So I've been reading in the papers about all the 'best of 2004' lists, and all the best athletes, and the best moments, and biggest newsmakers… and I've been thinking, I really have no connection to these things. So I decided to make my own personal best-of-2004 list, about ski-related happenings. It's actually a pretty fun thing to do - it made me realize just how many good moments there are in a year of training for skiing.
Best Interval Session
There haven't been that many good interval sessions this year, because I just haven't done as many intervals. However, there is one that definitely sticks out in my mind. This would be last winter, probably sometime in the middle of February. I was night-skiing with my good friend Liam up at Cypress. We often ski off the lit trails and head up to the upper trails, which are unlit. This particular night was clear and the moon was full, so it was very bright. Cypress had just groomed a 500m loop on the powerline clearing, with a killer view of the ocean and the lights on Vancouver Island far below. We did classic intervals, and we started at the same place but heading around the loop in different directions. It was super-fun cuz you didn't know where the other guy was, but you knew you had to get to the finish line before him. That, and it was a perfect night.
This would have to go to a run on Long Beach at Tofino on Vancouver Island in July. I headed over there for a raucous weekend of surfing and camping with some friends (3 girls and me, yes, it was GREAT!). It was raining when we got there, big surprise, and I decided to go for a run on the beach - I love running on beaches but rarely find one long enough to make it worth the sand in the shoes and on the legs. It was storming pretty hard and was really windy, but the surf and the endless beach combined to make an awesome run. It was one of those runs where the time passes by so fast, the decision on when to turn around is made not by the stopwatch, but by how soon it's gonna be dark, and how interesting the next stretch of beach looked. It was a pretty memorable run.
Honorable mention here goes to a run in June with Liam. We ran from the bottom of Grouse Grind on Vancouver's North Shore, east along the Baden-Powell trail and then up a service road that accesses the Grouse Mountain downhill ski area from the back. It was sunny, the mountains were beautiful, and the run up the road, for about 1.5 hours, was tough enough to be pretty fun. When it was over.
This esteemed honor would probably go to my very first rollerski of the year. This was at Seymour Conservation Reserve, some of the finest rollerskiing anywhere in Canada. Technique usually feels rocky during the first rollerski, but it felt great. Best of all, I went with my friend Chris Jeffries, and we skied at a nice, relaxed pace and talked the whole way. Sometimes the best thing about training is just the conversations - it was good to catch up with Chris' outlook on skiing and racing.
Best Bike Ride
The best bike ride was an epic one in August. Myself, Liam, another friend Karl, and their friend headed off with the goal of climbing the two road-bike-accessible mountains on the North Shore: Mts Cypress and Seymour. Cypress was smooth - we did it first, it's about 11km of steady climbing with no super-steep grades, only 4 switchbacks, and a fast descent. Then we headed across the Shore to Mt. Seymour. The road up Seymour is twisty and begins very steeply. It is also about 11km, but kicks up quite steep several times. That was a challenge. We were pretty happy when that got done! It was a gorgeous day for it too.
My best race of 2004 would probably go to the one just a few weeks ago in Mt. Ste. Anne, QC, a 15k classic race. It was my first race of this race season. I didn't do spectacularly, but I felt really good and, most importantly, I had a supergood time. I felt very strong at the end and caught some people in the end, and I outsprinted a guy to the finish line. I kept going around after the race and telling my teammates "Man, I forgot how much fun that was!". The next day, I had a bad skate race, and Wayne Dustin came up to me and said "Man, that was SO fun! What did you think, Tom?". Hahaha.
Best easy ski
I can't really pinpoint a 'best' one of these. I'm going to peg a week of great easy skiing, in late March/April. March and April are the best months to ski at Cypress in Vancouver, because it's always warm, the sun is shining more than in the winter, and there is just tonnes of snow. I had several great skis with Liam and Erin, just wandering over the trails, trying to catch as much air as possible over the bumps, sometimes racing up little hills when we felt like it- this is free-skiing at its best.
Everyone should take some time to write a 'best-of' list for your favourite sport or activities- it'll remind you why you spend so much time, money and effort on them.