Saturday, December 29, 2007

Royal Gorge: cross-country skiing and cross-training

Last weekend we made a last minute plan to visit one resort we had discovered last winter, Royal Gorge. This is the paradise for cross-country skiing, just look at the features listed on the home page:
  • More than 9000 acres of skiing terrain
  • An annual snowfall exceeding 600 inches
  • The largest groomed track system in North America (308km)
  • Ninety impressive trails
  • Four user-friendly surface lifts
  • Two overnight lodges: Rainbow and Ice Lakes Lodge
  • A spacious day lodge with first class facilities
  • The world's largest cross country grooming fleet
  • Fifteen kilometers of snow making
  • Eight rejuvenating warming huts
  • Four refreshing trailside cafes
  • Several stimulating Inn to Inn trails
  • A base elevation of 7000 feet
And all this is real, we can testify! I would even add that the resort is so large, and this sport still not too popular, so you see very few people on the trails. Something which resembles the ultra and trail running, doesn't it? No crowd, no waiting in line, perfect rental equipment, easy parking. And even free hot tea in the convenient warming hut on the trails! Agnès, the boys and I really like this way to enjoy the snow and the mountains, away from the crowded downhill ski resorts.
Another great feature of Royal Gorge is its location: the first ski resort on highway 80, after Auburn (yes, the Western States finish and the Endurance Capital of the World!). Just two miles off Hwy 80, this is really convenient and make the trip up there much shorter than to other Lake Tahoe locations (3h30 with last weekend's surprisingly light traffic).
Cross as in... cross-country skiing and cross-training of course. I had taken a two-week break to mark the end of the 2007 season and it felt good to get back to some exercise. Agnès, Alex and Greg where striding, and I was skating (while Max is away, touring China for 12 days with one of his friends). I'm not a good skater so it makes me work harder on the legs and arms. Although I was surprised not to get sored muscles on Monday actually.
I must admit however that we did stop to all the warming huts, per Greg's request, so we didn't push the envelope too much.
The real come back to training occurred on Christmas Day, Tuesday, with 2 PG&E loops at Rancho San Antonio, in respectively 1:16 and 1:15. Could barely walk on Wednesday with sored muscles and a nasty inflammation of the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament), on the inside of my left knee. The good thing about injury is that they make you learn about anatomy and discover the many wonders of the body. But that's the only positive thing I find in them because I don't like neither the pain or the obligation to decrease the intensity of the training or having to take a break...
The park was so crowded on this Holiday, mostly with walkers and hikers. Was a pleasure to see and catch-up with Lee and Winnie Jebian on my fir climb of PG&E, then, at the end of the run, Michael Kanning, our local 15-year old ultra star! Michael was running with his aunt and uncle, getting ready for the Bandera 100K in Texas next weekend (1/7/08). Just before getting back to school...

Back to the new injury, as any inflammation, it's bothering more when resting (cold) than running (warmed up), but not preventing from running, although it's probably not helping healing... I ran 6 easy miles on Thursday, 5 faster ones on Friday and a long and tough marathon this morning: from home to Stevens Creek Park for our weekly Stevens Creek Striders Club reunion, then up to Black Mountain through Stevens Creek Canyon Road and Trail, the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve and back through Rancho San Antonio's Rogue Valley. I had not planned for such a long run and had taken only one bottle of GU2O and two GU gels. It wasn't enough fuel and, back at Rancho's parking lots, I called Agnès for a pickup. That makes 55 miles over 5 days, pushing to get as much quality training in before the Coastal Challenge.

Last but not least for the local news, we are still missing the rain here. We had a few rainy days and showers, enough to give this wonderful fresh snow at Royal Gorge. And enough for some mud this morning, but the reservoirs are so low, we need much more than that! I know, readers in Europe must find weird that we are looking for bad weather. But water is essential to the balance of the Valley, and not just here actually.

That's all for this week, getting ready to wrap the year up, with Max flying back tomorrow!

Farther Faster, with great family time over the Holidays.

6 comments:

Vincent said...

Bande de veinards !!
Passez un bon réveillon sans oublier un petit footing mardi matin pour bien commencer l'année.
Avec toute mon amitié,
Take care

Vincent

Anonymous said...

J'en apprends des choses!
Sympathique mais désolée pour ton genou.
Bises
Maman

andyb said...

Royal Gorge sounds, and looks, like a great place. I may have to try cross country skiing sometime just to check it out.

Good luck at the coastal challenge, and Happy New Year!

Andy

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

Cross country skiing is a tough workout! Great cross training for sure.

Hope your injury feels better soon!

Sam said...

Jean,

Great to read your post on Royal Gorge. I have spent many splendid days covering their trails. Seems like this will be a great winter to get some cross-training on the groomed trails.

Jeffery

Katie said...

Royal Gorge Cross Country is one of the best spots in the nation, but if the new owners have their way, it will soon be a sprawling condo/second home development, with artificial lakes, horse barns, rubber mats to cross all the hardscape. It will become a urban experience. Please visit the webpage saveroyalgorge.org to find out more about this.