Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Skiing the W&OD

Dressed for cold, windy weather
Yes, today was one of those occasional days (maybe once every other year) when there's enough snow to ski the W&OD trail. We just got about four inches of snow (the forecast was 6-10), which is about the bare minimum to ski. It was also enough to close the Federal government yesterday and give us a telework option today. I would have gone out and skied first thing this morning but it was a soul-cleansing five degrees with wind gusts to 40 MPH when I got up. I went outside at 6 AM and shoveled the walk but had to retreat indoors pretty quickly. By 11 AM it had warmed up to a fun-loving 16 degrees, was sunny and the wind had dropped off somewhat, and so I bundled up and headed for the trail.

I drove the couple of blocks down to the park, where I strapped on my skis. The field at Madison Manor Park was nearly pristine, but the W&OD itself was a mess of tracks and footprints. Biking in foul weather has become a thing these days and so it was no surprise to see a number of bicycle tracks through the snow. I don't know for certain but it wouldn't surprise me if some of those tracks belonged to Cyndi and my neighbor Steve C. Still, particularly by sticking by the sides of the trail I found plenty of snow to ski in, except for under the dreaded overpasses.

Not pristine, but definitely skiable
 My cross-country skis are older than my record player. They're older than my VCR and my cassette player too (yes, I own all these things). As a result I'm not too worried about them when I have to gingerly pick my way across the bare patches of pavement where the W&OD trail passes under roads, such as Patrick Henry Drive. Yes, when I do that I'm probably wearing what little is left of the "fish scales" off the bottom and every time I plant a pole it hits the pavement underneath the snow, further dulling its point - but any use I get out of my Carter-era equipment at this point is gravy.

When there's four inches of snow on the ground you ski because you want to ski, not because you have to. Of the three people I saw out on the trail, two were running and one was walking - and none of them were having trouble negotiating the terrain.

I skied as far as Wilson Boulevard and then turned around (I was time limited because I really was trying to keep my outing to lunch break length). Outbound I felt perfectly dressed in layers consisting of a t-shirt, thermal waffle shirt, wool sweater and fleece jacket. My hands were a little cold (despite ski gloves and liners) but I was otherwise comfy. I should mention that I was also wearing a face mask and a silk neck gaiter (inherited from my father-in-law) pulled up over my face. On the way back I was skiing into the wind and every gust went right through me. I found myself wishing I had included more of a wind blocker layer. It was pretty chilly going and I was happy when I got back to the car.

I wore my heart rate monitor and discovered when I got back that I had been clocking a very steady 125 BPM heart rate except when I stopped. That's lower than what I register when running, but much more steady. Interesting.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Panic! At The Cisco

I wasn't going to do a blog for this outing except ...

1. I wanted to make note of the fact that I had indeed kayaked in January (my goal is to get out at least once every month of the year), and

2. I thought of a cool title and couldn't let it go to waste.

Wednesday night at midnight David came banging at our bedroom door. He had just come back from his first Cisco networking class and was freaked out. Intensified classes can be overwhelming - this one was a five hour session and there was a lot of material. We told him to get some sleep and that we'd talk about it the next day ... which almost derailed my kayaking plans, since that was what was on my agenda for after work on Thursday. Fortunately by the next day David was a little more relaxed and so I was able to go out paddling.

Tom and I had advertised the trip on the CPA forum as an Ice Pirates outing but only he and I showed up. Still, we had a very pleasant paddle. We had the river completely to ourselves; not even the dinner boats were out. The only surprise was that the Columbia Island parking lot was buzzing with activity, as a construction crew gathered there to begin a night-time shift working on the railroad bridge. It's usually a pretty quiet place.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back to the Pool

Winter kayak pool sessions have started at Lee District Rec Center. As always, the first session is as much schmoozing as rolling as kayaking friends see each other for the first time in months.

I was pleased with my rolling - not as rusty as I expected. Basic Greenland roll was quite reliable (on-side) and almost there (off-side). Bracing worked well on both sides. Successfully did a few butterfly rolls. Chest sculling has gotten a little weak.

After the pool, I went out for coffee at Grounded with Rob, Nelson, Caroline, Ian and his son, and a couple of others. A pleasant surprise - live music at the coffee house (unexpected on a Sunday morning). And then home.