Traditionally XC Ottawa holds an early on-snow training camp in November at Foret Montmorency. This is the first year I have attended the camp, although I have been to Foret Montmorency several times before for racing. The plan was to head out on Thurs from Ottawa after work, and get 3 full days of skiing in before returning home Sunday afternoon. The snow reports looked promising, so we were expecting good skiing. Some XC Ottawa keeners left early on Thursday for an extra ski session in the afternoon.
My plan was to leave work in Kanata around 5pm, pick up Craig, then pick up Erika, and then off to the snow. As I drove down 5th Ave I realized I couldn't remember Craig's address. Oops, good thing for cell phones. Then I found out we had an extra ski bag to bring, as Sheila pulled the veteran move of 'accidentally' hiding Eva's ski bag in her living room before they left in the morning. This way she could get some extra skiing in on Eva! Actually she lent Eva some skis for Thursday's ski.
Then as we cruised down Hopewell we realized we didn't know where Erika lived, and the cell phone doesn't help when you don't have a phone number. Luckily we were able to spot her car, and left Ottawa shortly after 6. This is a good time to leave, since we missed traffic in Ottawa and Montreal, and after a fast and uneventful drive we arrived at Montmorency shortly after 11pm. The snow situation looked great. There had been traces of snow as we hit Quebec City, and the snow depth increased as we gained the 800m of altitude to Montmorency. There looked to be 30 - 50 cm of snow on the ground.
Montmorency is ideal for a ski training camp. Early snow. A variety of trails, from rolling hills, to big climbs and technical downhills. Cheap accommodation available right at the trails, so no driving is required. And meals are prepared for you in the cafeteria. So basically it's just ski, eat, and sleep.
Friday morning we awoke to snowing and -8, aka awesome skiing. The word was they were grooming a loop higher up on hill, and possibly there weren't classic tracks. So we elected to skate, and after about 30 min of climbing through fairly soft powder up some tough hills we got to the top loop. Not exactly an easy transition from dryland training to skiing. And once we got to the top, we found out that they were actually grooming the easy trails down below. D-oh! Well at least we got to reap the benefits of our hard work by blasting downhill through the powder, and then onto some freshly groomed rolling trails. We skiied for about 2:15, got some technique work from John, and then went back for lunch.
The afternoon ski was classic, close 2 hours. The temperature was just below zero, and it was still snowing fresh sticky snow. The wax of the day turned out to be vauhti orange, covered with green to prevent icing. It took some people longer than others to get their skis working, but eventually we were all ready for some intervals. One minute intervals, three minutes rest, 6 times, hard but it felt good to go fast. Cool down. Diner. Not much to do at Montmorency in the evenings, but thanks to modern technology (laptop and downloads of the Eurosport coverage of the World Cups), we got the watch the men's and women's sprint races from a few weeks ago in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Saturday was basically a carbon copy of Friday, except classic in the morning and skate in the afternoon. And it was a beautiful sunny day, with fresh powder snow. In the morning we did some double pole sprints. After the sprints I introduced Gavin to my forearm on a downhill, guiding him to an epic '6 million dollar man' style crash. I always enjoy a little pushing, shoving, and cutting people off on the downhills, just to keep everyone on their toes, and to help develop downhill skills. Unfortunately I caught Gavin a little off balance and unaware, so my little push had spectacular results. Luckily he and his equipment were ok. After a 3 hour classic ski in the morning, then lunch, we headed back out for 2 hours of skating. This was an awesome ski, we went back to the top and skied around a freshly groomed loop with a nice fast technical downhill. After dinner we were treated to the sprint relay World Cup races from Dusseldorf. That is, the people who weren't covertly waxing there skate skis with fluoros (Tom!) for Sunday morning's skate time trial.
Sunday was again sunny and -8, but warming up fast. We skied out to the time trial start. On the way out I measured the course via GPS, 7.2 km. It would be a mass start, out and back race, the first half being mostly uphill, the second half mostly downhill. Tom took the lead off the start, the pace was not too fast, I think we were all feeling the 2 big days of skiing. He threw in a couple of sprints to keep us honest. Gavin took the lead before the big hill to the turn around, where Tom proceeded to remove one of Gavin's baskets with his ski. (Note to skiers: don't ski in front of Tom if you don't like having somebody constantly hitting your skis and poles, as I learned this weekend.) This wasn't enough to slow Gavin down, as he maintained his lead for another kilometer, until Tom and P-O started their epic battle for victory. P-O was inspired by his resolve to not write the trip report, as we agreed before hand that the 3rd place finisher would get the honour. I was able to get by Gavin at the end for the final podium spot. The 5 men basically stayed together the whole race. Here are the results for the men and women.
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We skied for about 2:30 hours in the spring-like sun, and then headed back to Ottawa after a great weekend of skiing.