Friday, March 25, 2011

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a bea- ...

Okay, I'll stop singing Mr. Rogers tunes. But, hey, check out some pictures from a recent ski we took up VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers; read: snowmobile trail) in our neighborhood! It feels a little like trespassing or sneaking around forbidden land, but I am assured by Tristan, the authority on VAST, that we are in fact allowed to be there. Muscles not motors, right?! Er, motors not muscles? Anyways, it turns out there is an expansive view from the hill we found, almost 360 degrees. We fall a little more in love with our home every day. And our skis. Hope you're finding a scrap of snow somewhere to ski on, too!

And a video!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is It Time to Ride My Bike Yet?

As I await the drying of our trails...and the melting of the snow that will need to happen first - I thought I would share some of my favorite gear for mountain bike season. Here's three pieces I tried last year that I am now quite sure I cannot live without. And my favorite trail foods!

Ibex Indie Jersey
I freaking love this thing! I have never felt more pretty while riding my bike. I went with the purple from last season, which is gorgeous, and the light wool is heavenly against the skin. And, if you think summer and wool don't mix, as I did, I can tell you that they do. They mix wonderfully, in fact. My only complaint about this jersey is the road-style pocket (elastics) which are unreliable for holding stuff on rugged, bouncy trails, and pretty uncomfortable under a camelbak. I've actually had sore vertebrae after longer rides. Ibex does also make a mountain jersey, with a more comfortable and more reliable zippered pocket, but I like the cut and styling of the indie jersey better.

Osprey Raptor 10 Pack
I was immediately drawn to this pack for the bright yellow color (I love bright colors, and yellow in particular), but stayed for a longer look because of the many features. Nothing is inherently girly about this pack, and I know many men that ride with one, but it suits women well because it has lots of pockets, rings, and divided storage spaces to keep us organized. And, my most important feature: it's large enough to hold a sandwich. Or a light layer. And all of your tools. Which is certainly not girly.

The two best features of this pack: the Lidlock system snugly holds your helmet on your pack when you're packing your car, or throwing your gear in your friends car (read: no misplaced helmets!). And the hydration system is the best one I've ever used, including an easy on-off lid and a magnet to hold your mouthpiece at the ready on your shoulder.

Night Rider MiNewt 250 Cordless Light
This light is the most awesome thing I own, and riding at night is probably the most awesome thing I have ever done! Its maiden voyage was on the infamous Joe's Trail in Waterbury, Vt, and I only fell once! I wore it this time lashed to the top of my helmet (it comes with attachments), and actually found my neck was sore from focusing so much on directing my light beam. The next time I rode with it went much more smoothly, and I tried it on my handlebar this time. That was okay, but I found I like to be able to re-direct the beam in the direction I was looking. So, the light now lives on my helmet. And lived there for the entire fall riding season. We had some great night rides! My personal recommendation would be to strap this light onto your helmet, and then double up with a smaller version on the handlebar. With this two-light system, you can focus a steady stream out ahead on the trail, and be free to also re-direct your lighting to where you are looking. This purchase will extend your riding season well into the fall, and the darkness! It might be the most important piece of gear I own.

Food In My Pack
I am a proponent of real food, and will rarely be seen sucking down a gu (though I do like clif blocks for electrolytes). My top favorite foods, guaranteed to be in my pack are:

  • Halleljuah Yes! bar by Red Door Bakery in Marshfield, Vermont. It's a cookie crumb base, layered with chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut. Fat contains something like 9x more energy than carbohydrates, and these bars are loaded with fat I'm sure, plus the sugar in these bars hits your system fast, while the nuts offer sustained energy. It's the perfect one-two combo: A fast pick me up combined with longer-term energy stores. Don't live in Vermont? You can make your own: Google recipes for the Magic Cookie Bar or Seven Layer Cookie Bar, and feel free to substitute with healthier ingredients. I'm sure they freeze well, too, so you can make a batch and then store bars individually.
  • EmergenC - you can put this in your water bottle or Camelbak during or after the ride. Look for the varieties with electrolytes included. Also, the wrapper can patch a blown sidewall just long enough to get you out of the woods.

Illum-inate your self.

So Teva finally did it!  That's right a sandal that will light your way to where ever you happen to be getting to in the dark.  I was surprised at the fact that no one had done this yet and so here it is!  The new Illum by Teva offers an amazingly efficient amount of light packed into this sandal-light hybrid.  With the slip of a foot and a push of a button one can light their path to the beach, trail, downtown for a drink, or to the privy.

It comes in two models: one a modest $40 nylon version and the other a $60  smooth, comfortable suede.  I found myself slipping on this sandal more than often, leaving my other sandals in the closet because these ones are so darn comfortable!  Not only will you be able to see your way downtown or to the beach at the crack of dawn, but so will everyone else with you.  So as you find your way around don't be surprised to hear  " What the heck does that person have on their feet?"  Hey, that's pretty cool!

Walk good!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome, Spring.

Though it doesn't currently look like Spring out there, its certainly in the air. As I got back from a run through the snow last night, I thought, even this snow feels different. It feels like Spring snow.

Sunday, however, really felt like Spring, as did the entire weekend. Complete with deep-rutted, muddy roads and calls from the birds who have recently returned. The arrival of redwinged blackbirds, with their distinctive call, are my favorite sign of Spring. I celebrated the arrival of one of my favorite seasons by planting my seedlings for the garden and taking our first bike ride of the season.

In the garden, I'll have lots of heirlooms like moon & stars watermelon and bleeding heart tomatoes (they actually look like hearts, which can be unappealing, but they are the most delicious slicing tomato I have ever tasted). And flowers. Now that I have a patch of Earth, rather than containers on the front porch, I no longer have to limit myself. I'm even putting in berry bushes and fruit trees. And a compost bin. I'm so excited!

As for the bike ride, it was a slog through deep mud, but it was wonderful to use those muscles again, to feel the burn in my lungs, and to be out in the sunshiny Spring day. Today we will enjoy the snow and maybe some skis. Enjoy some photos from the day, and Happy Trails!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Spring Moon Field ski

Ryan, Odin and I found ourselves in the middle of the Moon Field just as winter decided to return after a couple of warm Spring like days here in Vermont.  Matter of fact Sarah, Odin and I had just been riding our bikes the day before.  You never know when you, your dog and a friend might stumble upon the right trail, at the right moment, at the right time, in Vermont; in early Spring.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There's Still Some Snow to be Had

T emailed me at work today "I want to ride my bike!!!" We've had some warm weather, which by our standards means higher than 40, and the conditions are great for our famous/infamous dirt road rides. But my reply? "I want to ski!!! (on soft snow)." So, we skied.

The conditions were fast due to some soft-snow-turned-crust (we didn't hit the hill until 7pm) - true spring skiing conditions! And the Rossi BC 125s handled things beautifully! We ended the evening with fast shushing turns down our rural hillsides under a twilight sky with a near-full moon, as the sun set over the distant mountains. Enjoy some shots from the evening, and Happy Trails! Oh, and yes, Tristan is skiing in jeans.