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Owl Rafting Training Camp: On the Chisel
By:  Karl Saidla   (2008/06/21)

First, thanks to Dirk and Claudia Van Wijk, John Rennie, Kieran Jones and everyone else at OWL for your great hospitality and guiding services during this training camp. As usual, we really got some great training in and also really enjoyed doing it.

“On the Chisel”, as far as I can tell from Andrew Wynd’s (formerly of XC Ottawa) Facebook page, is Australian for “training hard”, which is what we did this past weekend at OWL Rafting, during our 4th annual OWL training camp.

This year, Coach John (sometimes known as “The Slavedriver”) was actually at the camp, so we were forced to adhere to his training instructions, which seem to be largely derived from his training philosophy which is apparently related to his recent statement “if you want to ski fast, you have to train hard”. In Australian then, one might say “if you want to ski fast, you have to be “on the chisel””.

At this camp we did our best to take advantage of the great training opportunities available at and in the vicinity of OWL. We did two rollerskiing sessions which included some technique tips from the Slavedriver, as well as some 10 second double pole sprints. We also did a run/strength circuit workout on Saturday afternoon. I always find it particularly tough doing one of the Slavedriver’s strength circuits in blazing mid-afternoon sun while other OWL clientèle form a mirage-like presence by lying on the beach, bathing in the cool water of the Ottawa River, and worst of all, guzzling cold beer from large cans.

On Saturday night, following a great meal of steak and everything else you might want, we were treated to a very impressive fireworks display courtesy of a special group of young people from the Pontiac, which is the area of Quebec that is roughly north-west of Ottawa. I'm no fireworks expert, but I am pretty sure you are not supposed to be holding them in your hand when they blow. Maybe it\'s a special technique that only works when you have a can of Wildcat in the other hand. In any case, it would appear that these guys were certainly experienced.

Sunday we did what Megan described as her favorite workout of the whole summer. Thanks to OWL we are able to do a special long distance combination workout including rollerskiing from OWL to the “put in” on the Ottawa River, using sport yaks ( essentially tandem inflatable kayaks) to negotiate what for us is some pretty scary white water for about an hour and a half, and finally, switching into running shoes and doing a bit of a jungle run to get home.

Generally speaking, team members tend to fail when attempting to complete one of the assigned tasks, which is avoiding covering large portions of the journey engaged in white water swimming. One particular stretch of water, called No Name, has had various other names suggested based on our previous year's performances there. Karl and Megan's Whirlpool was one of them, I think. We continued the trend this year, with 6 out of 8 people abandoning ship involuntarily and then doing some hypoxic training (holding your breath while getting pounded by white water). The run home was hot and sweaty, and as usual, we took a couple of wrong turns but never got too far astray. We enjoyed a swim and some great bbq chicken when we got back, and then packed up and headed home.

So this year's OWL Rafting Training Camp, which was actually our 4th, was another big success. We enjoyed great training, great hospitality from everyone at OWL, and nobody drowned or got hit in the face by an explosion from a Roman Candle.

Team with host Dirk as well as John and Keiran

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