Are You Ready for the Backcountry this Season?

There has already been snow falling at Whistler and on the locals. The temperature is dropping, and I’ve already donned a toque and my winter gloves to bike to work! It’s time to start thinking about the winter snowboard/skiing season, and to start getting the gear ready for backcountry touring. The last few years I’ve spent more time gaining confidence, skills and knowledge about touring in the backcountry. It’s not something to take lightly. But, when all goes well, it can be a great workout and a beautiful experience.

To make it most enjoyable, knowledge and safety are key. I highly recommend, at minimum, taking an Avalanche Safety Course. I took one provided by Canada West Mountain School 3 years ago and learned a lot.

Dave Norona, local world-renown adventure athlete, has posted a great video about backcountry gear and safety. It’s a great intro if your new, or refresher if you’re seasoned.

Hiking up past Red Heather Hut, Squamish with my bro


Vote for Trails for All, Trails Forever!

Help the NSMBA (North Shore Mountain Bike Association) win $100,00o to help revitalize our very precious north shore trail network. Every person gets 10 votes, and every vote counts! It’s easy to register, and you can vote until November 2nd. See NSMBA and the Aviva Community Fund website for more details.


Recovery drinks make you faster!

And who doesn’t want to be faster? Mike McIvor, owner of Peak Centre for Human Performance in Burnaby, gives us the facts on why we all should have a recovery drink ready to go after a workout.

Recovery drinks are one of the easiest things you can do to dramatically improve the speed of adaptation from training. My favourite example of a study that demonstrates the importance was done on a group of athletes that were doing the same training. Group A took a carb/protein drink at the beginning and end of the day and Group B took it before and after every workout. At the end of the 16 week of the study Group A (beginning and end of day) made a 2% improvement and Group B (before and after workout) made a 20% improvement – yep – that’s right 20%. The reason is that when we complete a workout, we are carb depleted. Under normal circumstances, the body uses just fat and carb as energy. When we’re carb depleted, the body needs something else to help burn the fat so it turns towards protein – we store our protein in our muscles. The reason why Group A made such small improvements is because when they finished their workouts they were carb depleted so they were actively breaking down muscle fibre to fuel their daily processes and they didn’t reverse that until they had their next meal. The period of time they were in that catabolic state was enough to almost fully negate the effects of their training. By taking that recovery drink immediately after the session Group B reversed the process and began their recovery and as a result saw dramatically better results through the same period of training. Which group would you rather be in?

You’re looking for about 10-12g of a whey protein (depending on your size), 20 or more grams of carb, and 300-500ml of water and it should be taken within 15 minutes of finishing training. Mike recommends the Cytosport Recovery Drink but Endurox R4, Gu Recovery or even chocolate milk will do in a pinch.

You’re already putting in the training. With one small change to your routine you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of what you’re doing. Train smarter, race faster.

Thanks Mike! If you have any more questions about nutrition or training, contact Peak Centre for Human Performance at 604-299-7959. Now fill your bottles with “Go Juice” and get back out there!

Cytosport products

Squamish Trail Map smartphone app – update

View of Squamish Valley from Credit Line

Kelly, a fellow mountain biker, and myself headed up to Squamish yesterday to go for a long cross-country mountain bike ride and to enjoy the sunshine. Kelly had downloaded the Squamish Trail Map app (discussed in last blog post) to her iPhone so we could test it out. We road up through Wunderland, White Rabbit, Cheshire Kitten, then crossed over to the Brohm Lake trails. After that, we headed back across the road and up to Cat Lake. We pulled out the iPhone on the climb up to Cat Lake and it showed us exactly where we were on the trail map. We then bombed down Cheshire Cat, a super fun and fast downhill xc trail. After the Cat Lake loop, we headed into the Alice Lake trails on our way to Credit Line. We again pulled out the iPhone at the end of Tracks from Hell where there are a few trails linking together, causing a bit of confusion if you don’t know the trails that well. The app pegged us again exactly where we were on the map, and helped us find our way up to Credit Line. After Credit Line, another fast downhill xc trail, we turned left onto Jacks Trail which took us down to Brakentrail and back to the Bean and Republic Bicycles in Brakendale. It was a great day, and after playing around with the app some more, I’d highly recommend it if you are not that familiar with trails in Squamish and carry a smartphone.

Kelly & KJ - All smiles on Credit Line, Squamish

3 Adventure Smartphone Apps Worth Downloading

Squamish Mountain Bike Trails – map and list of Squamish mountain bike trails, including location of where you are in relation to trails, includes new trails recently opened not on paper version. This app is $9.99.

Rescue App – connects you to local EMS services via phone or SMS, gives GPS coordinates of where you are and much more! This app is only $2.99.

Avalanche App – this free app was created by Canadian Avalanche Centre and MEC. It has weather updates and recent avalanche activities throughout BC. This is a must to have if you’re going in the backcountry!!

All apps are available through iTunes App Store.

Backpack Granola Bars


Backpack Granola Bar - So good!


I’ve finally managed to make a yummy granola bar that actually stays together!! I’ve tested them out the past couple weekends while biking and they’ve been awesome. Definitely a nice break from the old Cliff Bars. Yum!

1.5 cups peanut butter (or almond butter)
1.5 tbsp vanilla (or almond) extract
1.5 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup corn syrup
6 cups oats
1 cup coconut, toasted
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup almonds, whole or chopped, toasted
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins

In a skillet, toast coconut, almonds and sesame seeds and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, vanilla and brown sugar. Add corn syrup and then mix in remaining ingredients.
Press into greased 12 x 18 inch cookie sheet.
Bake at 350F for approx 20 minutes or until golden brown. They might still feel soft, but they start to harden while they cool. Cut while still warm.
These bars freeze well too. After cutting them up and letting cool, I individually wrapped each bar and then put them all in a big freezer Ziploc bag.

Running Injury Prevention

As I try to work through some hamstring issues these days, my physiotherapist at Active Life Physiotherapy in North Vancouver directed me to a new interesting document on the Prevention of Running Injuries by Blaise Dubois. This is a great read if you are a runner, or thinking about getting into running. It explains biomechanics, running myths, useful tips for picking shoes and even provides some discussion on the currently popular minimalist shoe. Don’t skip out on the Appendix either, it’s full of additional useful information such as interval training and stretching.

If you’re looking for more information on running stretches and exercises, check out the Active Life Physio website for more articles. ALP also does Video Gait Analysis which will  provide  you with visual feedback on running or walking gait. This will help identify any anomalies that may predispose one to injury and allow your physio to provide recommendations on gait correction, preventative exercise and footwear.

Good luck staying injury free and have fun on the trails!

Sophia Sauter, physio and owner of Active Life Physiotherapy - Iron Knee trail run, 2009


The Bike Culture – can’t we all just get along?

I was recently on a local mountain biking website to get caught up on Interbike news and sensed a strong disgust for fixie riders in one of the articles I was reading. Freedom of speech, OK, but really … who cares what you ride! I admit, I don’t totally get why you’d want to ride a fixed gear bike with no brakes, I’m sure it’s less maintenance, but it just sounds too scary for me. But, I do have some friends who ride the track, and they’re power and bike handling skills transfer beautifully to the trails, they’re amazing riders!

Like skiers vs snowboarders, there have always been jabs and pokes between roadies, mountain bikers, bmxers and now fixies. In the end, all that should really matter is that people are out riding bikes and feel better for it.

H.G. Wells put it best “when I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race”.

So remember, no matter what bike you ride, from a CCM to a Willier, to outsiders who don’t have bikes or understand the culture, we are all the same … we are all cyclists.

And, on a lighter note and for a smile and laugh on an otherwise dull Friday … MC Spandx is back in full form! Check out both videos as he spoofs off about the different bike cultures in the most fun and entertaining way.
View here for both videos: MC SpandX Hits The Trails!.

Strachan Hartley Legacy Run – Oct 17

Just a reminder that the Strachan Hartley Legacy run is on Sunday, October 17th at Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver. This event raises money for the Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation in memory of Strachan. SHLF provides youth the opportunity to achieve their full potential through sports and education. Please see website for more details.

Fall outdoor clothing – Part Deux

This post builds on my last post “Fall outdoor clothing – Practical or Parisian?“. Time to hit the lower body layers …

Shorts – There are a couple ways to do the base layer for cycling – 1. Typical bike short with Knee Warmers or Leg Warmers. 2. Knicker bib short (chamois bike short that goes past the knees). No merino wools in these, just your typical bike short material (synthetics).

Full-length tights – There are many designs of basic full length tight that can be pulled over bike shorts or just worn straight up for running. Thickness ranges from a basic spandex layer, to a mid-thermal layer with fleece lining. There are also thermal layers that have wind-proof front paneling and stretchy rear paneling for movement. These pants are great for light rain or moderate intensity workouts. A snugger fit is better for cycling and running. Look for reflective stripes for outdoor activities at night or early morning. Example: Sugoi Midzero Zaptight or Sugoi Firewall Tight.

If it’s a deluge, or you’re going to be out in the rain for a while, a waterproof pant might be the way to go. I tend to find the waterproof pants too hot when cycling, but they’re worth it when it’s cold and absolutely pouring. GORE makes a baggier, waterproof pant that can be pulled over tights or shorts. They might even go over small body armour for freeriding. Example: GORE Solid2 windpant or Sugoi Majik Shell.

Socks and Shoes
Don’t forget your feet! There are a few options here … waterproof socks, booties (not booty, you can shake it, but we’re talking about shoe covers here …) or Gore-Tex shoes.

Wool socks are great for running and cycling. There are also waterproof socks that are apparently somewhat breathable, but I’ve heard they can still get a bit sweaty. I imagine if you have room in your shoe, a merino wool sock with a waterproof sock overtop would be ideal. Or, go straight to the gore-tex shoe! Both Shimano and Northwave make them.

There are many different brands and designs of shoe covers. It’s worth taking your shoe in to ensure that the booties are a tight fit. There are windproof or thermal booties that aren’t waterproof, and there are full-waterproof shells. Some don’t fit cross-country shoes as well as road shoes, so I suggest again, bring your shoes in to try them on.
Example: GORE Race Power 2 shoe cover, Pearl Izumi soft shell Cyclone shoe cover.

Waterproof shoe covers

Quick summary:
When looking for new fall clothing, think:
Base Layers – merino wool, wicking and comfort, snug lines
Outer layers – water/windproofness, reflective stripes, pockets, breathability

Wish I had warm and dry gear! Cold, wet & muddy race conditions - Test of Metal 2007.