Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Two days officially constitutes a trend. I've resumed exercise, with some ski-specific leg work and two sessions on the rollers.

The cellist was more consistent with exercise than I was during the December doldrums. Today she put in an hour and a half on the trainer. It's all good. I prefer to mix up the muscle groups a bit in the off season, but the trainer is convenient for her. She started sitting up to do some arm work with light weights during today's workout.

A friend of mine is interested in learning Telemark turns to enhance his exploratory skiing. We plan to go to a small lift-served area for some practice in the next few weeks, so I started doing some of the exercises I devised years ago when I spent a lot of time practicing at lift-served areas. Telemark turns have a unique way of ripping hamstrings. Better to rip those in advance, in the comfort of your home, than out on a windswept hill.

Rather than perform the pedal stroke under load all year, on a trainer and on the road, I build or maintain muscle in the off season with Nordic skiing, hiking and squats (or Telemark dips). As part of the same session, I ride the rollers to make sure I stay smooth. It also helps loosen up my legs after the grunt work, before stretching. In a good ski season I will quite likely drop the rollers until March. In a bad ski season I might not only keep up the rollers, but also start to ride outdoors. I hate to start that too early when the weather could close in. Then the bike conditioning fades again as my activities shift to match weather conditions.

If I hit a bad spell for outdoor fun I still try to manage jail cell workouts, running the stairs in my house (steep, two sets), duck-walking in Telemark stance, door-frame pullups, stretching and light weights. It's often hard to stay interested. I have to remind myself how much better it feels to get it done. A little is better than nothing.

Right now I look forward to helping my friend learn the Tele turn more quickly, with fewer injuries, than I did. I haven't been on the lifts in ten years or more. I hope I remember what to do with a wide, groomed slope. My gear is hopelessly out of date, but I like it. I have no desire for monster boots and skis the size of surfboards. I really enjoyed the art of maneuvering a skinny ski.

I've got about a week to torture my thighs back into that kind of shape. Then there's the rest of the winter.


Ham said...

Don't get me wrong, I can see the appeal of back-(or stick)-to-basics skiing, but having just got to use my new Salomon Streetracers - bought brand new at the end of last season off a sportshop in Athens for about $250 - you are missing out on some serious fun, both in powder and piste.

cafiend said...

I choose my addictions with care. Are you free-heeling on those? I didn't enlarge the pic to see the binding. Lift-served Tele is simply evolving into alpine anyway. You could say I stepped onto the slippery slope by accepting a single-cambered ski, however skinny it might be, but the lifted heel and offset stance only matter with relatively unstable gear. On fat boards, with massive boots, Telemark turns are just an affectation. Skinny skis keep me in touch with the feel of my other skinny skis. When I tromp around the wooded hills with people on short fat skis I consistently have to wait for them up hill and down. The only time I go with something fatter is when I go to open snowfields or ravines, where conditions are more alpine. That happens rarely anymore.

Ham said...

I only do downhill in the Alps, I'm afraid, and no, they are fixed heel bindings (Crossmax 10 boots - yeah, big'n'clunky). As I said, I can understand telemark, even if I can't do it. I used to ski on 180 straights that were seriously fast, but for the last few years have been mostly on Salomon 165 Crossmax. Not bad, but the 164 Streetracers are in a different league of fun. Both heavy cut-through-crud and sail through powder, both behave better going fast, but the SR's are more precise and controlled IMO.

cafiend said...

Sweet. Where better to do alpine than in the actual Alps?

In the early 1990s when Telemark skis were evolving rapidly I had my first encounters with heavy, downhill-oriented skis after learning on much lighter (but still metal-edged) gear. They did feel like battle cruisers, bashing through stuff I would have had to slice more delicately on lighter, touring-based equipment.