Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Start of AT Gear... BOOTS!

Scarpa Diva was the boot model I used when I slogged up Sunshine with Jeff. I was wearing two thick pairs of socks and the boots felt ok though my heel was moving with every foot motion. I ended up with a wicked blister only 1/2 way into the climb. I had to grin and bare it the rest of the way. Took my mind off Jeff's fast pace! 
Scarpa Diva size 23.5 (weight of 25.0 is 1525g) 
For the Vert180 race, I was lucky to get a brand new boot rental at the Calgary Outdoor Centre, the Scarpa Gea. I was impressed how size 22.5, with only a thin liner sock on, felt superbly and molded nicely to my feet as the event went on. The colour was pretty cool, too.
Scarpa Gea size 22.5 (weight of 25.0 is 1360g) 
Thanks to a tip-off from Jeff, he spotted a 36-hour blow-out sale from a store in Spain which actually had my size. The super bonus was it was a high-end boot! I took a chance and ordered a 23.0. Two weeks after placing my order, I received the boots Friday night by DHL. I chuckled when I was handed over a big packaged box that was shockingly weightless. I smiled when the cute little 23.0 boots fit perfectly!!
My Dynafit dy.n.a size 23.0 boots at a mere 782 grams!!
The Dy.n.a.'s are twice as light as the first boots I used going up Sunshine! I look forward to trying them out over the holidays. I'm glad I got to experience the two different boot models before acquiring my own. I have a total appreciation for the effort necessary with heavier gear.

Out of curiosity, I weighed my Salomon carbon x-c ski boots: skate - 518 g, classic - 384 g

Now on to the rest of the gear....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

RunningRaw - Tim Van Orden's Daily Raw Diet

I've been following Tim Van Orden's blog for a few years now. He started out eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and turned towards a raw food diet 6 years ago to promote his athletics.

Tim started out with all the superfoods kind of like I have and has transitioned to solely raw fruits and vegetables. It's pretty impressive and a direction I'm headed. I believe in the benefits of superfoods and want to keep in what works best for me.

Check out this video link with Tim's awesome explanation of his daily raw diet

Best description on "chewing smoothies"!
My favourite video of Tim's: Green Smoothie

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Ski-Mo Vert-180 - chaotic but FUN!

I've been procrastinating wanting to try out a ski-mountaineering event... an event donning AT (Alpine Touring) gear to skin up the mountain and ski down, over an over on a set course.

Olivier & Mary, as we skinned up to Olivier's grandfather's Swiss cabin - Dec 1991

Mary & I lounging in the sun at the cabin - Dec 1991
I don't have the gear, and have only done this once in Europe in 1991 going to an old cabin in the Swiss mountains.

Fortunately, my adventure race friend Jeff took me out on my first AT venture a week prior to the Vert180 event. I was lent Maggie's (his wife's) super duper bombproof (i.e heavy) gear while Jeff was on his skinny minny race AT gear. We started at Sunshine parking lot and skinned at Jeff's breath-taking pace up to the top of the Strawberry chairlift. I was wowed and exasperated at the effort!!
I am smiling, only because we stopped for a break and I had a chance to put on more clothes. Despite the balmy temperature, the wind and blowing snow was pretty nasty.
Jeff helped me remove skins and off we went on one long descent. The whole up/down took about 2 hours.

So, a week later, I was off to try the Vert180 event at COP (Canada Olympic Park) in Calgary starting at 6 pm going for 180 minutes. After fending off challenging road conditions to Calgary, I made it in time to rent gear from the Calgary Outdoor Centre. Bonus, was they had "exactly" my size in a new boot, Scarpa Gea 22.5.  Had just enough time to unload at Al & Di's house, my accom for the night, with Al being innovative to create bootpack hoops on my favourite backpack. There is usually a "bootpack" section in these events where the skis need to be attached to the pack, hands-free.

With minimal time to spare, Al coached me on transition to skins on/ skins off/ binding.

Showing up to COP, it was very exciting and super scary as I was a Rookie! Very cool to see all the new athletic faces of this new sport for me. Just before race start at 6:15pm, the snow started flying down in down feather clumps after what had been a clear day.

The course started at the base of COP, we skinned up to the top near the Canada flag, to ski down with one sharp right corner to the short bootpack section to complete a lap.

I was surprised, and not, to see how quick the pace started. The pros have super lightweight runnable gear. Despite that, I had a pretty good position going up my first lap. At the top, it was literally a gong show to watch me attempt to transition. I was slow, goofy, folding the skins neatly to tuck into my jacket top, not figuring out how to get the ski boot to clamp into the binding. Meanwhile, at least 20 people pass me.

Line of AT skiers on the left skinning to the top - photo Goldenskimo
I ski down in a frazzle at a skimming speed until I felt comfortable with the ground. I could not see anything out of my glasses (forgot goggles). At the bootpack section, I lost my glasses in the snow, fumbled around trying to get the skis into the loops... finally trying to "run" back to the start/finish line.

 I got all set and into my bindings ready to go... only to realize... I forgot to put the skins on!! HA! So repeat all the above gong-showness for 3-4 more laps adding in eyes mostly closed on the descents due to pelting snow. I finally nailed transitions on my 5th lap!! and the next few after. Gosh, it felt good to be competent... and I seemed to be gaining on a few people though couldn't tell as many relay teams were involved.

amazing depth of fluffy snow - photo Goldenskimo
Fingers were a concern for me, as I needed lightweight gloves for dexterity. The fingers started cold, warmed up nicely, then got cold again towards the end due to melted snow. Survived though will rethink how to keep them warmer.

It was awesome to pass the bottom end of lap zone as the loud music was playing and the crowd was supportive with cheers. It was a good social crowd of competitors.

Just starting my 2nd lap, Peter Knight passed me swiftly looking smooth like a race-walker on skis. I got to see him a couple more times as he lapped me. Getting caught in the same scary driving conditions from Edmonton, Peter arrived late to the race. He managed to win the Solo men event even with a 10 min late start. Thanks to Peter, I've been inspired by his perseverance into Ski-Mo the last few years following his blog.

Once I got into the swing of things, I was loving it! I managed to complete 12 laps in 3 hours just missing the cutoff by 1 minute to be able to do another lap. There was no bonus for longest time spent in transition! which I would have dominated!!

Very well organized event and I'd like to lure more endurance types out next time, as it was totally up our alley for effort, intensity and crazy fun!!

After the event there was at least 15 cm of fresh snow on my car after being in the parking lot for 3 hours!!

The Video courtesy Skintrack.... ha, that's me in the still-photo below (white jacket, green boots)