Bits of Winter – Part 2

17 04 2011

Many a snowy hike were had this winter, all without snowshoes (although, I wish I had a pair). I actually perfected the art of not slipping through the snow crust by the aid of my trusty Keen boots.

You see, they are so wide that they actually distribute my weight across a wider platform, preventing me from sinking through – so long as I’m making my own tracks (that goes without saying, if you know me). I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without stepping in someone else’s footprint. Hey, when you hike as much as I do, your mind begins to wander.

Aside from enjoying the glimmering snow among dormant deciduous trees, snapping way too many photos of my dog romping through the winter wonderland,

It's a hard life

and dreaming of riding the trails under the white blanket, my winter hikes allowed me to scout out some hidden climbing spots for the coming season. What I found:

  • A perfect bouldering area buried 2 miles in, with a luxurious carpet of puffy moss at its base.
  • A short, but technically challenging top roping wall that could have about 4-5 nice routes. Some bushwacking required.
  • Another wall of quartzite that looks fun to climb, but seems to have a sketchy base area.

All that dreaming of climbing got me back into the rock gym after a several-month hiatus. My regular climbing partner has had some scheduling issues, so I was so happy to have a couple of sessions bouldering with Aleya of Rock and Sky. We had a great time at Earth Treks, with me learning tons just observing Aleya and others climbing much harder routes than me. I enjoy climbing with new people, and got over my anxiety of venturing into the bouldering cave instead of hanging out in my usual top rope area. I haven’t gotten any of these while hanging from a rope:

Nice flapper

Sucky photo (it’s hard to take a pic of your right hand when you’re right-handed), but it was a pretty nasty flapper. Although, I’d willingly suffer more of these to have a climbing gym closer to my house. I despise the 50+ minute 0ne-way trip to the gym.

In all, this winter was awesome – filled with all the things I love to do to stay off the couch when it’s cold: snowboarding, hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends new and old.

Bits of Winter – Part 1

21 03 2011

The robins came back last weekend. We also set our clocks ahead and the ski hill had its last hurrah. I wore my capri hiking pants and went for a cruiser ride. I would say Spring is about to make an appearance.

I’ve been on a journey of awareness lately, and so began to reflect on the bits of winter 10/11 worth remembering. Here’s part 1.

I started doing some new circuit workouts in the fall in preparation for the snowboarding season. It was a little experiment. At that point I didn’t know that I would also become the proud owner of a new board. I deserved one after 7 seasons on the old one, no? I definitely noticed a difference in the time it took me to get my legs back. Jump squats galore and stationary cycling kept me from getting jell-o legs for my first few days on the slopes. That was a plus. The negative? Thicker adductor muscles…which means tighter jeans. Whatever. A means to an end, right? Gretchen Bleiler and Hannah Teter are doin’ alright in their typical snowboarder bods.

I’m sure the new board and overall great conditions for the season had something to do with my performance. And, I should give my skills a little more credit, too. I’m not a freestyle rider, though. I tend to stay out of the park, only going in to pop over some kickers here and there. I’d rather coast down a hill, absorbed in my thoughts, carving deep turns. The most style I gave this winter was ollie-ing before stopping at the base and getting back on the lift.

Riding “eastern powder” and glade runs in WV was my overall highlight for the season. I scorpioned halfway through a run between some trees, and came up belly laughing like a kid, my husband shaking his head at me.

I’m keeping that in mind for next season as a reminder that pushing myself past my comfort zone can be fun and exhilarating. Until then, squats are off the menu.

Blackjack (or 21 Days)

1 03 2011

I’m writing this on March 1st, as we begin to close out a winter where we haven’t had any “blizzards.” Well, not yet anyway. Blizzard is a strange term ’round here – it mostly refers to the conditions we experience (fast accumulation, wind and drifting) more so than the amount of snow we get. Last year we had two back-to-back storms that brought us about four feet within a week’s time, offering us the experience of riding East Coast powder. (After we feverishly dug out of a waist-high drift covering our front door so we could make it to the ski hill.)

That being said, I’ve gotten more days on snow this year than possibly any other of my 8 years on a snowboard. Granted, we live within 15 minutes of the closest hill, but we lined ourselves up for success this year.

The first (and best) decision I made was to not work at the ski resort. For two seasons previous to this one, I took a part-time job at the resort so the Mr. and I could ride for free. Problem was that 2-3 shifts a week there actually made me kind of sick of the place. This year, instead of waking up before the sun on Saturday mornings to stand behind a counter, I was waking up before the sun to make first tracks (and to beat all of the non-locals to the lifts).

Secondly, I bit the bullet and bought us season passes. Good on three mountains. Discounts on 20 others. Enough said.

I also planned ahead and got us a four-day stay at our favorite cabin getaway in West Virginia. Because it’s in a snow bowl, Canaan Valley gets more than 180″ of natural snow each year, and this year is no different at over 200″ so far. We had a blast riding glades and ungroomed trails for two solid days. Kick. Ass.

Last, but not least – I got a new board this year. After riding my Gnu Carbon Select for only 7 seasons, I retired it (to hang on the wall in my office) and got a 2011 Burton Feelgood. I must say, I never imagined that replacing my board would make such a difference. For our conditions in the East it can’t be beat for a freeride board.

So there you have it. I can honestly say that if my season ends tomorrow, I’d be perfectly happy with how it played out. Not that I’m ready…

Training for Snowboarding (aka I Need an Incentive)

5 10 2010

Maybe my eyes are still starry from our “epic” winter last year,

but I’ve been dreaming of getting back on my board since September. Season passes have been purchased.

I would love a new jacket, helmet, and goggles…and Chris says I need a new board (I can’t let go of my Gnu Factory Choice – yes, from 2002). But, all capitalism aside, I’d rather be prepared physically. This year, I actually want to train for snowboarding. How novel!

Maybe I’ll give progress reports, although I don’t know how to measure my progress. I guess I’ll know when I get on my board…

Anyway! I’m super picky about my workouts because I like to be able to divide them up into circuits if they aren’t already. These two I’ve deemed worthy:

Both of these have options to rest 1 minute between sets/exercises, which I probably won’t do, but other than that, I don’t anticipate modifying them.

One thing I’d never realized was that biking is great off-season training for snowboarding. I love being efficient!

Biking in a Wool Shirt: Icebreaker’s Chase Crewe

10 08 2009

I know there are a million gear review sites out there, and I don’t intend on turning this blog into one of them. But sometimes I come across products that aren’t the average fare that seem worth sharing. Here’s the first official Bacon Betty gear review.

Yesterday was a beautiful August day – by Maryland standards – moderately humid and about 85 degrees. So, I was a little reluctant to wear a merino wool performance tee for the long ride we had planned. I’m super sensitive to scratchy stuff next to my skin and clothing that clings because it’s walking the fine line between drapey and snug. (Shut up, you know it bugs you too!)

I was lucky enough to take home an Icebreaker Chase Crewe from this summer’s Outdoor Retailer. The company was part of a media event that I attended and I got to hear the story behind the products and the benefits of using merino wool as a performance fabric. Merino wool, as many are familiar with, is the magic behind several popular brands on the market – it’s what makes Smartwool my favorite sock brand.

In my professional life as the owner of a graphic design firm, I focus on telling my clients’ brand stories to attract loyal customers, so I was particularly interested in hearing about how Icebreaker sources their wool from New Zealand. Each garment has a “Baacode” on its tag which the owner can use to trace the impact of the pieces they purchase, from environmental to manufacturing to animal welfare.  The fiber in my shirt came from farms in Glen Orkney and Stonehenge, both on South Island, NZ.

Performance-wise the lightweight (180) shirt wicked sweat (there’s always plenty of that) better than my synthetic shirts and dried quickly. I was a little worried about the red color bleeding onto my skin when it got soaked, but no color ran.

Icebreaker SS Chase Crewe in Salsa

Icebreaker SS Chase Crewe in Salsa (image courtesy Icebreaker)

There’s a zipper pocket on the right hip, with an eyelet to run a headphone cable through, that would comfortably hold an iPod shuffle or other small mp3 player. I definitely wouldn’t put my heavier iPhone in it, though, as the fabric stretches.

The seams are nice and flat and the fabric wasn’t itchy at all and didn’t creep up my back under my hydration pack (big plus over synthetic shirts).

There are a few reflective bits in the design, but the garment is “designed for high performance mountain sports” and my use only happens during daylight.

At $64.99, the purchase price is a little prohibitive, but I’d definitely recommend trying out this top for summer mountain biking. I also plan on using this for running as the summer cools down and for an early/late season base layer for snowboarding.