2008 Summer Rendition, Episode 1: Go West Young Man!

It’s been a while…much has happened… In light of this fact, I will be posting a BRAND new series of articles called “2008 Summer Rendition” to bring everyone up to speed on all the exciting stuff that’s been going on. I have inevitably procrastinated this moment for far too long, so here goes.

It almost seems to be a taboo for Canadian youth not to head west at some point to explore the vast countryside and breath in the exhilarating mountain air. There’s just something about the majestic Rocky Mountains that attracts the free spirit in young people. And I am no exception. On July 7th, we packed up the Peace Train (formerly known as the Meatwagon…our team van) in the early hours of what would eventually be a hot summer day. With bikes and skibags on the custom roof rack or “trailer” and an enormous heap of bags and sh** in the back of the van, we were set. Eric yelled at the top of his lungs, “Take us West Skeletor!” and just like that, we were off. I suppose an explanation is required, Skeletor is the Peace Train’s new hood ornament. Basically it’s a skull with a pirate eye patch and if you happen to lift the eye patch, SURPRISE, there’s a little dude sitting inside! I know, it’s pretty sweet, eh?

The drive was epic as per usual. We made it to Swiftcurrent, same as last year, and stayed in the same motel as last year the first night. We all thought we had forgotten Christina back in TBay, but really, she was just passed out in the back of the Peace Train all hopped up, or should I say doped down, on Gravol for the entire drive. This is where she received the sarcastic nickname, Cheerful, from. The long drive is definitely worth it though. Once you spot the mountains, your cramped legs and general boredom completely vanish.

We spent the next two weeks doing dryland training in Canmore. I love training in Canmore during the summer for one main reason: it breaks up the long off-season into smaller, more manageable pieces. With different scenery and training locations, I’m never stuck doing that same old route over and over again until I go insane. The entire two weeks was filled with solid training, but there were a few workouts that were off the chain! The first workout I recall being tossi maatava (translation: extremely great) was a continuous zone 3 ski striding workout at the Canmore Nordic Centre. It was the first time our team did a continuous zone 3 this year and I could not believe how great it felt. The biggest difference between doing a continuous style as opposed to specified intervals is the feel of the workout. When doing continuous efforts it feels more like a race, more natural. Rather than constantly looking at my watch to see when I could stop going hard, I was watching the trail for the spots we had decided to start/stop at. It was a great feeling to not be so dependent on my watch for once.

Two days later was the “man up” workout, a three hour classic rollerski up Highwood Pass, predominately using double pole technique. I managed to only use kick double pole on a few flats and gradual climbs, while double poling every single massive hill. It was a tough challenge, but a good one. The final climb to the top of Highwood Pass is approximately 3.5km long with a reasonably steep average grade. To complete the challenge one must double pole this entire climb. The outcome: two heroes, Harry Seaton and myself. We defeated Highwood Pass with a total elevation climb of 925m over the 3 hour ski. A big shout out to Phil Wood, who completed the challenge of double poling the final Highwood Pass climb last year.

The Rocky Mountain Sheep that literally stopped me in my tracks during the Highwood Pass ski.

They're everywhere! At least these ones were a little smaller so I didn't feel like I was going to get charged and trampled.

Harry after conquering Highwood Pass.

Me after maning up and conquering Highwood Pass. Usain Bolt totally copied my pose. This picture was taken before the Olympics...what can I say, I set the trends.

The team standing on top of Highwood Pass.

The final workout that sticks out in my mind was the long road ride our team did. There’s just nothing that can compare to climbing up mountain passes and taking in stunning scenery and then flying back down again. Our route began in Canmore and first went West along the highway, then around Minewanka loop, straight to Tunnel Mountain, through Banff, up Mount Norquay, back to Canmore and to cap it all off, we climbed Silvertip Mountain before heading home. The best part of the ride had to be Mount Norquay. Going up the switchbacks, I always feel like I’m in some European stage race or something. And riding back down at 75km/h, passing cars, then slamming on the brakes to make it around a switchback isn’t so bad either. I think I set a new personal record for highest speed on a bike during this ride. I took all the corners just right coming down Silvertip and I’m pretty sure I broke 80km/h. I guess I’ll have to get a bike computer for next year so I can be certain.

Overall, it was a good two week training block before heading up to the Haig Glacier. Chillin’ in Canmore, doing lots of train bridge jumping, long board sessions, hustlin’ at the pool table in our house, and eating at the Grizzly Paw generally tends to bode well with our team.

Episode 2: “The Haig” in stores…uhhh…I mean, on my blog SOON!

Me at the top of Corey Pass. We attempted this hike/skiwalk last year, but took the wrong way and missed the views. We really missed out last year! Wow! It was crazy up there. You can see the trail we came up on to the right of me in the picture.

Luke setting up for a backflip off the train brige...oh sh**! There's a canoe. Don't go yet Luke! No worries though, he didn't land on the canoers...phew.


Thomsen D'Hont said…
dude, we totally missed out on Cory pass last summer...crap.
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