Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let It Snow

I walk down into the basement and I find three kids with all the downhill skill equipment on making swishing noises - I think that means their ready! Or how about this: David is looking out the window and sees a sunny day and he grumbles about the terrible weather we're having.

Part of the cure for this: I told the guys that waxing a downhill ski is just like waxing a cross country skate ski. In the classic style of cross country we wax the ski with a wax that will grip the snow on a kick. In skate skiing there's none of that - pushing off with the side of the ski is the grip. 'So you can wax your skis for the snow[1] conditions and that will make you go fast'. The word fast got their attention. A couple days later, my crummy little waxing area was transformed by David into a well organized room with cabinets, and ski storage space! Imagine a space the size of a small kitchen with about 15 to 20 pairs of cross country and down hill skis - so his work was a big improvement.

I showed them how to clean the skis, get a base on, and put on the wax for the coming weekend. Everyone from Joshua down to Isaac wants to now wax their skis. I like that. I worked on my downhill skis, getting the gunk off the bottoms and preparing the base. Not doing the skate skis yet, not enough base out there. But I'm getting excited - a new pair of Atomic RS-9's.

We'll things changed this past weekend - we got enough snow and cold that the slopes could make snow and Joshua and David went to Labrador Mountain. Joshua was participating in their ski instructor clinic program. People go through this two day program and Lab figures out if their instructor material. At the end of two days, Joshua was one of 11 out of 25 that were asked to come back to get some more training! On Monday is was touch and go, but there was snow - so the kids went that day too.

So, let it snow!

[1] For those of you down south, 'snow' is when rain freezes way up in the sky and crystalizes into small white things that pile up to cover the ground. When compressed people can have fun sliding on it, using things like sleds, skis, your butt or the car.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Real Mtn Bike #2

Today was even better than yesterday - 60 degrees and the sun was peeking out. I've got to go out again.

Go home. Clean the gutters. Grab the bike. No one wants to go with me this time. So it's solo time. This time I decide to do Morgan Hill - there's a lean to up there some place and I want to find it.

This place is not familiar. I'm going alone. Sun setting earlier. Not a good plan, but I gotta to do it. Find the trail, jump on the bike, down the bank, and promptly go right over my handle bars - WHAM! Heck of a way to start... Get up hoping no one saw that stunt, and brush myself off. Walk down the trail to make sure the legs are okay. Got no choice, this is steep and muddy. Walk down to the bottom and there's this beautiful creek running through the woods. It's pretty sizable, no real way to ride through it - a solid rock base with moss looking pretty slippery. There's an old bridge that's missing all it's planks. So I get on the bike and pull myself across. Up the other bank. Now where is the trail? Ah, that part going straight up a bank infested with roots. These biking shoes aren't that great for hiking so I slip my way up. Finally up to the top - ride maybe 30 ft and logs and roots. Push some more. In fact I do a whole lot of pushing. In fact I think: this ain't a good mtn bike place for me. So I push back to the car.

Cross the road and make an attempt in the other direction. This is a long steady climb up a hill. I'll be darned if I can get on the bike and get moving: leaves slipping, mud, and everytime I pedal the front rears up and tries to dump me. This ain't work'n either. Dark is coming fast so it's time to head back. Trail 2, Kurt 0.

Disappointed I didn't get the ride like yesterday, but now I know where not to go!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Real Mtn Biking

Today we did our first real mtn bike run! Joshua and I drove down to Spruce Pond just south of where we live. This is a huge hunk of state land that has great woods, ponds, and hills. There's this trail called the Finger Lake Trail that goes from one end of NYS to the other. There's a 'spur' that goes from this trail up into Onondaga county, and it goes right through the Spruce Pond area. The last five miles or so starts at Spruce Pond and heads east, then north up on to Fellows Hill. I wanted to ride it. The first part is very steep, covered with leaves and muddy so we had to push for a while. About 3/4 the way up we rode. What an awesome trail! Nice and wide, through beautiful open woods that changed from evergreen to hardwoods.

Our particular problem was that (1) we didn't know where this trail went, and (2) dark was coming in. What the heck, we could always bushwhack west until we hit the main road. The trail gradually climbed then cut back to the east into a dense pine forest. We found a marker indicating the top of the hill. The pine forest was pretty dark and I switched on the head light. This didn't help Joshua too much since he didn't have one. Then it was down throught the woods - with me yelling out the various obsticles coming up. I'm sure this part of the woods was beautiful too, but I couldn't see it!

Trip took about 1.5 hrs and we had a fair amount of mud on the bikes. It was worth it

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bike + GPS = Fun!

Days for biking in CNY are growing short, so when Kathy asked me to take Jonathan to soccer, I jumped at the chance. Soccer is over in Pompey which has got some great biking options. I decided that this trip I'd see if I could find some geocaches. There are four in this area and I thought I'd see how many I could find by bike.

The first was within .25 miles of the soccer fields. In the Pompey cemetery, this cache has got an amazing view. I'd only been around that area at night.

The second was more of a hike. The challenge with starting at Pompey is that everything is *big* downhill! This cache was at the place called Old Fly Marsh. About a 2 mile ride. I was interested to go here since one of the Scouts in the Troop I'm in did a project there to re-do some of the marsh board walks. I got there and had to bike in on trails about .25mile - what a beautiful place! Open hardwood forest, old growth ceaders and the marsh. Got to come back here.

Turn around and head back. Get to the soccer fields. Hmmm, do I have time to ride to Pratt's Falls to find a cache? Sure I do. This is farther and more down hill than I remember. Get there and find the cache. It's supposed to have 'geocaching pins' in it, but this one is looking pretty run down with no pins. Time to head back. Now I'm getting worried: got to get Jonathan before 11:00, lots of up hill and it's starting to rain.

No problem! Get back just as Jonathan is finishing. We head off and I tell him to go find the cache in the cemetary. It's in an pretty cool spot. He found it, then we set off to find a cache at a rest area on Rt 20. We've driven by this spot a zillion times and I always wondered if the cache was there. Jonathan found it.

What a great time!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Nutritionist: Part 2

Went to the nutrionist yesterday, and I must say I was pretty impressed! Bottom line: reduce the carb's, increase the protein, and increase the fat. Less pasta, bread, etc. More meat - I was surprised that I should be eating 4-6oz at lunch and dinner. Couple eggs each morning too.

Interesting discussion around One Step, this is the supplement that Eddie recommended. She was pretty impressed with the stuff in it. The one problem for me with it is the soy: I may have some kind of food allergy to soy.

Pretty funny at one point: Kathy thought she'd ambush me, "hey, you should see how much butter he puts on his toast!!" "That's okay" was the word back!

Got two supplements: Natura Vital Adapt and a power called Pro-PNC. The later for the training. Bunch of solid advice, go do this for a month and check back in.
Can't wait to see how this works out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Nutrionist

Tomorrow is the day. I get to have my food intake examined. I'm tired of being tired. And sick. I'm hoping this will really help. Of course there's my nose. I can't smell. So I'm driving in the car tonight with Kathy and she keeps rolling down the window. Why are you doing that? Because the smell of freon! Maybe that's why I feel so crapy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Toe Clips

A guy mentioned a while back that a good way of training for XC is to get toe clips on a bike because it works those muscles in the front of the leg that hurt so bad when I first start sking. Eddie threw me some suggestions too so I'm thinking I need to try this. Was down at the Bikeloft getting my 30 day adjustment and asked and they said they had a bunch on sale. I'm figuring I want to do this as cheap as possible - two expensive sports: got to tread lightly on the home budget. And they had a cheap pair that fit. Also get a pair of peddles that have one side normal and the other a slip - perfect for me. Buy another tool to change peddles, so I'm ready to do this. Dave says to stand next to a wall and practice getting in and out of the clips - good advice.

Make the peddle changes, put the clip on the shoe and find a wall. Not too bad popping in and out, so I head for the hill. Meeker hill is about a mile of uphill that alternates between moderate and hard up hill. As I'm working my way up I'm loving these shoes and clips! Sure beats sneakers flexing all over the place. Hit one of the harder stretches and shift from 12 to 3 - bad idea - I'm still getting used to the shifter on the new bike. Suddenly my legs are spinning and I wonder if I have a chain anymore. Speed drops to zero and I start to go over. Some part of my brain say, 'oh, right, I've got clips'. Give the foot a twist and nothing. IN COMING. Another part of my brain says, 'this is really strang not being able to put a foot out.' By God's grace there's a patch of grass below me and I've got full gloves on due to the cold. Blam! Gotta laugh - this must have looked funny as heck - a guy going up hill, stops and falls over!

Get untangled, back in the saddle and up we go. On the easy section pratice some more. On the way down I undo one of the clips and flip the peddle over. No way I'm going over at 20mph!

All in all they great! Now where is that wall...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New bike, New bike!

Got a Specialized hardrock! Time to step up from the $50 special - what a treat! Got some extra cash from a work award and thought it's time. Gears are really smooth, love the front shock - all that stuff most other mtner's have known for years!

Thursday, March 30, 2006


It was 65 degrees today - as long as I've lived in central NY (about 45 years) it will never cease to amaze me - that first day when it's sunny and warm. What could be better? A winter full of snow and skiing, then have a 65/sunny day! It's like Christmas every spring!

So I grabbed my rollerski stuff and went out. 'Grab' is probably the wrong word. Over the past week I've had to hunt down my stuff. Couldn't find the road ski pole tips. I had bought a pair of V2 roller skis with pneumatic tires (they have inner tubes). Found out that two wheels had flats and I had just one spare tube. Put that in. Ordered another set from High Peaks Cyclery. These guys rock - had new tubes the next day. Ordered the wrong size. Found the tips, but couldn't find my Toko poles. Turns out I left the poles at Osceola - *gasp*. Coordinated with a few folks and found out Russ was going up that way - *whew*. Tried putting tips on my Swix poles - too small. Found another pair ... and on it goes. Finally got my rollski’s, poles, helmet and boots into the car.

Yesterday during lunch went down to Onondaga Lake park and went for a spin. Not putting on a sweat shirt felt very strange. Could have even put on shorts, but just couldn't do that yet! I felt pretty shakey - haven't done much in the way of working out in the past month with being sick and all. But it felt good! I'll probably get more skiing this summer than I did this past winter!

Who knows that weather the next couple weeks will bring, but today, life is good.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Empire State Games

The weather has not been kind to us biathlete's this year. God must have other plans. So as we headed into the Empire State Games (ESG) the news wasn't good: not enough snow on the range.

I picked up a U-Haul sport trailer (you gotta try one of these!), packed the family up and were on our way to Lake Placid. For trips of this length and this many kids in the car, it's critical to have a good book on tape. Before we left, I pickedup Eldest - not a sound out of the kids the whole way! We rolled into Lake Placid at about 8:00 and went in search of Steve's place. Steve was kind enough to let us stay at his house - huge place that he's been renting. A big old place right in the middle of town.

We were supposed to do a 10K sprint on Friday, then relay on Saturday. The range didn't have snow, but the cross country course by the ski jumps, about 5 miles away did have snow - they have snow making equipment there. The plan was to shoot at paper targets - 10 shots prone, 10 shots standing, 5 minutes for each. Take the total possible score of 200 pts and for every point less we get a 3 second penalty. That will determine the start order for the next day. First one across the finish wins. So basically your chasing the person in front of you.

Friday dawns and we head down to the range for zeroing at 12:00. It's nasty out: wind is gusting at what feels like 25mph and it's cold. Wind is coming from what seems like every direction. It seems strang to have every piece of winter jacket on I own vs. the thin spandex! One competitor looks like she just walked out of a mall: full lenght down jacket with fasionable boots! We're given the go and everyone gets down for the prone shoot. As the wind rages, everyone pauses waiting for a brief calm. When it comes there's lots of shooting. I get about 58 out of 100 - not good. Standing isn't looking good - how can someone stand still in 25mph winds?!? We're given the go and we start. I feel all wrong - tense, big jacket feels bulky, I start to rush things, ... final score is a dismal 15 out of 100. After talking with some of the other guys, it sounds like the way to go was to break the stance while waiting for the wind to calm down.

Saturday comes very cold, no wind and a light snow. We load up the car and rush down to the course. By the time Caleb, Joshua and I pick up our numbers, get our equipment on and get down to the course, the course is closed. The place is pretty chaotic because we're racing with the nordic guys. Normally all the biathlon guys go off at 30 second intervals - all age groups and genders racing together, so today's format is confusing me. Did I say it was cold? One of the guys who drove in that morning from the west said that a lake effect snow band was coming and we are going to get dumped on. It's really cold. We talk to a couple guys to find out what the course is like: it's a 2k loop - 1st k is up and 2nd is down - don't kill yourself on the first one, cause it's a big hill! Caleb and Joshua do 4k, I get to do 8. It's an awesome location - the start is right under the ski jumps. Both jumps tower above the start/finish. Caleb starts first - this is his first ESG race. I'm really proud he's doing this - not an easy race for someone who just started this skiing thing. Joshua starts about 30min later. He puts in a really good, consistent time for each loop. When asked about the hill he says it's really big. Really big. He gestures up towards the ski jumps, 'up behind those.' That's a big hill. I get out there to warm up and start peeling off layers. Did I say it was really cold? I think I'm going to miss shooting - at least then I get to stop twice to take a short break! They call us down and we start in the order of our score. Curse that standing shoot... My turn comes and off I go thinking about the big hill in front of me. This time, I have my heart rate monitor. After having blown a gasket at the Saratoga race, I figure I'm going to ski my own race no matter what. I come up on a woman get ready to pass, check the HRM and decide, not now. Up the hill we go. The trails are groomed really well, they're wide and the hill is step but not bad. I'm feeling good. Up, up and up we go. I catch up to Mr. blue and settle in behind him. At last we reach the top and I know it's all down hill. And it's a great down hill, long, fast and with a good run off at the bottom. Mr. Blue blows by me. I realize I've got the wrong wax on - too soft. This is not good when I have 1k of down hill - and Mr. Blue is leaving me in the dust. Down through the stadium area and back up the hill. Catch Mr. Blue again and stay in behind him. It's at this point I wish I had followed some advice: get wind proof briefs. The 'wide' stance of the V1 going up hill and 1k of down hill - well, you get the idea. We repeat this catch up and fall back for two more loops. On the fourth loop I catch up and decide to push it some more. Half way up the hill I pass Mr. Blue and try and develop some extra speed going down the hill by double poling and skating. When it's all over I'm happy with the effort: consistent times for each loop and racing with the HRM helped a lot. Talked with some folks about wax and they said it was definately a green day. In fact they said to get as much wax as possible off, let the skis sit outside so that the cold will force more wax out, then brush again. While the shooting and ski times weren't great, I learned a lot at this race.

That night the kids and I get totally bundled up and go out on to the frozen lake to watch fire works. After that we take a hike across the lake. What a beautiful night! Did I tell you it was cold?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saratoga Sprint 1/28

Weren't sure this was going to happen. The weather has not been good for skiing, with virtually no snow in Syracuse. We kept checking the Saratoga web site and sure enough, a day before the race they determined they had enough snow. Just enough. During the race there were patches of grass!

Caleb and I went over to Saratoga Friday night and stayed at the Flip (Feels Like I'm in Paradise) Inn. The place was an early 70's style with textured walls, basket chairs, etc. Very comfortable! It sure beat waking up at 4:30am on Saturday, race along the thru way and running around when we get there. This time, much more relaxed. We had a good night sleep - except for the radio/alarm that went off at 5:30. Caleb couldn't figure out how to turn it off so he turned it to am and tuned to a 'blank' channel. I didn't hear a thing - I wear ear plugs when on the road.

Next morning we headed to the Saratoga biathlon club. And a very nice day it was: sunny at climbing through the 40's. The Schreiner's were everywhere as usual. One was doing registration, Jim Sr. the mayor of Schreiner town was greeting, Jim Jr. setting up the range, another one directing traffic in the parking lot, and so on. We got registered, equipment out - there's one thing about biathlon, there's a LOT of equipment to move around. We did our zero and did some skiing. This time I hesitantly decided to wear a heart monitor. I'm not sure I wanted to know.

Race started with Curt Schriner, three time Olympian, followed by each person at 30 sec intervals. I took off 35th. Felt pretty good and was chugging along - trying to avoid dirt spots - and soon found that I had come up behind King. I had actually caught someone! I tucked in behind King and let him set the pace. We reached the range and both missed 2. He was done much quicker than I and soon lost contact. I looked at the heart rate: 195! So, based on my tests, my AT (Anaerobic Threshold) is 177! So I knew I was in trouble - could almost feel the lactic acid pouring into my system. Half way through loop two I really felt it. Got into the range to shoot standing and was hopeful. Last race I had gone clean and thought I could do something here and maybe catch King. First shot missed and I pulled the trigger too soon on the second and it didn't event hit the target. I then missed the next three. Zip. Five penalty loops is a depressing thought. I slogged through the loops then went out on the course. I was dying. Heart rate settled down to 187.

All in all it was a fun day. Learned something about heart rate, my hill climbing is getting better, and had a good time with Caleb.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Biathlon 10K Sprint Osceola

January 7th turned out to be a sunny day, starting at about 3 degrees and soaring to 25 degrees. Eight peoples worth of ski equipment, biathlon rifles, food piled into the car at 7:45 - 15min behind schedule and raced north to Osceola. I was worried about the snow - in Syracuse there was only a few inches and that didn't look good for racing. Once we got north of Camden, my worries were gone - there must have been at least 2 ft of snow on the ground! Also north of Camden are hilly, bumpy, twisty roads. I'm thinking were late and so I'm pushing it. The result was Isaac got sick and threwup. We got to the ski center and Kathy raced off to get us registered, while Caleb, Joshua and I grabbed rifles and headed to the range to zero. I thought we were going to be late, turned out the range opened just as we got there. Sorry Isaac. It was really perfect weather: sunny, no wind and new snow. Temperature started out at about 3 degrees, but climbed to about 25. Zeroing was strange. I took 10 shots and was low center, brought it up 5 clicks and was still low. Brought it up another 6 clicks and was still low - just below the prone ring. At that point the lines started to form to zero so I gave up my position and popped it up another 4 clicks and hoped things worked okay.

Went back to collect ski equipment and check to see how the rest of the family was doing. I heard this call and saw Isaac out in a field with his snow shoes! He'd asked and received these for Christmas and had been talking about them ever since - so today was the big day! There were tracks all over the field! Grabbed skis and went out to warm up. I was pretty nervious about the skiing today. I had done the Osceola 10K three weeks ago and it wasn't pretty. Skate skiing is still new to me - wasn't looking forward to looking like a clutz. Last year I did the novice division which was 7.5K. Since I can only do that one season, this year I moved to the open division at 10K. Skied around for a while and before I knew it there were Donath's everywhere: David was out taking pictures, Jonathan was out on his new skate skis, Kathy was handing out number bibs to the racers, Karyn was skiing with her backpack and Isaac making snow shoe tracks!

Race time was 11:00 and with number 127, I had 27 minutes to wait with racers going off at 1 minute intervals. Chug some more water, ski around some more, then it was time. Got the count down then off we go! Quickly found out that under the pines, things were pretty icy under the powder - clutz time. This course was actually pretty easy with one big, long hill. Easy compared with Saratoga that has three or four hills of the same size. I took the hill slow, concentrating on technique.

Down rocket run through the woods and out on to the range. I felt like I'd never done this before: not sure where to put my poles, clipped into the cuff in the wrong order, etc. Down in prone position and got the breathing under control. Finally got settled down and squeezed off a shot. Clink, down went the target - I love that sound. Missed the next one, got the next, missed the next and got the next. Three for five - not bad for a zero session that didn't go well.

About half way through the next loop I started to get a terrible pain in my right hip. While coming down rocket run, I couldn't hold the snow plow because of the pain and went flying down. David was at the bottom with the camera - not good. Zoomed past him then wipped out. Back to the range for - gulp - standing. At this point I'm pretty tired so I'm moving around a lot. Hit the first one, hit the second - this is looking good! The range offical yells out, 'Number 127 clear' I say, "please say that again!" Off to the course and by pass the penalty loop.

Last loop my calf muscles are no longer as tight and I'm able to get through the loop in faster than the last loop. Not a bad race overall. I place 10 out of 11 in my group. Shooting went very well and I'm starting to feel better about the technique, but still got a long way to go.

Joshua did very well: 80% shooting and took second place in his age group. He did the 7.5K in 29:27. He's looking better everytime he gets out on the skis.

Next week we do Lake Placide - 10K mass start, sprint format.
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