Howdy everyone. In the spirit of trying to keep my racing section up to date with the latest information, I decided that I’d write a post about my recent training weekend up at Calabogie at Jim’s cabin. Since Jody is still away, and the weather has been pretty co-operative, I decided to set up a little team training to simulate some race-type conditions. Since we’ve got races coming up soon, this was a good opportunity to do some training as a group, as well as address any concerns each of us might have in the longer races. The plan was to head up to Calabogie on a Saturday morning, and stay over until Sunday, so that we could do both daytime training as well as some night training. Read on for some stats and info about how it all went.
The good news was that everyone was available for the training. However, Carl was only going to stay up until the early evening, since he was heading out to Asia on Monday, and had some stuff to take care of on the home front before taking off. Also, Steeve (and therefore Anne-Marie as well, since they were car-pooling), decided that he’d rather not stay over, and planned to head back after doing a little bit of night training. Boo is what I say. In the end, it was to be only myself that stayed overnight with Jim. Not only that, but he wasn’t really in the mood to do any hard core night training, so I was either on my own for that, or I was to cut it back to just having a few beers in the cabin with Jim before turning in. Oh well, when in Rome, right?
In spite of the training turning a little soft (in my opinion), we still had a good day of multisport training. The map that I’ve included in this post is pulled from my GPS and covers a portion of our training. In particular, it covers our first paddle, our mountain biking, as well as some bushwhacking. There was also another paddling leg that we did (longer than the first one), but that one didn’t get recorded. The idea of this session was to simulate a sprint-type race, similar to the Raid Pulse race that we are doing this weekend. The distances we covered were very close to what is being advertised for the upcoming race. We’ll be racing that one as a 4-person team, with Steeve, Anne-Marie, Jim and I taking part. For this race, we’ll have to bring out own boats, and can use whatever paddles we want. As a result, we tried both canoe paddles, and kayak paddles, so that everyone would get a feel for both. In the venerable Quest for a Cure, we don’t have an option, they only allow you to use canoe paddles, so we’d be stuck with them either way in that long race.
Upon arrival at Jim’s, we got our gear together, and had a look at water conditions and what the rest of the day was looking like. We decided that we’d hit the water right away, and follow that up with a nice long bike ride, before having some lunch. Since there were five of us, not everyone would be in a canoe. I had brought the red kayak out, and opted to spend this leg of the training doing some solo kayak paddling. The other four split into the boats, and hit the open waters. Steeve and Carl in one boat, Anne-Marie and Jim in the other. We headed upstream against the current until we got to a narrowing where the current is stronger. Then it was pretty much game over. The water was moving so fast we couldn’t possibly go further. So, we turned around and headed back. By the time we returned to Jim’s, we’d done probably 50 minutes of paddling. Nothing epic, but a good first paddle for the rest of the (I’ve been out a couple times on my own already).
Back on shore, we had a quick snack, then headed off on the mountain bikes. Our plan was to take some back dirt roads to get to Calabogie, then follow cross-country ski trails up to Eagle cliff, a really awesome lookout on a cliff (aptly named, right?) The overall distance would be about 45-50km, so that seemed like a good ride to us. Jim took us on the roads that led to the newly completed racetrack, where we checked it out over the barrier. Pretty neat track. Then, it was into the swamps! Yup, although it had been pretty dry all week, the woods keeps things pretty mucky. We had to navigate some nice deep puddles, filled with mud along the way. This was actually ideal for us, as it is very close to the kind of riding I would expect in the next few races. None of us made it out of the dry or clean. It was all worth it though. There were some great climbs, nice flats, some easy trail, some trickier, etc. etc.
By the time we got back to Jim’s we were nicely tuckered, and decided to get into some grub. Jim sparked up the bbq, and we each pulled out some stuff for lunch. I brought my time-honored classic, hot dogs ;-). Jim had something tastier I think, Carl brought sandwiches, and Anne-Marie some crazy ole bean salad. We chowed down and talked about race strategies. Since we’d be racing in an unsupported 48-hour race this summer, we turned to Jim’s experience to give us some pointers on things like eating, and race bin preparation. Racing unsupported is a whole other ball of wax, and I’d really like to do well this summer when we need to do that.
After eating and the discussion, we turned our attention to rope work. For this, all we had to do was go into the cabin. Jim has rigged a couple climbing ropes from his support beam, which is 25-30 feet off the floor, which gives a good little spot for practicing ascending and rappelling. I’m pretty comfortable with it, but I know that Anne-Marie and Carl had never done any ascending, so it was important for them to get a chance to try it out, and decide the right gear that works for them. We had a good time playing on the ropes in the cabin, and Anne-Marie snapped a few pictures as well, you can see them all on the Hyper-Active folder on Flickr. I also got a good laugh watching Steeve huff and puff while trying to get back down the ropes with the ascending gear. Now, as you might guess, the gear for ascending is made to go up easily, but not come back down very gracefully. However, as part of safety training, we should each be able to come back down using the ascending gear. This is in case there is a problem with a team-mate below, and we need to get to them. I insisted everyone give it a shot to get comfortable with it.
After closing off with some rappelling practice as well, we decided that it was time to get back to the outdoors for some more training. By now, it was just after suppertime, so the winds had dropped down a bit, and we decided to get back on the water for some more paddle training. This round, we headed downstream, and used canoe paddles. Carl had already left to head back home, so it was just the four of us now. This time, Anne-Marie and I were in one boat, while Jim and Steeve were in the other one. We think that’s the configuration we’ll go with this weekend. For this paddle, we were out for probably an hour and a half. I’d say it went pretty smoothly. Sadly, I still don’t feel very good at steering a boat with a bent-shaft paddle from the stern, but that’s life, right? This weekend, the race will use kayak paddles anyway.
After the paddle is when the whining started. I really wanted to do some night biking, but the rest of the crew (ok, it was mainly Steeve who didn’t want to) wasn’t into it. To be fair, I don’t think Jim had planned on doing any night training whatsoever, he’s done his fair share in the past I suppose. Eventually, after a bit of bitching by me, Steeve, Anne-Marie and I strapped on some lights, and went for a bushwhack / trail run. Anne-Marie hasn’t done any night racing before, so we wanted to have a chance for her to see what crashing through the woods with just a little headlamp to guide us. We went out for about an hour, following the roads part of the way, then ducking into the woods for about half of the outing. The woods out there aren’t particularly dense, so I ‘m not convinced it was a true representation of night racing, but it was better than nothing.
Anyway this post is getting far too long and probably pretty boring by now, so I think I’ll sign off there for now. Until next post, remember to get out there and get active! Adios, amigos.