Thursday, March 25, 2010

Transition Time

Early know what that means?  MUD.

It also means my brain starts to think less about shredding snow and more about shredding dirt/pavement and this year open water as well.  I am hoping to get in at least one more BC day, hopefully on the big rock pile up north.  Bill's latest pics from their trip to GoS while I was taking beach naps down in Aruba looked pretty sweet.

But short of that last trip my mind is already pretty fully transitioned to the coming of warmer temps and turning cranks.  My list of parts needed to get my rides back to full working order is growing and I'll need to start buying my nutrition in bulk soon so I am ready to go.  There are also some interesting opportunities presenting themselves pertaining to racing MTB this year but that's all still up in the air so right now my focus is still mostly on trying some tri's and making sure my fitness is a bit more rounded and ready.

And I finally got a chance to see how well I shred open water last week on vacation in Aruba...its wasn't ALL beach naps, just mostly beach naps.  I'm happy to report that my fitness and some of the work I have been doing in the gym has paid off and I think I'm just about where I need to be at this point in the season as far as upper body strength/endurance.  Unfortunately if I actually need to get somewhere in the water in a decent amount of time I am in trouble.

I am a 'newb' through and through when it comes to efficient water travel, sure I know all the various strokes and how to execute them 'correctly' (for the most part) but when you really try and make it 'down to that 3rd buoy' in open water it is apparent that I am not efficient in the water and I have a lot of work to do.  From the reading/research I have done on what I should be doing I think my stroke count is WAY too high and I am just trying to force the issue in the water.  Coordinating my breathing was tough and overall I just felt kinda 'stupid' I was playing baseball left handed or something.  My shoulder felt ok for the most part, but I didn't swim a full 1/4 mile either and it definitely felt better doing breaststroke than freestyle but we'll see how that goes.

But at least now I have a frame of reference for what I am working with and what I need to work on.  I am hoping to get into the pool at PSU more consistently in the next few months.  I have consigned to never really being fast in the water but I need to not be destroyed when I get on the bike cause that is going to be where I make my time.  That's the goal, less left handed baseball in the water.  I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Srgt. Awesome

As of yesterday I didn't have much planned for today in the way of recreation, I wanted to get some things in order before our impending vacay so I wanted to get something in quick.  There was a line I had been eyeing for a bit this season not all that far from the house and it seemed tame enough for a solo mission so I went for it.

Absolutely beautiful day out, 40-45 and lots of sun.  I made my way to the trailhead and was at it by 10am.  Decent amount of cars in play but not too bad, I think it was a lot of people snowshoeing and walking dogs on trails that I wouldn't be on so it was all good.  I did bump into one other guy gearing up for a skin up...he asked me if I had ever skied this spot before and when I said no I could see a subtle wince, like he wished I hadn't found it but he warmed up and was actually friendly and we ended up meeting up about halfway up and he let me tag along a bit.  I will be very cryptic in this post as to where this locale is so that Mike will not bump into any other first timers (at least any that found out about it here).

going up...

Things started off with a haul up a road that is closed in winter.  Great place to get everything warmed up, unfortunately I hit it right when the sun was beating down perfectly on the path so it kind of warmed up a bit too much but it was manageable...and nice soaking up some sun.  I bumped into Mike again at the top of this road before we jumped into our line of choice.  It was really interesting terrain, undulating, with some cool features.

This obstacle was a bit sketchy

The skin up went fairly well, the snow was extremely variable.  Crusty in spots, spring corn in the sun, still a bit powdery up high and in the shade but all in all very skiable.  There were a few tricky spots due to some gullies and short steep pitches or some sort of buried feature to get around.  I was pleased with how steep things got towards the top, the last headwall was unskinable and I had to strap my poles to my pack and use the skis as anchors and boot up.  There were some big boulders but luckily enough snow to fill things in, almost looked like a spot that is probably some sort of frozen waterfall when there isnt enough snow...

looking back down from just over the last headwall

I topped out shortly after and transitioned for the down.  I rode pretty conservative due to the variable snow but that headwall could be amazing in light fluffy snow, very easy to turn it into a two or three stage pillow line as long as it was deep enough.  The rest of the ride out was fun, little features to jib and the snow was workable enough to get a good up/down rhythm going and stay moving.  Mike was even nice enough to share a bit more local knowledge when I bumped into him again towards the top on my way down so I will definitely be back again to check things out further.

gotta love it

Monday, March 1, 2010

Snowicane @Whiteface

Not sure about the whole 'snowicane' thing but it was definitely a weekend for the ages up in Lake Placid.  Planned months ago and somehow we lucked out and hit one of the best weekends of the season right on the head.  Lots of weather during the last week in New England had Whiteface covered in tons (literally) of wet heavy snow.

We arrived very early Friday morn with a full day of riding planned.  The weather was interesting to say the least.  Temps were actually on the high side, mountain was socked in a cloud most of the day and intermittently it would dump huge flakes of snow.  Later in the day the sun came out and it was full blown Spring skiing.  I've had a few 'full gamut' type days this year...I kinda like them.

 not too shabby

We maxed the terrain out for sure getting runs in all over the mountain.  I think the highlight for Friday were several runs down 'Lookout Below' a very sweet steep run off Lookout Mountain that had some great natural features and some fairly deep snow.  We got over there on first or second chair after they started the lift and got it early and often before it got tracked out.  Tre bien.

the local art scene is flourishing

The plan for Saturday had been up in the air going into the trip but after Friday it was quickly decided that shelling out for a day pass was more than worth it and we all manned up, got up early and hit the mountain again for another first/last chair day.  Temps had dropped, the existing snow had dried out a bit and there was even a few fresh inches to work with.  We got right to it again, getting in all the good trees and steeps.

We lucked out and Whiteface decided to open up the Slides on Saturday which from what I understand is a fairly rare occurance probably on par with the Tramline opening at Cannon...few and far between.  It was pretty gnarly terrain for 'in-bounds'...we did what we think were slides 2 and 4 (they are numbered lookers left to right across the face) but it was pretty foggy at the time and hard telling exactly where we were.  Whiteface screens any rider heading into the area but their criteria and their actual enforcement don't really match up.  We saw quite a few people who probably shouldn't have been on that terrain.

Even with all that snow there were still some hidden nasties just below the surface that required attention and on slide 4 there were some semi-mandatory airs and some really cool features.  Very cool terrain that I wish we had available at Cannon to shred.

Towards the end of the day we also got into Sugar Valley Glades, a 1mile + drainage with perfectly spaced trees.  Most of us commented on its natural playground, Narnia feel. 

i mean come on, just look at that.

My memories from riding Whiteface as a kid definitely leaned towards it being a racer's mountain, probably because I was one then.  That has definitely changed now, there is some pretty sweet stuff to be had, enough to fill two full days thats for sure.  I highly recommend checking it out if you have the means ($74 day pass...)

There are lots of other pics and vids floating around from some of the other guys.  In the next day or two I will get a bit more organized and share them here.

Dustin and Adam making some turns