I mixed things up a bit for week #4 by heading up to Lake Placid for a bit cross-training in the snow. I try to get up there for a week in the Winter every year for some skate-skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenburg. We have a week planned in Sedona, Arizona next month so it wasn’t looking good for skate-skiing this year. We decided that we needed our Lake Placid Winter fix, so we arranged a long weekend up there which was perfect.
I tried to get in as much biking and swimming in the early part of the week as I could. Thursday ended up being a rest/travel day. I got a small case of swimmers’ ear too, so it worked out that I would not be swimming for a few days. The rest day would also help since skate-skiing can be pretty exhausting .
We made up to Lake Placid in time to have dinner at the ADK Cafe in Keene, NY which is one of our favorites. On Friday, I was able to get our ski’s waxed in the morning so we were able to get in a good hour and a half in the afternoon. Conditions were great at Van Hoevenburg too. There was a really solid base and everything was open too. Temperatures were perfect as well running in the high 20’s to low 30’s on Saturday. On Saturday, we did our town shopping spree and lunch and then headed to ski later. Denise ended up pulling her back out though while putting her boot on. 🙁 She was in some severe pain too. I had to run her home, but then was able to go back again and get a good hour in anyway.
On Friday night we had a nice dinner at Milano North in town and Saturday Cafe Rustica. Both of them are two of our favorites. The ladies at Cafe Rustica were also very accomodating of Denise’s back issues. I was a little disappointed to find out that my all time favorite, The Cowboy had closed up. Also Pan Dolce seems to be closed as well.
Sunday was a different story though. We got about an inch or two of new snow and it got cold! Like 7 degrees in the mid afternoon. Brrr! This also changed the snow conditions too and the purple wax that I had on my skiis was no longer gliding like it was the past two days. Now I was getting a major workout whether I like it or not. To add to this I also headed out on one of the harder trails, Porter Mountain Loop. I was sucking some major wind on this one. It was brutal, but I got in another 1:30 of skiing. So all-in-all it was some workouts on the ski trails. It is nice to break up the running, biking and swimming during the Winter.
Sunday night we had a real nice dinner at the Interlaken Inn Pub with the couple we stay with in Lake Placid. Food was amazing, but we had to rush through it since we were going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival immediately afterwards. There were some really good films this year and it is always a packed house in Lake Placid. I threw together this playlist of some of the ones they showed there…
One thing to note this week was my Heart Rate Variability(HRV). I hadn’t had any alcohol since New Years and over the weekend I had a few glasses of wine on two of the four nights in Lake Placid. It is pretty interesting how my HRV dropped severly on both mornings after that. They were also not consecutive days, so my HRV went up on the night between and down again the following. My training was about the same on all the days too, so I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I slept good all the nights as well.
We headed home early on Monday due to the impending winter storm, Juno which was headed our way. It turned out to be a non-event, so all that rushing home was for nothing. Oh well. It was a great weekend in the Adirondacks and it was nice to change things up a bit too. Well next week it is back to some usual training again.
We decided to change things up a bit this Winter. We have been spending our Winter vacations in Lake Placid, NY for the past several years. This year we decided to give Stowe, VT a try mostly because they had much more kilometers of skate skiing trails than what LP has and I was starting to feel like I could ski the Mt. Van Hoevenberg trails with my eyes closed. This is surely not to say that Van Ho is not challenging me anymore…it surely does kick my butt every Winter! I just needed a change of scenery.
The surprising thing is we actually ended up Alpine(downhill) skiing this week much more than we usually do. That basically means more than once or none really. We ended up finding some more reasonably priced mountains to ski. We also got some nice snow midweek, which helped too. We found a nice little apartment for two to rent right in the heart of downtown Stowe. It was the perfect base of operations for the week. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the layout of the town of Stowe. I thought it was going to be much more consolidated so that you could walk everywhere. It was not. There were many places located up Mountain Road which heads north towards the Stowe Resort. We were in the most consolidated part, but we ended up having to drive most of the time to get to restaurants. Regardless, I did grow accustomed to this by end of the week.
We were packed up and on the road by around 9:30AM. We wanted to hit a place called The Hungry Fish in Troy, New York for some slow-food and also try to beat the snow forecast for NY & Vermont later that afternoon. Denise drove the whole way up, so I had time to play around on my phone surfing the web and stuff. Lunch was pretty good and they had several plant-based options and some locally sourced, grass-fed meats for Denise. We were also entertained by some live guitar entertainment.
We got into Stowe around 5pm or so. It was getting dark and snowing pretty good at that point. We stopped at a little health food store just before Stowe and got some snacks and things. People were real nice and the guy grew up near Collegeville.
One way to kill some time on the long drive up to Stowe…
We eventually arrived at the little apartment in Stowe and were pretty impressed from the beginning. The place was nicely furnished and very clean. Perfect place for the 2 of us to relax a bit for the week. We then headed out to the Crop Bistro & Brewery for some dinner. The place was pretty nice and fairly busy. They told us we may have to wait a bit, but everything came very quickly. They had a couple vegetarian/vegan dishes on the menu and great homemade microbrews. I was a happy camper. Our waitress, Kathrine, also hooked us up with some good local skiing info. Namely, Burke Mountain, which was $25 lift tickets on Sundays and it was about an hour east of Stowe. We were all over that tomorrow.
Sunday morning we got up and made some breakfast and were on our way to Burke Mountain near East Burke, VT. We didn’t realize this until later, but this is the same town that is base to the Kingdom Trails mountain biking network that we had looked at going to some years ago. The drive over was long and the roads were still kind of snowy. We got there around lunch time and had lunch in their Tamarack Bar & Grill. We had a nice table overlooking the mountain. Mountain was really nice and we found some pretty decent runs with ample snow on them. It was a pretty good deal!
We made the long drive back to Stowe, showered up and headed over to the Bangkok Bistro Thai restaurant on the hill in Stowe. Food was good and pretty spicy(I did ask for that). It was Super Bowl Sunday, so no one was in the place except for us. Go Seahawks!!
On Monday morning we headed up the road to the Trapp Family Lodge to do a little skate-skiing. Denise wasn’t feeling quite up-to-snuff, so she decided to rent some classic cross-country ski’s for a more relaxed day in the snow. On my first run, I headed out on the Telemark trail which was a little tough for the first run of the day and year for that matter. It went uphill right away around the back of the lodge, but eventually mellowed out a bit. I then headed down to some of the lower Deer Pond Trail section ending with about 6.5 miles for the morning jaunt.
We then drove down the street to the Deli at Trapp Lodge for some lunch. We quickly realized we could have just skiied there. Lunch was pretty good and the Beer was equally good. I had a pistachio hummus wrap and a mug of Dunkel Lager, which was good fuel for the afternoon ski session. For the afternoon ski, I headed out the Luce Trail and then hooked up with the Haul Road trail which skirted the border of the property. I bumped into Denise out there but then we parted ways at the Oslo trail intersection.
“Cherish the cabin!”
– Mr. Ross(Susans’ father on Seinfeld)
The Oslo trail sucked to say the least. It was steep uphill the whole way and I was dying. It did have nice scenery with the sun going down. I was planning on meeting Denise at the Slayton Pasture Cabin outpost. I eventually got there but Denise was still making her way around the mountain behind the cabin. Stopping at the cabin was a mistake as I got pretty cold as my sweat had chilled. I decided to ski out and meet Denise since the cabin was closing anyway.
For dinner we walked down the street to the The Whip Bar & Grill at the Green Mountain Inn for dinner. Food was very good and they had a nice selection of options. I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which was to die for! There bread was also incredible and I ate the whole loaf. What the hey…I burned a ton of calories today!!
We enjoyed a nice, relaxing, and lazy morning on Tuesday. I enjoyed an extra cup of coffee while catching up on the latest the Internet had to offer. I eventually got a bit antsy and we headed out for a walk up through town to find the bike trail. It is located behind the Church in town and is well groomed for x-country and skate-skiing. It parallels Mountain Rd. and is far enough away so you feel a little bit out and about.
For lunch, we hit the Cafe on Main just down the street for a quick lunch. We enjoyed some soup and sandwiches. Denise dropped her glove over the counter and down into the store front window display. One of the skinny kids working there had to climb in and fish it out for her.
Later, I had Denise drop me off at the Stowe Cross-Country Ski Center which is located just before you reach the Stowe ski resort up Moutain Road. It was a bit more low-key than the Trapp Lodge, but was a little bit more expensive too. I heard it was more popular with the locals. I actually enjoyed the trails here much more than Trapp. They were a little more narrow(which isn’t always great), but they were well-groomed and I had the place all to myself. It was a hard climb all the way out to the farthest outskirts of the area and then fast downhill all the way back. Some school kids had come out later on and came flying by me in the other direction.
We headed up the street to Harrison’s for dinner. It was a little place tucked in the basement of one of the stores in town. We didn’t make reservations and it was busier than we expected, so we ended up eating at the bar. I had the Vegetable Stir-Fry which was REALLY good! Denise enjoyed her meal as well, but I had forgot what she had. Their menu seemed very similar to the Whips’ menu. They may be connected which isn’t that surprising since they are across the street from one another. Worth a trip here, but make a reservation just to be sure.
We awoke to a fresh coating of Snow on Wednesday and it continued all day. I think we ended up with a foot overall. We decided to head up Mountain Road to the Matterhorn Bar for some lunch. The place was pretty empty and freezing cold, but the food was really good. I had the Pizza which was excellent and Denise had a salad that she also enjoyed. The snow continued to fall as we overlooked the frozen stream behind the restaurant. This is probably a really killer atmosphere in Summer time too.
After lunch we headed over to the Sterling Forest to do some snowshoeing. We found our way via some unplowed roads to the trailhead at the start of the Sterling Upper Gorge trail. The plow actually came threw right behind us. We enjoyed a beautiful hike through the woods while the snow continued to pile up. We passed a few backbountry skiiers coming out as we headed in, but other than that we had the place to ourselves. The following Stowe area map provides a nice overview of the trails in the area.
For dinner we headed to The Bistro at 10 Acres Lodge just outside of town as you head towards the Trapp Family Lodge. It was a nice, cozy little place with good food. I had the Indian Vegetable Curry dish which was killer. The Stowe or Vermont Tourist board was also filming a video while we were there, so we may even make the Fox News on Channel 44 up there. Stay tuned for that. Anyway, this was a really good meal and I highly recommend it. It was also rated as one of the best restaurants in Stowe.
We ventured about 45 minutes South on Thursday to do some skiing at Mad River Glen. MRG is a cooperative ski-area so it is owned by the public skiing shareholders. They pride themselves on preserving the traditional ski-area style complete with a single-person chair lift and NO SNOWBOARDERS!! (A beautiful thing!). They also have no snowmaking so they are dependent on the weather and getting good snow. Since we just got blanketed with a fresh foot of the white stuff, we figured this would be a good day to hit it. It did not let us down.
We found some really nice runs with ample snow for some fine skiing. There were a couple bad ones and some barespots here and there, but nothing bad. The barespots were also grassy and not rocks, so it was not a big deal. It was also a beautiful day too. The lift tickets were only around $47 each if you purchased them online, which we did, so that was a nice little bonus as well. I will let the pictures say the rest…
Denise shreddin’ some turns on our favorite run of the day. It was the worst run to get to though.
For dinner we headed back to The Crop Bar & Grill again. It was much less crowded this time, but the service was twice as slow. Hmmm. We sat in the bar(the nicer one) area this time. There were a handful of very loud drunkards at the bar when we first got there, but they soon left and things got back to normal decibel levels. For dinner I had asked if they could prepare the Chicken Green Curry dish without the chicken and put some of the veggies from the Winter “Spaghetti” Primavera in the dish instead. The waitress said no problem. While it was a little more tasty than the Winter “Spaghetti” Primavera dish, it didn’t really taste at all like Green Curry. Not sure what it was. I did eat it and didn’t complain since I was pretty hungry. I wasn’t totally impressed with this place this time.
For our last full day in Vermont, we headed north towards the Canadian border to ski at Jay Peak. My wife always has horror stories about when she was young and here with family. It was apparently excruciatingly cold then and she has not forgotten it. Well, Jay Peak did not change too much…It was COLD!! Them temperature was actually much higher than yesterday at Mad River Glen, but the wind was brutal and it it was snowing most of the morning.
We payed for our most expensive lift tickets so far(~$70) and stood in the long, slow line for the tram to the top of the mountain. Fortunately, there was an entertaining gentleman ahead of us to listen to the whole time. We eventually got to the top and it was so brutal! Really high wind, snow and freakin’ cold. I could not even see my way down the trail. We ventured around the mountain to find some more protected runs and eventually found some on the western side of the mountain.
Finally lunchtime arrived and we headed to Alice’s Table restaurant for some lunch. I had a extra beer because I really was in no hurry to get back out again to ski. Denise decided she was done, but I was venturing out for a few more runs. I headed up the eastern side of the mountain. It wasn’t too bad at first but then I came up over a ridge on the chairlift and the wind was brutal again. Ugh! The chair was swinging side-to-side it was blowing so hard. I made two runs that pretty much sucked and then I had enough.
We headed back to The Bistro at 10 Acres again for dinner. It was another good dinner there. Pretty consistent. A bit more crowded this time. We had made reservations on OpenTable which I would recommend, especially on a weekend. OpenTable is great for easily making reservations via the web and we use it a lot, especially when traveling. Also, here is a listing of all the Stowe Restaurants on OpenTable.
Saturday morning we packed up and started on the long drive home. We stopped over in Burlington, VT to do some shopping at the Eastern Mountain Sports store which had a huge sale and we had some gift cards to use from Christmas time. Next we stopped for lunch at Magnolia Bistro in downtown Burlington. It is hidden away in a basement of a back alley building, so it is a little hard to find. It was very busy though and the food was delicious. They had all local, organic foods and plenty of veg-options.
One thing with Vermont is that almost every place is local and organic. It seems to be a given there. It is great! Most every place had some veg-only options too. I wish PA would get with the program with that stuff. VT almost felt like Europe in this respect. It was a great week with plenty of Winter activities. I took my running and swimming gear with me, but I never really needed it. There were so many other activities to do to take their place. There will be plenty of time for that stuff during the rest of the season.
The drive home was not too bad. Of course I wasn’t driving either…ha! We stopped in Clinton, NJ for dinner at one of our favorite Thai restaurants, Pru Thai. A good ending to a great week.
After two days of inactivity, I was ready to explode. The high temperature for the day was expected to be up to 9F(Heat Wave!), so I already had it in my mind to do a morning and afternoon skate-ski. I had a good healthy breakfast upon waking and was off to Mt. Van Hoevenberg around 10am. I have to admit it was still pretty cold out, but there was no wind and the sun was beaming. It was a total “Bluebird” day.
I quickly forgot about the cold after hitting a few hills. I decided to try to hit some different configurations of trails on the Biathlon side of Van Ho. After about an hour, I headed back to the house for lunch. With a bunch of leftovers accumulating in the fridge, I made a good effort on cleaning them up.
After refueling, I was ready to go again for an afternoon skate. Denise decided to hang back and do a local snowshoe off River Rd. I dropped her off at the trailhead and made my way to Van Ho. I decided to do the Porter Mtn. Loops in the afternoon. They were extremely challenging! THere isn’t much flat on this trail and it is long. I basically just did that and the East Mt. loop on each end. A total of around 9 miles for the PM ski and 15 miles(25k) for the day. Not a bad outing.
For dinner we headed over to The Cowboy over on Saranac Ave. This is the former Carribean Cowboy, which was located behind Saranac Sourdough. We had attempted to go here on Thursday night, but they were closed(WTH??) on Thursday. Anyway, we had a killer dinner. I had the black bean mushroom burger with sweet potato fries again and Denise had the Green Curry dish on Polenta instead of the Udon noodles. She was raving about it. Awesome!
Busy day, but not a ton to really report. Managed to get a few pictures driving to and from the trails. I actually took a series of images over by the Adirondack Loj Road of the mountains to to create a big panorama, but the file size was immense when I merged the images in Ps. Work on that later!
We decided to eat in for breakfast this morning. I fueled up with a large bowl of Flax Plus Oatmeal and some blended berries from the Magic Bullet. I was not able to make my usual breakfast smoothie since I forgot to get some bananas the day before. Regardless it was a good replacement. I caught up on the previous days blog post and enjoyed a few cups of fresh ground coffee.
As the caffeine began coursing through my veins, I was getting primed to get outside and get movin’. Denise was deeply involved in reading so I decided to try out my YakTrax with my minimalist New Balance running shoes. I feared that the YakTrax would dig into the bottom of my foot with the thin sole on my running shoes.
I donned my running garb and headed out the door and up River Road. I could instantly feel the 9 degree(F) air instantly constrict the blood vessels in my lungs as I struggled to extract the oxygen from the freezing cold air. I come from a long line of asthmatics, so any activity in cooler temperatures on my bronchial tubes. Usually resulting in a wheezy couch post-activity that my wife refers to as “The Hockey Cough” from the result of me coming into bed after a late night hockey game.
The YakTrax worked pretty well and I could not feel them through my shoes. I think the coating of snow and ice on the road helped absorb some of the thickness. I noticed if I hit a patch of macadam I could feel them a bit more. I think I actually prefer running on this type of surface. It has some give to it.
After a mile or so, my lungs eventually adjusted to the cold air and I settled into a steady zone 2 pace. I hadn’t really considered how far I was going to run, but since we were planning on skate-skiing later should probably keep it short. When I reached the large meadow by the red barn I realized my toes were really cold. Minimal shoes are basically mesh and don’t provide much protection from the elements. I thought this was a good sign I should probably turn around.
I turned around and headed back towards home. My lungs began a nice steady wheezing sound with each exhale. The cars that passed me gazed at me like I was some kind of freak. What…you never saw someone running on a snowy road in single-digit temperatures before? I ended up going past the house and finished up with a 4 mile run. It felt good to get the blood pumping again after 2 days of eating and doing nothing.
We stopped at the Cascade Cross-Country Ski Centers’ lodge for lunch since my Father-in-law had mentioned they had some vegan options on their menu. It was on the way to Mt. Van Hoevenberg so it made a convenient stop. I had a bowl of their Vegan Chili and the “Keene” wrap, which was a hummus & veg wrap. It was a decent lunch although I didn’t realize how much food it was until I was later browsing their ski shop and my stomach like it was going to burst. Ugghhh! Hope that doesn’t dislodge on the trails!
We finally got to Mt. Van Hoevenberg and were out on the trails by around 2PM. We did the East Mt. Loop first, then headed over towards the Perimeter Loop afterwards. I was surprised how great I felt on the long, steep hills of the East Mt. Loop. I remember not long ago stopping every 50 yards or so just trying to catch my breath. Now I just went up them like they were no big deal. I think all the walking lunges I had been doing at the gym were paying off finally. The uphills were also very welcome as they were a great source of warmth. The downhills, not so welcome…brrrr!
We finished the Perimeter loop and found our way back to the lodge which ended up being around 6 miles. I did a face plant on the East Mt. Loop when a misplant of my new pole sent me flying face first into the snow. Denise seemed to take a large amount of enjoyment in this as she yelled out to the skiier that passed us about a “man down.” I must have hit the stop button on my Garmin when I hit the ground cause I noticed nothing had changed when we went pass the lodge to the Perimeter trail. I don’t think it is was too much I missed though.
I headed out for another 2.5 miles after regaining consciousness to my frozen piggies. Now my sweat-soaked gloves caused my finger tips to freeze ever so quickly. I could not wait to get back to the lodge and thaw them out. The quick 25 minute excursion was a good blast of fast skiing. I had some tunes in and my lungs were screaming at this point. I ended up doing 8.5 miles which is plenty for my first day out this season. Don’t want to be hurting tomorrow. Time to head home, shower and off to dinner.
We decided to go to Milano North for dinner since my wife wanted some meat and they also had a Fusilli-Veggie entrée for me. My meal was pretty good, but it needed a little more flavor so I poured some of the olive oil dip from the bread over it. It did the trick. Made me wonder if they forgot the olive oil sauce it mentioned on the menu. Why is it so hard to add some herbs and garlic to the sauce for some flavor?? My wife had the veal picatta which she was ooohing and aaaahhing over. I have to admit it looked really good. That was one of my favorite dishes back in my carnivore days.
Despite the cold temperatures, it was a great active day outside. Fortunately there was not much wind, so that helps a bit. It snowed very lightly all afternoon and gave it a nice little dusting of snow. It continued through the night too and will hopefully add a new covering on the trails for tomorrow. Until tomorrow.
Many times when I tell people that we are heading to Lake Placid to skate skiing they are not really sure what that is. When people think of cross-country skiing, they think of what is known as classic style which consists of lifting the heel and sliding the ski forward usually maintaining constant contact with the snow surface. This usually leaves a parallel set of tracks in the snow, or it maintained by grooming is known as trackset.
Skate-skiing, also known as freestyle, cross-country utilizes a skinny ski that is a bit shorter than the classic ski. The heel is also not attached to the ski. The skier uses a skating style where one ski pushes off as the other ski slides forward with the upper body leaning forward. Skate-skiing is typically seen in the biathlon event where the competitors must stop and shoot rifles at targets while training to quickly lower their heartrate for accuracy. Skate-skiing requires much more aerobic capacity than the classic style and is a killer winter workout. It takes a little bit more learning to become proficient at.
Below is a pretty cool video that Garmin put out that demonstrates the skate-skiing style. Enjoy…