XC Oregon Fall Camp


Most years, Mary and I spend a few days at the Wilderness Lodge in Royal Gorge. It's a wonderful experience - they feed you well, you get to ski your brains out and the staff is available twice a day for top-notch lessons at all levels. It burned down 2 years ago. Bummer.

I decided to find another "training camp" to use until RG rebuilds "wildy".

JD Downing's XC Oregon Fall camp was better than I could have imagined. Included in the $335 fee are several on-snow sessions with national level instructional staff, video analysis and classroom sessions on year-round training, race strategy, nutrition, physiology testing, and waxing.

I got up at 5 am on Thursday and drove for 9 hours, arriving at my hotel at about 3 pm. After a short nap, I drove over to the physiology lab (run by JD's wife, Julie).

Here's Bob on the "equine" treadmill. Yes, that means horse treadmill.

This photo was taken at the Central Oregon Community College Exercise Physiology Lab. Here, we learned at least two things:
  • Bob's optimum training zones and Lactate Threshold are right about where he thought they were.
  • With training, Bob could probably push his LT up another 15%.
  • Bob is too stupid to stop running even when it hurts. ;-)
The protocol: The test starts at an easy walking pace with ski poles (to get all the skiing muscles into the test). The victim, er, subject wears a mask that measures inhaled air volume and exhaled CO2. Every 3 minutes, the incline and/or pace is increased and a blood sample is taken (ouch!). The treadmill doesn't stop until the subject gives up. After a 4 minute cool down walk, a final sample is taken. (ow, again)

The blood samples measure the Lactic Acid concentration. LA is a byproduct of muscle activity. It's what gives that burning sensation and "rubbery" feeling when you push yourself too hard. At the end of the test, I had tolerated a LA concentration of 8.4mmohl/liter. I tied for highest LA among the men in the camp. For this, I won a T shirt.

Note: the highest LA was scored by a woman (9.5).
That evening, after sushi at Yoco, I attended the training workshop led by JD at On The Way ski shop. Later that night, as I drifted off to sleep in my motel room, I realized that I needed to have 2 pairs of skis ready to use at 8 am the next morning. Oops.

I set my Palm Pilot to go off at 5 am so that I could set up a makeshift waxing area in the motel room. I prepped one pair of skate skis and one for striding by clamping my portable wax bench to the up-turned dresser drawers that I had covered with a bed sheet.(the two "T"s on the bed sheet in the background of the photo below are the wax bench) It worked. I got no wax on the rug and I was on-time for my first on-snow sessions up on Mount Bachelor at 8 am sharp. On on.

I didn't get many photos of my fellow campers. In fact, I took almost no photos of my fellow campers. The shot above is more about the view down the trail head than about everyone snapping into their bindings.

Laura (another camper from California) took this picture of me. This was Saturday - a race day for about half the campers and a hundred or so other skiers. I opted to watch and learn what I had been doing right (and wrong) to prepare for racing.

A light mist fell all morning. I'm wearing a clear "garbage bag" (made with arm and neck holes and emblazoned with the Mt Bachelor logo) to keep me a little drier. The tent behind me was reserved for the local XC Oregon racers and us campers. Although not heated, it kept us dry and was much roomier than the Nordic Center building that was packed with the general public. I have no idea why I'm smiling like that - I'm cold and wet.

The non-racing campers shivered by the side of the race course watching and discussing technique as the racers skied by. JD got videos of them on a nice little section with a small downhill turn, a flat section and a short, steep hill. We watched the videos that afternoon at the Cascade Brewing Company. Someone (JD? other campers? not me) bought pitchers of beer. mmmmmm..... beer
Sunrise over Bend, Oregon. Taken a few steps from the Starbucks, of course.
I won a XC Oregon ski cap. The question was "what color medal did Becky Scott win at the 2002 Olympics?".  Answer: "all of them". She was awarded the bronze in Salt Lake. When the gold and silver "winners" were eventually disqualified, she got the silver, then gold. Did she have to give the silver and bronze back? I don't know.

Bend, OR is a pretty town with lots of outdoor things to do and many people who like to do outdoor things. I overheard one OR resident complain about how trendy Bend is. These things are relative. As a CA guy, the sound of Bend (and probably lots of other places colder than my home) is the buzzing sound of studded tires.

I saw Mount Shasta  from many angles (and for several hours) on the way back down to San Jose.

I had a great time at the camp. I learned quite a bit - now I have to put it into action.

Mary had the perfect meal of cocktails, brussel sprouts, baked potatoes, meat loaf and ginger bread cookies waiting for me when I arrived home Sunday night.


(For those anal/tech weemie/jock enough to care) the results of my physio test:

graph of Bob

Julie defined my Lactate Threshold (LT) as the point at which I reached 3.1 mmohl/L on the LA. That's the vertical line in the middle of the graph.
The HR at this LT is 156. This is a little lower than I had inferred from past race times. Of course, I haven't trained in 6 weeks (injury, etc)...
If you use 4 mmohl/L (an arbitrary standard LA concentration for defining LT) then you can interpolate an LT HR of  162 bpm (exactly what I had expected).