but I love it. And I can read it on the trainer, which is a bonus!

I am hoping now that I am back to workout mode, I will also be back to blogging mode. I love to read other peoples blogs, and like to have a “diary” of sorts, so I need to get back into the habit. There will be a 2010 round up and 2011 look forward post soon too.

Some pics from the last few days

Elfin Lakes

Hollyburn Mountain