.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

A New City
By:  Edward McCarthy   (2007/10/15)

Those of you who voraciously read xcottawa.ca - I know you're out there - will have probably figured out by now that I've moved out to join Tom in restarting XC Ottawa's Western Bureau in Vancouver. Among others, this article was a pretty good tip-off. I've been here for almost a month and a half now, and now that I finally have not only a mattress but also sheets (luxury, I know) I've been able to settle in a bit and get an idea of how this will really affect my training.

I'm doing a master's degree at UBC, which seems to be a bit more time-consuming than I'd hoped (isn't it always?). Darn. This is partially because I'm also working on R&D with a small company downtown called dpoint Technologies, so I split my time between campus and the office. Adding in commuting time, and considering that I can no longer rely on my dad to cook, I suddenly have to be a lot more careful about scheduling. This is probably the same old song and dance to you in the working world, but I'm not really complaining. Having to plan out my training in advance makes me a lot more effective at actually following my program. It also means that I usually have to focus on one particular workout at a time, which makes those workouts a lot better.

It turns out that UBC campus is a pretty good place for getting workouts in. My office is conveniently divided into a working half and a lab half, so I usually sneak into the lab half to change without having to go to the gym to find a changeroom. Going anywhere on campus is an epic undertaking, since it seems to be the size of a small country, so this is a huge timesaver. There's a pretty good gym, and UBC borders on the impressive Pacific Spirit Park, which is nothing less than a forest in deepest Vancouver. It is both wilder and larger than the more famous Stanley Park, and liberally spiderwebbed with trails as good as you'll find anywhere. There is a good 2-minute interval hill coming up from near the seaside to UBC and a longer, steady hill up the road with a path up the side. There's also a good plyometrics hill in the same area, overlooking the Georgia Strait and the North Shore; it's kind of like Mooney's Bay hill, with an infinitely more pleasant view and ocean air. With all these options, an hour and a half between classes just begs to be a workout session. I've also joined the UBC ski team, a somewhat more low-key and informal team than Carleton's.

There is one way in which I have far more time than I used to, though. I'm no longer working retail as I have for the past four years in Ottawa, so I've suddenly discovered weekeends. Three of the weekends I've been here I've spent at least some time in Squamish, an incredible mecca of the outdoors, and four weekends have included some type of epic distance workout in the mountains. Tom and I found a great 5-hour North Shore run; some of the UBC team and I had an even nicer 6-hour run in Garibaldi Park the weekend after; I got to hike a different part of the park the next weekend with fellow Ottawa expatriates Kate and Ken Murray; and this weekend I did a 145km road ride with some UBC folk, on a route that included climbing Seymour, the paved part of Grouse, and Cypress, three well-known North Shore mountains. The road up Seymour is 12.5 km long and has an average grade of 8%; Cypress is 13 km, with a grade of 7.3%. Ottawa didn't make me completely prepared for that type of riding.

The weather in Vancouver, notoriously, can be a bit of a downer, and on several occasions it hasn't been great. The two long runs were in pretty wet conditions, and while hiking we were in a blizzard which, while appreciated by us as skiers, kind of obstructed what would have been a glorious view of Garibaldi Lake. When it's nice, though, it's really nice, and the view from the North Shore is amazing.

Overall, I'd have to say that so far Vancouver's been great. The training is good, the people are nice, and the rain occasionally stops. With luck, there will be snow in the mountains soon!
Interesting Reading. . .
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