A Day to Remember

It snowed today. Oct. 29, 2011. Actually, it's snowing right now... to beat the band. Several inches predicted here, maybe over a foot in the mountains south and east.
As originally planned, and not because of but inspire of, the snow, Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went to Butternut to pick up my ski rental gear for the season. I have skis but I decided to rent this year because I wanted to try something different and I didn't have money for new skis. I thought this was a good way to try something new without committing to them for several years.
My old skis are Salomon XFree 8s which I picked up used a few years ago. They are 174cm long and don't have much of a side cut. Also they are only 62mm under foot. I wanted to try something with a shorter turning radius so I picked up a pair of 160s (Rossi Bandits) with a more extreme shape and 75mm in the middle. The whole package including boots and poles was $150.
The guys at Play It Again Sports showed me the Line Prophet 98 which is a wide ski, 98mm underfoot, which we loved and the price is good for a new ski but still too much for me. I think it was 4 or 5 hundred flat (without bindings).
While at Butternut, we checked out the goggles in the shop. Mrs. MTBMan1 has been on the quest for the perfect goggle for a few years now and we may have found it. They had the Electric EG2 which is a spherical and has the widest field of vision in any goggle we have checked out yet. But we didn't bring her helmet and the sales guy kindly suggested we try them with the helmet because they were so big.
After we got home we did some research and found that Play It Again Sports carried that very model.
So after a fabulous steak supper done up on the grill (as the nor'easter really got under way) we trekked out to the store.
They had it, Mrs. loved (I loved it too) and we got them. Also dropped off Mrs. skis for tuning and her boots for a recal,  Play It Again is great by the way. The staff is real friendly and helpful and i've learned a lot just from asking them questions. They seem to know their stuff.
I picked up a cable lock for my new skis. I wasn't too worried about anyone making off with my old ones but since these are rentals and all the rentals at butternut look the same, I thought it was a good idea to lock them up so no one would pick them up by mistake.
So it was a pretty exciting day, more so with the snow swirling about us.
If we get enough snow I'm seriously considering heading down to the town park in the afternoon and taking a few runs down the hill on my new skis.

The new skinny me

It was snowing today (HOORAY!!!) so i went to the gym for the first time in 1 million years. Mrs. MTBman1 and I went together.
I did a moderately tough cardio workout for 1/2 hour on a stationary bike (what else). My bike was in front of a mirror. First time I've ever watched myself "riding" a bike from the front. I was shocked at how skinny my legs looked. I always thought they were pretty chunky from all that riding, big calves and all that.
Funny how our mental image of ourselves doesn't always mesh with the reality.
I also noticed that my leg strokes were not perfectly in-line vertically. There was some wobble and sideways motion.
It was helpful to see that and try to correct it. I'm assuming it's more efficient to pedal perfectly straight up and down. Also I would think you could possible develop some injury by doing it wrong (like painful knees, harrumph, *cough*).
Went to weight watchers after to weigh-in. Thursday is our day. Lost exactly 1lb. (wearing shorts and super light weight tech tee) ;-)
So my total weight loss to date is ..... (drum roll) .....



My BMI is finally in the "OK" range. (24.8)

new blogs

I have tried to keep this blog focused. The content is about cycling, skiing and fitness in general for us older folk over 50.
However, that is not my only interest in life and often I have thoughts about things other than fun and fitness over 50. Often those thoughts are about spiritual things and music (as a musician). I don't think it likely that most people are going to be intensely interested in that combination (although some may) and I don't think i'm that good of a writer that folks are going to read my posts on that basis alone.
So, in the interest of focus and scratching my other itches, I have started 2 more blogs dedicated to the aforementioned topics. (2 more you say? He can't even keep up with one!)
They are: "Hey Mr. Bassman" at http://runbyidiots.wordpress.com and "Non Compos Spiritus Mentis" at http://halbedel.typepad.com/blog.
I am also using this opportunity to investigate 2 different blogging platforms, wordpress and typepad as you may have noticed from the urls.
I'll eventually put links and maybe updates on all the sites but otherwise I'm not going to mention it again (maybe).
And I'll offer email subscriptions also once i get around to it.

wonderful time of year

I love the fall. Always have. The nights are cooler, so sleep is better. I sleep better with tons of covers on top of me and of course it's too hot to do that in the summer even with the AC running.

Fall means winter's coming and that means skiing.

And it's the best time for bike riding. Comfortable temps, beautiful colored leaves on the trees, a certain kind of light and that certain something in the air.

Today was such a day.

I almost did not go for a ride because I was feeling like i might be coming down with a cold again or perhaps my cold of 2 weeks ago was trying for a comeback.

But it was just too gorgeous and there is rain threatened for other days this week. So out I went.

i'm glad i did. It was well worth it. In addition, I decided to take a different route for a change. I think the change of scenery was just the ticket.

Everything was working great; the electronics, the bike and me!

Weight Watcher's

Yes, Weight Watcher's, that bastion of tacky, bourgeois, middle class, 50's style dieting and weight loss. I did it. I signed up.

I'm on my 5th week now and have lost about 5 lbs. One week as much as 3.6 lbs and one only .4 lbs.

The main appeal to me was the accountability. I do well if I have a measurable goal. Especially if there's somebody else monitoring that goal. You weigh in once a week and you don't want the weigher-inner to tell you "sorry, you gained." Plus I'm paying good money to participate in this, $39 a month and I don't like throwing my money away.

It's a pretty good plan, really. They assign points to food. The higher the point value, the less you want to eat it because you are only allotted so many points a week. It just makes you pay attention to what you are eating. Nothing is forbidden, you just have to account for the points. So if I want to eat that 14 point piece of chocolate cake, I can. Only, if I'm allotted 36 points for the day, that doesn't leave a lot of room for meals.

You can pretty much eat all the fruit and veggies you want within reason. They don't dock you any points for those in an effort to encourage you to eat good stuff. So I just stuffed myself after dinner on 2 cups of watermelon ... zero points.

I started out at 207 lbs and I'm now down to 199 and change. My first goal is to lose 5% of my weight, about 10 lbs. I'm close. I'll keep you posted.

Gettin' there!

I don't suppose it matters what you do as long as it generates endorphins.
Then you're feeling good, i.e. having fun.
Of course I'm talking about physical activity not taking drugs or some other illicit and/or harmful behavior.
Today at the end of my bike ride, I was going down my last hill and realizing this had at least one element that skiing has. Speed and coasting downhill.
It didn't have the g-force and graceful dance of carving turns but that one element of going downhill fast. On the other hand you do also get that g-force thing on fast, tight turns when riding a bike. You know, like a dive bomber peeling out of formation to attack a target. Nyyaowww! Come on admit it, you've done it.
In fact I found myself doing linked turns on the bike in and out of a paved culvert on the side of the road going uphill no less.
Anyhow, I've been doing these short, 1 hour rides trying to get myself back in shape for the cycling season and nursing an injured right knee. Today was a really good ride, about 13 miles. It took almost 3/4 of the route to eliminate the right knee pain but it did go away. The last vestige of it was a little tweakiness on the front of the patella when standing on the pedals.
I'm still not pounding it and no big hills yet although I was tempted to go up Orchard hill.
This could be a good season!

A Sad Day

This time of year we start cleaning up the yard, putting snow shovels and salt back in the cellar, getting the lawn mower tuned up and so on. Most people are happy about doing this. They've been cooped up all winter inside and are glad to get out and start being more active.
Not me.
I did all that stuff and also finally took my skis and poles out of my car and put them in the cellar along with my wife's skis and our cross-country ski stuff.
The good thing is that it's been unseasonably cold. I had to wear my winter jacket today. That makes me happier. It's all those things that I associate with skiing; cold, snow, warm clothing. That connection says, "Good times!"
I rode my bike today. It was quite windy but I didn't mind too much. Right now my objective is time based not distance or destination based.  There was a stiff headwind going west on Meads Lane but coming back I hit 30mph on the flat while hardly working!
I've been riding for 1 hour at a time trying to get my right leg back in shape. I hurt it this winter pushing a car out of the snow when I should have been skiing! It hurts behind the knee. I never got it looked at or x-rayed. I wonder if it's a torn ligament or something. It never bothered me skiing except getting in and out of the chair lift. It's when I bend it beyond 90 degrees that it hurts.
I'm trying to be cautious with it. That's why i haven't gone beyond 1 hour rides or done any big hills.

Today I took off from work. The hope was that I would go back-country skiing in the Catskills somewhere with my friend Ken. I don't have back country gear but he has an extra telemark setup with size 13 boots which is my size. He went up Slide mountain with his new Marquette skis last week and I am anxious to try them but there has been rain all this week so there has been flooding in the Catskills and not enough snow.
So I rode.

The New Program

OK. Off-season training for skiing becomes in-season training for cycling. But in addition, this year I am going to work more on mobility and flexibility. Not only will this help me next ski season I think it is also good for us aging, *ahem*, Masters.

For a guide, I am using the book "Total Skiing" by Chris Fellows. He has a series of mobility, fitness and skills assessments that are then used to develop a training program. The scoring is on 3 levels. #3 is basically you're OK you just need exercises to maintain that level, #2 you need some improvement and #1 you need a LOT of improvment.

I scored myself a #1 in mobility but as I'm trying to do the prescribed exercises, I find some of them very hard and even impossible.

My biggest problems are my right shoulder which has had extremely limited range of motion and pain for several years and my right knee which I injured this winter (not from skiing).

To correct these problems, I have books from Rick Olderman, the "Fixing You" series. One on shoulder and elbow pain and one on order for hip and knee problems.

So what I'm planning is to ride bike 3 days a week and do exercises in between. Kind of intersperse the "Total Skiing" stuff that I can do with the gentler "Fixing you" corrective exercises and stretches. As my range of motion and flexibility improves I will do less of the correctives and more of the mobility and stability drills.

Also, for more summer fun, I would like to try Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) which was recommended in "Total Skiing" as a way to get out of the gym and get a good core workout. The boards can be pretty pricey but it's probably a good idea to rent first. I see a place out in the Finger Lakes that rents for $25 an hour. An hour is probably enough to start.

That's the plan and I've already started.

Ski season 10/11 ... R.I.P.

With great reluctance, I officially declare today that ski season is over!
For me, anyway.
I had scheduled today as a day off from work and to be a ski day. I realized when I scheduled it that I probably wouldn't be able to ski but it was a "just in case".
My requirement to ski is primarily that the cost is no greater than $30. That eliminates Killington ($65), Mt. Snow ($55), Okemo, Jay Peak, Stratton, Whiteface, Gore etc.,etc,. My hopes for today were Belleayre and Hunter Mountain, both in the Catskills. Belleayre was saying they would be open "at least" until sunday april 10th, implying that they might be open another week. Hunter, generally in the same area was not saying. When they both closed on the 10th, I did some more research and found that West Mountain on the southern edge of the Adirondacks was offering skiing with electronic access at $6/hr. But they also closed on Sunday.
Looking a bit farther afield, I found that Mad River Glen in Vermont was planning on being closed during the week but reopening today and through the weekend. They were offering $39 tickets and are 3 hours away. Starting to be a bit of a stretch. However, they decided not to open because the rain and warmth wacked their base pretty bad.
I even entertained Smuggler's Notch (not TOO seriously) at 1/2 day for $34. They are 4 hours away. At $4/gal. gas prices and 8 hours of driving in one day for 4 hours on the hill, that's really stretching it.
So I'm calling it a season!
No complaints, really. It was my best so far:
16 ski days.
Improved my skills.
Bought suspenders.
Got valuable tips from Mike and Brian.
Skied black diamonds (and one dbl black without realizing it).
Tried out new ski areas: Catamount, Belleayre (find of the season), Gore, Maple Ridge, Bosquet.
Best conditions ever.

I'm not TOO depressed! ;-)

Actually starting to look forward to what's next!

And I admit, it's nice being able to go outside without having to suit up like I'm going on the space shuttle.

They're sore but they want more

I have almost always skied until my quads were very, very sore. The only difference being when I started 4 years ago that point was sooner rather than later. Also it took longer to recover, almost a full week.
Now it only takes me a day. Then I get that feeling that they (my quads) want to be exercised. Like horses or dogs. I guess that's a good thing, right?
Same thing with cycling after I get into the season a bit.
Today was my first bike ride since September. I did a short one. Less than an hour. I have two problems that I'm nursing. My chronic right shoulder and the back of my right knee which I hurt pushing the neighbor out of the snow last winter.
It felt good to get out though. I neglect my cardio during ski season when there's not enough snow for cross-country which around here is about half the winter. I could go somewhere an hour or two away to do it but that's not practical during the work week.

Regarding skiing, I'm still hoping for one more day, next Thursday. The key will be if any areas are still open that I can afford. The big ones up north, Killington, Jay Peak, Smugglers, Sugarbush will all be open but they charge the big ticket prices.
Belleayre hinted that they might do another week if the weather and the numbers cooperate and West Mountain up near Glens Falls is open this weekend and hasn't posted a closing date yet. Also Hunter hasn't said anything about closing. They're all affordable for me. Belleayre is now $25 every day as is Hunter. West Mountain has electronic ticketing and you can buy lift tickets for $6/hr. That's cool.

On another note, I'm looking at a new summer activity, Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP). Gives a good core workout and most of all looks like fun and is outdoors.
I'm looking at renting and maybe a lesson to start off. Some of the boards are pretty pricey, $1000 and up.

Ski day #16 ... God Bless you, Belleayre!

Thank you Belleayre for being open. Thank you for $20 lift tickets.
Thank you for great snow and grooming!

The snow condition report on their web page said packed powder.
Yeah, right! After 2 days of steady rain? How do you get powder out of that?
But they were telling the truth! Conditions were fantastic, just like they said, like mid-winter.
Brian and I were finally able to link up for a ski day and I am really glad for how it turned out.
Uncrowded all through the day, there were only 26 out of 55 trails open but that was more than enough.
We found untracked freshies at 11AM and practically first tracks on some of the groomed trails. A lot of the trails were even better than packed powder. There was just powder not deep but powder none the less.
We rode their High Speed Quad - "Super Chief" all day so we got a lot of runs in.
It was a gorgeous, blue-bird day up until lunch time, then it started to cloud over.
The east side of the mountain was open over to "Yahoo" trail. Beyond that was "Area 51", a terrain park. I guess it was supposed to be closed but somebody had taken the ropes and the closed sign down. That's where all the fresh powder was. We did several great runs down that. We just stayed off the terrain park features. Further west beyond "Area 51" was "Algonquin". That was a nice groomer which I suppose was supposed to be closed too. Maybe that's why we got first tracks on it. ;-)
After lunch we got one more run on Area 51 and then they put the ropes back up but left the way to Algonquin open.
The easternmost edge of the mountain got really mushy later in the day but the west part was beautiful even when we quit at 2PM.
I skied some black diamonds, not very gracefully, but I did it so I'm pretty happy about that. Gettin' there. I did have a mild spill on one, Wanatuska, on the last run of the day, that notorious "one more run!" ;-)
This was possibly my last day of skiing this season, but if it is, I've never had such a good last day! Belleayre says they will be open at least through sunday april 10th. I have one more ski day next Thursday. It would be nice if I could find an affordable mountain still open by that time.
Thanks, Belleayre!
And a special thanks to Mrs. MTBMan1 who encouraged me to go even though it was her birthday and she had to work!
Here are some pics from the day:

Looking up Onondoga on a beautiful, blue-bird morning

The view from Onondoga (east side)

Brian, cruisin' down Area 51

Yours truly!

Looking up "Area 51".
It was virtually untracked powder when we first got there!

Looking down "Area 51"


RRRRRain! There, I've said it!
Rain is a four-letter word for skiers and ski area operators alike. The "R" word. At least during ski season. And there are resorts still spinning the lifts so it's still ski season! Heavy rain closes most ski areas and plays havoc with the trails and the snow pack. And if it goes into a deep freeze AFTER the downpour as it often does .... well, it ain't pretty!

What a waste of water! This downpour today could have been feet of snow.

Thankfully both Belleayre and Hunter mountain in the Catskills are open this week and affordable for me. $20 and $25 respectively this Wednesday when I am planning on going. And Belleayre is considering another week. Which would be good as I am hoping to go on Thursday the 14th. The rain may close many trails but who cares? All I need is one. ;-)

God bless you Belleayre and Hunter!

There's still snow to enjoy ...

This afternoon Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went up to Thacher Park for a hike. We were pleased to find lots of snow.
We enjoyed walking on it, looking at it. We have an emotional bond to it.

Sadly, I was notified today that 2 of our favorite hills have decided to close even though 100% of their trails are open! That's right. Windham mountain has 46 out of 46 trails open and Butternut has 22 out of 22 open. There is no lack of snow! There is only a lack of skiers!

As of this date, Belleayre and Hunter in the Catskills plan on being open one more week. Hunter will close Monday and Tuesday because of rain but will reopen on Wednesday. Even better, they will be offering $25 lift tickets!
I am planning on going to Belleayre on Wednesday ($20) but will keep an eye on conditions. It's nice to have Hunter as an option just in case although I have never been there. I am leaning towards Belleayre because I am familiar with it and I just don't want to spend time at the end of the season when conditions are not optimal figuring out a new area.

That's all I have to say.

Going, going ....

What you see here is the iconic snow pile in our front yard taken about 9AM today. The last vestiges of our great winter of 2010/11.
By the time I came back out around 11 it was gone!
But what's really sad is so many of our ski areas have 100% or close to 100% of their trails skiable but they are closing because not enough people are coming out.
Today was Windham's last day and they were 100%.
Butternut is closed weekdays this coming week.Their last weekend is next week but they are 100% open.
Last year we skied Plattekill on April 2nd($20) and Mt. Snow on April 11th ($25) and they had very few trails open.
Such a great year with so much skiing left that could be done but the areas are closing. Can't blame them. It's so expensive to be open and if you don't get the paying customers you are losing buckets of money.
C'mon people! Where are your priorities????!!!!

The Big Fizzle

Well that big storm fizzled out. S'posed to get 6 to 12". Ha!
Nevertheless, there is still snow to be found.
We have a last vestige in our yard.
The problem is not with lack of snow it's lack of skiers and boarders!
The mountains just can't afford to keep the lifts going without enough people coming out.
Mountains like Mammoth in SoCal traditionally stay open until July 4th. They could probably stay open all summer but they say it doesn't pay for them unless they get at least 4000 customers per day.
C'mon people get out there and support your sport!
I plan on going again next Wednesday as long as there's snow and an open resort. And the week after that as well!

Ski day 15 ... Jiminy Peak, Hancock, MA Berkshires

"When in doubt, play it out" I always say. When they predict snow or rain but it ain't snowin' or rainin' yet, proceed with the plan! Around here (the great northeast), it works out more often than not whether that be for skiing, cycling, hiking or whatever outdoor activity you desire. I tend to do that cycling and yeah, I've got soaked but so what? You come home you take a hot shower and a nap and you're golden!
Today was a scheduled ski day for me and Mrs. MTBMan1. The forecasters predicted "chance" of snow, then rain in the afternoon. To be fair, I think the predicted chance was 40%.
Perhaps that forecast kept a lot of people away from the slopes because there was hardly anybody at Jiminy when we got there. I felt bad for the business. We took advantage of a $15 e-coupon. That's not $15 OFF that's $15 total cost of the lift ticket! The resort management must have predicted a slow day to offer that incentive! But very few people took advantage of it.
Obviously, WE did and I am glad of it!
While it was a gloomy, overcast day, not exactly a "bluebird" day, it barely snowed, just spit a little bit and we encountered no rain whatsoever. It was perfectly still, no wind. The snow conditions were good on the upper mountain but got pretty cruddy on the lowest parts as the day progressed. Typical for spring conditions but better than it could have been. It probably got up to the low 40s. The sun tried to peek out a few times but mostly it stayed cloudy.
Our favorite run of late has been West Way to Grand Slam. It's a low-intermediate run with several moderately steep hills broken up by flats. Interesting but not too strenuous. Also we've found that the snow stays in better shape here than on the east side.

The other run we did was Left Bank on the east side. This is a flattish green novice trail with one steeper hill. The snow was in good shape until the lower half where it got pretty cruddy. Just before the Q3/Widow White's Quad.

But we had a fun day. We had lunch and knocked off because of the crud. Why push it?

I noticed that my quads had recovered quite well from a punishing day at Plattekill last Saturday. They were very sore the day of but not much at all the day after.

It never did rain.

So was that the last day for us or will there be one (or two) more?

Big nor'easter predicted for us tonight and tomorrow. 6-12" they say. We'll see. Lot of times these big storm predictions fizzle.

Pray for snow and more cold weather!

Powder and packed powder, ahoy!

Like you care!

I included quite a bit of detail last post about my day at Plattekill with descriptions of individual runs and trails complete with highlighted trail maps.
I realize that most of you won't really care about this even and if you have skied Plattekill before.
More and more I have looked at my posts as a personal diary of my outdoor and fitness activity only ... public.
A contradiction perhaps. A blog is a convenient way to make these entries and by default, it is public. Occasionally, people have indicated an interest so I acknowledge that possibility and I am delighted when that is the case. So don't get me wrong. I DO care that you may be reading this. Else, why would I write it?
In these particular posts, however, I primarily want to create a record for the benefit of my own memory so I can savor the fleeting experience during the long, hot and humid dog days of July and August or when I'm sick and inactive or unable to get outdoors because of other pressing commitments.
All this to say ... "get ready, here he goes again".
I left out a few trails I wanted to mention yesterday. :-)

"Buckle Up" and "Bailout"
Perry and I took the trail "Buckle Up" from the top of the south peak. It is listed as blue intermediate but is primarily flat. It could be a green except that it leads into hairier stuff. First turn off it is "Bail Out". Which I took. And I did. Bail out, that is.
Perry continued past Bail Out to "Block Buster" an expert trail that looked too steep for me. I mean, I think I could have done it but it would have sapped too much of the little capacity I had remaining in my quads!
As it was, "Bail Out" was no picnic; narrow, almost like a cross country ski trail although I would even less like to attempt it on XC skis because of it's steep and winding nature. I bailed on the switch back that you see indicated by the black circle. Wasn't going fast. Sat down basically but it was so steep that I wound up turning head down on my back in spite of my efforts not to and kept sliding to point that I was concerned that I would go over the drop off at the side of the turn. I got ready to jab my poles into the snow below my head if that seemed to be the case but i stopped in time. It was sort of fun but such a narrow trail doesn't give you a lot of options. Sort of a precursor to tree skiing I suppose.

"Sundown and Shredded Mozzarella"
I skied the trails "Sundown" and then "Shredded Mozzarella" quite a bit. Sundown starts at the top of the south peak, has a switchback 2/3 of the way down and then intersects with "The Face" and "Bail Out" and continues on to "Shredded Mozzarella".
This is usually a good, moderate intermediate run although it can have it's rough spots. Portions of "Sundown" before the switchback got kind of scratchy especially later in the day when the packed powder got skied off. The part after the switchback for some reason always stays in good condition even last year on the "bitter end" last day of skiing when very few trails were still serviceable. Then it tends to get rough again around the last curve on "Shredded Mozzarella" again mostly later in the day. I wonder if that's how it got it's name although I would say it's more like FROZEN shredded mozzarella!

BTW, click on the images of the trail maps for a bigger, clearer view.

Plattekill, I name thee "Quad-Kill"

It was the perfect storm. A Saturday set aside for skiing, new snow on Thursday, below freezing temps and 2 free tix for Plattekill Mountain in the Catskills!
The common cold attempted to thwart my plan but I would not be denied and it backed down.
Made the trip with friend Perry. We got there well before opening and got the first chair on the Sunshine Triple!
Conditions were powder and packed powder. Fantastic mid-winter conditions for an early spring day! It was a mite nippy. 11° when we got there. It only warmed up to 31 by the time we left at 3PM.
I was really psyched about this trip. I had never skied the northface of the mountain. The first time Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went several years ago, the conditions were fantastic but I didn't have the confidence to venture beyond the 1 green trail "Powder Puff" on the other face.
The 2nd time, it had rained furiously a few days before and then gone into a deep freeze so a lot of the mountain was not open and what was open was icy. I did not attempt the north side which was mostly expert trails.
The 3rd time we went was last year at the "bitter end" of the season. I swear it was almost 80° and again, not a lot was open.
So this time, with a stellar winter behind us, still almost 100% of the mountain was open; 31 out of 35 trails!
With my newfound "skills" I felt confident enough to tackle the 1 green and several intermediates on the north side. The green trail is "Overlook" which is long, about 2 miles but narrow with dropoffs on either side. Manageable but a little hairy for beginners, I would think. The snow was great at the top but a bit hard and bumpy near the end.

Similarly, the intermediate trail "Ridge Run" was narrow but steeper. Still, the snow conditions and grooming were great. Most of the blue side trails off of Ridge Run were not groomed so I didn't attempt those.
It was great having Perry along. In addition to conversation and companionship, Perry is a better skier than me and he challenged me to try a couple of the black diamonds thinking the snow might be even better and the trails wider. He was right on both counts and I enjoyed several runs on "The Plunge" and

"The Face" but they were tiring for me, mainly, I think because I'm trying to keep my speed too slow for those pitches. Fighting harder against stronger gravity naturally expends more strength. On my first 2 runs on the black diamonds, I didn't do that great. I seemed to ski better on shallower pitches so I stopped to analyze what I might be doing wrong. Because of the fear factor of the steeper pitch, I tended to lean into the hill rather than commit to the fall line for the initiation of the next turn. Once I started doing that, it went much better. I was able to carve my turns again and get a good rhythm going.
I put in a good 4-1/2 hours of skiing and my quads are cooked but it's a good feeling! Oh, and my cold is making me pay but it was worth it! You can't take my day away from me! Bwah-hah-hah-hah-ha!

Veni, vidi, vici! (almost) ;-)

Here are some pix:
This is a view from "Shredded Mozzarella"

Looking back up Shredded Mozz

View of the North Face from Powder Puff

Another view from "Powder Puff"

'Nother view looking up Shredded Mozz, Sundowner and The Face

'Nother shot down Shredded Mozz

Here's a GPS track of a run I did down Powder Puff. I forgot to stop it until halfway up the lift so the run is only 1.3 miles. Note my blinding top speed of 24mph! Not Olympic material. hey, so it's not that steep!

Powder Puff - Plattekill Mtn. Roxbury,NY at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in New York

When does the hurting stop?

That's right, my abs are still sore from last Saturday. That's 5 days! They do say us oldsters take longer to recoup after a hard workout but this is ridiculous.
Fortunately they're better and should be clear by Friday or Saturday when I am planning on skiing again. Neck and shoulders are mostly better too.
I am also recovering from some kind of bug. Left work this morning cause I was feeling crummy. Hopefully I'll be OK in a couple of days.
There appears to be some snow coming. Initially they were predicting possible double-digit accumulations in the Catskills which is where I'll be going but we'll see if it wimps out. Predicted temps out there at Plattekill are below freezing which is good if they groom it to chop up the hard pack, that's if it doesn't snow much.
In any event, I plan on getting out there before the lifts start up. Got free ticket vouchers too! ;-)

Sore Core

I'm not surprised to be sore in my quads or calves after a day of skiing. Or my shoulders from poling. Or my neck from my head bouncing on the snow pack after a nasty backwards spill.
But I have never had sore abs from a day of skiing before. That's good, I think.
I'm supposed to be engaging my core.
And wow is it ever sore! You know, like laying down and getting up sore? Ow!
And I didn't even know I was working out because I was just having fun!
That's the way to do it!
If only every workout were like that. But, it's not to be. Gotta be some discipline in there some where.
It's gotta be unpleasant in the moment but looking at that distant goal is what motivates you.
Hopefully I have a few more days skiing this season but now it's time to pump up my bike tires and get out on the road. Maybe do some mountain biking this year for fun.
Still, I will have to do "workouts". I got my copy of "Total Skiing" by Chris Fellows and it's chock full of balance, mobility, and fitness (aerobics and strength) exercises that I really need to do between now and next year's ski season. Good stuff for us "masters" (old people) too.

It's been a great winter!

It's been a great winter but it's not over yet!

Men's Bonding Day
Today was supposed to be a ski day for the men's group at the church. Any men, really. You know, men's bonding?
Well, as of this week it was just me and Brad. The other guys couldn't make it for one reason or other. Then, my last hope, Brad bailed on me ("you're our only hope Obi-Wan Kenobi").

Late to the hill
The original plan was to leave at 7AM so as to get to Butternut by 8:15 when the lifts open. But since no one was going, I decided to go to the Saturday morning men's group which is 7 to 8:30. But after I got home, I changed my mind and decided to go. It was a cool day, high 30's to low 40s so I figured conditions should hold up for awhile.
I got on the hill by 10 and conditions had already deteriorated pretty much. It didn't even look like it had been groomed but someone who had been there at opening assured me that everything had been groomed. It was pretty chunky.

First Run

My first mistake was to break my rule of doing a green warm-up run to check surface conditions and get limbered up. I went right for Applejack which I like for it's interesting terrain. But at the first switchback the heavy crud threw me and I did a "sit down" fall at slow speed. I gave myself a pep talk: "MTBMan1, did you forget how to ski? C'mon you can do this. Think!" Yep, survival mode. Threw all my technique out the window. But I regrouped and figured it out.

Hard Work
The snow was deep and heavy, crud. It was hard work pushing it. It didn't respond the same way as earlier in the winter. Eventually, through rethinking my approach and watching others from the lift, I think I did pretty well. Even had some fun! My newly acquired technique came through for me. Pole planting, carving, upper body forward into the fall line. Keep your speed up. Don't lose your rhythm.

Whiplash, Part 2
Complacency is your enemy!
I did really well on all the harder parts of the trails. Never fell. What got me was this little trail called "Fiddler". It's very deceptive. It just doesn't look steep. But you can get going pretty fast before you realize it. It was really chopped up too, almost mogully. Anyhow, the second time down it, I got going too fast and ran into some bad chop and ... bam! As I'm going down I'm thinking "OK, real injury this time". Head goes bonkity, bonk, bonk. No stars though. That's a good sign. Got right up. Skis still attached. Poles up the hill very nicely laid 180° from each other like I carefully placed them there!
Analyzing this spill later, I think I was a victim of the fear factor. I got going too fast for comfort saw a nasty patch of crud and actually bailed backwards. Always a bad thing for the head. Better to try and ski it, I would probably have made it. Of course this was right at the edge of the trail too. So the fear is that you'll slam into the woods or go down into a ravine. That compounds the fear thing. Better to bail than slam into a tree. That can get you killed.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the day and with myself. It wasn't the best of conditions but I think I did real well adjusting to it. I had some fun and a lot of nice, carved turns.

Next up, Plattekill on Friday. Got free tix burning a hole in my pocket! ;-)

A Really Good Meal

A day of skiing is like a meal for a special occasion at a fine restaurant. It's over too quickly and you want to relive it in your memory. You want to go back and do it again so you can pay closer attention while you are doing it. But no, it's over.

Today was such a day... St. Patrick's Day at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Ma. We went there mainly because it's one of our first and fondest memories and mainly because of their great trails and mainly because it's a first class resort and mainly because it was $17.

Our first run of the day was on West Way because Left Bank (the east side) wasn't open yet. By our second lift ride they had dropped the ropes on Left Bank and we took it but it was already really choppy. So ... back to the west side. Too bad, 'cause I really have wanted to try some of the blues on that side like Panorama. My first year of skiing I wasn't really ready for intermediate trails like Panorama and subsequently it either hasn't been open or conditions haven't been great on it like today.

Run of the day was West Way to Grand Slam. Really outstanding. It's a nice long ride, wide, plenty of room for turns and not too crowded. The day started at about 37° and went up into the 50s. With every run the snow got noticeably slushier. Some sections were OK though. Still had some groom and they were more shaded so weren't quite so soft and heavy.

I took one pretty good spill. Backwards. Not good. My stance got too wide and one ski went where I did not want to go. :-(

I did OK just letting go but my head took a good wack. Felt slightly whiplashed.

Nevertheless, we had some great runs and I'm ecstatic that I have made some big improvements this year. Mainly that I finally bought some suspenders so I no longer look (as much) like the Michelin Man! ;-)

Winter's not over yet!

I'm encouraged.
Went for a short hike at the Five Rivers Environmental Center run by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation about 5 minutes away.
I was surprised and encouraged by the decent snow pack remaining considering there is no man- made snow production to build up the base.
I have been concerned about the rain and above freezing temps over the last couple of weeks that it might severely damage the trails for the remainder of the ski season.
Although there were bare spots, these were mostly caused by some flooding of the streams here. Anything untouched by the water was still pretty good. Even skiable!
Here are a few mobile pix that I took today:

That's about 10" of snow that you can see beyond the bridge. After that it was washed out.

Could I jump that?

Everything that was flooded was covered by a gray silt.

Dam from a mill that used to be at the site.


Yeah, I could ski that.

That too.

And this one.

I'm blessed

"Into every life a little rain must fall"
"Spring is coming, get over it!"
... that's what I keep telling myself but it hasn't helped.
Every year, it seems, the transition gets worse.
The transition from ski season to end of ski season.
After a record January and February, we are going into March with rain and warm temps.
All that water gone to waste!
Anyhow, I was bemoaning the many days of damaging (to the snow pack) rain we've had and trying to be grown up about it (why?).
As they say, I can't complain (but I will).
We've had a stellar season up to now with great snow conditions and 100% trails open in all the resorts, I've had 11 ski days myself and
I got some good tips from my brother-in-law, Mike.
Sometimes I curse the area because we are often right on the snow/rain cusp and it seems more often than not, we'll get snow and then it'll rain on top of it and then we'll get a deep freeze. Not too good.
But what is good about this area is the variety of ski areas within 1 to 2 hours of me. There are several small "family" type operations that offer great prices, usually $20-25 during the week and some, even on the weekend after March 1 or 15th. Also, there are resorts 1 hour to the southeast of me in the Berkshires, 1 to 1-1/2 hours to the southwest of me in the Catskills, to the northwest are the Adirondack areas Gore and Whiteface and to the Northeast are the southern Vermont areas, Mt. Snow, Stratton, and Bromley. All have offered affordable deals under $30 from time to time if you keep checking diligently. So, I always have options.
I have fantasized about moving out west where the season is more reliable but I wonder if I would be able to afford it like I can here. I wonder if they have the smaller areas with reasonable prices?
For example, this last Monday was a washout with some heavy rain to our southeast so I was concerned about my scheduled ski day, Wednesday. I was planning on going to Jiminy Peak resort in Hancock, MA. I had an e-coupon for that day for a $25 lift ticket. That area in the Berkshires got more rain this time whereas to the west and north of us, there was snow. On Wednesday morning, I checked conditions at Jiminy and they said "frozen granular". I didn't like the sound of that. Sounds like "ice" to me. I checked out Belleayre Mountain, a ski area in the Catskills to the west and their conditions were "packed powder". Much better. And to top it off, they were offering tickets that day for $20! Score!
Needless to say, I headed for the Catskills. I had never been to Belleayre before although I had lived in that area years ago. It was a little over a 1-1/2 hour ride.
As advertised, the snow conditions were great and the hill was 100% open. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out the layout but I went right to it. There is a lower lodge and an upper lodge. I parked at the lower which was probably a good choice because it was less crowded. The lift from there (Lift 1&2) unloads behind the upper lodge and services almost all green beginner trails.
From there you ski down and pick up the Superchief Quad to the top of the east side.
Basically, almost everything from the top is expert, then converts to blue midway. The east and west edges have blues down the sides and there are several traverses criss-crossing the mountain to get you back and forth. The Tomahawk lift covers the west side and got me up to Deer Run, a long intermediate trail along the western boundary. Reminded me a lot of the Wilmington trail on Whiteface.
So there you have it. Had a great day, made a real breakthrough after lunch, poling finally clicked for me.
I'm ready for next Thursday: St. Patty's at Jiminy with Mrs. Mtbman1. 17 bucks! Woo-hoo!


Here's a link to a video of Deer Run: click here

My Pow Day

We get President's Day off because I work for a school district. I was a little bit down because I had this day off but no place to ski with acceptable prices because it's a holiday week for the kids. None of the resorts have discounted prices. However, I did look and I found Bosquet in Pittsfield, MA, the Berkshires, that had an acceptably low ticket price. Yay! I'm in business.
As a bonus, we had 4-5 inches of light, fluffy powder by the time I got to the hill.
It got scraped off pretty quick but it was still pretty cool and I had a lot of fun.
My only regret is that I didn't go to the top of the mountain 'cause I thought it was all black and double-black diamond and I wasn't that comfortable with the hard pack that was getting exposed beneath the powder. After I was done for the day and looked closely at the trail map, I see where there was a possibility of getting down from the top on blues and a doable section of black. Oh well, there's always next Monday. ;-)
Anyhow, I had a blast getting my TPUs in.
Brother-in-law Mike, who gave me practically a whole day lesson a couple weeks ago, would probably cringe at my technique but I think I retained a few things. I certainly am having more fun and feel more in control. Except there was one steep that everything just seemed to go to pot on. I worked on it a few times but it was getting too scraped off for my taste.

Pray for snow!

Mike's Philosophy

Scheduled day skiing at Butternut today. Cold, singles to teens, blue skies, packed powder. Very sweet.
Met up with brother-in-law Mike G. there. No surprise, it's second home to him (or first).
We skied most of the day together on the hill and Mike very graciously spent almost the whole time giving me a private lesson! I was thrilled. It was time for it. Haven't had a lesson since I started skiing 4 years ago.
And I must say it's made a big difference although I know I haven't really assimilated all of it.
Mike is a very graceful skier and Matt S. the general manager at Butternut has taken a lot of great pictures of Mike on the mountain. In fact, Mike is their poster boy. That's him on the lift ticket.
On a lift ride, I commented to Mike that he makes a lot of quick turns and doesn't really ski very fast. He replied that it's the turns that he especially likes about skiing. It's kind of a dance and he likes to milk a run for all it's worth. Some people like to shoot down the mountain as fast as they can every run and if they're having fun, that's great.
For Mike, it's an art form. I kind of like that approach. It got me thinking about the way I ski. I have got into skiing fast mostly because I found it was easier on my legs but I think the turns tired me out because my technique was bad. After Mike's tips, I find that I can ski in control even on the black diamonds with much less effort. Of course, the conditions were great today. ;-)

Next up, Mt. Snow on Monday for Valentine's Day and my birthday! Lift tickets are 2 for $49. Woo-hoo!

Check out a video I made today on youtube: http://youtu.be/767CCXjiAS0

Maple Ski Ridge

Well, I had to get my ski fix this week. My hands were starting to shake.
I couldn't take another day off but I had this brainstorm.
I had never been to Maple Ski Ridge but it's only 1/2 hour away, is cheap ($25) and has night skiing 3PM to 9PM.
It's small, only a few trails, but it might just tide me over till next week.
I normally work 8 to 4 but today I went in at 7 so I could get off at 3.
Got up to Maple ridge about 4, bought a ticket, suited up and away I went. You buy an RFID card for $25 the first time. Put it in your pocket and you are scanned at the lift and a turnstile lets you on to the chair. You keep the card and if you want to reload it you can do it online and it's only $20. Pretty cool.
As I said, the hill is small but the problem is not the few trails but that the trails are short!
Also, as I expected, the place was crawling with kids, bus loads of them. I think I was the only adult on the hill that wasn't either with their kids or an instructor.
My first hour, my hands got really cold because you're not on the trail long enough to warm up before you're back in the chair. Fortunately it's a short chair ride. I had to go back in side, eat my banana and get warmed up. Then I put my buff head gear on as a bandana before I went out again. That may have conserved some body heat because I didn't have the hand problem again.
Any how, I wound up having a pretty good time. Once I accepted that it is what it is and just enjoyed the time.
It was the first time I ever night skied and I really liked it. About 6PM the kids started going home (homework to do I suppose) and by 6:30 it felt like I had the place to myself. I found an area that I really liked, it was wide open, groomed and fast (but not too fast) and it was easy to get alone on it. Very peaceful at night with the lights on and all.
So I put in about 2-1/2 hours there. A pretty good night. I am satisfied.

And, I finally have to admit, very tired. After shoveling all day yesterday, pushing my neighbors 2 cars out of the snow and XC skiing for 1-1/2 hours and then skiing 2-1/2 hours today, I'm ready to recuperate!

No more XC skiing until at least Saturday and then I'll make another attempt at Butternut next Thursday.

Meanwhile, more snow predicted on Saturday! Oh yeah!

Satisfying day today pulled from the fire (or snow, as it were!
Had taken the day off and planned to go skiing (alpine) but the forecast for the area was for ice so I decided not to chance it. Instead went out to shovel snow from the driveway.
After my first break, I went out to shovel more snow and clear off the cars when I noticed my elderly neighbors having trouble moving their cars. They were both sitting on ice that had never been cleared from the previous storm. I swear I was out there an hour and pulled something behind my right knee in the process. I went home a crashed for an hour.
Then a third excursion out to clear more snow in the afternoon. After that I felt really good and decided I had to at least go XC skiing. I had to get out on this fabulous snow.
It was great. I've been able to go often enough this year that I'm starting to get my XC legs back. My stride and stability on the snow is much better and with the great snow conditions I could easily handle the downhills.
Then after a wonderful dinner of homemade chicken soup and biscuits by Mrs. MTBMan1, we settled onto the couch for a pleasant evening of reading. Very cozy!
And ... I had a brainstorm! Tomorrow I will go in to work early and leave early to go night skiing at a local hill! Only $25 and about 1/2 hour away. It's small but hey ... any skiing is better than no skiiing, right? ;-)