The team posing with Dirk (owner) after an adventure filled day in the sun!
OWL Rafting is basically a campground/resort for people to come and experience a weekend of adrenaline filled whitewater paddling followed by amazing food, relaxation, and just generally a good time! With live music, a steak dinner served with complimentary beer, and a video highlight reel of your adventures on the water, it’s pretty well impossible to not have a great time at OWL! For skiers like us, it presents a perfect training camp venue with plenty of rollerski friendly roads, great MTB trails to run on, and of course a chance to do some white-water padding, all this without driving off-site of the OWL campground.
There’s no arguing that the Gatineau Hills provide a fantastic training ground for skiers, but a change of scenery now and then can really help you put in a few extra hours of training. Furthermore having all of your meals taken care of, makes putting in those big hours even easier. Did I mention the food? Seems like we skiers spend more time eating than anything else.
Our OWL training camp starts on Friday afternoon, the team arrives, sets-up their respective tents, and promptly heads off for a 1 to 1.5 hour classic rollerski. After the ski, the bold go for a swim in the 13 oC river, while the others opt for the more luxurious option of taking a shower.
Side note: The showers at OWL are very neat. They basically look like a square of very tall wood fencing that encloses 4 individual square shower stalls that have no roof. Basically you get to shower under the stars, which I always find is a very peculiar yet awesome feeling.
After a hardy dinner it’s off to bed for the team, while most guests stay up late by the roaring campfire.
Saturday morning training begins at 7:00am, which for me seems early, but for most is a pretty normal time to be mobile by. The morning run, laughably nicknamed “The Loosener” based on this video featuring Tim Don.
I also find Simon Whitfield’s response to Tim Don’s typical training day pretty funny.
After the loosener, breakfast is served, and most of us gulp down an extra cup of coffee with the upcoming trainings of the day in mind.
The team sets out on a 2 hour Skate Rollerski that includes some short high speed sprints, and some head to head sprints, each sprint lasting about 10 seconds. Matt Brown was crowned supreme sprint champion out of the men, and Katie McMahon crowned supreme sprint champion out of the women. After the large and extravagant award ceremony, the team finished the ski and headed back for lunch and a nap. After the nap we laced up our running shoes for a run, which was followed by a strength circuit.
Not using the play park for playing… at least in the conventional sense
After the strength workout, and another dip in the river or a shower, it was time for one of my favorite parts of the OWL camp, the steak dinner!!! What can I say, I like eating.
Once all the feasting was done, it was off to bed for us again with Sundays adventure approaching quickly on our already tired legs.
Sunday consists of a pretty legendary XC Ottawa training session, it is a triathlon of sorts, cooked-up by Dirk himself. It comprises of Classic Rollerskiing to the boat launch area that is located up-river of the OWL camp. After this 1.5 hour or so ski, the OWL staff have transported our sport-yaks (big rubber inflatable Kayak, seats 2 people) to the put-in and from the put in we paddle with the OWL guides down the rapids of the Ottawa river.
The paddle usually takes about 2 hours, depending how many times we flip, and fast we paddle. This year everyone went for a swim on the final rapid, except for Ingrid, who somehow managed to stay in her kayak despite losing her kayak partner who was sitting in the back seat, the steering seat.
We then dock the kayaks on shore, from where an OWL motorboat comes and tows the kayaks back to camp. We do not have the luxury of a tugboat ride however, and choose to run from the shore back to OWL, to complete the roughly 5 hour triathlon. It could be the best triathlon ever invented, and it is definitely a lot of fun!
Oh, almost forgot, then we eat a huge lunch! :)
On behalf of all of XC Ottawa we want to send out a huge thank you to Dirk and Claudia for hosting us at OWL Rafting this year, which is the 10 year anniversary of the XC Ottawa OWL Camp! Also a big thanks to all the staff for feeding us, guiding our trip, and transporting all our equipment around! Thank You!!!
Thanks for reading, hope you have the chance to go visit OWL Rafting! :)
OWL Rafting: (http://www.owl-mkc.ca/owl/)