K2inCanada's Blog

March 11, 2018

Holy sunshine, hot

Filed under: Canada, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 9:58 PM

It was a +10C day today at Callaghan. Blue skies and endless sunshine. Almost too hot to climb up to the Journeyman Lodge but the views were spectacular. If not for my still sore shoulder this would have been the best ski yet this season. Mind you, despite using my skins grip wasn’t the greatest on the way up, or I should say my technique sucked to get grip. Because on the downhill sections, the skis were VERY grippy in all the sunny spots. Past Callaghan Lake the trail enters the forest after the long 8.5km climb up along the groomed road all in the sun – I am sure I burnt my nose. In the forest the trail alternated between sunny spots and shady spots. On the gentle up and downhills I didn’t notice much of a difference but at one point I was going down this steeper short hill which started out in the shade and I gained some decent speed. Half way down I hit the sunny section and my skis almost stopped dead. Of course I crashed, landed on my bad shoulder and overstretched my hamstring. RATS. Luckily the pain was manageable and I continued on hoping that Jeff would come down any minute so I could turn around. But I had to ski on for at least another slow 45min, being scarred hitting any sunny spot until we finally met. It would have been only another kilometer to the Lodge but I had enough and was worried about the long and somewhat steep down hill at the end. I moved my binding all the way back to reduce grip and it helped a little bit but the way down was scary as hell. Lots of snow plowing and very tired legs at the end. Legs were more tired on the way down than up. But every time I went from shade (now there were some tree shadows on the trail) to sun I felt this huge resistance in my skis and it tugged on my hamstring. The difference in speed in the shade vs. sun was incredible. But I made it down without another crash, slowly, and despite a sore shoulder and shaky legs it was an incredible, although long ski! One day I want to do it on a sunny, -3C day with a good dump of fresh snow on the night before. And maybe that day I have energy left to explare the trails at the lodge that Jeff always raves about. I am not picky at all, am I? 🙂

We stopped at the Shady Tree in Squamish to refuel on beer and food. Diamond Head was smoking today – be aware of all those dormant volcanoes of the Pacific Rim!



March 10, 2018

Finally some easy weekends

Filed under: Canada, Kayak, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 7:37 PM

No races for 3 weeks in a row. Well Jeff was half thinking to do Sovereign this weekend but neither of us are in shape for a 30km skate loppet. Plus the weather in town is going to to be gorgeous. Today we went for our first long paddle which took us and our double surfski around Croker Island at the end of Indian Arm. Now I know why the paddle around Coker Island up Indian Arm is so hard. Per my Garmin watch it’s not only 33km long but 1648m UP. Compared to last nights ski at Cypress with an elevation gain of 164m. Maybe one should not trust those GPS devices too much. Blue skies and sunshine and temperatures were perfect at 12C. Water was quite calm but for the odd motorboat wash. We took it easy on the way out.  Saw some snow geese, I think, just past Silver Falls. Then picked it up on the way back, really pushing it for the last hour. Surprisingly nothing hurt at the end of it, or at least not more than before we started :-). My shoulder/neck (see P’ayak blog) is still giving me some grieve, mostly when I try to sleep. But I am good for skiing tomorrow – a real up experience.

Last weekend we also went for a paddle on Saturday, just our 2hr easy loop to Cates, Admiralty, Twin and back. It was also sunny but not quite as warm as today. Paddling after a 3 week break felt great! The Sunday we went skiing at WOP and I force myself through 2.5hrs of skating. Man, skating is so much harder than classic. No way to cheat like I can in classic. And I ended up with this huge blister in the arch of my foot – need to build up the callouses again, sigh. Conditions were perfect though. Mostly overcast with some snow and some sun peeking through a couple times and -3C to -1C.

Night Skiing

Filed under: Canada, Home, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 7:14 PM

Managed to finally get out night skiing more regularly now up at Cypress and conditions have been pretty decent. Few snowy nights, one icy night but overall quite nice. Even dug out my skate skis. Jeff found another race for us to do at the end of the month, the Mexico Spring Break Loppet at Nickel Plate (which happens to be in the South Okanagan and not Mexico!). It’s a skiathlon of 14km classic followed by 15km skate. And they give away a draw price for a 7 day trip to Mexico for two!

February 25, 2018

Oh so close

Filed under: Canada, Germany — K2 in Canada @ 3:02 PM

Olympic Ice Hockey History was made yesterday. The German men’s ice hockey team came as close to the gold medal as possible, being beating in overtime by OAR. It was a super exciting match to watch and I cheered for the underdog Germany not only because I was born there. They played with so much heart. And I am not even a big ice hockey fan but how can you not know about it living in Canada. Mind you, it was a bit bittersweet when they beat Canada in the semi-final after defeating Sweden in the quarter finals. Both teams that were favourites to win the gold at the Olympics. And the German team almost beat OAR in the final – stupid short handed goal at the end of the 3rd period broke the spirit. Nevertheless, they can  really be proud of what they achieved.

TravelAdvisory (Medium)

The last and only time Germany got a medal in Olympic Ice Hockey history was a bronze in 1976. Germany didn’t even qualify for the Olympics in Sochi, partly because NHL players were playing in those Games. With fewer than 10 Germans in the NHL, the absence of the NHLers in Pyeongchang has not hurt the Germans as much as most.

Just some interesting facts for my German friends:

  • Christian Ehrhoff played for the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL for a couple of years
  • Daryl Boyle was born in BC
  • The National Sport in Canada is Lacrosse, handball with a stick, and not Ice Hockey

That hurt way too much

Filed under: Canada, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 10:43 AM

Well, there is no part 3 to our Across Country Skiing (this year :-)). This weekend’s loppet, Sigge’s P’ayakentsut, was at Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan, usually only a 1hr45min drive away from home. But we woke up to 10-15cm of fresh snow in the morning. It had already snowed most of Friday afternoon and everything was covered in beautiful white fluffy stuff. The bike commute home from work Friday afternoon wasn’t bad at all, just hard work along the river trail in fresh snow. Most of the people had left by mid day and I got tons of stuff done that afternoon – yeah!

Anyhow, the snow wasn’t the issue driving to WOP on Sat morning but traffic was quite heavy. So every time the hwy narrowed from 1 to 2 lanes past Squamish, traffic slowed to a crawl. But we made it to WOP with plenty of time for the 10AM race start. Actually, only John’s race, who did the 50km, was to start at 10. The 30km race, which both Jeff and I did was to start at 10:20AM. But that was only an estimated start time. Took forever to get the racers through the timing ship pick up and lined up for the start (that was much better organized in the last two loppets). So our race didn’t really start till 10:40AM. No problem though standing around to wait for the start. The weather was beautiful, even though a bit on the cold side for the area. I could have shed one more layer – black lifa and grey short under the red race jacket was too much, so where the 3/4 long Johns. Oh well.

The race itself felt HARD – I was at the very tail end and mostly by myself. This is a combined skate and classic loppet but 99.99% of the participants skate. Classic being slower than skating anyways and me being slow at either resulted in the usual outcome. Close to last (results can be found here) :-). The first lap already was hard. The snow felt slow and I had a hard time double poling due to a pinched nerve in my lower neck. And there there are lot more hills than remembered from Gatineau. Although my “smart” watch said I did more elevation gain in Gatineau than the P’ayak. Maybe it’s only because I know the course at WOP and knew the big hills are at the end of each lap. And there was nobody to push me, except for the last 3km. There was this older male on skates who I had been trading places with. I caught him up, he caught me down. But neither of us tried really – it just happened. Until after the last 3km when we were climbing up to the finish line, his wife waited for him at the low point and started giving him instruction on what to do every fricking step of the way. It was sooo annoying that I, despite my legs and neck complaining like mad, tried my best to get away from them. I did, by over a minute :-). Jeff finished an hour before I did.

We skipped the Chili at after race party and went right to the Shady Tree in Squamish for a nice Mediterranean Wrap and yam fries and BEER!

My lower neck really seized up after the race and I was in pain all evening – still am. Hopefully it will go away so I can go paddling today. Has been 3 week!

February 24, 2018

Howe Sound Ballet

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 6:48 AM

I have seen bait balls paddling in local waters but never were able to witness it under water. Somebody else did. Great to watch what could be going on under my boat when I paddle.

February 23, 2018

Across Country Skiing Part 2 – Gatineau Weekend

Filed under: Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 8:09 PM

Actually, this past weekend was a triple A event – Almost All-the-way Across Country! Gatineau, QC may be just across the river from Ottawa, ON, but Ottawa, ON, is a long way from Vancouver, BC. Takes all day to get there. We left home at 7:30AM for our flight at 9:10AM on Friday (nice short week for us :-)) and we arrived in Ottawa at 5:30PM. It was a bit of a rush that evening – get to the hotel, go to the bib pick up and ski show, get dinner and get to bed early enough so that 6AM EST doesn’t come to awfully early. Once again, we moved around mostly by taxi cab – distances were a bit less that the previous weekend. The hotel was reasonable close to the event and near a grocery store and a big casino. The grocery store came in handy as we found out that hotel breakfast was a) not included this time and b) not served till 7:30AM. The latest shuttle bus to the race start was leaving the hotel at 6:45AM on Sat morning. Hence we stocked up on bagels and cranberry juice. Lucky for me everyone spoke perfect English since my French is almost non-existent any longer, it never was good to start with. At the bib pick up, once the cab driver found the right building, we briefly scanned the ski retailer show and Jeff fell in love with some high end Atomic skin skis that seemed to be better rated for his weight but didn’t quite want to commit to them just yet. There was lots of great stuff on sale, clothing, skis, accessories, etc, but we still needed to get some reel food into us and the show would go on for the next 2 days. On the long flight from BC they didn’t even serve pretzels this time, sigh. The bib pick-up/ski show was right next to the 27km start/finish and 51km finish line and we had a good look at the snow – it looked like sheer ice. The area had gone through a couple freeze-thaws over the last couple days. Icy means the worst possible race conditions for me, not being in control of my skis at the best of times on downhills. I was getting nervous! The weather forecast predicted a very cold night and morning, with temperatures quickly rising to just a couple decrease below 0 by noon. Not very promising. At least it made my decision what skis to use easy – skins it will be.

Weather2 (Medium)

We decided to have dinner at the hotel, the Bistro 75 restaurant, which almost was a mistake. It seemed like we waited at least 20min to be seated – there was no line up and the place didn’t look that busy. Than another 20min for a server. Than 20min for the beer. And I think only another 10min for the food. The food was actually pretty good but they had run out of bread. The coupon we got at the check-in was only valid for their special 3 course Valentine menu which was a bit much. Not the best start to the trip this time so far. Back in the room we laid out all the clothes for race day and went to sleep by 10PM EST. I thought, I may not be able to sleep right away but it didn’t seem to be a problem. The bed at least was quite comfy.

6AM EST did come early but I felt rested enough. The air temperature was as predicted  -15C. Despite that, I decided to dress a bit lighter than in Edmonton. Black lifa, light green MEC shirt, red race jacket on top, single layer Long Johns and ski pants on the bottom, light toque and ear buff on the head. Turned out almost perfect! We jumped onto the 6:45AM shuttle together with at least 10 other skiers that stayed at our hotel, Ramada Plaza, and another 10 from the 2nd sponsor hotel, Crown Plaza. Canadians, Brits, Finns, Swiss, New Zealand, US etc. The Gatineau Loppet is part of the World Loppet Series and has a bit more international participation than the Birkie. Apparently 19 countries were represented – we met people from Finnland, US, Norway, Switzerland, Germany. The bus dropped us off at the 27km start/finish line but Jeff had to hop on another bus at 7:45AM to get to his start. All went quite smooth so far but there was a lot of waiting as the race didn’t start till 9AM. There was lots of space indoors though to stay warm – the race started next to Mont Bleu Secondary school and they used the cafeteria as a staging area and the gym for the ski show. It was weird though to be on my own waiting for the start. 45min before the start I walked to the start area to test out my skis. It looked like the organizers had put in quite a bit of work to turn the sheet of ice into something that resembled snow and the tracks were quite nice – mind you the start area was all flat. But the sun was already out and despite a freezing cold wind I felt okay before the start.

Like the Birkie, this loppet used a wave start but the start times were only 2min apart. For some odd reason, I was in wave B, which was the 2nd wave. As I looked around there were a lot of much faster looking people lined up in wave C. Oh well. Like Edmonton, I lined up at the end of my wave and like Edmonton, I had to pass a lot of people again. I had people with me the whole time, trading places on and off, which was nice. This time the crowd around me looked more my age too. The tracks were in excellent shape and the race alternated between section of wide and gentle elevation roads and narrow sections through the trees with steep climbs and some faster descents. Most of the steep inclines, everyone herringboned. I probably would have had enough grip if the tracks wouldn’t have been all chopped up. It was an interesting course though and I actually enjoyed it very much. A lot of it was double poling even for me. I was faster than most on the gentle inclines, either double poling or striding, same speed at herringboning and a lot slower on the downhills (I am sure I was the only one snow plowing :-). “Woman in blue pants” was the one to keep me honest this race. I passed her double poling, stayed even during striding but totally fell back on the descents. Not only were her skis faster, better glide, she also had better technique. We did the passing games a few times along the way and caught a couple skiers ahead of us. Unfortunately, the last 5km were mostly downhill. I tried to be brave and not slow myself down on the road section but ended up putting the breaks on when in the trees on the narrower, more windy trails. I double poled my heart out along the flat finishing stretch but didn’t quite catch “Women in blue pants”. Darn – 7 sec behind :-). Surprisingly, nothing hurt after the race and I felt like I could have skied on. After the Birkie my elbows and wrist had been quite sore. Not this time. Maybe it was the beer they served right at the finish line, or the freshly made maple syrup lolly pops. I was in good spirit!  Picked up my extra clothes and then waited for Jeff. Saw the first 51km guys finish some 5min after I finished my 27kms. At least I did not get lapped! Jeff finished 40min after I did, just coming in under 3hrs! An amazing result for 51kms, I think and he was happy.

Unfortunately, Jeff’s extra clothes bag was nowhere to be found – or at least not where they should have been in the racking. The girls that were sorting the clothes bags tried their best but there were hundreds of white plastic garbage bags with numbers on them. So we decided to have lunch first and come back later when the racks have been cleared of bags a bit more which would make searching for a stray bag easier. Lunch was served in the school cafeteria. They had quite a big spread – chicken or beef, we both had chicken, with potatoes and veggies, yogurt and fruit and cookies for dessert, all three deserts not just a choice of one. Or at least Jeff and I picked all three deserts and nobody stopped us :-). Quite a bit more satisfying post race food compared to the usual chili or burgers they have at other loppets. World class, I guess :-). After lunch we went back to the ski show were Jeff once more looked at those Atomic skin skis. 15min of humming and hawing before he finally gave in and bought them. We had one more spot left in our ski box for the return flight. They were a very good deal at 50% off! And the guy even offered to put bindings on (at 50% off) but that meant we had to pick them up the next day since he could not do it at the show. I got yet another shirt – but it was cheap! Leaving Jeff’s new skis behind, we walked back to the bag area and yeah, after another 15min of searching they finally found Jeff’s bag. His wallet and ID had been in that bag. Not sure how I would have gotten him onto a plane without ID. By then it was time for the awards. And to my utter surprise I did win one this time. Not for coming in 114th overall, or 24th out of 90 female skiers in the 27km, but for being 1st in my age class (45-49) out of 10 other participants!!! Usually I am last or 2nd last out of 5 when skiing in BC. I was pretty happy. They only announced the top 3 finishers, male and female, overall for each of the races and I had to climb the podium on my own after the official awards were done but I had to do it.

P1230108_crop (Medium)F45-49 (Medium)

We caught the bus back to the hotel. That’s when the tiredness hit me and I curled up on the bed for 45min or so before we hit the hot tub in the hotel. For dinner we walk over to the big casino, forgot the name already, to eat at Banco Bistro – apparently the best (only) place to get nachos and we had a craving for nachos. The line up was HUGE and they gave us a seating time – 40min wait. We tried to kill some time looking at the slots but it wasn’t quite that interesting and I was hungry. We pretty much got a table right at the time they said they would seat us. Quite amazing actually given the number of people that had been and were still waiting. Server arrived the second we sat down and we ordered our nachos and beer. The beer arrived right away and the nachos came not too long after. A much better dining experience than the day before. The nachos were really tasty and loaded with good stuff such as pulled pork and cheese, well and the off pepper, tomatoes and NO olives but the plate size was rather French. So we topped that up by sharing a plate of lobster mac & cheese. Quite tasty!

P1230109 (Medium)

The Casino

Sunday was another sunny clear day, temperatures just below freezing. Hot for Ottawa really. We got up rather early, 7:30AM to catch an early breakfast at the hotel and then headed back to the ski show to pick up Jeff’s skis. Lucky for us, there was another shuttle bus waiting at the hotel and we didn’t have to take a taxi. We watched the start of the skate race at 9AM before picking up Jeff’s skis. We left the ski show not only with those skis but another pair of Rossi pursuit boots for Jeff as well. Could not resist the 50% off price tag :-). We took all those purchases back to the hotel and checked out leaving our bags at reception. We still had lots of time till our 6PM flight and took a taxi cab into Ottawa, right to Parliament Hill. We explored the hill and the views from there across to Gatineau. We checked out the Rideau Locks – bit of a scramble. We walked the Rideau Canal – the skates rental line up was just too long. We had lunch at Byward Market. We almost became part of a protest on Parliament Hill – quite a lot of police and gun power around for what looked like a pretty small group of protesters. But we did not stick around to see if the police present was overkill or needed. Instead we walked over Alexandria Bridge back into Gatineau. From afar it looked like there was a small park, Park Jacques-Cartier, with lots of ice sculpture to look at – but when we got there it was all fenced in. We walk along the fence but found no way to get close. Maybe they were still in the set up phase. And the is it was time to find a taxi cab back to the hotel to pick up our stuff for the airport. We were somewhere in the middle of nowhere but despite them telling us a cab would take 30min, one arrived in less than 10 and it only took 5min to get to the hotel.

We planned to get a taxi van to get our now fully loaded ski box to the airport but were told there are none that would come to that particular hotel. The hotel staff called the taxi company though and were told that they would sent a vehicle that would fit our ski box no problem. Well, it was a problem and we had to put the front seat down and Jeff had to lie underneath the box in the back seat. The driver was good with it though and we made it to the airport no problem. Lots of security around again – automatic weapons and all. Turned out, there had been an NDP convention in town and all the delegates from BC were on our flight. I can’t believe how politicians can talk no stop without actually saying anything! But hey, most of them were flying economy! Our flight was late too. The luggage door had frozen shut on arrival of the aircraft and it took them almost an hour to get it open and unload and reload luggage. On top of that, the flight home is almost an hour longer than going east and we didn’t get home till past 10PM. Going to bed hungry that night and Monday morning 6AM came way to early.

P1230163_crop (Medium)

Sunset at the Airport

I would so do it again though :-). Jet leg isn’t a problem on those short trips.

February 15, 2018

Across Country Skiing Part 1 – Birkie Weekend

Filed under: Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:09 PM

This year Jeff and I are putting an A in front of our cross-country ski trips. This past weekend we traveled to Edmonton, Alberta, for the 2018 Birkebeiner. The main event is a 55km cross country classic ski race where you carry a 5kg pack (representing the soldiers who skied an infant Norwegian prince to safety — the story behind the historic origins of the Birkebeiner). But they also offered a 55km lite, no pack, which Jeff signed up for and a 31km short cut version, which was more to my liking. I was dreading this weekend a bit since Alberta has been in a deep freeze for some time, low temperatures and windchill of -25C to -30C was not uncommon. A week ago the forecast for the loppet day looked quite promising with -2C but throughout the week it dropped again and by the time we left home the forecast looked like this – brrr:


We took Friday off work and left Vancouver at 10AM by plane to arrive an hour and a bit later in Edmonton. Unfortunately, neither Jeff nor I had checked how far the airport was away from the hotel, the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre on 76th St, and the taxi cab bill was a bit of a shocker. In hint sight we should have rented a car, it would have been much cheaper. Turned out the hotel was in the middle of an industrial area, far away from the Edmonton downtown buzz (not sure there is such a thing). Mind you, the room was nice and the hotel had a pub, restaurant, pool & hot tub, etc, just nothing to look at within walking distance. Well we did walk to the bib pick up, about 4km away along a busy road. There was quite a bit of snow in town and most of the sidewalks weren’t really cleared, if there were sidewalks. Once or twice we ended up walking the road for a bit right beside traffic. Surprisingly, nobody honked at us or tried to run us off the road. I know what you are thinking – who on earth would want to walk in Edmonton in the winter at -20C. But hey, it was sunny and I needed to stretch my legs and get acclimatized to the cold. We left Vancouver at +11C. At the end we had a nice walk, picked up our bibs and timing chips, checked out the merchandise and sampled some free Albertan beer. Alley Kat Brewing Company, apparently the oldest craft brewery in AB. The Salty Caramel dark beer was VERY good! We managed to avoid walking on the road on the way back. Had dinner and more beer at the pub in the hotel, watched the Olympic opening ceremony on TV and went to bed early.

Race Day – up at 6AM to catch breakfast at the hotel restaurant – nice buffet – but we didn’t really wanted too eat too much. I checked the temperature on my phone and it said -22C (not including windchill and it was supposed to be windy). But temps were forecasted to warm up to -7C with sun turning to overcast and light snow in the afternoon. So what to wear? Blue ski coat, black lifa and my grey T-shirt on top, double layer long underwear and ski pants on the bottom and a toque and buff on the head and lobster gloves on my hands. Balmy! To get to the start line, we did not have to worry about transportation, a van came to pick us up at 7AM. There were 9 other hotel guest we shared the shuttle with. Most of them from the US. It was about a 45-60min drive to the start of the point-to-point course at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. From there the race course was winding its way along the east edge of Elk Island National Park and through the scenic Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area:

Map (Medium)

It was barely getting light when we arrived and it was cold!!! Luckily they had a big barn where we could stay warm while waiting for the start at 9AM. Actually my start time was supposed to be 9:30AM as I signed up to start in wave 3, the methodical skiers :-). The start area was on Goose Lake and the wind was howling at 25-30km/hr across the open area. I did a quick ski to test my wax and had tears in my eyes it was so cold. A good reminder to put on my goggles for the race. I watched Jeff’s 9AM start, listening to the National Anthem and 5min of speeches. By then the sun had come up and made it all a bit more bearable. Apparently it was -12C at the start (not including windchill). Jeff lined up near the front and he was double poling the whole race – brave man.

As I was watching Jeff disappear across the lake I decided no way I am going to wait till 9:30AM. I grabbed my skis instead and lined up at the back of wave 2 to start at 9:15. It was the right call after all. We had to listen to the same speeches and the anthem again. The start itself was almost too slow for me. I started passing people right away double poling with the wind at the back and managed to get past half the field by the time the many tracks narrowed to two. After we left the lake and entered the protection of the tree, the wind was less of an issue. I steadily caught up to people and passed some more for the first 10km – no I never made it to the font! The terrain was rolly – not hilly like I am used to but always up and down – undulated they call it. And after a while those tiny little ups start to feel like hard work. The fastest 55km racers from wave 1 came by me at the 11km mark. They had done about 23km by then.  Jeff came by at about 14km, having done 27km already. I had people near me most of the time – either breathing up my neck or in my sight ahead. I usually did better on the flat to small inclines were I could double pole where most people already were striding. But I suffered on the “steeper” ups and they all caught me again. It was fun though and the track setting was awesome. There were a few hairy downhill turns, for me anyways, but I only wiped out on one of those. My wax worked quite well – thanks to wax tech Jeff yet again. Only lost my footing once in the 2nd half and landed on my knees. Both wipe outs enabled the “Women in Red” I had been trying hard to catch in the first 10kms to pass me again. She definitely was a better strider than I and she got quite far ahead on the “powerline stretch” into the wind with the longest climbs. Lucky for me though she stopped at every aid station and I managed to get ahead again. The “rolliness” of the terrain seem to get bigger and bigger towards the end and I had a hard time getting up those “hills” but so did the people around me. Got passed by a couple guys but managed to catch them all again before the end. The last kilometer was once more on a lake, this time into a 20km/hr headwind. It was brutal but I caught up with one more person on it. Finished the 31km in 2hrs55min – a good time for me. Jeff came in ~15min behind me. He was 13th overall and 2nd in his age class with a time of 3hrs23min!!! He had a great race and was all smiles. Not sure how he managed to raise his arms after double poling 55km on this “rolling” terrain. All the hard training he did paid off and he so deserved the two medals, one for first time finishing the 55km and one silver. I finished 102nd out of almost 300 and was 8th out of 20 in my age class. Not too bad, given that I am used to be last or second last :-).

The event was really well organized. Our extra clothes had been transported from the start to the finish line and waited for us as we finished. They had heated change rooms. The food, soup and sausages were served in a big heated tent with lots of tables to sit down at. And most important they had more of the Alley Kat Salty Caramel beer :-). And I think it actually did warm up to -7C. Apparently they had the best conditions for this race in 20 years for this race. Over 1000 skiers participated. The biggest ski event I have been to and it looked like we picked the best year to do it. There is a short article on CBC (if you want to read about sport other than the Olympics).

We stayed till after Jeff’s medal award and then jumped onto the shuttle bus back to…well some transit station in the middle of nowhere. Another tall taxi cab bill to get us back to the hotel. Time to soak in the hot tub for a while, chatting with fellow skiers who were also staying at the hotel. A couple from Newfoundland and the American we had met in the AM on the shuttle. All of those were going to the Viking Feast which we did not sign up for, expecting we’d be way to tired to be social, which wasn’t actually the case. Who knew. Instead, we headed to the pub for a couple nice beer and a huge plate of nachos – yeah!!! Finished the evening watching the Olympics on TV – that’s about as much figure skating as I can stand for another 4 years :-). Next time we do the Viking Feast.

Day 3 – we were back to sunshine and -23C. Jeff was going to take me to the MALL, the famous West Edmonton Mall, since that is THE thing to do in Edmonton in the middle of winter. I am no shopper at the best of times and with this beautiful sunshine it kinda pained me to go inside. But as soon as we stepped out of the hotel into the frigid cold I was sold on the mall trip. Another steep taxi cab bill later we got to the mall which was on the other side of town. It’s is quite a big place. We watched the kids play ice hockey. We saw the Waterpark – a huge wave pool under a glass roof with the sun shining down into it, pretty awesome and I wished we would have brought our bathing suits along. We saw the Santa Maria. We played a round of mini golf at Prof WEMs Adventure Park – gosh I suck at that :-). We had lunch at the food court and it was surprisingly good butter chicken and freshly made naan. We watched the sea lion show at Marine Life. We did some shopping – most of it at Mountain Warehouse which offered outdoor clothing like MEC used to do before they got into brand stuff and they had a 70% sale on. And we went to Galaxyland, the indoor theme park which was much bigger than I expected and rode the Mindbender roller coaster. Been at least 10 years since I have been to rides and I was a bit unsure at first. It was a great rid though and if we wouldn’t have run out of time, I would have loved to spent more time with the rides. For $45 for a day pass definitely an effortable fun day indoors. Unfortunately, after 5!hrs in the mall, the longest I’ve ever been in one!, we had to get back to the hotel, pick up our luggage and continue on to the airport.

Overall a great trip, minus spending too much money on taxi cabs – although we made many cab driver friends :-). We were back home in Vancouver at 8PM that Sunday evening and it did NOT rain.


February 4, 2018

Springlike Conditions

Filed under: Canada, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 6:18 PM

9 degrees in town and lots of rain. Freezing levels are up high. Lucky for us we have gotten quite a bit of snow in the mountains over the last two weeks when temperatures were still in the 5-6C range. Hence there wasn’t a lack of snow yesterday for the Cascade Cup Loppet in Manning, Feb 3, but temperatures were up at 2C with an overcast sky at the start of the Loppet. The snow was soft but the tracks were surprisingly firm and fast. I used my skin skis and had very good grip most of the time. Better than the people around me and for once I stayed ahead of people on the hill that would usually pass me, I even got to pass someone – well he, “FullBeardGuy” stopped to take his coat off but we had been closing in steadily! North Gibson’s was still hard work to get up as I had someone chasing me all the way. I thought it would have been Peter but at the turn at the bunny hill I saw a different person, Mr “Redshirt”. Peter was quite a bit behind at that point (that never happened before!!!). The tracks were fast for double poling and I did a lot of that, together with single leg kicks, and it felt good for once. I had dropped “Redshirt” on Strawberry Flats but of course he finally caught me on the downhill section on South Gibsons, him and “FullBeardGuy”, both. It was hard work to reel them in again. This time I got to chase “Redshirt” and finally passed him half way up as he had to get out of the tracks on the steeper sections while my skins still had grip. I had “FullBeardGuy” in my sight but he crested the top before I could get him and was GONE! I worked my butt off though staying ahead of “Redshirt”. I could still see him about 30m behind me at the bunny hill turn. The tracks seemed to have gotten slower on the 2nd lap, not sure if they really were slower or I more tired, and double poling started to feel hard. I b;asted down South Gibsons this time to not to be caught again on the downhill – there was no more hill to catch back up. Nobody passed me and I started to get my hopes up but then, on the flat section of campground loop, I heard someone closing in from behind. Damn, I thought, but it wasn’t “Redshirt”. Peter came flying by on the flats – his skis, crowns, must have been faster than mine. Last I saw him he was several hundred meters behind still. I did everything I could to keep him in sight. We stayed even on the flats, closed up a bit on a small incline but didn’t stand a chance on the downhills – he was gone. I saw him again at the finish stretch – 100m ahead and double poled my heart out. At the end I finished 15sec behind. I was happy for finishing this close to Peter in a regular loppet, he was happy beating me at the end. I didn’t even notice that it had started to lightly rain near the end. As always, we all got our cookie medals and great door prizes. Jeff, who double poled the whole thing came in 3rd overall, 47min ahead of me over 30km!!! And he beat some really good skiers!!! Great race for him and a good confidence builder for both of us for next weekends Birkie in Edmonton.

Capture (Small)

Lap 1 – FullBeard and Redshirt chasing me

Woke up to rain and Lily’s chatter this AM. Body felt a bit sore, a good sore mind you. By 11 the rain had turned to a light drizzle and a balmy 9C again. There even was a hint of blue sky to the south. We loaded up the double surfski and headed over to Deep Cove. Deep Cove though was still heavily overcast and it drizzled on and off during our 2hr paddle to Cates, Admiral Point, Twin and return via the Cove but the water was nice a calm with an outgoing tide. Apparently I wanted to work a bit too hard and ended up ahead of Jeff all the time who was aiming for a recovery paddle. After we sorted that out half way, things started to feel much better. While we had our late lunch and early beer at the pub we watched the sun break through the clouds. It felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in town forever! A nice change and I went for a short walk to get my Vitamin D. Some of the flowers in my garden have started to blossom as well and it sure smells like spring.

Paid less for my first car…

Filed under: Canada — K2 in Canada @ 10:46 AM

Well, I am sure I paid less for my first car, a VW Polo, although I don’t know since my parents bought it for me when I started University in a town 2.5 to 5hrs drive away from my hometown, depending on traffic :-). German Autobahn can be bad! Back then it was an enormous distance. Today, we do this as day trips on the weekend to have fun. And we still own a VW, Golf Wagon, to take us where we want to go We love this car since it suits our needs very well for summer and winter fun activities, and it gets awesome mileage on those trips. We hardly ever need in in town. And despite it being a TDI, which was the cause for the VW emission scandal in Canada and the US, we decided to keep it. Volkswagen gave us some money for all the “troubles” and adjusted the software that controls the exhaust or something like it. It’s all fine now. Or was until it broke down in our driveway this January – twice.

The first time was right after we came back from our 8 day trip across southeastern BC. The car started up fine every day at temps of -15 to -20C. Two days sitting in the driveway at home at +2C, the battery died. Luckily we have the truck and the battery was replaced in no time.

The second time I mentioned in my last post “Summing up January” below when we almost missed out on skiing at Manning. It turned out it was a broken spring after all and we had to take it to the shop. The springs in the front needed replacement (the back ones were done 2 years ago for a good reason – see picture “Kayak touring” below) and while they were at it we asked them to check the shocks which or course were due as well. Last task was to adjust the handbrake which hasn’t been working for about 6 month. Turned out, the cable was rusted and needed replaced, the pads and rotors completely worn and pretty much everything in the area was rusted. The car was in the shop for 3 days. And every day we got a call about what else needed fixed. Eventually on the 3rd day we had enough and stopped the money drain. Miraculously, they could put the car together without replacing the rusted carriers. All sudden they weren’t so bad but would need replacement at some point.

I hope this trend doesn’t continue. The car is only 8 years old and we were planning to keep it for another 5 or so. Well, all the VW cars I ever owned did suffer from either rust of electrical problems starting at about 10 years. One would think I don’t learn from my mistakes but honestly the value we are getting out of these vehicles with a bare minimum amount of care is still worth it. And hey, if a car wants to break down, doing it in the drive way is the best way :-).

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