Mount Washington

9 02 2012

Sharon above the clouds...

We didn’t go skiing/snowboarding in 2011 at all. Vancouver Island has a decent ski resort [Mt. Washington] and is near Whistler as well as Mt. Baker in the US so snow is at hand. We’ve been a bit lazy and distracted by surfing, but we decided to just bite the bullet and check out the local resort last weekend.

Snowboard camo...

This was a recon mission and on that level it was successful. We now have the 411 on Mount Washington! The snow was a tad firm until the afternoon sun softened it up for us. The mountain is reasonably large. Coming from Alberta I’d call it a small-medium sized resort. Enough options not to get boring, but just enough. The facilities were basic in terms of food/drink, but I like it that way. I don’t go snowboarding to eat gourmet cuisine or watch private Leer jets land.

Enough terrain to keep us interested...

To be perfectly honest unless there is 12″+ of fresh snow I’m not that keen on snowboarding at a resort any longer. I’ve been there and done it so many times the novelty has worn off. If I was wealthier and more motivated I would take up snowcat or heli-boarding in fresh powder, but living on Vancouver Island it’s cheaper and more convenient to go surfing. Surfing is free, there are very few people in the water to deal with and there are endless waves.

Yup - we got snow!

So now that we know what’s what about local ski/boarding we’ll bid our time until a decent dump of the white stuff coincides with a window of time off.

What pedaling?

Mt Washington also offers lift served mountain biking in the summer so if their trails aren’t too DH oriented we may give that a shot as well.

The Tao of Wow!

19 10 2011

Person, paddle and SUP - all you really need...

Over the years I’ve been exposed to a number of spiritual traditions.

  • My dad is Hindu.
  • My mom is Protestant.
  • I went to a Catholic high school.
  • I practiced yoga daily for over 3yrs when I was younger.
  • I’ve read extensively about Buddhism and other Eastern traditions.
  • And I’ve had friends that came were on many different spiritual paths.

Now that I am in my 40’s I find myself spending less and less time reading books about this topic or going to places where spirituality or religious experience is the focus. Not because I have no interest in that part of my life. In fact as I get older it seems to me that this is the whole point of life – to get a handle on your life and what it means. I’m finding that the most rewarding place to explore the experience of my life and to understand what it means to me is not in a yoga studio or in a temple, but in the everyday moments I live. There is no spiritual guide to help you down this path. Surfing and cycling don’t have a religious dogma to learn or spiritual instructional program. But, there is no reason that you can’t connect with God just as well flying through the air kiteboarding or gliding along in your sea kayak as you can in a yoga studio or church.

In fact I think that engaging in the direct experience of all that life has to offer in these ways has a benefit. Since there is no book, no manual or lexicon your mind is not being channeled down specific paths of thought. Your experience is beyond the bounds and constraints of language. Without words or a set of ideas someone else taught you you can engage with your life on a deeper level.

That lets paddling a SUP become a moving meditation. A consciousness expanding voyage into your reality. An appropriate metaphor when you picture a tiny SUPer floating on a vast ocean.

Your bike can be rolling along on two big prayer wheels as you pedal.

The wave that rises up behind you and pushes you along on your surfboard has travelled from halfway around the planet to interact with you in this one brief moment which makes it easy to appreciate the infinite connections we have with everything else.

Just to be clear I’m not down on churches, yoga studios or any other spiritual tradition. I figure there are so many flavours of humanity out there not everyone is going to get turned on to the same thing. Find what makes you passionate and embrace it.

Bag your stick…

17 10 2010

My precious Mako 140 in its bag...

No this isn’t a post about safe sex. But I am a big believer in protecting your valuable equipment. So I guess it’s a similar message…=-)

Whenever I buy a new or used board I get a bag for it.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a snowboard, SUP, kiteboard or surfboard.  I even have bags for my SUP paddles.

Why bother?

  • protective bags cost about $30-$100 depending on size [my 11′ SUP bags were $80]
  • boards cost $500-$2000
  • bags last 10 years+
  • riding a pristine board = priceless
  • selling a used board in excellent condition will recoup your cost for the bag and you can use the same bag for another board
  • bags make it easy and fast to pack your gear because you don’t have to spend time worrying about damaging it
  • bags protect the inside of your vehicle and house from the boards that have sharp edges or wax on them

The economics of protecting your valuable gear is straightforward.  For about 1% per year you can keep your boards in tip top shape as well as protecting your vehicle and house from the boards.  You’ll easily see that investment returned when you go to sell the board used and personally I absolutely love pulling out an old board that looks sweet because it hasn’t been bashed around in the bed of my pick up.

No board is too big to bag...


Kicking Horse – Golden BC

23 03 2010

Sharon at the top of the mtn...

Sharon and I ventured out to Golden British Columbia this weekend to use up some free passes we had for Kicking Horse Resort.

Boarders getting strapped in...

The terrain was steep and challenging which was nice and the snow was better than in Alberta, but that’s not saying much this year.

Chair lift antics...

I liked the mega gondola with 1.2km vertical drop.  It’s great to get the snowboard off your feet and relax while you are being whisked up for another long run down.

Sharon ripping it on skis...

Sharon spent one day skiing and then took a uber long snowboard lesson the next day. I’m jealous because I can’t ski, but I’m not motivated enough to try and learn!

Goofing off after a beer at the lodge...

I was stoked to hear Sharon express an interest to take up back country skiing/boarding next winter.  I’ve been keen on that for a while, but need to get a few friends motivated to make it really happen.  It will be nice to not be hostage to the crappy snow at the resorts and to get more exercise between runs down the mountain.

Sharon shredding it up on a snowboard...

Snow Kiting….

5 03 2010

I’ve got a snowboard and I’ve got kites…hmmm… winter may be the start of my snow kiting career!

Plotting March Boarding Adventures…

27 02 2010

Sharon surfs the Kicking Horse Resort site...

Snowboard Boots – Packing Down

27 02 2010

Snug boots = good control...

Loose boots are not fun when snowboarding.  Having a snug fit without being overly tight is essential for good control and it saves you having to tighten your bindings like crazy which is not comfortable at all.  Even if you manage to buy the perfect boot you’ll notice that over time it’s starting to feel a bit loose.  That’s normal and is just the liner packing down from being compressed under you.  The heavier you are, the more you ride and the more aggressively you ride the sooner you notice a change.

Once you do you have two choices:

  1. wear thicker or more socks to take up the extra space.
  2. insert an extra insole under the existing one to take up the extra space.

When I first bought my Burton Mission snowboard boots they fit great with just the orthopedic insoles [blue insoles above] I like to use in all my footwear so I pulled the stock Burton insoles [gray insoles above] and put it away.  Now that my boot has packed down a bit it’s time to put them in under my orthopedic insoles.

I could switch to thicker socks or add a thinner sock to my usual sock, but I like riding in a single sock and I have lots of them so I don’t want to invest in some thicker ones.

I was talking to a snowboard instructor at Castle Mountain who is out in his boots everyday of the season…he mentioned by the end of the year he’ll have 8-9 extra insoles in his boots…yikes!  That’s a lot of riding…=-)

V-day Shredding

15 02 2010

Top of Castle Mountain

Tools of the trade...

Sharon on the move...

Sean learning from Bruce....

Happy at the end of a nice day at Castle....

Passion of Carving

11 02 2010

Thanks for the link to this video Tobias!…=-)

The Snowboard Gods Smile!

8 02 2010

A tale of two boards...

So my recent round of streamlining has caught on amongst my friends.  Deanna Facebooked me and asked if I would help her get rid of some skis and snowboards.  Sure!  I swung by her place on the weekend and amongst the gear I collected for sale/disposal was 3 snowboards:

  • 156cm Winterstick All Mtn
  • 159cm Burton A Model [w/ Flow bindings]
  • 169cm Burton Alp [w/ plate bindings]

This was a score indeed as the Winterstick is just the board my buddy Kurt needs to ride and after damaging the edge of his snowboard last trip to Castle Mountain this has come at a perfect time.  The Burton A Model is the perfect size/type of board for my GF Sharon to use as a spring season/rock/powder board and keep her good board from getting damaged…it even comes with bindings which is perfect since she has no spares laying around.  Two for two so far!

The real treasure was the Burton Alp…my post yesterday was about how much I missed alpine carving and I was stoked to see I could still get an Alpine board from Prior Snowboards.  Well the Burton Alp is basically the exact same board as the Prior 4WD I was interested in and it comes with bindings and cant plates.  Even better is that it is setup exactly right for me…how do I know this?  Well this Burton Alp is actually one of my boards from 6-7 years ago still setup just the way I last rode it…=-)  I’ve known Deanna 13yrs+ and she’s always been the stable home owner type friend…so whenever I’ve packed up all my stuff and gone traveling some of my stuff has lived at her place.  This board was gathering dust in the rafters of her garage forgotten until now.  The timing is perfect and it’s uber nice to have $1000+ of gear in exactly the spec you want drop into your lap…=-)

Looks like I’ll be carving it up this year!  I just gotta track down my hard boots and hope they still fit.

Photo: Carver's Almanac

BTW – if you are an alpine carving snowboard fanatic I found this useful site – Carver’s Almanac.

BTW2 – also check out Bomber Online

Prior Snowboards

7 02 2010

Prior 4WD

My main interest over the years in snowboarding has been alpine riding.  Back in the day finding a carving board and hard boots [similar to ski boots] along with plate bindings to attach you very firmly to the board wasn’t a big deal. Burton used to offer 5-6 models to choose from. After my layoff from snowboarding I had a look a round at what was being offered and was surprised that nobody was selling alpine boards.  Carving was gone from the radar and it was just freestyle and powder.  I’m not a jumper [too frail!], but I do like powder!  The Burton Supermodel board I’m riding now is a great powder board that’s still good in less than epic conditions. Last trip to Castle Mountain we spent quite a bit of time ripping up the freshly groomed runs laying down deep carves…fun fun fun!  That reminded me how much I loved carving.  Problem with the Supermodel is that it’s quite wide and my soft boots do not give a lot of precision to the inputs from my feet.  The result is slow and sloppy carving – by comparison.  Sort of like the difference between a a mountain bike with slicks and a road race bike.

The next time I was online I did some Googling and was shocked to find that Prior Snowboards out of Whistler BC still made dedicated carving boards like I used to ride.  Sweet!  I’m going to track down my hard boots and plate bindings to make sure everything still works/fits.  I’ll be keeping my eye on this board, the Prior 4WD, and maybe pick one up over the summer for next season.

Photo: Prior Snowboards

Castle Mountain 2010

2 02 2010

Riding the upper bowl at Castle

Kurt is a blurr...

Two thumbs up for Castle Mountain Resort...

Early season adjustments...

I'm a tree hugger...

Kurt wishing I was a better snowboard photographer...=-)

Burton EST Bindings – not Old Skool!

27 01 2010

Burton Supermodel snowboard with EST bindings...

Most snowboard manufacturers still use a 4 hole disc system to attach the bindings to the board.  That’s what I’ve been using for the last 20 years or so.  It works well and allows almost 180 degrees of adjustment of your bindings.  The downside is that it requires two large metal plates or some similarly stiff inserts to be built into the snowboard so you have 8 or so holes at each foot position to allow the bindings to be adjusted laterally as needed for each rider.

Burton has decided to move to a new system using a flexible channel and only two bolts per binding to hold it onto the board.  This is good because it allows the board to flex naturally and is very easy to adjust if you want to move your bindings around – say to the rear for a big dump of powder.  However, there are a few problems with the new system:

  • you only have 2 bolts holding each foot to the board so a loose bolt is a huge problem whereas with the old 4 bolt per binding system it was not much of a big deal.  Check your binding bolts every ride!
  • the binding hardware is totally unique to Burton.  If you loose one you’ll be screwed unless there is a Burton dealer close at hand.  Definitely get two spare bolts/nuts.
  • EST bindings have a limited range of stance angles for each binding [27 deg on the front and 12 deg on the rear foot].  If you ride high angles you are going to be out of luck.
  • EST bindings can’t be adjusted for as narrow a stance as traditional bindings.
  • EST bindings are not common so if you break a binding you can’t just throw another one on to get you through your trip unless it’s also an EST binding.  There is a way around this by getting an adapter disc from your Burton dealer which it makes sense to carry with you on a longer trip just in case.

Traditional Burton bindings with EST adapter...

I’ve tried my Burton Supermodel with EST bindings and they just don’t offer enough stance angle adjustment and I can’t get my feet close enough to each other to be comfortable.  I’m currently running 30 deg front/18 deg rear with a 19″ stance width.  I’m using a traditional style Burton Mission binding with an EST adapter disc provided for free by my local Burton dealer.  This gives me almost all the advantages of the EST system with nearly unlimited stance angles and a narrower stance width.

I should point out that for most new riders the EST bindings give more than enough adjustment since current trends in snowboarding are towards low stance angles and twin tip boards.  So don’t worry about it unless you have been snowboarding for 10 years+ and want to run an old skool setup.  I started in 1991 and at some points was running angles as high as 55 front and 45 rear!!

Polar Opposites!

25 01 2010

Not the Baja!

I can’t complain…a day of snowboarding is better than a lot of things I can think of, but at the same time I can’t help think about how nice it would be to be walking down a beach in Mexico with my kiteboarding gear getting ready for 3-4hrs of splashing around in the ocean.  It’s nice to be home in a lot of ways, but I’m having a hard time with the cold.  I’ll adapt given some time and until then I’ll just grin and bear it.

I’ve got to do an overhaul on my Pugsley’s disc brakes because the pads have become contaminated with oil.  I’m hoping to get that done in the next couple days and then start my winter mountain biking campaign in earnest.  Between the Pugsley and as much snowboarding as my job will allow I’ll manage to smile until spring arrives.

My motivation to find a way to escape the Canadian winter completely is growing year by year…

Free Winterstick All Mtn Snowboard…

23 01 2010

Winterstick Snowboard

Update: the board is spoken for – thanks!

I’m giving away the snowboard shown above [no bindings incl.] to anyone who wants to pick it up from me in Calgary.  It’s a Winterstick All Mountain ~162cm.  It’s a stiff fast board that’s in good condition and could be used for a couple more seasons of shredding.

I was going to keep it as my rock board for poor condition riding so I didn’t damage my main board, but I don’t have any bindings that fit it and I’m just not all that likely to bother heading to the mountains if there isn’t a good base and some decent snow.  So I’d rather see someone else riding it than just continuing to store it.

Olympus Stylus 850SW Update

27 10 2009

Olympus Stylus 850SW Waterproof Camera

I just received my Stylus 850SW back from Olympus Canada. The LCD screen has been replaced for sure.  I’m not sure what other work may have been done as there was no paperwork sent back with the camera explaining what action was taken.  I have to give them credit.  They did the repair and had the camera back in the mail to me 3 days after receiving it.  That’s darn fast.  I’m glad to have this camera back and to be headed to Baja with two waterproof digital cameras.  I’m all about redundancy and back ups.

Thanks for the fast warranty service Olympus!


Waterproof Camera Review

25 10 2009
Canon D10

Canon D10

Damian was kind enough to post a link to a test of the current generation of waterproof point and shoot digital cameras – thanks!.  Check it out here.

Canon D10

23 10 2009
Canon D10 Waterproof Camera

Canon D10 Waterproof Camera

I am super excited that Canon has stepped into the waterproof point and shoot digital camera ring with their new D10.  I have been very pleased with all my previous Canon products and their customer service has been outstanding.  I bought one of their waterproof housings for an older Canon digital camera and it was very rugged and absolutely waterproof, but it was also really bulky and awkward to use.  As a result I ended up with the waterproof cameras from Olympus and Pentax that I’ve posted about recently.

I haven’t read much about the D10 yet so I don’t know what to expect.  Given the performance of the other waterproof cameras I’ve been using the bar has been set pretty low so far.  Hopefully this Canon will impress me.  I’m going to hold off buying a new waterproof camera until either my Olympus Stylus 850SW or my Pentax Optio W20 give up the ghost completely.  That may give Canon enough time to develop a 2nd generation waterproof camera and fix any bugs that inevitably turn up in a 1st generation product.

Pentax Optio W20

22 10 2009
Pentaz Optio W20

Pentaz Optio W20

I posted yesterday about my Olympus Stylus 850SW that wasn’t waterproof.  I thought I’d post briefly about my other waterproof point and shoot – my Pentax Optio W20.  You can read this detailed review to learn about its specs and features.  I’ve owned this camera for a number of years based on the recommendation of a kayak guide I met in Baja.  As you would expect the camera a water-sports professional likes was and is actually waterproof!  I have abused this camera far more than it deserves and it continues to work for me without complaint.  On the plus side the construction seems pretty bombproof and the camera is dead easy to use.  Ever since I got my Olypmus Stylus last Dec I’ve been loaning this camera to all my friends.  They haven’t been gentle with it and they haven’t had any issues with it – except one I’ll mention below.  Picture quality is not bad, but not great.  It’s worse than my Stylus 850SW, but not by a lot.  Where it does suffer is in comparison to my Canon S870IS.  Again as with my Stlus as long as it provides worry free waterproof performance and remains robust I can live with average picture quality.  After all I wouldn’t dare pull out my Canon point and shoot on a surfboard or in the pouring rain.

This camera has some issues though:

  • Since there is no lens cover water drops or dirt can get onto the lens and unless you pay attention you can take a whole bunch of ruined photos without noticing the problem on the LCD screen.  This happened on a kayak trip in Baja where dried salt on the lens made 20-30 photos my friend took pretty much useless – she was seriously bummed.  Since I’m aware of the problem I regularly clean the lens and I haven’t had a problem myself.
  • The camera body is very rounded which makes holding it one handed tough – especially when wet.  I like to grab my camera from my bike’s bar bag and shoot one handed while riding – this is virtually impossible with this camera.  I bought a silicone sleeve for it [$25cdn] that made it much easier to hold, but the sleeve made using the controls tough and eventually it ripped apart.
  • The camera uses a non-standard USB cable so you have to bring a special cable with you when traveling which is a pain.  Canon uses a standard mini-USB which I can share amongst several USB devices on a trip – thanks Canon!
  • The battery charger is much bulkier than my Canon chargers which is a pain when traveling. I can’t see any reason for this than poor design.
Pentax Optio W80

Pentax Optio W80

As a note the W20 is out of production, but Pentax has a new waterproof model the Optio W80, which appears to be a direct response to Olympus’ Stylus line of cameras.  The W80 looks to be more squared at the corners so I’m hoping it will be easier to hold.

Olympus Stylus 850SW

21 10 2009
Olympus Stylus 850SW

Olympus Stylus 850SW

I’ve been using an Olympus Stylus 850SW for much of my sports photography since I got it last Dec for my Baja trip.  For the most part it’s been a good camera for me.  It doesn’t take the best photos, but the fact it’s waterproof and shockproof make that a fair trade for not having worry about it when I’m out and about.

I took it to the SUP demo this weekend and had it in my pocket while in the water.  It took a dozen photos for me and then the LCD stopped working.  The camera still powered on, but there was no life on the screen.  I put the camera away and when I opened it the next day there was water in the battery/memory card compartment.  I took out both items and left the camera sit open on my desk.  I eventually got around to trying it again and the LCD was working again.

Doing some research it seems that I’m not the first person to have issues with the camera’s waterproofing.  I checked the seals and they were clean and secure so I think I’ve got a leak somewhere else.  Since the camera is still under warranty I’m going to send it off and hope I get service from Olympus that is as good as the service I’ve received from Canon. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

It would also be nice to get the camera back before I leave for Baja in November, but that seems unlikely.  I’ll settle for having a waterproof camera when I get back in Jan 2010.

As a note Olympus has replaced this model with a newer version that may perform better underwater.

Switching it up…

1 10 2009
Switch Step-in Snowboard Bindings

Switch Step-in Snowboard Bindings

Update: So I’ve had no luck finding a Switch compatible boot in my size and given up.  Deanna destroyed her Switch compatible boots as well.  So I now have two sets of used Switch bindings I don’t need.  Both are in excellent shape.  If you want a set of these bindings send me $20USD for postage and I’ll fire them off to you. Somebody might as well use them.  Each set comes complete with bindings [incl hardware], cleat for boot and shortie leash. – Bindings are spoken for and going to a good home in the far north.

I realize this is supposed to be a bike blog, but I need some help and however unlikely there is the chance that one of you will have a solution to my dilemma.  The problem is I love these Switch step-in snowboard bindings, but the boots I have are a bit too small.  The bindings are no longer made so boot companies stopped making compatible boots…=-(  I need a pair of new or used size 11.5 or 12 US men’s Switch compatible boots.  If in your travels you come across such a beast keep me in mind.

I’ve tried soft boots and 2 strap bindings.  They work fine, but I don’t love them.  I also have a set of hard boots and plate bindings which is what I think I’ll use on my hardpack board.  I’ll move the soft boots and bindings to a powder board for now until that glorious day when I find some Switch compatible boots that fit…=-)

BTW – I’ve checked EBay and there is nothing in my size…=-(

Weekdays @ Castle Mtn

25 09 2009
Steep and deep @ Castle Mtn

Steep and deep @ Castle Mtn

I had so much fun at Castle Mountain Resort last year snowboarding [first season back after several years off] that I couldn’t resist the urge to jump on the early bird special they were offering for weekday season passes – $399cdn.  I’ll go a minimum of 10 times so that’s less than $40 per day…hopefully I can kick that up to 15 visits and get the cost per day down to $27.  My goal is to wear out my snowboard and have a blast!

I’m stoked that Sharon is keen on taking snowboard lessons [she’s a skier with knee issues].  Once she has some professional lessons it will fun to explore the darkside of snowboarding with her.

I used to dread winter, but with a renewed interest in snowboarding and a Pugsley I’m actually excited for the white stuff…=-)

I’m a bad influence…

5 04 2009
Deanna's got a new ride...

Deanna's got a new ride...

Deanna is the proud new owner of:

  • Burton Feel Good ES 150cm snowboard
  • Burton EST bindings
  • Burton Supreme boots

If you need any help justifying the purchase of high-end sports gear just give me a call…=-)

Another vicious powder struggle….

3 04 2009

Another fine day at Castle Mountain...=-)

Another fine day at Castle Mountain...=-)

Had a tough board mtg at work Thursday with my boss. Things went up and down all day. There even a few vicious powder struggles. Ironically at the end of the day we ended up right where we started – the parking lot at Castle Mountain!….=-)

Deanna gets her edges de-tuned by Bruce.

Deanna gets her edges de-tuned by Bruce.

Deanna hadn’t been out boarding much this winter so we took another 2hr lesson with Bruce.  Again it was well worth it.

"There is no snowboard Grasshopper - there is only you!"

"There is no snowboard Grasshopper - there is only you!"

Deanna got to try out all the great techniques Kurt and I learned last week.  I got to practice stuff I learned and refine a few things.

Got snow?

Got snow?

With Castle Mountain getting nearly 150cm of snow in the last two weeks it boggles the mind that they are closing this weekend…=-(  Guess where I’ll be?

I'm easy to spot on the mtn in red!

I'm easy to spot on the mtn in red!

We are working on how to take good snowboard action shots…..we definitely don’t have them sorted out like our bike action photography!  The day was far more epic than this image suggests…;-)

Duct tape to the rescue!

Duct tape to the rescue!

Deanna’s step-in boots literally started coming apart so we fixed them with duct tape.  I guess I’m not the only person that has to say adios to their Switch bindings!..=-(  Red Green would be proud.

Another convert!

Another convert!

Deanna had never been to Castle Mountain before and even though there are world famous resorts closer to us than Castle none of them come close to the terrain and snow quality here.  I’ll be getting a seasons pass next year for sure!

Cleaning off the board at the end of the day...

Cleaning off the board at the end of the day...

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I just can’t get over the:

  • awesome snow [quality and quantity]
  • huge amount of steep ride-able terrain
  • zero lift lines
  • friendly staff [where else do you get a hug from the lift lady???]
  • cheap private lessons
  • safe easy road access to the hill

…why doesn’t everybody go to Castle Mountain instead of Lake Louise or Sunshine????

Take a lesson fool!

2 04 2009
How I spent my 40th b-day...=-)

How I spent my 40th b-day...=-)

So I’ve been snowboarding for over 10 years.  Add in a 5-6 year lay off and that makes me pretty old school in that sport.  I remember when you had to check and see if a resort allowed boarding and seeing another boarder was cause for celebration – sort of like seeing someone else on a recumbent today.

That sort of long history makes you feel like you know what’s going on and also makes it hard to admit you have a lot more to learn.  I’ve been out riding some serious mountains since I got back into snowboarding.  Tackling the expert terrain and having fun.  I must know what I am doing – right?

Wrong!  While we were out snowboarding on my birthday Kurt suggested we hire a snowboard instructor for a lesson.  I agreed, but I wasn’t sure how much we’d learn.  The guy running the ski school gave us a killer deal – $100 for 2hrs of private lessons. That works out to $25/hr each.  Our instructor Bruce was super nice and had been riding for 22yrs…ya that’s right at the very beginning of the snowboard era. I was shocked to see how much we improved in the first 30 mins.  Instead of making the snowboard go where I wanted I was able to go where I wanted and the snowboard came along for the ride.  I wasn’t forcing the board to turn.  I  was just using my body’s centre of mass to initiate a carve and the board did its thing.  I felt like I was using a lot less energy and having a much more relaxing experience.

When I was riding the trees last time I was out it felt like I was fighting my board and the whole experience was not great.  After some tips I was actually eager to hit the trees as high up the run as possible so I could get in more turns.  Amazing!

I left the lesson looking at my snowboard with a totally different perspective and tackling challenging terrain with more confidence.

Let’s do the math:

– new snowboard = $600

– new bindings & boots = $600

– lift pass for the day = $70

– my share of 2hr lesson = $50

Clearly the lesson is a total bargain!

I’m planing to go back to Castle Mountain and get another 2hr lesson with Bruce this week.  First thing I’ll do next season is get a lesson and as soon as I find the right mountain bike instructor I’m getting a lesson to make me better at technical obstacles and high speed turns.

I’m fine spending lots of $$$ on gear, but I haven’t spent nearly any $$$ on getting high level instruction how to best put that gear to use.  I’m going to change that.

Post boarding gear explosion.

Post boarding gear explosion.

Burton Super Model 159

27 03 2009
My new ride...happy birthday to me!

My new ride...happy birthday to me!

So I’ve been riding my 10 year old Winterstick All Mountain 164cm board.  It’s long and stiff which makes it great for fast riding in open terrain.  You can lay down these big deep carves on a nicely groomed run while keeping your speed at full throttle – super fun.  What it’s not so great at is being nimble and darting between trees.

Since my birthday is coming up I decided to add a new board to my quiver.  Something shorter with more flex that would let me explore some tighter terrain in the mountains – trees, gullies, etc…

My local snowboard shop is selling boards at 25% so I jumped on a Burton Super Model 159cm.  I mean who doesn’t want a super model in their lives?…=-)

Burton Mission bindings

Burton Mission bindings

I’ll be using the Burton Mission bindings pictured above and the Burton Driver X boots pictured below.  The Super Model uses Burton’s new ICS binding system, but I already have these non-ICS bindings so I’ll use ’em.  At some point I’ll get some ICS bindings and swap them out.  Unless you are snowboard geek ICS won’t mean anything to you – so jump to Burton’s site and click on Tech, then boards and then The Channel for an explanation. The simple answer is it’s a proprietary Burton binding attachment system.  Since I’m using non-ICS Burton bindings I’ll need to use an adapter disc to mount my bindings.

Burton Driver X boots

Burton Driver X boots

I’ve been busy riding…

17 03 2009
Top of Castle Mtn - Alberta, Canada

Top of Castle Mtn - Alberta, Canada

I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  Busy hanging out with friends and getting a different sort of riding in.  Coming back to mountain biking after a 3yr lay off made me realize I’ve been ignoring a few other sports I used to enjoy a lot – snowboarding and paragliding.  Since it’s still winter in Canada I figured if you can’t beat ’em join ’em.  My board needed surprisingly little work after at least 5-6 years of storage.

Gotta love the minimal lift line...=-)

Gotta love the minimal lift line...=-)

I spent the day at Castle Mountain today riding in 1-2′ of fresh powder.  On a day when nobody showed up at the hill.

Check out all those empty chairs...

Check out all those empty chairs...

We never waited for a chair and we literally had whole bowls of fresh snow entirely to ourselves.  This was pretty much the best day of boarding that I can remember in the 10 years I’ve been riding.  Amazing!

Kurt had a great day poaching fresh lines in trees...

Kurt had a great day poaching fresh lines in the trees...

Thanks to the internet snow reports it’s easy to decide when to ride – a flexible job helps.  Weekday snowboarding rules…=-)