Friday, July 30, 2010

Trout Lake, Washington

Perhaps its not surprising some of the best skiing in America can be found beside a volcano stretching 12,276 into the sky. What might be surprising, though, is this underground mecca for ski training is used near exclusively in the summer months, and, even though one can see hundreds of acres of terrain on the upper reaches of Mt. Adams, all the skiing is done on paved logging roads put in years ago to haul out the resident Ponderosa, White Pine and Doug Firs. All it takes to put a smile on this skier's face in the summer months is smooth pavement that meanders through the Cascade foothill. To have all this in a sleepy town that sparingly shares the road with fossil fueled BMW R75's and mid-nineties Chevy Silverados makes it even better.

We saw the hottest days of the summer yet at this camp. Fortunately swimming holes abound around Trout Lake, making the plunge into the icy waters running off Mt. Adam's glaciers an easy detour before rolling back to camp and filling up on Taco Stand inspired food.

The kids were working hard all week. I don't think they were too used to putting in two tough workouts a day, but I never heard the young'ens complain. I was pretty impressed, especially when we finished the last two days of camp off with a time trial, a max strength session and a fast trek to the top of Mt. Adams. It was pretty sweet to see this long thin line of raucous skiers blowing by these slow moving, overburdened climbers, puffing away in their full GoreTex kits, headlamps and ice axes in tow.

$320,000 Kindergarten Teachers, worth the short read: here

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birthday Ski

Self-portrait from the top of Mount Bachey.

Waking up this morning, I thought I'd treat myself to a final morning on the slopes. So I - slowly - rolled out of bed, then loaded up my skis, a brand new pair of the beefy Sin 6's Rossignol sent me at season's end, skins, boots and headed twenty miles up to the base of Mt. Bachelor. A little over an hour of solid skinning and bootpacking later I was at the top looking down a chute for the final schussing of the season.

The climb to the sky's final steps.

The perspective from the top. Definitely worth it. And though this picture doesn't do it justice, the skiing just below in the cinder cone was top-notch, not too sun cupped at all and the new skis ripped.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

McKenzie Pass

I’m all about tradition. And if there’s a singular custom that holds true for the endurance athlete – whether they be skiers, cyclists, paddlers, whatever – it’s the Sunday long workout. This week was no different. Only today, instead of heading out for a semi-epic crust cruise that circumnavigated either Moon Mountain and Broken Top, or hitting all the neighborhood streets from West Bend to Tumalo, today it was time to get out on the road bike.

The past couple seasons I worked with a coach who didn’t really believe in cycling. With mountain biking, he thought the chance of injury too high. With road biking, that it wasn’t sport specific enough. To mention the desire to get out and spin on the S-Works would invariably be met with a variation of the theme, “Skiers ski.” Anyways, today brought back how much I missed getting out on the roads and watching the miles click by while being powered solely on muscles, powerbars and the desire of a gluttonous feast consisting of cheese and bacon and guacamole topped hamburgers and greasy onion rings, all washed down with a chocolate-banana malted shake.

With my Bend days now down to single digits, I knew I needed to get in a least one decent ride in Bike Town USA. Sunday morning a group of seven professional athletes of either cycling, triathlon or skiing descent rolled out on the roads to the cowboy town of Sisters, Oregon. From here we made our way up McKenzie Pass. As the pace picked up and the gradient steepened, I was a tidbit nervous with my serious lack of cycling miles and with both the eastern and western climbs of McKenzie Pass looming. McKenzie is a fabled road here in Oregon, the original pass through the Cascades that connects the high desert of the East with the wetter West. Being so oldschool the postman used to have to traverse it on skis at the turn of the century, the road snakes and weaves its way along the mountainside, a two-lane path matching nature. It stands so much in contrast to modern road straightened through dynamite and man’s might. Certainly better for quicker driving from point A to B, but it’s like a friend of mine says, “Take the interstate if you want to go from one place to the next and get there absolutely as fast as possible, and see absolutely nothing.” Both have their place. I just seem to overemphasize speed and miss out on taking in roads that roll along with lava fields and country estates.

Getting back into town, ravished, its time to slide into Sno-Cap for the aforementioned all-American culinary experience. But it’s a hot Sunday afternoon and the line stretches straight out the mom-and-pop burgershack to the street. We’re hungry, real hungry, so we head down the street to a cafĂ© that specializes in all-natural vegan food. The wait was non-existent, but so was that malted milk shake.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tour de Northwest

It's July. And in the tradition of the 97th edition of the Tour de France, I've spent my last days out on the roads with no two days alike.

First, I left Bend for Portland; then the City of Roses gave way to the port town of Astoria, Oregon.

My gypsy in arms came all the way from across the Atlantic to take in America, experience the 4th of July and to touch the Pacific for the first time. Forget Swatch watches or Swiss chocolate, this is the finest of Schweiz's imports.

Just as this tour came to end, so soon shall my time in Bend. Next week I load up the truck for good, leave the House of Fun solely in the hands of Decker and Lieto, and trade it in for some quality time up in the north country. Before arriving in Mazama I have one more stopover, though. I've been invited to lend a hand coaching the young up-and-comers at the PNSA ski camp at Trout Lake, Washington next week.