Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Some winter ideas

We have been enjoying winter. The cycle of seasons here in Montreal can be a beautiful thing. However, that was more possible before slush was invented.

We enjoy our own cycle of activities, which is a random mix of the following:

Cross country skiing on Mt Royal, the full circuit from the monument on Parc Avenue to the summit just above the cross (the BIG cross). We include a couple of side loops, specifically the little loop under the cliffs, and the littler loop just below the Mont Royal Chalet/lookout. Once we get through the upper forest and are finally at the summit, we let out a whoop (really, we do) and then downhill... downhill... and more downhill. Zoom down past the cross and for the next 30 minutes we enjoy a quite fine wintery exuberasm.

Cross country skiing also exercises a key cyclist muscle: the tricep in the back of the upper arm. This benefit makes early-season road rides a lot more fun when the upper body isn't dying from the road-bike weight-on-arms position. Do not underestimate the benefits of exercise for the triceps.

Snowshoeing is, as sid recently discovered, as easy as walking. (Duh) It does great things for leg strength, as long as you go up and down steep hills. Snowshoeing also offers delightful snowy-beauty winter scenes. We like to boast to buddies that our snowshoe loop has over a dozen "amazingly beautiful and scenic spots." It's not a boast if it's true, and it is definitely true.

We often snowshoe at early evening and at night. We find that there is a lot of light on Mont Royal and there is no darkness. No headlamp is required. Poles are essential, for exercising the triceps, and for avoiding the embarrassment of falling over. It's a bit safer than skiing at night. We love msr snowshoes. If you have never tried it, rent a pair at yeti and walk around in the forest below the east-side (parc avenue side) cliffs.

Riding the bike trainer isn't nearly as boring as some people find it. We do some intervals for power, and we do some intervals for high-cadence spinning. The correct music is a key element of the experience. It is useful to have good instrumentation: we have cadence, power, and heart rate. Even more useful is a fan to blow away the heat and sweat you will generate (if you are doing it right).

Culture, it isn't what is growing inside your booties. It's one or all of Montreal's museums and related historical-cultural experiences. We try to visit one per week, and recently enjoyed this entertaining diversion. This expands the brain. Usually, this is a good thing.

We like long-distance skating, and Lafontaine park is our friend in that department.

Long brisk walks through montreal streets and neighbourhoods are the last item on our list. Lots of good scenery, and if it is cold, there are plenty of bars, caf├ęs and restaurants to take a warm-up.

Enjoy winter while you can because it doesn't hang around for very long.

Go outside now. "Go outside now" is the best advice ever. Do it.


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