Sunday, January 22, 2012

Best snow at Lake Louise to Banff Loppet!

The first year out of the handful I've raced this event where a skier could probably get by with race skis unscathed. The snow was superb all the way!

Check out Tony Smith's review of participation of Team MitoCanada:

I was excited for the event though feeling the effects of long work hours, weekend warrior training only, and not sufficient rest.

The race started brisk. The first part is probably the hardest for me to keep pace as it has a long double-pole descent and my light weight is a factor. I worked it. Glad a few others went in front of me, especially down the wicked u-turn with everyone staying upright.

We took turns setting the pace... Tony Smith, Liza Pye, Brendan McCracken and myself. We were all happy to cross the train tracks before the morning train came.

I got my pre-mixed Vega concoction at the 3rd feed station handed out by competitor Theresa Gawron. She jokingly said "this is the only time she'd be supporting me" as she's usually racing with us.

The brisk pace caught up to me mid-way of the race at around 3 hours. That was realistically the time I had been putting in for training at pace.

I could hear women talking behind me with a woman on a relay team leading and Liza storming on her heels. Cool! If only I wasn't fading, it would have been fun to join in.

with sherpa side pockets, Marg still forging forward
It was time to majorly refuel if I wanted to finish in one piece. I let them by when a short herringbone climb approached as my inner leg muscle was ready to seize.

The rest of the way was lonely though scenic. Heading thru the marsh on leg 5, I could see someone in red gaining on me. I held him off until the end of the leg. It was Bill Young on a relay team with Mary Young. Mary was surprised I faded and Bill was happy he caught me!

First year I actually got to swap to skateski gear for Leg 6! Yay! Even still, I was pretty dog-tired skating it in. Ironically, on the Bow River I passed the same team woman that hauled by earlier. I welcomed the tailwind blowing me into the finish line! Good on Liza, she looked incredibly strong throughout.

Check out this video of the marsh section on Leg 5. Truly the adventure race of x-c skiing!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

hike for Hinton spring water

Post skiing a few sections with Corey's group at Hinton Nordic centre, I ventured off for spring water.
a balmy day skiing with Susan in shorts up ahead!
It used to be an easy stop for spring water just 100 metres off Hwy 40 north. Since the 400m hose from the source has frozen and been disconnected, it's a 5-min hike in to the spring source.

After parking the car, I load up a backpack with glass bottles and carry a couple bags. The first 200 metres is flat on a lumpy road. The next 200 metres climbs up 170 feet. 
trekking in, up 200 metres
I bring along my traction devices for stability descending with loaded glass bottles of water.
spring source sheltered with a cistern
The hike back takes twice as long, slowly! Though well worth it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

PLPP 96-km Challenge - 2nd time

I managed to lure two more friends, Darryl Mekechuk and Marcus Boyle, to join me in the ski venture that was awesome last year.

The skiers gathering in the hut to prep seemed to have doubled since last year with the who's who in endurance events. It was awesome to see another woman, Maz Bate. Maz would ski half and trade off with her hubby Lonn the 2nd loop to look after the kids.
photo  Blaine Penny
The starting temperature at Pocaterra hut at 6:30 a.m. was -10C and on the warmer side. Last year it was -18C the whole time with nice solid fast tracks.

Headlamp start at 7 a.m. - photo Blaine Penny
A huge snowfall came a few days prior with only people-set tracks plowing through the snowy. The uneven striding slowly took its toll on me as well as dressing light for a harder ski. Each time we stopped to regroup, I cooled down before we went again. Gotta remember to layer up for these group skis.

climb up Whiskey Jack - photo Blaine Penny
The group mostly stuck together on the first Cookie course loop plus Blueberry Hill. The groomer had time to set new tracks on the latter half of the course which is mostly downhill from Elk Pass and included Blueberry. The descent on Blueberry was wickedly fast and welcome to have the fresh snow to shred the corners in.

Marcus taking in the Blueberry hill views
Making our way back to Pocaterra hut, Brendan's wife Bridget had a warm chili feast waiting for us. Applied more wax on my skis, put on dry clothes though was shivering for awhile trying to overcome all my earlier chills each time.

brilliant sunshine on loop 2 - photo Blaine Penny
My extra wax was not necessary as I hammered the climbs though had difficulty keeping up with the guys on the flats and descents. I was weary from pushing the extra effort. Marcus skied in with me the final stretch down Pocaterra. Darkness was just falling and the moon was so brilliantly bright that I could see shadows from the trees.

First loop took under 4 hours. 2nd loop just over 4 hours. Total 96 km.
Will look forward to next year's event!

Mark Toth created this trailer from the day's ski. Truly awesome!