Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Ski Specific Strength in Poling and Double Poling

From GRP/USBA Biathlete and Fischer athlete Susan Dunklee

This workout is great for improving core stability, core strength, arm strength, and balance.
These drills are a staple of the US Biathlon Team’s strength training program. However, ski specific strength applies across all modes and distances of cross country skiing and racing. While Susan may use this workout to improve her biathlon performances, marathon racers will also benefit from specific strength and a stronger double pole in long races.

GRP skier Liz Guiney working on specific strength

Time:  ~1 hour including warm up and cool down

You can use either classic or skate skis.
Warm up for at least 20 minutes with easy skiing.
Find a straight stretch of trail about 50-70m long, either flat or slightly uphill for a challenge.
Ski your chosen section of trail once for each of the exercises described below. After each one, ski easily back to the start and give yourself plenty of time to recover (~2 minutes) before starting the next exercise.

•    Double pole with very long cycles, extending your arms well past your hips.
•    Double pole with very short cycles, only move your arms half way to your hips.
•    Double pole alternating 5 short cycles, 5 medium cycles, and 5 long cycles.
•    Single stick poling (striding style poling, just don’t use your legs).
•    Remove one pole and “double pole” using one arm only.  Try to keep your core solid and hips facing forward. (It should feel hard and probably will feel awkward.) Repeat on other side.
•    Double pole balancing on one ski.  Try to keep core solid and hips facing forward. Repeat balancing on the other ski.
•    Double pole balanced on the balls of your feet.  Try not to let your heels touch the bindings.
•    Core-only double pole.  Keep your elbows locked and try not to use any arm muscles.
•    Arms-only double pole.  Keep your core locked and try to use your triceps.

Optional second set: Take a 15 minute break of easy skiing then repeat.
Cool down for 10-20 minutes afterwards.

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Digging into John Lazenby’s Winter 2018 show

GRP Skiers Liz Guiney, Kaitlynn Miller and Caitlin Patterson shot in Quebec City, Spring 2017 at World Cup Finals.

Editor’s note:  We’re honored to host John Lazenby’s photography this winter. If you haven’t seen the exhibit already, make sure to budget time to enjoy the works during your next visit. Images were shot from the ’16-17 season, and feature athletes from juniors to the World Cup, GRP to the World.

We reached out to John, asking him about his thoughts in both shooting the images as well as what guided the selections that now grace the walls of the Activity Center. In addition to this exhibit the photos have appeared on the web site and in the newest issue of Cross Country Skier Magazine.

John is a photojournalist living in Montpelier.

“My goal was to capture the action, color, and beauty of Nordic ski racing, and the emotions of the competitors. I was fortunate to be able to work on this near home, at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in 2016 and 2017, and abroad, at the 2017 World Nordic Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland.

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen celebrates a win at 2017 World Champs in Lahti, Finland.

“At Craftsbury, I was able to photograph a broad range of racing, from the national Paralympic championships to local ski racers in the New England Nordic Ski Association’s Eastern Cup races. In Lahti, there were racers from around the skiing world, tens of thousands of avid fans waving their national flags, and a horde of scrambling photographers and television crews.

Ida Sargent of the GRP crushing the NENSA Eastern Cup opener.

“In addition to pure action, I found an array of people and their personal stories, from young skiers at Craftsbury to Vermont World Cup racers like the Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s Ida Sargent, Caitlin Patterson, Liz Guiney, Kaitlyn Miller and Ben Lustgarten, and East Montpelier’s Liz Stephen.

Andy Soule focuses before racing at the IPC cup last January.

“Among the stories: Paralympic skier Andy Soule, an Army veteran who lost both legs fighting in Afghanistan, preparing to race his sit-ski at Craftsbury; Americans Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen standing on the world championship podium in Lahti in their trademark U.S. team striped socks; the look of anguish on the face of Norway’s Emil Iverson as he struggled to a fourth place in Lahti with a broken pole after a collision 100 yards from the finish; the Canadian women’s team sharing hugs after the women’s world championship relay; Italy’s Federico Pelligrino on his back in the snow shaking hands with a competitor after winning his first world championship.”

The Canadian women celebrating at the 2017 Worlds.

The exhibit will be on display throughout the winter. More images can be seen at under the Projects menu and at John Lazenby can be reached at

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Jones Brothers rip it on two wheels.

Although cyclocross may not be our primary sport at Craftsbury, we were proud to see CNSC junior skiers Trey and Owen Jones crushing the New England cyclocross races this fall. Biking is awesome training for cross country skiing, and with the first ski race of the season under their belts at the Craftsbury Opener, we’re excited to see how the Jones’ brothers and the rest of the junior crew do this winter.

Trey Jones navigating a corner during the final race weekend in Warwick, RI

What is cyclocross exactly? It’s a form of bike racing where riders complete multiple laps on a course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, sand, and obstacles which require them to quickly dismount, carry their bike, navigate obstacles and then remount. The bikes themselves are more similar to road bikes than mountain bikes, in that they lack front or rear suspension, and the geometry and handlebars is similar to a road bike. However, cross bikes usually have a burlier frame than your typical road bike, and have knobby tires to help riders better navigate mud, sand, and rocks.

Owen Jones running with bike on shoulder during a race in Putney, VT earlier this fall

Trey and Owen race for the Barker Mountain Bikes (BMB) Team out of Bethel, ME. They both competed in many cyclocross races across New England this fall.

They most recently wrapped up their 2018 season by completing the last of the Vittoria series, which consists of four venues and eight races.  This is a series which takes place in Gloucester, MA, Northampton, MA, Suffern, NY and Warwick, RI.  Trey and Owen both raced in the Junior Boys 9-14 Division for this series; Trey maintained the leader’s jersey throughout the series and was awarded first place overall for the series. Impressively, Trey was on the podium in all 16 cyclocross races he competed in this season, and won 12 of those 16 races. Owen had a great season finishing in eighth place overall in the series. He is still young for the age group, with two more years left in the division. Link to results can be found HERE.

Mounting and dismounting quickly is a key part of cyclocross. Trey demonstrates during a race in Warwick, RI

Owen cornering tightly during the final race weekend in Warwick, RI

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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Singletrack Running with Mindfulness

Workout from Green Racing Project and Fischer athlete Caitlin Patterson

GRP skier Adam Martin practicing his singletrack running in Craftsbury in fall of 2017

Trail running can be a straightforward and nearly mindless workout – just lace up the shoes, find a local trail and go. However if you approach it with mindfulness, it can also be a great way to work on agility and prepare yourself for a winter of cross-country skiing. During my summer of ski training with the GRP, as well as a trip over to Italy to compete in World Mountain Running Championships, I’ve found that cross-pollinating between my approaches to running and skiing has helped me become more adept at both sports. For example, when I’m skiing, I try to bring some running-esque tempo and arm drive into my movements, for example, while herringboning on steep uphills. And when I’m out trail running, I bring to mind the shock-absorbing bent knees and relaxed upper body I use for downhills on cross-country skis to flow around trail running obstacles.

Running on a wide trail or road is very much a linear motion – great for building aerobic fitness, but not so productive for developing balance or the mind-body connection. Aerobic fitness is undoubtedly important for nordic skiers, but in order to make continued progress in the sport it’s crucial to train smart, not just to train hard or high volume. Singletrack running requires pushing off to the side, turning corners, and varying stride length and tempo to accommodate features of the trail – much like the way that navigating ski trails in the winter requires constant adaptation in transitions.

Workout: distance running on singletrack at an easy pace with a few accelerations.

To bring ski-specific mindfulness to your workout, I’d suggest that you visit a trail network with singletrack – narrow running or biking trails that wind closely over and around obstacles like roots and rocks. Select a small section or loop that you could repeat a few times. If you’re not used to running on singletrack, try to choose a smooth section with corners but relatively few tripping hazards. If you’re comfortable on singletrack perhaps choose a more challenging area; make sure at this time of year to scout for snow, ice, and water. If you happen to be running at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, I like to use “Peanut” near the north end of the trail system. Peanut has more lateral corners than hills and relatively few rocks or roots, so that I can work on running efficiently and smoothly without really burning my legs on climbs.

Start the workout by jogging for 10-20 minutes on easy terrain to warm up your ankles and lower leg tendons. Head to the singletrack and jog your chosen segment, to acquaint yourself with the twists and turns and features. Then run the loop or section of singletrack again – bring your pace a little higher for 20-30 seconds, but not in a way that it is muscularly taxing. Instead of expecting to feel muscle burn or to be breathing too hard after this small acceleration, seek efficiency of foot placement and a feel of flowing around the obstacles. Repeat the segment a few times and experiment; perhaps try different foot placements or bring your awareness to the upper body. Here are a few questions to contemplate:

  • Can you get to a point where your eyes and feet are synchronized, where it doesn’t take conscious effort to decide where to put each foot?
  • Are you still breathing well?
  • Is your upper body relaxed? Do the arms stay relatively close to the body and with a stable torso? If your arms do some light flailing or wind-milling when running downhills, that’s ok, but your shoulders should never be pulled up towards your ears or locked in position. From my experience a relaxed upper body is one of the keys to comfortable and fast downhill running.

As I think about how running relates to skiing, I’ve come across a number of helpful similarities:

  • Eyes scan along the upcoming terrain. The distance you’re looking ahead will depend on your speed and comfort with the terrain, but in neither skiing nor running should you ever be looking directly at your feet.
  • Shoulders are relaxed. Make sure the tops of your shoulders are not scrunched up towards your ears.
  • The upper body should not move vertically up and down very much when you’re running. I’ve found that when I run fast and with good flow on trails, it feels like my upper body is gliding along on an even horizontal plane above the ground, not bouncing up and down. For skiing, the upper body is somewhat more crunched over, as the abdominal muscles are engaged to pole. Yet in classic striding, V2, and V1 skating the upper body does stay approximately level, as in running.

What other similarities can you notice across sports and modes of exercise? From running to mountain biking, kayaking to skate skiing, challenge yourself to apply body positions or mental outlooks from one sport to another to teach yourself new ways of efficient movement.

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Rollerski Safety: Share the Road

On the morning of October 23, 2017, Green Racing Project skiers Adam Martin and Ben Lustgarten were rollerskiing on the roads surrounding Craftsbury when Ben was involved in a serious crash with a pickup truck. Ben tore some muscles and tendons in his anterior deltoid and shoulder, which are still healing. As part of the recovery process, any training for the 2018 Olympics involving his upper body was completely on hiatus for a full week, and remained compromised for additional time after that.

All that being said, Ben is very lucky – the situation could’ve been far worse.

GRP skiers Ben Lustgarten and Adam Martin training in East Hardwick this fall

Ben shared this about the crash with us early in November 2017:
“Adam and I were skiing north on a downhill Center Road (coming back from Hardwick). We were single file on the far right hand side of the road. A silver pickup truck passed us on the left, and actually gave us ample space, as he was almost all in the left lane. However, the driver made a very hard right turn at speed, and cut in front of us to turn onto Hardwick Farms Road. I stood up and started to snowplow to slow down, but I was already at the car and collided with, then bounced off the truck’s rear right taillight and tailgate. I was thrown from the truck onto the road, and slid on the pavement into the left lane. I crawled as quickly as I could onto the grass in case of oncoming traffic, which thankfully there was none at the time of the crash. My GPS training watch recorded 41.1 kph at the time of the crash, or 25.5 mph. I shattered a ski pole, scraped up my boots, watch and had road rash on my right and left hips, my left knee, and right elbow. I also tore some muscles and tendons in my anterior deltoid and shoulder, which are still in the process of healing.

“I was unable to use my arm or upper body at all for training for a full week after the crash. I am two weeks out from the crash and I still cannot do any hard upper body strength training, or any intensity with ski poles, however I can ski on snow going easy with both poles.

“I think it is also important to note that legally roller skiers are in the same category as cyclists, horseback riders, and farm equipment when it comes to sharing the road. We are dedicated athletes working to represent our country at the top level of sport at the Olympics and World Cup. We are grateful and lucky to have such excellent roads to train on, we follow the rules of the road and stay as safe as possible, but even then accidents can happen. While drivers may not see skiers on the roads as frequently as cyclists, horseback riders or tractors, we ask the community to give us the same room and awareness.

“In light of this recent incident, we wanted to share some information that could be helpful for both drivers and rollerskiers. If both parties are aware and courteous, it is more than possible to share the road!”

The GRP women’s team classic skiing single file near Lake Willoughby in Westmore, VT

But what are rollerskis? Cross country skiers use rollerskis as a training tool during the summer to simulate the motions of skiing. They consist of two wheels on either end of a long shaft, with a binding in the middle. Rollerskis generally do not have brakes! Therefore, when skiers use them for training, they try to ski places with a good runout, or gradual downhills. In Craftsbury, both the Green Racing Project professionals and Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club juniors use rollerskis throughout the summer and fall to train. Most of the time, athletes train on the Creek Rd. in East Albany, or the paved roads between East Craftsbury, Greensboro, and East Hardwick. While older athletes are more experienced and steady on their skis, some of our younger athletes are just getting used to skis. We start young skiers in flat parking lots to get used to the feeling of skis before they ever ski on the road. However, no matter how experienced or steady you are, a skier will always lose any encounters with cars.

Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club juniors skating in a line

BKL skiers start in a parking lot to hone their skills

Safety Tips for Rollerskiers:

  • Wear high visibility clothing at all times when training on the road. This is especially important on rainy/grey days and at dusk and dawn. When cars can see you, they will have more time to react. Neon yellow, green, pink, and orange are good options, as is anything with reflective strips. Avoid black, brown, or dark green outfits (unless you want to look like the pavement or trees).
  • Wear a helmet. Actually, this applies to all rollerskiing situations, even on a rollerski track. Protect your noggin, it’s the only one you get.
  • Ski single file in the direction of traffic. If you have to pass another skier, try to do so quickly. Ski as far to the right as is possible and safe. Drivers can pretty easily pass a single skier, not so much you and your buddies skiing four across taking up the entire road. Remember, cars are bigger than you, and in a collision, they will win, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
  • When a car comes up behind a group of skiers, make sure to warn everyone in the group by yelling “car back“.
  • If you are skating and hear a car coming up behind, pull as far to the right as possible and start double poling. Resume skating when there are no more cars behind. Skaters take up a lot of space on the road.
  • Be alert and pay attention as you’re skiing. Don’t wear headphones, as you won’t be able to hear cars approaching. Save the music and podcasts for indoor activities.
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, especially blind ones where cars won’t be able to see you or may be pulling out into traffic. Use hand signals to indicate where you’re going.
  • When training in a situation where skiers have to travel both ways on a section of road, be courteous. If you can plan it so that all the skiers pass one way before turning around and going back, do so, if not, try to step off the road when cars pass by. Also, avoid congregating on the road before and after skiing. When you stop, step off.
  • Smile and wave! It’s amazing what a friendly gesture can do.

Safety Tips for Drivers:

  • When passing rollerskiers on the road, leave at least four feet of space between the skier and your car. It’s not against the law to cross the yellow line in the state of Vermont, and when you’re passing a skier, you may have to drive partially on the left side of the road in order to give them an ample buffer. It’s really scary to get buzzed by a car that tries to pass too close.
  • Don’t pass a skier when a hill or curve impedes your view of oncoming traffic. Otherwise you may put the skier in a scary situation, where two cars and a skier are trying to fit in a space designed for just two cars.
  • Realize that rollerskis don’t have brakes. If you’re behind a rollerskier and need to turn off the main road, it’s usually better to wait behind them than to pass and turn in front of them. Similarly, don’t try to pull out in front of an incoming skier, as they won’t be able to stop to avoid hitting you.
  • Save the horn for emergency situations. Or use a light tap if you think the skier may not have heard you coming, or if you’re in an electric vehicle. Loud, drawn out horn blasts are generally counterproductive and scare the living daylights out of the skier.
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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Muscle Factor Strength

Strength is an important part of a skier’s training. The following workout is a relatively new addition to the GRP strength-training arsenal. It’s called the “Muscle Factor Model” and it’s designed to create different stimuli in the muscles within the same workout. As you will see this workout includes a varying number of reps, activating and overloading muscle fibers, which in turn increases adaptability and growth.

Craftsbury juniors demonstrating pull-ups with bands. This is a great way to get to those 20 or 40 reps!

For this workout you can choose as many or as few exercises as you’d like, but I’d recommend no more than three or four per session. You will do four sets of each exercise. The first and second sets are ten repetitions, the third set is twenty reps, and the fourth set is between twenty and forty reps. As you move through the workout (you should either decrease the weight or increase assistance for each set). If you choose to do more than one exercise, you should spread the work throughout the body – I recommend picking one or two each for upper body, lower body, and core. (I’ll offer some suggestions for exercises that work with the Muscle Factor Model, but generally any exercise where you can either increase assistance (dips, pull-ups, etc) or decrease weight (bench press, squat, etc.) will work.)

A few notes on warm-up: before you get started with this workout, warm-up for at least ten minutes running, biking, or erging before doing some dynamic stretching. For any of the exercises with heavier lifting (squat, bench press, etc.), it is a good idea to do the motion unweighted a few times to work on mobility before you add weight.

Example 1: Bench Press (can use dumbells)
Set 1: 10 reps with 50lbs
Set 2: 10 reps with 50lbs
Set 3: 20 reps with 30lbs
Set 4: 30 reps with 20lbs
Example 2: Dips
Set 1: 10 dips on a dip bar
Set 2: 10 dips on a dip bar
Set 3: 20 dips on a dip bar with elastic band for assistance OR bench dips
Set 4: 30 dips on a dip bar with a thicker elastic band OR bench dips, perhaps with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Lower body exercises:
– squats
– jumping squats (can start with weight then decrease to no weight)
– step-ups (with dumbbells)
Upper body exercises:
– dips (on a bar with or without elastic bands for assistance or bench/ chair)
– bench press
– lat pull downs
– push ups (can be assisted from knees or a bar placed about chest height on a squat rack)
– pull ups (with bands of varying strength for assistance)
Core exercises:
– situps (can hold weight for increased difficulty)
– kettlebell swings
For more information about the Muscle Factor Model, visit The Training Science Website.

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Craftsbury Nordic skiers run at VT state cross country meets

Finn Sweet racing to 5th place in the Vermont DIII State Championship. Photo: Dan Grossman.

Thetford, Vt. — On a perfect fall day in the famous Thetford Academy woods, current and former Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club skiers competed at the Vermont State Cross Country meet on Saturday for their high school teams. Representing Craftsbury Academy, Burlington High School, Harwood, U-32, North Country, and Green Mountain Valley School, Craftsbury skiers ran hard and dialed in their race readiness for ski season.

Finn Sweet led four Craftsbury Outdoor Sports Academy (COSA) skiers, placing fifth in the DIII Championship. Running the 5k course in 18:27, Sweet led the Craftsbury Academy boys to a 10th-place team finish in its first showing at the state meet in recent memory. Griffin Wright fought through an upset stomach to finish 35th in 20:18 as Craftsbury’s second scorer. In the girls’ DIII Championship, Phoebe Sweet and Adrienne Remick ran strong races to finish 12th and 13th, respectively, clocking in at 22:19 and 22:47.

Elsewhere at the state meet, former Craftsbury skier Rena Schwartz (GMVS) ran to a commanding win by over a minute in the girls’ DI Championship, breaking her personal best on the course with an impressive 18:59 on hilly terrain. Racing to a gutsy second-place finish, Quincy Massey-Bierman finished second in 20:17 for Burlington. Callie Young (North Country) was 27th in the strong field with a time of 21:56, Marika Massey-Bierman (Burlington) was close behind in 31st (22:14), and Claire Ellis (North Country) finished 48th in 23:09. In the girls’ DII Championship, Jordi Kulis (Harwood) was a lucky 13th with a time of 22:50.

In the boys’ challenge race, new Craftsbury skier Greyson Davis (U-32) finished 84th in 21:28. And in the girls’ challenge race, Sydney Kulis placed 62nd for Harwood with a 26:14 and Naia Tower-Pierce was 89th for Craftsbury Academy in 27:56.

VT states results.

Rena Schwartz (GMVS) and Quincy Massey-Bierman (Burlington) went 1-2 in the DI championship. Photo: Paul Bierman.

BKL Comp skiers compete at Vermont middle school states!

Craftsbury BKL was also well-represented at the middle state meet on Saturday at the Trapps Family Lodge in Stowe among over 150 runners in each of the boys’ and girls’ fields. Cormac Leahy, running for Hazen, completed the 3k course in 10:58 for an impressive 10th-place finish overall among fifth through eighth graders, and second among fellow 7th-graders. Charlie Kehler (Hazen) ran a smokin’ 12:36, the 18th-best time among 4th, 5th, and 6th graders and 88th overall. Axel McKenzie was 107th overall for Hazen in 13:25.

In the girls’ race our BKL squad was led by Ani Leahy, who ran a 12:38 to finish 22nd overall and third among 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Isabel Linton, racing for Coventry, was 73rd overall and 18th in her age group, Ruth Krebs and Mary Jane McKenzie were 96th and 100th, respectively, in the overall results, with Ruth taking 26th in her age group (14:28) and Mary Jane taking 31st in hers (14:33). Emily Linton was 121st overall for Coventry and 38th in her age group.

Great job to all our Craftsbury skiers! Now we just need some snow.

Middle school states results.

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Fischer Marathon Prep Workout: Threshold Running/Walking with Poles

Workout from Green Racing Project and Fischer athlete Kaitlynn Miller

This workout is part of our Marathon prep series presented by Fischer. We’ll be posting new workouts here every two weeks, along with other training and technique tips. The workouts come from the Green Racing Project skiers and biathletes, and many of them are workouts they perform all the time during the summer and fall in order to prep for their season.  If you want to see the workouts right as they come out, and are interested in all things Craftsbury Marathon, make sure to sign up for our Marathon eNews here!

GRP athletes Ben Lustgarten and Mike Gibson doing threshold intervals on West Hill Road in Craftsbury (Photo Caitlin Patterson)

The goal of this workout is to increase fitness and endurance. I recommend an interval set of about 3×10 minutes with 2-3 minutes of rest in between each interval. Feel free to do as few as two intervals or as many as five, depending on how you feel. You can run-with-poles on the flatter sections and walk on steeper sections.  For warm-up, do some easy running for at least 20-30 minutes before your first interval. It is important to remember that threshold pace (Level 3) is a pace you can easily sustain for at least an hour straight. It should feel hard, but very manageable (faster than your marathon pace, but slower than your 5k or 10k race pace). It might take a little while to figure out what your ideal pace is, but don’t overthink it. I would recommend doing some version of this workout once a week or at least every other week.

Variation 1: Find a long sustained incline. This could be a hiking trail or an alpine ski trail. If you are in the Stowe area, try the Mansfield Toll Road. These will be somewhat continuous intervals. Start at the bottom for your first interval and climb for 10 minutes. Then jog or walk downhill for 2-3 minutes of rest. Repeat this two to four more times. Jog back down to the bottom of the mountain for your cool down. On an incline like the Toll Road, you may want to do more walking-with-poles than running to stay in threshold. This interval scheme is good for developing sustained endurance.

Variation 2: Find a roughly 10 minute trail loop that ideally has some climbing in it. Each interval will be one loop and then jog or walk around for 2-3 minutes near the start/finish in between intervals. Assuming your loop has a mix of climbing, descent, and flat, you will want to mix up running and walking. This interval scheme is good for practicing transitions and mixing up leg speed. It is also the easiest version to transition to snow.

Variation 3: Find a roughly 10 minute stretch of road or trail that is largely uphill. If you are in the Craftsbury area, West Hill Road is a good option. This interval scheme is essentially a hill repeat. The downside is that your rest time will be considerably longer (basically as long as it takes you to get back to the bottom), but the upside is that you will get in some quality hill intervals.

Remember to cool down jogging for about 10-15 minutes after your intervals. Also remember get in a good protein snack and drink plenty of water soon after you finish to ensure you recover quickly and get the maximum benefit from your workout!

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Timber Harvest 2017

Ollie Burruss along with Rick Morrill and Dawn Morgan of Northern Forest Conservation Services review where cutting will happen this summer.

In our second year of harvesting timber from an area of active trails, our small and efficient team comprised of LaBounty Timber Harvesting, Northern Forest Conservation Services, LLC, and the COC leadership are already improving upon our long-term Forest Management Plan that identifies the most appropriate areas and trees to harvest during the 2017 logging season. Judy Geer noted that the whole process is already much smoother. “We’ve learned a lot in a year.”

Skidder waits at the ready to drag trees out of the forest.

The COC strives to facilitate a positive coexistence between sport, ecology, and local commerce. Sustainable forestry is a detailed process that defines which trees to cut; when, how, and how much of the tree will be removed; how long COC trails will be closed as a result of the harvest; and how the cutting of select trees will change the evolution of the different layers of a forest ecosystem over time.

LaBounty Timber Harvesting taking a load away.

Part of the COC’s mission is to protect and enhance the quality of our forests, water, soil, and wildlife resources while simultaneously providing commercial forest products to the business owners of Vermont and educational resources to facilitate and grow awareness of Forest Stewardship. Our Forest Management Plan and participation in Vermont’s Current Use Program allows us to accomplish both our educational and economic goals.

Proper signage is a big part of the process.

We want to get people outside and enjoying the environment for all she has to offer. We believe that logging, environmental responsibility, healthy, active lifestyles, and support of local businesses can happen simultaneously and the success of each is not mutually exclusive from the whole.

For all the bikers and runners waiting with bated breath – all the trails off the upper biathlon loop are either open or in the process of being cleaned and will open soon. Our loggers are planning on wrapping up work on the east side of the harvest area this week. As always, you can see current trail status on our conditions board.

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Craftsbury Summer Bike Club

Every Wednesday afternoon during summer at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the wide swath of the “upper soccer field” swarmed with bicycles. If you stumbled upon this scene unexpectedly, you might wonder, is there a race about to happen? What draws between 40 and 70 mountain bikers to this corner of the rural Northeast Kingdom of Vermont?

The answer would be Craftsbury Bike Club, an hour-and-a-half long weekly session for kids from elementary through high school that’s in its second year of existence at the Outdoor Center. The program is spear-headed by staff bike gurus Ollie Burruss and Sheldon Miller, who are assisted in the teaching and corralling process by a handful of adults and young adults. These assistant coaches include enthusiastic local bike aficionados and parents, Outdoor Center junior ski coaches, and biathletes and skiers from the Green Racing Project.

Forty kids are registered for the 2017 edition of the 10-week Bike Club; any given session draws between 25 and 40, depending on the ebb and flow of kids to summer camps and family vacations. Bolstered by a crowd of 10-15 coaches, and numerous parents enjoying their own exercise time on wheels, the Bike Club scene is a festively chaotic one!

Bike chaos on the upper soccer field looking out from the Activity Center porch

Engraved metal bike nameplates help everyone get to know each other quickly

While it takes a few extra minutes to get the riding groups organized for the day, the crowd of kids is literally rolling long before start time. The Outdoor Center’s small pump track and various board-bridge-tire obstacles in the field provide plenty of entertainment and warm-up opportunities leading up to the session. At the start of a typical Wednesday ride, the kids and coaches are divided into 4 to 6 groups by ability, rider age and interest. Riders will move from group to group, but by in large, the groups are pretty constant.

Continuity in group and coach pairings helps everyone find a comfort zone, make friends, and learn to challenge their limits. The coaches of each group lead their crew of energetic youngsters through drills and skills courses, remind them about proper body position, and navigate rides through the winding singletrack at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Every day brings new challenges, from heat and thirsty riders to malfunctioning equipment to an occasional tip-over requiring the med kit carried by a coach in each group. Each session also brings smiles, triumphs over tough rocks and bridges, development of riding skills by kids and coaches alike, and new stories to recount. Enjoy the following photos compiled from several weeks’ riding around the Outdoor Center trails and fields!

While some riders have their own bikes, others borrow bikes from the Outdoor Center’s rental fleet of Konas and Cannondales

Pump track warm-up!

Aliza cruises over obstacles in the field

A huge circle of bicycles! Day one, taking a look around at all the smiling faces and then splitting into groups for a ride

Coach Cool Jake scrutinizes the scene and plans for the ride ahead


…so that we can play!

Scouting obstacles….

…so that we can crush them! With our friends encouraging from the trailside.

Pause to learn from each other, discuss and test how best to ride a feature. Ride it once, then again, and again.

Catch air, work those wheel lifts!

Debrief afterwards. What did you learn today? Which trail was hardest? What feature did you ride for the first time, or the best time?

The shadows are lengthening but it’s back to the pump track for a cool-down spin!

One big group picture to remember the last session on August 23rd. Thanks for an awesome summer!

Photos by Caitlin Patterson

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