Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More Classic Roller Skiing Drills

by Keith and Heather Nicol

Roller skiing is the perfect way to practice x-c skiing
      Roller skiing is an ideal way of getting ready for the cross country ski season. It is so much like skiing that when you hit the snowy trails you feel like you already have lots of kilometers under your belt. I like to start out my roller ski sessions doing classic skiing and  I find the Jenex 125 RC roller ski to be an ideal choice especially if you are just getting into roller skiing. This is because it has 2 wheels at the back which gives it a solid feel. I also like the fact that these skis come with pneumatic tires which means it is good for rough roads and irregular pavement. Another bonus is that comes with an easy to apply brake which allows you to slow down if you come to an unexpected hill. To be safe ski at the edge of the road and wear bright clothing or a safety vest for visibility. Also a minimum of helmet and gloves should be worn in case of a fall. I usually ski on fairly level roads that allow me to mix up my technique from double pole to diagonal stride to kick double pole. The following new video shows some good balance drills for improving your diagonal stride on roller skis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUwRGPiQcI4   Thanks to Jenex V2 roller skis,  Rossignol ski boots and Infinity Ski Poles with their help with this video. For more classic roller ski tips see this post from last year: http://keithnicol.blogspot.ca/2011/12/roller-skiing-into-new-cross-country.html

Monday, 19 November 2012

Some great ways to get ready for the x-country ski season

    by Keith and Heather Nicol

Try a rocker board to improve balance

     An important skill to develop in all types of cross country skiing is balance. And the more you practice balancing exercises before you ski the easier it will be to find your balance on snow. Most of our summer activities like sea kayaking, hiking, or cycling may involve general components of balance but unfortunately this doesn’t transfer to x-country skiing. Therefore through the fall, we will practice on “balance boards” that are specifically designed to improve balance. This is an ideal exercise to do while watching T.V. and a favourite one is a rocker board (basically a square board that has a round piece of wood on the base). We will use one foot and try to balance on it for as long as possible until one edge of the board touches the ground. Be sure to alternate which foot you balance on. Another good balance board for x-c country skiers is the wobble board. It is well named and is a step above the rocker board in terms of difficulty. Again it is good for 1 footed balance exercises. Another board for practicing 2 footed balance is the Extreme Balance Board. As the name suggests this one is quite challenging. Check out Fitterfirst (http://www.fitter1.com/) for more information for various balance boards. We have posted a video of various balance board exercises on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7ZSgWubtg.
The Extreme Balance Board is good for developing 2 footed balance

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fall hiking in the Humber Valley

 by Keith and Heather Nicol

Michael Newton walks through the colourful birch forest
       Fall hiking in the Humber Valley of Western Newfoundland has numerous options but a favourite with many people is the short trek to Barry’s Lookout. We did this trail on Sunday, October 14 and the autumn leaves were splendid. The trail was abit muddy due to the recent wet weather so waterproof hiking boots are recommended. What makes this trip such a standout is that it is short-just 1. 8 km (1 way) yet it gives outstanding views of Humber Valley.  Depending on how long you linger at the lookout bench and how many pictures you take enroute you can easily complete the hike in less than 2 hours. You can also extend the hike by walking further west along the ridge. On our most recent hike we saw a family with 2 young children out enjoying the hike as well as another person busy snapping photos as they hiked along.

The view looking east from Barry's Lookout
    The trail head is located in Humber Village and can be accessed by turning left on Maple and then left again on Pine. Drive down Pine to where the trail begins. One of the hardest aspects of the hike is to find the actual starting point-so here are the UTM coordinates for your GPS - 21    0442679 E   5426386 N. We usually park at: 21    0442803 E    5426419 N where there is room for a few vehicles. If there are readers that are interested in learning how to use a GPS for hiking or other applications let me know since we are planning another GPS-topographic map course for early November, 2012 in the Corner Brook area. Contact Keith Nicol at knicol@grenfell.mun.ca if interested in adding your name to list.
The yellow birch trees are at their peak right now!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Fall colours nearing their peak in the Corner Brook area

by Keith and Heather Nicol
This view overlooking Corner Brook shows off its fall colours 

   Corner Brook is the envy of many places in Newfoundland due to its impressive outdoor setting which really comes into its own in October when the trees change colour. As we write this on October 9, 2012 the colours are nearing their peak and the view of the city from the quarry overlook is one place to get great images of the whole area.
The tree lined Blomidon Golf Club is also very picturesque in the fall        
      Be sure to visit Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook where the autumn colours are particularly impressive.
Margaret Bowater Park is known for its fall colours

Friday, 7 September 2012

Great fall golfing at Humber Valley Resort in Western Newfoundland

by Keith and Heather Nicol   
The fox on the 14th hole
       Fall in the Humber Valley of Western Newfoundland means brilliant autumn colours and where better to enjoy these than on Newfoundland’s top rated golf course. The golf course at Humber Valley Resort is ranked as the second best course in Atlantic Canada and one of Canada’s top 20 courses according to manager Gary Oke. We recently got a chance to play the course and it was in very good shape, despite  recent heavy rains. This course will test all of your golfing skills from tee to green. There are over 100 sand traps that will penalize the errant drive or approach shot and the large greens will test your putting skills.  We know we visited several of these traps on our most recent round and 3 putted way too many greens! Bring your camera since the front nine features fine views of Deer Lake, especially on the first 5 holes. In fact, the par 3 fifth hole is right along the water. Whereas some courses have 1 or 2 signature holes, the course at Humber Valley Resort has many, perhaps the most famous is #10 which provides a magnificent view of the Humber Valley. The back nine winds toward the Humber River and both #14 and #15 are along the river. We also saw a curious red fox on the par 3 fourteenth hole and they apparently love to take golf balls. Gary told us after our round that there are about a dozen foxes that can be seen at various places on the course. He also told us they plan to be open until the end of October so there is lots of golf left. For more information on the Humber Valley Resort golf course see: http://humbervalley.com/
The signature 10th hole provides a grand vista of the Humber Valley

The spacious bedroom overlooks Deer Lake
       If you are looking for a place to stay while you are golfing or visiting the Humber Valley then have a look at a new luxury bed and breakfast called- Lake Close Lodge. Lake Close Lodge has just opened and has a great location within Humber Valley Resort.  With Deer Lake on one side of the bed and breakfast and the golf course (hole #4) on the other, the setting is ideal. The large deck (with hot tub) faces the water and you basically get a house for the cost of a bed and breakfast. Aside from several bedrooms there is a large living area with a dining room and attached kitchen. Jean and Simon Burch who run Lake Close Lodge have decided to furnish the top notch kitchen with all the fixings for breakfast and let the guests suit themselves when they might want to eat.  There were cereals, eggs, bacon, coffee, tea, yogurts, and fruit and Simon and Jean even dropped by in the evening with fresh muffins and croissants!  The night we stayed there we were joined by Kim Slaney and daughter Kristina from the Burin Peninsula who were in the area for a soccer tournament. Kim opted for staying at Lake Close Lodge so that she would be close to salmon fishing on the Humber River. For more information on Lake Close Lodge contact Jean and Simon Burch at: http://www.humbervalleylodges.com/
From the deck of our bedroom at Lake Close Lodge

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hiking in the King’s Point area of Central Newfoundland

by Keith and Heather Nicol
      We recently had a chance to check out some of the fine hiking trails in the King’s Point area of Central Newfoundland. King’s Point is located on highway 391 (take the Springdale turnoff from the Trans Canada Highway). These trails have a lot of variety and an interested hiker could easily spend a couple of days walking the 4 trails that we explored. Let’s start with the longest trail-the Alexander Murray Trail which is located virtually in King’s Point. This trail is 8 km long and climbs to a summit of about 1000 feet. Overall there are 2200 stairs so you will get a good workout!  The trail highlights include views of 3 waterfalls and the summit lookout platforms offer commanding views of the entire area. The trail is very well marked and you should allow a minimum of 3 hours to do the trip. 
Gull Brook Falls is one of 3 waterfalls on the Alexander Murray trail
      Nearby is the community of Rattling Brook and they have a short trail of about 600 meters (1 way) to a scenic waterfall. It too has many stairs but the shorter distance makes it doable by many hikers. There is a great place to have a picnic lunch across the road from the base of the trail. 
Approaching the Rattling Brook Lookout Platform
    The next hikes are on highway 391 which extends to a number of small communities ending in Harry’s Harbour. At Harry’s Harbour we recommend “Trail with a View” and we started from the beach at 49 42.167 N and 55 55.374 W. This trail has many side trails to various coves and lookouts but if you head straight to the end it is about 3.4 km - 1 way. There are no stairs on this trail but it does have some ups and downs. The trail winds through trees and open meadows with many scenic views of the rugged coastline. The meadows mark the early settlements of King’s Cove and Budgell’s Cove and Budgell’s Cove had an abundant crop of blueberries on our visit in late August, 2012. Allow about 1.5-2 hours to complete this walk – longer if you stop for lunch at one of the picnic tables enroute. 
The "Trail with a View" starts along the beach in Harry's Harbour

     The final trail that we checked out was the Ocean View trail which is near the community of Jackson’s Cove (on the road to Harry’s Harbour). This trail is located at 49 41.422 N and 55 59.387 W and there is a very small parking lot just off the road. This trail winds through the forest before coming out to the coast where the highlights include a sea arch that has been carved out of the rock as well as fine shoreline views. There are also 3 lookout platforms which give good vistas of Green Bay. Again the trail is well marked and is about 2.2 km 1 way. Allow about 1.5 hours to do the return trip but there are picnic tables along the way so you could linger over lunch on a fine summer’s day. All of these trails are great for the average hiker. For anyone looking for a snack or meal, the By the Sea CafĂ© in King’s Point has good food and a great setting.  
The sea arch seen in the background is one of the features of the Ocean View Trail