XC skiing at Thatcher Park

Today was my fourth day in a row xc skiing. Each of the previous 3 days, I skied 35 to 50 minutes before work starting just before 1st light when the horizon was just starting to turn pink. Those times were at 5 Rivers Environmental Education center about 5 minutes from my house.

Today I went to Thatcher Park, about 1/2 hour away and skied for 1 hr 40 minutes. It was a decent day, sunny, in the 20s I think but with a bit of a wind, less of a problem in the woods.

I started out from the parking area called Paint Mine and followed the blue trail which is part of the "Long Path". A trail that runs from NYC north to Thatcher park.

Conditions were skiable, a little hard packed but not bare ice.

The first 45 minutes were almost all flat and uphill. When I turned around, it was on a fairly steep and bumpy section so I had a little trouble. I hadn't got my XC legs back yet. I've been used to downhill skiing with shaped skis. (Turn skis, turn!)

But before I got too far, I relearned my snow plow and step turns well enough that I got through just fine and had a great time.

Here's a map of the trails and some pics:

From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

My ski tips
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

It's cell tower city up here!
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

More cell towers
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

Classic XC heaven!
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

A ravine off the trail
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

More trail
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

This stretch wasn't too steep
From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

From 2009_01_24 XC ski at Thatcher

xc skiing is OK!

As I've mentioned before, I really love downhill skiing but due to time and money constraints, I can't do it as often as I like, even often enough to consider it regular exercise.
Also, regarding road cycling, which I also love, since the weather lately has been a little snow almost every day, the local roads have not been conducive to any extensive riding out to the rural areas.
So xc skiing it is!
I first cross-country skied in my mid-twenties when I was living back at my parent's house in southern New Hampshire. I was working at a dairy farm. In the winter, when it snowed, I would usually knock off work about 2PM because we were not able to work out in the fields and I didn't do the milking. There was a cross-country ski center that opened up about 5 miles away and I wound up skiing about 4 days a week that first winter. I became friendly with the owners and they pretty much let me ski for free or for an occasional donation.

I had shunned downhill skiing as being too much rigamarole, too expensive, too crowded and too fashion conscious (it is) for me until about 3 years ago when my wife decided to get back into downhill (she had done it as a youth) and convinced me to try it. Of course I loved it and learned to deal with the negatives.

Now cross-country seems less appealing but I have got back into it as a second best alternative. Really, though, it's great. It's great to be on skiis, out in the fresh air. You can do xc in colder weather 'cause you work up a sweat no matter how cold it is.

The main thing is not really to compare downhill and xc just because they're both done on skiis. You have to look at cross-country as more of an aerobic workout closer in nature to cycling because of the rhythmic "kick-and-glide" aspect of the activity. Also, it's a way of being out in the woods in the winter; enjoying the peace and solitude of nature.

Sat. AM Ski in Berne NY but I forgot my camera!

Ahhh! I forgot my camera! And it was so pretty.
The radio man said it was 9° by the time we left but that was Albany.
Up in Berne, who knows what it was. This is how they describe Berne:

"The center of the Helderbergs - It's all down hill from here!"

I met Brad at his house, then we drove a few miles to his father's house where he keeps his ski gear.
From his father's house, we set out on skis into the woods on trails which eventually hook up with state land which has marked trails on it.
It was beautifully quiet, not even a breeze and the sun was shining.
We were not bothered at all by the cold except for my left big toe which was hard to keep warm but not a big problem.
We skied for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. My average HR was 139.
Most of the trail was flat with a few hills.
My right binding bail, which gave me trouble on my last ski, held up pretty well, although those 75mm, 3 pin bindings are a bother to get into.
Also my left boot in particular is separating from the sole in the front.
One time a couple of years ago I fell on a fast descent and the sole on one of my boots (not these) ripped completely off and I had to ski back on one ski.
It's kind of neat that you can do that but very tiring on that one leg!
Well, I'll ride these until they give out and then I may switch to another pair of skis that I have with a different type of binding. The shoes I have for those are a little tight for me but maybe I'll try thinner socks.
It was great to get out.
Maybe tomorrow? And DON'T FORGET THE CAMERA!!!

a cold AM ski

We've been having a bit of a cold snap here in the Northeast over the past week.
A few days ago, I went out in the AM for a XC ski in the town park, about 5 minutes away.
The temp was about 10°.
I parked in my church parking lot as there is a trail from there leading right into the park.
It was a little windy too. The snow was great. I love skiing on windblown snow.
Nobody around. Just encountered one woman walking her dog.
Just a few minutes in my boot released from the binding. After a couple more tries I just couldn't get it to stay attached so I headed back to the car.
Fortunately I have another pair of skis. I went home, picked those up and went back to the park. I don't generally use those skis because they are too short and narrow for my weight and height.
The fitness trail at the park consists of 2 separate loops mostly in the woods. The first loop entrance was blocked by a large tree that had fallen across. I had to bushwack my way around it.
The trail wasn't as good as the other day at 5 Rivers because many more hikers had trampled it down but I still got a good hour out of it.
I was pretty warm. In fact, when I got back the inside of the jacket I was wearing was soaked with sweat. I guess it doesn't breathe too well.
I fiddled with the binding on the other skis when I got back. The bail was bent out of shape. I was not able to bend it back completely right but I think it'll work. At least I hope it will 'cause I am going to try to use them Saturday with Brad up in Berne. I called EMS to try to get a replacement bail but they don't carry them.
I suppose these 3 pin bindings are out of date. The current bindings they are selling are high-tech like everything else. You can't just buy new boots or skis or bindings if you need them, you have to get everything new or they won't match!
We'll be going out about 10AM tomorrow and they are calling for about 4° by then!
Should be fun! I'll bring a camera.

Why I can't lose!

Over 2 years ago, my wife got me to go downhill skiing with her. I got hooked. But there was one problem: the snow goes away.
So, I looked for some off season activity that might help and Harald Harb suggested cycling.
So I got hooked. But there was one problem: sometimes, in the winter, I am not able to go downhill skiing (you have to go to a mountain with a lift) and there's too much snow on the roads to bike.
So, there's cross-country skiing. I have places 5 and 10 minutes away where I can do that.
And of course there's always the gym as the last resort. :-) I have a $10/mo membership at Planet Fitness. How can you beat that?
Yesterday I went XC skiing at a place near me called 5 Rivers Environmental Education Center run by the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation. It's about 5 minutes away and it's restricted to skiers, snowshoers and walkers. No motorized vehicles.
It was a perfect day so there were a lot of people there but once you get out to the outer boundaries, you're pretty much alone.
There is an outside loop there that takes me just under an hour. Very nice.
This Saturday I plan on going with my friend Brad. He has some nice trails near his house in Berne.
Here are some pics from Sunday. Nothing too spectacular here. Just woods, woods and more woods!

Great Day Skiing!

Sunday my wife and I went skiing for free courtesy Warren Miller.
We went to Windham mountain here in the Catskills of upstate NY, one of our favorite hills.
It wasn't too cold, beautiful, sunny day, snow conditions perfect ... and a weekend. That means lots of people!
We started out with a couple of short, easy runs to get warmed up. Then went to the top of the left side of the mountain as you face the lifts and rode "Wanderer" a green trail, nice and long but with one tricky spot, a steep spot with a 90° turn at the bottom, very bumpy with lots of ice!
Everybody was sort of jammed up there eyeing the slope trying to figure out a line.
We did that one a few times, took lunch and then hit the top of the main mountain which we had never done before. There is a blue intermediate trail from there called "Upper Wraparound" that was just great. The trails were nice and wide. The snow was almost perfect except for one spot that was getting progressively more icy as the day went on. That combined with the large number of skiers made it a little hairy and eventually we quit where we would have continued on a day with smaller crowds.
Here are a couple of pics: