Extend Your Riding Season

It is amazing to see the improvement in technology over the years with regard to night MTB riding with lights. Back in the day, we used Night Sun lights with rechargeable batteries in a water bottle. At best, these gave off a yellow light and the life on them was sketchy. We moved on to Night Rider equipment and the lighting was still kind of yellow but it was an improvement. In fact, at the 24 Hour Races in Canaan, West Virginia, Night Rider was a sponsor of the event and brought their charging stations which made recharging between laps convenient and it took half the time to charge compared to the time it took at home. The cost of these lights was always around $300.00 and it was limited to handlebar lights with the water bottle batteries.

Night riding with the guys at our local North Park

I have experimented with lots of light options over the years. Lately I have used a product from Wuben Light Systems called the B2 with a rechargeable 3.7 volt battery which you can order as an extra. http://www.wubenlight.com The B2 can be adapted to mount on your helmet as well as your handlebars. I recommend using the 4800AH 21700 heavy duty rechargeable battery. I would replace the stock battery with these and order an extra for your pack as a spare. The whole system is $39.00 and the extra batteries are in the neighborhood of 20 bucks. A considerable improvement from the old days and the best is……………..they are wireless. No more dealing with light cords. Rechargeable and cordless. Super convenient. And they provide a nice white bright light with plenty of lumens.

24 Hour Racing- kind of a lost event these days

Another improvement has been clothing. Riding in the winter takes fortitude and the last thing you want is to be cold. I use Endura products for general riding. http://www.endurasport.com These shorts and items can also be found on Amazon but the winter riding outfit of choice is the MT500 jacket and pants. A great outfit for winter riding. Pricey but definitely worth it. Keeps you warm and protected from the wind. I can thank my buddy Bob Kowalski for the tip on this product. The Endura MT500 takes a lot of punishment like the shorts that I use in the summer, and do very well with multiple washings.

Ok, now to the heart of the matter. I don’t like to be inside for exercise. I am not a gym guy and I like to be outside all the time to exercise. I have ridden mountain bikes since 1987 and lights have always extended the season for me and it can for you as well. Fat bikes are popular for when the snow comes and you would be amazed at how much traction you can get on snow packed trails. I personally use a 29er plus bike with 3 inch tires- my winter bike. My friends use studs in their tires when it gets icy. But I am not that hard core. When the trails ice up- I switch to hiking with Yaktrax ice spikes- but that is another story. The bottom line is you can be outside all year long if you want and get that clean, cold, fresh air all the time.

Riding in the winter is also very peaceful especially when it snows. Our local trails are quiet and the skies are filled with stars that help light your way with a cooperative moon cycle. Most of the time the trails are just frozen and dry. But the occasional snowstorm makes things interesting. Lots of funny stories out there too with breakdowns, battery issues, and general malaise that takes place when you do things in the cold at night. The innovative ways our guys work through issues are well remembered during our summer and fall rides with laughter around the camp chairs with the beers. ” Hey, remember when what’s his name lost both lights on a downhill and wiped out in the snow?” Funny stuff. To most people this may seem like a cold, fruitless activity. But for those of us who ride most of the year, night riding is fun and can keep you in good shape when most people retire to their couch for the winter. If you can hang in there during the winter, the spring “get in shape” time doesn’t have to be so painful.

Usually never too much to ride. Bob K always ready.

So, if any of you are contemplating an alternative form of exercise this winter, consider extending your season by night riding. I have always enjoyed it and if you have the right equipment and clothing, you can too. Thanks for reading and ……think snow!!!

Opening Weekend!

Melissa and Jaime – center and right. Peter Nicholas on the left.

Well, when you have not skied in 8 months, and you live in the mid-Atlantic, and you get the super bonus of skiing over Thanksgiving weekend, you take it. No matter what the weather is, or the fact that minimum terrain is available, it doesn’t matter. You still go and enjoy the opening of the ski season. You see the usual cast of characters, many of whom you have not seen since last season, and you smile, enjoy their company, and catch up from the long spring and summer.

Our local area, Seven Springs, has been purchased by Vail along with Hidden Valley and the management of Laurel Mountain is in the mix. The vibe is generally positive, and we all are waiting to see how it all will shake out for skiing locally here in Western Pa. So, as I woke up Friday to rain and the prospect of only a few trails and two slopes open, I thought about it and was hesitant. However, as is always my custom, I put on my Gore Tex and headed for the mountains. You never know what the weather is like and even if it rains, I have the positive attitude that the weather will keep the crowds away. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, the rain stopped and a slight mist ensued for the rest of the morning. Glad I had the Gore Tex.

As I made my way to the lodge, I was welcomed by my two friends, Melissa and Jaime Thompson, seen above, and to see their smiling faces and their anticipation of the day ahead as well as the popping of the cork to the new season, my decision to come was solidified. It really is a social thing and great to see the people who, like me, are enthusiastic about skiing. Melissa and Jaime and I have skied for years together mostly at Laurel Mountain which we hope will open soon. Yes, we all have our western trips booked, bought the passes, made the airline reservations and rental car reservations and are looking forward to skiing in the west. But there is something special about skiing at your home turf in the Laurel Mountains of Western Pa. And who cares whether not much is open, we are all addicted to making turns and when you have fun following a guy like Robb Alarcon and see his big strong GS turns, you know that it matters not where you are. You can make turns anywhere and yes- they are addicting. Robb and Billy Boucher and I made a lot of runs together and it was great to see Bill who is always positive. He told me he wants to ski until he is at least 85. I love that. Especially if he still can ski the way he does now which is still great. Ran into Bill’s brother Barry and his wife Margaret, and Barry showed me a new pair of boots that he bought which are kind of a rear entry boot. I gave them the hairy eye but Barry, who knows a thing or two about skiing, told me they are the new thing. Whatever you say Barry. They both looked great( not the boots…… Margaret and Barry) and it was wonderful to reconnect with them again.

Johnny Mac in blue and Porter.

Skiing with these two guys on Saturday when the sun came out was also special. I have skied with Porter and John a long time and it is always fun to ride the chair with them and talk about skiing, ski racing, equipment, as we do all summer because we mountain bike together. Johnny Mac has two new hips and a knee and some issues with the other one, but you would never know it by the way that he skis. Smooth as silk and no inkling of the hardware in his joints. Porter? Always rock solid with the best balance. But the opening runs of the season always bring a smile to our faces and the fact that we got out on Thanksgiving weekend is a real bonus. Anything before Christmas here in the mid-Atlantic is a plus and to start Thanksgiving weekend was a real tribute to the snowmaking team at Seven Springs and to the tenacity of Vail to make it happen.

Other mountain bikers, who turn to skiers in the winter, all came out. Tina and the Shark drove in from seeing their relatives in New York and hauled out their snowboards for another season. John Cassucio was testing out his new hip. Dave” everyday” Gault and his lovely lady Stephanie were making turns together. Saw some smooth telemark turns out of the Seven Springs Director of Health and Safety- Bob Horrell and his lovely lady Jamie Forys who used to be the snow sports director at Seven Springs and has gone on to a great job as a buyer for ski and snowboard equipment as well as bicycles at Public Lands. Bob filled us in on what he knew was ahead with the Vail purchase. Things like all new uniforms for the ski school and ski patrol-all Vail issue Helly Hansen uniforms.

Dave and Stephanie
Tina and Shark foreground- “new hip” MVP John Cassucio on right
Bob Horrell- Director of Health and Safety for Seven Springs sporting a Vail uniform.
Enjoying a post skiing veggie sandwich from the Highlands Market

Aside from reconnecting with all your old pals on opening weekend, is the fact that you can observe the change in clientele with all the young people. Johnny Mac suggested that we take a run in the terrain park and as we weaved our way around the features, we noticed that we were definitely out of place. No hoodies, snowboards, twin tipped skis, baggy pants, for us. We were definitely the old dudes showing up in the wrong place. Kind of funny but we didn’t return to the terrain park. LOL!!! But it was good to see that snowsports is alive and well with the younger set and no matter where you ski or ride, you will see the new guard taking over. But don’t push the oldsters aside too soon. Many of us can still hang despite our age. That is the cool thing about skiing. It keeps you young and gives you something to look forward to every year- despite the hip replacements, knee replacements and general wear and tear. If you can stay in shape in the off season, you will enjoy ski season so much better- especially as you age. Also, as I have said before, if you live in the mid- Atlantic, you can’t be out west all the time. Ski trips are great and the more you can ski out west or in New England the better. But don’t give up on your local areas. I have started my 61st year skiing and it always starts at Seven Springs with the exception of the one year that I taught skiing at Sugarloaf, Maine after college. Lots of mileage in many different ski areas in my life, (108 last count), but I never gave up on local skiing or my local areas.

So, as I ate a delicious veggie sandwich at the Highlands Market just outside the gate at Seven Springs, I thought about all the years that I have skied at this place. All the memories, all the friendships- many of whom I still have today. Porter and I have skied together for 50 + years. We all started as kids here and are still around. Many people ask me why I still ski locally and I just look at them and say……………..” Why not?” Opening weekend did not disappoint and I am looking forward to good weather which in my book is lots of cold and snow. Thanks for reading and think snow!

Apres at the Cottage

You know, the older I get, the more I value the social aspect of things related to mountain biking and skiing. I have posted many times about sitting around in the parking lot after a ride and sharing a beer with my pals and talking about the day on the trails. The same holds true for skiing. I have talked about the great places to go after a day of skiing out west. Places like The No Name Saloon in Park City, The Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, Utah, The Mangy Moose in Jackson and other iconic locations to sit down after a great day on the slopes. But there is something special about visiting the Adirondacks in Upstate New York and having an apres experience at The Cottage right on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid.

Let me set the scene a little bit here. One of my favorite things to do is pack my Jeep, put on my tunes and podcasts, and drive up to the Adirondacks to see my pals Mike Smith and Mark Hutchinson. If only for a couple of days, we make it our business to ski Whiteface in Lake Placid – seen above- and spend a good amount of time on the Summit Chair skiing all the great runs at the top of the mountain. Whiteface is not only a great ski area, but the views are spectacular. You can see all the way to the spine of the Green Mountains of Vermont so eloquently described by my friend Mark in several of my videos I have posted about skiing in the pouring rain on the Summit Chair trails and also on bullet proof ice. But we have had great days there too with brilliant sunshine and spectacular views of the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. Lapping that chair is such a fun thing to do and you can really rack up the vertical. But then comes the social aspect with an apres ski visit to The Cottage.

A visit to The Cottage is a must. I have had so many memories of settling into those bar stools, sipping a nice cold draught, and looking out at the skaters and hockey games on Mirror Lake. The food is always good, the conversations with Mike and Mark are fun with recounting all of our great runs of the day and good times there in the past. Again, as I get older, I value the time spent with friends post skiing at a great watering hole. I am kind of a one and done guy with the beer, but that first sip is always the best. There is so much history in Lake Placid with it’s Olympic background. In fact the Cottage is owned by the Weibrecht family who own the Mirror Lake Inn right across the street. Andrew Weibrecht, the Olympic Silver Medalist, is their son and the pride of everyone at The Cottage.

I spent a lot of time in Lake Placid for PSIA events and also taking in the Olympics way back in the day. But I have always made it my business to visit Whiteface and Lake Placid recently as the Adirondacks hold a special place in my heart. The nice thing about doing a road trip is not having to deal with airports, delays, rental cars, and other inconveniences. You can pack your vehicle with anything that you need including multiple pairs of skis for any conditions that might arise. Kind of a nice way to travel if you don’t mind driving.

The west is great for skiing and the experience of seeing the Rockies, the Wasatch,the Sierras, and the Cascades, but in my mind, I truly enjoy the Adirondacks just as well and topping off the experience with a session or two at a great apres place like The Cottage. So, if you are looking for something different or maybe an experience that brings you back to your past, look no further than Lake Placid. I am kind of ready for the seasons to change and for winter to start. Thanks for reading and think snow.

The Ski Swap

This time of year- the Ski Swap notices start coming and people get excited for the coming season. The Ski Swaps are not only an outlet for selling and buying equipment, but also a social time to reconnect with your ski buddies who perhaps you have not seen since last winter. But there are plusses and minuses for these things and I believe that there should be an acronym for the word SWAP( S#$% we all purvey) Yes- we are purveyors of the “s@#$” from our basements and garages and in most cases, we just want to unload and if we get a buck or two for it, so be it. But the main reason is to clear out so that we can make room for new equipment. Old boots, helmets, skis, and various auxiliary ski items can be moved but the funny thing is the difference in what we think they are worth compared to what people are willing to pay. If your main reason is to unload stuff at the swap, then you will take whatever is offered. But if you think your “stuff” is worth more than people are willing to pay- you will be sorely disappointed. If you want to get rid of your “stuff” then you better be prepared to let it go for next to nothing.

Let’s go through a couple of examples shall we? Skis- if your skis are straight skis and not shaped, meaning they are “old”, you have next to no chance to sell them.. You are better off disposing of them or donating them to those guys that make Adirondack chairs out of old skis. Or hang them up above your fireplace if they are real old. Anything 10 years or older – the ski shops will not work on the bindings for liability purposes. Kids skis?- There is a market for these. But again, they cannot be too old or they will not sell. But people are willing to at least purchase used kids skis because they grow in and out of them quickly. My opinion- it is better to go to a shop and be a part of their seasonal rental program. Better equipment, and you can return it after the season. Better skis like you see above? If you want to move these, you need to be realistic about the price. You may have paid over $1000.00 per pair for them with bindings in the past, but people are not going to want to pay more than half of that if they are a number of years old- no matter how well they are maintained. And in my opinion, you are better off marketing them on line rather than take them to a swap. You will not get anything near to what you want at a swap. Sad but true.

Lets talk about boots. A discerning buyer will look at used boots to see what kind of shape they are in. Are the liners worn down? Are the toes and heels of the shell worn? They won’t work well in the bindings if they are. Are they more than a couple of years old? If the aforementioned things are true, don’t expect much from a swap. Take what you can get and leave the building. Rear entry boots- use them for a flower pot. Not worth a hoot. My dad’s old buddy had a pair of Hansens that he wanted to sell back in the day. I told him to plant his geraniums in them in the spring. Nobody in their right mind was going to buy those things. Be realistic.

Clothing- a lot of swaps do not have clothing options because of COVID. However, there are some that may try it. Again, don’t expect much for used clothing. Your old Bogner one piece may have been cool in the day, but it is not worth a thing today. Again- lower your expectations and try to unload if you can for a cheap price.

People are amazing at swaps. There are those who find it entertaining to seek out the hidden great deal on a pair of used skis, boots, or other equipment. Every once in a while you will find someone who is unloading some good “stuff” because they have to move, or they have quit skiing for one reason or another. It is fun to look for these things but buyer beware- there are no guarantees and usually all sales are final. The great pair of skis you bought at the swap may appear to be in pristine condition until you get home and notice that core shot in the base, or the edge that is damaged by a rock. You may be able to repair them, but no chance of getting your money back. Most sellers at a swap just dump off their stuff and put a price on the items and wait for the swap people to give them their money or shop credit at the end of the day. Sellers are usually nowhere to be seen. But buyers are there for several reasons.

Some ski shops will sponsor swaps and perhaps give shop credit for items sold. They also have old equipment from trade ins, or perhaps some items that have not sold in the regular shop sales. It is an opportunity also for the shop to market its new wares for the season. Get people in the shop or venue and allow them to perhaps change their minds and get new equipment.

There are some swaps where there is a beneficiary like a charity or kids ski program that benefits from the sale of the equipment. If you are in the generous mode and are willing to donate for the express purpose of supporting the cause, it is a successful day. You have unloaded some stuff out of your basement or garage for a good purpose and these types of swaps are becoming more popular.

Swaps may be more popular these days because of the economy. Seasoned skiers and real enthusiasts are going to always buy good equipment and maintain what they buy. But the skier who perhaps is watching their bucks, especially with all the increased costs of skiing today, may be willing to compromise a little bit and get some used stuff at a swap. Typically these are the casual skiers who want something to do every once in a while in the winter. But the real skiers- they will buy the good stuff and scrimp somewhere else.

But the bottom line is see your friends, see what s@#$ they are trying to buy or sell, laugh at the curmudgeons, and enjoy one of the highlights to the beginning of ski season. Think snow and thanks for reading.

Where you are- it’s happening.

Bondieu Lake. The Lodge at Glendorn

Kind of a Yoda like title but really- it’s true. Where you are…….it’s happening. Just like this fall for the last three weeks around these parts. The fall colors have been spectacular, the weather sunny and cool. So many people have remarked how wonderful the fall weather has been in the northeast and no matter where you are………it’s happening. Enjoy it, relish it, and get lost in the moments.

My last stretch of this fall weather and spectacular colors began three weeks ago in Bradford, Pa. Driving up through the Allegheny National Forest was nothing short of breathtaking. The sun was out, and my wife Janet and I took in the drive and also our time at one of our favorite places up there which I posted about last week. Whether you are a hiker, a road cyclist, or a mountain biker, all of these activities have been enhanced by the spectacular fall season around here.

Fall hiking has been unbelievable.

I even had the opportunity to see two black bear cubs on one of my rides up there that had me jazzed for days.

The cubs scampered to safety.

The next week at Laurel Mountain was again – perfect weather, riding mountain bikes with a great group from Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists and the group from the Laurel Highlands Off Road Bicycling Association. 45+ riders and all taking in one of the last fall weekends in the Laurel Highlands. Miles of smiles and a fun after ride party in the lot up there.

Weekday rides at our local parks have been really scenic too. The colors even in my own neighborhood have been brilliant and the riding and hiking locally has been cool, clear, and colorful.

The leaf covered rocks make you pay attention.

Finally- this weekend I ventured south just across the border into Wild Wonderful West Virginia. A place where I love to ride and a place that holds so many wonderful riding memories for me. This time it was at Cooper’s Rock State Forest.

Really cool rock sections in Cooper’s Rock.

The group I was with this weekend were the Adventuremen. http://www.adventuremen.org. Adventuremen or Dirt Church is a group of really fun guys from Western Pa and West Virginia who not only are good riders, but also love the Lord in an outdoor setting. We can all appreciate the Creation with the fall scenery and the Adventuremen make it happen. This was the second Adventuremen outing this fall and Dirt Church was in session at Cooper’s Rock and also at Laurel earlier in the year.

The Adventuremen- Roger Evans put together a great time. Plus his post ride chili got rave reviews. Roger is the tall guy in the back.
The Overlook at Cooper’s Rock

Aside from all the ravings about the leaves and the weather, the point of all of this is – where you are……..it is happening. I hear so many people say” I wish I was somewhere else, I wish I was out west or down south.” The fact of the matter is all of those folks are enjoying their weather and their fall seasons. But we have a lot right here in Western Pa. and West Virginia. We just need to appreciate what we have. Sure the west is cool and other places in the country have their appeal. But everyone needs to appreciate their home turf. I am sure some of them are saying what a beautiful fall it is out east right now. But no need to do that……..enjoy where you are.

I watched the World Cup ski race from Solden, Austria this weekend and as much as I am wanting to ski, I love the fall. I am in no hurry for this to end and I hope we can get some more of this spectacular weather for a little while longer. Enjoy what we have, get out in it, and take in a huge breath of cool, crisp, fall air. Thanks for reading.

Return to The Lodge at Glendorn

The main fireplace in the dining room.

If you ever wanted to take your significant other to a fabulous place for a special occasion or just any occasion for that matter, look no further than the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. My wife Janet and I have visited this place at least 10 times and every time we go, we are amazed at what a great experience it is.

One of the many tastefully decorated rooms in the main lodge.

This particular trip, we went at peak foliage season as Bradford, Pa is in the northern reaches of Pennsylvania right near the New York state border. As we drove through the Allegheny National Forest, we entered Glendorn through the black iron gates and it is always like we are taking a trip back in time to a place that does everything right. The staff is always so friendly when you arrive, and they are more than happy to oblige with anything you might need. The rooms and cabins are decorated with artifacts from the Dorn family who were the original owners of the estate. The cabins are not what you think because when you walk in to any one of them, you are amazed at the fine linens, beautiful artwork and fresh flowers that welcome you. The lodge rooms are beautiful and if you wanted to take another couple or two, you can rent anyone of the cabins because they have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

Jill Lake – one of many on the property.

The food is amazing as Chef David Haick creates breakfasts, lunches and dinners with fresh produce from local farms and orchards, local meat and fish selections, and can even prepare picnic lunches if you want to explore the property outside of the dining room. My wife can also attest to the quality of the Forest Spa, on site, which can refresh sore and tired muscles with deep tissue massage and many other spa services.

I particularly like the 1500 acres and their trails that are available for hiking, mountain biking, and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. We always alpine ski up the road at Holimont in Ellicottville, N.Y which is only a 40 minute drive from Glendorn. Lots of outside activities including fly fishing( Glendorn received the Orvis Resort of the Year back in 2016), and skeet and trap shooting. Guides are available to assist upon request and are very knowledgeable. Another note of interest is that The Lodge at Glendorn is listed in the Relais and Chateau book of top resorts in the world. It is quite an honor to be listed here and Glendorn has been on the list for many years.

Skeet shooting year round.

The amazing thing to me is that amidst the luxury at the resort, you can wander out to the trails in the 1500 acres adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest and feel like you are a million miles away from anything. I was riding my mountain bike on this recent trip after hiking with Janet, and a huge turkey or pheasant ( not sure) flew right over my handlebars and scared the heck out of me. Right after that while descending a trail, I stopped to see two black bear cubs scampering up a tree right in front of me. I snapped a shot but then got out of there quickly because I know mama was around somewhere and most likely would have taken a dim view of me taking photos of her cubs. I dropped my post and descended the trail quite rapidly.

One of the cubs .
From wilderness riding to fine linen dining
Hiking with the bride on our anniversary.
One of the many trout stocked streams on the property
Bondieu Lake

Of the many places where Janet and I have traveled, this is definitely one of our favorites and the great thing is that it is only a 3 hour drive from our home. No airports, no rental cars, just pack up your stuff and go. I have posted about The Lodge at Glendorn before, but I felt compelled to talk about it again because it is truly spectacular. You have to try it yourself and you will definitely rebook if you do. Warren Miller, the great ski movie producer always said, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be another year older when you do.” This is so true and why not visit The Lodge at Glendorn soon? Cliff and Tracy Forrest, the owners, have done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of a wilderness resort with first class lodging, dining and activities in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Go visit. I am not going to tell you again. LOL!! Thanks for reading.

Fresh flowers everywhere!

A Slave to the Watch

The Garmin Fenix 6X- Taskmaster!!

I have always liked gizmos. I had Polar heart rate monitors for many years as well as sports watches and devices mounted to my bike to tell me my mileage. I regularly entered information into Velo-News logs about rides, who I rode with, maximum heart rates, and all kinds of information that was interesting to me as a weekend warrior. I had the first app on the I-phone for calculating vertical feet when skiing, and when the creators of Alpine Replay( the name of the app at the time) saw that my buddy Hutch and I had broken the one day record each for his app( 57,000 vertical feet in one day at Northstar at Tahoe), they texted me wanting to know more about us. I had a backup battery in my parka so as not to lose any data and to make sure I collected all the vertical from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM that day. In any event, I have always liked these things and they have been of particular interest to me with their amazing technology.

So at the suggestion of my friend Mark ” the Shark” Sauers, I recently purchased a Garmin Fenix 6 X Sapphire watch. It was available on the Amazon Prime sale and I got a good deal on it. I had not purchased anything like this in a while and have been amazed at the data and information that it provides. I am only using a fraction of that data because I am not a real techie. But what I have discovered is very interesting but the watch is starting to make me feel bad. It is subtle in it’s insults and I am hoping that the information I entered as an aging athlete would have tempered it’s comments. But to no avail. This thing in a subtle way admonishes me, and I am starting to think it has a personality all of its own.

The Aging Athlete

To give you an example, it tells me I am a poor sleeper and I need to focus on getting better rest. I think I have had a decent nights sleep but I guess with the frequent trips to the bathroom as an older guy, it senses that I am not getting enough REM, and deep sleep. And it lectures me. ” Although you slept enough, your sleep was restless.” ” Try a white noise machine or earplugs.”

There is a measurement called load focus which tells me I am balanced based on my running Vo2 max trend. It tells me that my training load is sufficient to maintain fitness but I need to work out longer and more often to improve. WTH- I am riding four days a week on my mountain bike. I don’t race anymore and ride to ride again. I use my mountain bike for exercise. But this thing says I am loafing. Come on!!! Guys I went to high school with are coming home and getting a hot bath and watching Fox News. They have one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel but my Garmin won’t give me any slack.

When I look at the training effect measurement after a two hour weekday ride, it says,” This activity enhanced your ability to maintain a moderate pace for a longer amount of time” ” You gained a slight anaerobic benefit from this activity” My heart was pounding at 169 beats per minute on many climbs. I would argue about the moderate pace. I thought it was a pretty good pace at close to 8.5 MPH moving average speed. Come on Garmin- I am an old dude. It did say I had 64 minutes of vigorous intensity and 22 minutes of moderate intensity, so what gives? I think it just likes to insult me.

This winter, it says that there are over 2000 ski areas mapped into the Garmin. So wherever I am , I should be able to map how many vertical feet I log without going to the standard I-Phone app for vertical feet. I wonder if it will tell me I am lazy or not making enough turns? How will it insult me on the slopes? The watch has an app that connects to on my I Phone called Garmin Connect. It takes the data from the watch and downloads it to the app. So both the watch and the app double team me. Admonishment from two sources.

The watch- motivating or insulting?

Speed, Timing, Heart Rate, Training Effect, Elevation, Nutrition and Hydration, Temperature MTB Dynamics, and Intensity Minutes. What did I do do deserve this? TMI if you ask me but I was the one who bought the watch. So buyer beware!! If you sale for one of these watches and you are an aging athlete like me, be ready to be humiliated by a device. I am sure in its own little way- it is trying to motivate me, but my giddup and go for a lot of these measurements has gone up and left. I just need the basics to give me the data on the rides or the slopes. I don’t need much more than that. But I will still look at the watch. Heck, I sleep with it to get the after hours measurements. It is part of me now. Thanks Shark!!! Thanks for reading.

A Fitting Tribute

Lois and Phillip Dupre

Sitting at one of the tables reserved for friends of Lois Dupre Schuster, I was engaged in a conversation with Angel and Andy Michanowicz and Willis Croker. Willis is a bright young guy involved in commercial real estate in Pittsburgh and I ended up apologizing to him for Andy and I rehashing 50 year old ski stories of friends and events. That is kind of the way it was at the induction ceremony this weekend at Seven Springs Resort for the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Museum Hall of Fame. Willis’s grandmother Lois and her late husband Phillip were inducted this year into the Hall of Fame and it was a fitting award for two people who really shaped the soul of Seven Springs back in the day.

Lois Dupre Schuster

Lois not only developed the rental shop at Seven Springs back in the day, as well as many other services, but served as the mayor of Seven Springs Boro for 50 years. Her enthusiasm for the ski area and the people who came as guests was only matched by her late husband Phillip who was the “go to” guy for a lot of daily things at the resort in the early days. Lois said that if you needed anything, you called Phillip. He was just that kind of guy who always had a resolution for any issue and was always willing to help. Lois had a great story about the early days when a congressman and his wife arrived at Seven Springs. The hotel was booked and when asked by the congressman if there was anything Phillip could do to secure a room, he responded that he had extra beds in his home. That is just the kind of person Phillip was. 40 years of Christmas cards that came in the following years from President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty, served to show how much they appreciated the effort. They had a great time and always remembered the kindness of the Dupres.

Stories like this abounded at the induction ceremony. Rus Davies, a local legend in ski instruction and ski patroller foundations at Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel Mountain was also inducted in a most deserving way. And behind every good man is a good woman. Rus’s wife Miriam encouraged Rus all along the way in his illustrious career with the ski community.

Rus Davies

Western Pa has been widely represented in the nominations and elections to the Hall of Fame. Josef Cabe, Dick Barron, Jim McClure, Bill Bendl, Herman Dupre, Lars Skylling, Willi Klein, Doc DesRoches, and the founders of Seven Springs- Helen and Adolph Dupre. Even Olympic medalist and World Cup racer Dianne Roffe has also been inducted for her work with ski areas in Pennsylvania.

Michelle and Frank Pipak and Helen Durfee( Lois Dupre’s oldest daughter)

But as Charlie Hinchliffe and I looked about the room this weekend and at the subsequent reception at Lois’s home. we remarked that it was amazing to see how many people there look at skiing as a lifestyle and not just something that they do once in a while. People like Frank and Michelle Pipak, whose countless hours as PSIA Level III ski instructors have enriched the lives of their students in many ways. Rich Wright was there to honor Lois as he was the voice of Seven Springs for many years on the PA system. If you continued to scan the reception, it was amazing to see how well people are faring after many years. Skiing does that to you. It keeps you young and alive and enthusiastic for that first snowflake that comes as the herald of winter. There are people who ski, and then there are skiers. The people in that room and at the reception were skiers – there is a difference.

Now many of us have skied all over the world and appreciate the Rockies, the Wasatch, the Alps and other alpine venues. And although the Laurel Highlands do not offer the vertical drop of some other places in this country, the soul of skiing still exists strongly in our part of the world. We all consider the Laurel Highlands our home field and it is always great to reconnect at the beginning of the season and see our winter friends enjoying the slopes once again. The passion that the inductees into the Pa. Snowsports Hall of Fame have shown, indicates a love for something that is greater than themselves. They selflessly contributed and developed the opportunities for many of us to enjoy the sport of skiing- right here in our home state of Pennsylvania. The Eastern contingent of guests this weekend also feel the same way about their inductees from the Poconos and together, the blending at the reception of eastern Pa skiers and Western Pa skiers was really heartwarming to see.

Dupre memorabilia

As I drove home from the event, I thought about the 61 years that I have spent in the Laurel Highlands and the friends that I have made over the years. Skiing has brought so much to my life and thinking of friends who are no longer with us, but made an impact, was a bit nostalgic driving down County Line Road. Pennsylvania has a rich history in the sport of skiing, and to have it celebrated with events like the induction ceremonies this weekend, showcases the enthusiasm and passion that local skiers have for their home mountains. I am happy to have been a part of it and hopefully will have many more years on the slopes both locally and in other areas where there is another whole host of friends who share the same love of the sport of skiing. Thanks for reading, congratulations to all the inductees, and think snow!!

The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb

The beginning of fall at Mt. Washinton, NH.

So it’s a rainy day and I am surfing around You Tube and I happen to see Phil Gaimon’s coverage of the Mt. Washington Hill Climb. Phil is a former professional in road cycling and has raced all over the world. He now has a You Tube channel where he continues to chase records on STRAVA and tours the country riding in the most iconic places and chasing records for climbs. When I saw the coverage, it brought back memories of when my pals Eric Durfee, Jack McArdle and I did it back in the mid-80s. Eric, at the time was a Category 1-2 road cycling racer and extremely fit and ended up in the top 5 overall which was a huge accomplishment. Jack and I were not in that category but I recall being respectable at the finish.

A young Pat back in the day at the start in New Hampshire.

Thinking back on that day, it was a bluebird sunny one at the bottom of the mountain and as I recall it is about 7.6 miles to the top on a road that was part asphalt and part gravel and dirt. The road today is paved to the top but at the time, it was definitely a cyclo-cross tire on the rear wheel. A fairly large group at the time started together and people started to settle in for what was a grueling climb to the top of one of the highest mountains in the East – topping out around 6,000 feet. I recall settling in and at about the halfway mark( reported to me by a bystander), it was about 46 degrees and a heavy fog. Typical weather for Mt. Washington that can change rapidly at any moment. It was windy. The highest winds recorded on earth are at the top of Mt. Washington because of its location as the epicenter of weather patterns roaring across the US and Canada. My friend Jack was behind me and he reported later that he stopped several times to get a drink out of the rain barrels that were used to cool down radiators on the descent in a vehicle. Pretty nasty stuff but he was thirsty. LOL!! Coming into the upper sections, I was able to see the summit weather station and just kept my head down and grinding the gears to approach the last several switchbacks that were reported at a 20 percent gradient. Lots of people cheering us on as I struggled to finish upright and came in with a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes. Respectable for a guy from Pa. My pal Eric from Vermont was top 5 and he was a little over 1 hour and three minutes, just to give perspective. Don’t remember what Jack’s finishing time was, but he made it and immediately stripped down at the top to his Superman briefs which garnered laughs from the crowd as he shivered to change clothes in the parking lot and put on a wool hat and parka because it was 41 degrees and sleeting.

The course marked in red.
Todays racers finishing on the 20 percent paved grade.

The interesting thing is that there is a running race up Mt. Washington as well. The winning times for the bicycle race and the running race are within a minute of each other. Phil Gaimon’s winning time this year was 51.38 which was a record. Sure he had the advantage of paved roads all the way and also the good fortune of technology of light bike design, training improvements and nutritional expertise. But nonetheless, an excellent time, and speeds up that mountain are getting faster every year. Athletes today are just so much better. But back in the day, my buddy Eric made a statement. Today there are a lot of entrants with many of them making the top to the cheers of their friends and family in 2 hours, 3 hours, or whatever it takes. Many of them ride it just to see the scenery and to say that they finished. One guy rode up there this year on a unicycle. Amazing!

As we made our way back down the mountain in Helen Durfee’s van, we were amazed that we could not ride our bikes down the hill. Even with today’s disc brake technology, you would not want to negotiate that road on a bike downhill. Even many of the parade of cars descending the Auto Road have to stop to cool the brakes. It is that steep. So happy to have seen Phil’s recording of the 2022 event as it brought back many memories of an interesting day a long time ago in the White Mountains in early fall. Thanks for reading.

The Adventuremen

The Adventuremen plus Julie!!

Organized mountain bike rides are usually a lot of fun, especially when they are in the Laurel Highlands. Great trails, sunshine, beautiful state forest greenery, and challenging rock sections. But this day was special among the scores of organized rides at this time of year. http://www.adventuremen.org was the host with the founder Greg Nass at the helm. Adventuremen is an organization of Christian men who enjoy the outdoors together. The signature event is Adventurefest which is a camping event the weekend before Father’s Day. Great speakers, bonfires, mini-bike riding, fishing, Harley riding, mountain bike riding at Raystown, basketball, air cannons, drones, and a plethora of other activities that make the weekend a blast. The venue is at Agape Farm and I have posted on it before. Great group of guys and a great event. But Greg and I decided it was time to branch out from the fest and perhaps schedule some outside events like the ride at Laurel Mountain. It was special on many fronts.

Our fearless leader- Greg Nass.

First of all, my pal Jeff Chetlin came with his wife Julie- even though technically it is a men’s event. Julie rides the rocks better than anybody though, and she was a welcome addition. Jeff, as I have posted before, is returning from a stroke about a year ago and this was his first ride back on some technical trails. Our buddy Pete and Jeff rode together and it was amazing that Jeff has made the comeback due to a lot of hard work on his part and answered prayer. Julie rode the rocks with us. Jeff will ride them soon.

Next amazing story was my pal Tom Tiernan. He has come back twice from cancer and was in terrific shape. Tom pays a lot of attention to his fitness and it showed on the ride in the Laurels. He is an amazingly enthusiastic guy despite some pretty major health setbacks. He enjoys life and really likes mountain bike riding as well as road cycling. He is back and his health and fitness show it. And he talks the whole ride- can’t figure it out. He must have lungs of iron. He and I wouldn’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise. LOL!!!

The group was rounded out by the dentists- Steve Gurtner, and his pals Brad and Sean. All great riders with whom I have ridden many times. Along with Steve’s son Dan who decided to ride with the old guys this day. Julie and Jeff were in the dental field as well and if any one of us had any issues with our teeth on the ride- well we were covered. Roger Evans brought his posse up from West Virginia. Roger and I ride at Adventurefest every year at Raystown and it was great to see him again. My pal Sandy McKee came along and all in all- 16 riders of different backgrounds, faiths, believers, non-believers, and general good guys all hooted and hollered as we left the parking lot after a thoughtful prayer by Greg asking for protection. Greg also asked for prayer requests which were numerous in coming.

The West Virginia Boys and Pete.
Steve and Dan at Wolf Rocks- watching for rattlers.
Sandy taking a breather.

The cool thing about the outing was that even though it was sponsored by a faith based outdoor organization, there was nothing uncomfortable about it. Everyone, no matter if you have faith or no faith, likes to have a prayer said on their behalf. Greg handled it with grace and it was well received. The misnomer about a lot of Christian men is that they are extremists, right wing, condescending when nothing could be further than the truth. Real Christians recognize that they are sinners and in need of the Savior. There was no uncomfortable discussion, no shoving anything down anyone’s throat, just plain fun in the mountains on our bikes. Christian guys are not weirdos. Just come to Adventurefest and see for yourself. They know the good news of the Gospel and are willing to share it, only if asked. Just normal Joes like the most of us. No need to be intimidated by Christian men whose battle cry at the front of the pack was “Halle……….then the back of the pack responds ……..lujah.” And the whole group chuckles and keeps riding.

Mountain biking is a cool way to get 16 guys together and 1 cool lady for some exercise and fun in the woods, with some great dialog. People have issues, or have friends and family with issues, and no better people to discuss them with than the guys from Adventuremen at what they call ” Dirt Church.” I am happy to be associated with them and in fact Greg asked me to be on their board. I was truly honored. So guess what he gets out of me? An enthusiastic guy who organizes fun rides or as I call them Pleasant Pat Peddling. I am going to try to organize some more rides, hikes and even a ski day or 2. Check with me or http://www.adventuremen.org. Adventuremen on Facebook and Dirt Church on Facebook. If you have interest, join one of these FB groups and get all the latest information on rides and events. Greg, Shark, Pete and I invite everyone and it is amazing who God puts together. Normal people – mountain bike riders – in the woods, discussing life and its ups and downs, and how faith in the Lord can fuse it all together. Thanks for reading.