Gettin' there!

Endorphins.
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.
Sad.
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"

R-r-r-r-r-r-r-

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 ....


Gone!
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!