Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snowboarding - Season 1 (Part 2)

April 24, 2010 – Loveland Basin

Copper Mountain and Winter Park were closed now. I decided I head out by myself to Loveland Basin since it was still open for a few more weeks. By now I kind of got used to riding the chair lifts, I wasn’t enjoying it and the first ride of the day was always kind of scary, but not as bad as when I started. The iPod really helps, listing to music doesn’t let me hear the noises of the chair lift and keeps my mind occupied. But here at Loveland Basin it was back to the small and slow chair lifts and those are the scariest ones. My favorite run requires for my chair lift to pass above another chair lift, it’s really high and goes so slow and once it reaches the top it’s always windy at the top and that makes it pretty scary.

Lots of fresh snow to play in

Up high above the tree line, there was so much space to practice and not get in anyone’s way. I was really enjoying the higher sections of the green runs, but not the lower sections which were crowded, packed down and icy.

I love snowboarding Loveland Basin above the tree line

So much open space

May 1, 2010 – Loveland Basin

Another day alone on the slopes! I guess I just can’t stop. When I arrived at Loveland Basin this morning I was greeted with fresh snow. The snow was still falling and I was experiencing my first powder day. At some point it was really coming down hard and I could barely see where I was going, ran in to a few snow banks and on one run I completely come down the wrong trail because I couldn’t see the way. Today were the coldest temperatures I have experienced so far while snowboarding. I was bundled up and comfortable while snowboarding, but the ride on the chair lift was pretty cold. At some point people must have headed home because I was all alone on the chair lift and had the slopes all to myself. But in the afternoon the snow stopped falling and the sun came out and I finally linked some curves in the fresh snow. I can’t even tell you how it felt, it was beyond awesome! Kind of like when you’re going through a set of sweet curves on your motorcycle and the bike just falls in to each curve effortlessly, and you lean left then right, then left again, the speed is just perfect and you are in total control of the machine and as the bike leans you realize you no longer feel like you are sitting on your motorcycle, you feel like you are a part of the motorcycle – the bike and I become one entity. So it’s just like that but it’s on a snowboard, on a mountain with snow below. I totally understand why so many people that ride motorcycles also ride snowboards. The feeling is almost the same. Not only was I finally linking turns, but I snowboarded with no real break for lunch from morning until the lifts closed and I wasn’t even that tired!

Powder day

It was hard to see at times with all the snow falling

Blue sky and sunshine

My fresh tracks

I love fresh powder

May 22, 2010 – Loveland Valley

My mom was in Colorado visiting me, so the last two weekends I was busy. I had no intention of snowboarding anymore since Loveland Basin had closed and the only ski area that was still open was Arapahoe Basin, which I heard didn’t have a lot of easy runs and I wasn’t ready for hard stuff yet. But since CJ hadn’t seen my progress we decided to do one last day on the snowboards at A-basin. Unfortunately when we got to A-basin it was so windy, that we decided not to waste our chair lift tickets on an not so ideal day, and come back tomorrow.

I carry a dog leash in my pocket to drag my snowboard, carrying it too much work

CJ shows me how it's done - a perfect carve

As we headed up to the highway we decided to stop at Loveland Valley which was closed now and do some snowboarding by hiking up the hills. Well, it’s a lot of work this hiking and snowboarding especially at this high elevation. The snow was very hard here, but I did manage to show CJ what I have learned the last few weeks. After about 2 hours we were popped and ready to head back to Denver and enjoy the 70 degree temperatures.

Getting better, too bad the season is almost over

May 23, 2010 – Arapahoe Basin

CJ and I headed to A-basin and we were so glad we didn’t attempt to snowboard yesterday with all the wind. Today was great weather, and only slightly breezy. It was warm and the snow was melting, there were big puddles in places. The melting snow also made getting off the chair lift problematic, since the snow would melt and my snowboard would catch on the wood and I’d roll down the hill head over heels like a newbie. At least I wasn’t the only one doing this, others seemed to have the same problem.

Last day on the lopes, it was a very warm day today

As for A-basin, I had a hard time on some of the easier runs, I’m just not good enough yet and there were just too many people here. I had a couple of good runs in the warm sun, but next weekend I’m riding my motorcycle, so today is the last day on the snowboard until November when the snow returns to the mountains.

Snowboarding - Season 1 (Part 1)

Yes, it’s the end of May here in Colorado and today was my last day on the slopes. Arapahoe Basin is still open for awhile but my first snowboarding season is officially over. Next weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and I’m heading on a three day motorcycle ride. I have not been riding my motorcycles very much this Spring, although not all of it can be blamed on snowboarding. We’ve had a very snowy Winter and Spring here this year, in the mountains and in the city. I do have to admit that I’m not ready to put the snowboard away just yet. Just as the season is coming to an end I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of this thing.

But let’s back up a little bit here. Since I moved to Colorado I thought that one of these days I should try snowboarding - one of these days, like in the future. After I moved to the Denver area I started to think about it some more, since I was so close to the ski areas – one of these days became like maybe next season. But when CJ told me he had some lift tickets that he still needed to use up this season and asked me if I wanted to tag along with him, my mind was pretty much made up. So in early March of this year I got this idea to start snowboarding. It was actually great timing since it was the end of the season and all the snowboarding gear was on sale. Pretty much everything I bought was half price or less, which all cost me about the same as renting the gear 5 times. After all, snowboarding wasn’t something I just wanted to try a few times, it was something I wanted to do – season and after season – so I wanted my own gear.

March 7, 2010 - Guanella Pass

With my new gear I packed up my car in search of snow. It was a very warm the last few days and all the snow kind of melted. I just wanted to find a small bunny hill to get used to the snowboard since I’ve never been on one before and have only been on downhill skis once or twice long, long time ago. Not knowing where to find snow I headed toward Guanella Pass, where I rode my XT225 last month. I did find some snow and spent a few hours practicing. I didn’t want to look like a complete fool at the slopes tomorrow.

March 8, 2010 – Eldora

Today CJ and I headed over to the local ski hill where I rode a chair lift for the first time in my life. I’m deathly afraid of chair lifts, something about the heights and them just dangling from the cable, blowing in the wind. I really dislike this part of snowboarding, but since it’s the only way to get to the top of the slopes, there is really nothing I can do about it. After 4 hours of snowboarding and falling down a lot, and I mean – a lot - I have to say that I don’t remember being this sore or this exhausted in a long time. I’m very surprised how much effort it takes to snowboard and I guess I’m using muscles I have never used before . And lastly, snowboarding is not easy.

Wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads - geared up to fall

And fall I did - a lot!

March 13, 2010 - Steamboat Springs

CJ was headed up to Steamboat Springs for a whole weekend of snowboarding and I was heading up there myself, although I wasn’t planning on snowboarding with CJ who has been snowboarding for over 20 years. I was going to be doing my own thing.

On Saturday I took a beginner snowboarding class and was planning to do some snowboarding afterwards, but I was just too exhausted after the class ended. The class was good, and I did learn a few things. I think the most valuable thing I learned was how to get on the snowboard. Even though I have been reading a snowboarding book and have been watching snowboarding video’s, the class taught me some neat little tricks that I just didn’t know before today.

March 14, 2010 - Howelsen Hill (Steamboat Springs)

Today CJ and I parted ways, he was heading up to ride the slopes of Steamboat and I headed over to Howelsen Hill to practice on the bunny hill. Unfortunately they had to shut down the ski lifts in Steamboat because of high winds, so CJ ended up coming over to Howelsen Hill to give me some pointers and then ended up heading home and I hung around for a bit longer to practice. The instructor yesterday told me to adjust my bindings differently and I had a hard time adjusting to the new setting. It’s as if I was starting over, which was very frustrating. Plus the bunny hill at Howelsen Hill was pretty steep, so it was harder for me to get to the bottom without falling a lot. Toward the end of the afternoon I finally got a handle on it. I was beat by the time I left, but felt I had made good progress this weekend.

Getting better but still falling a lot

March 28, 2010 – Mary Jane / Winter Park

CJ and I headed over to Mary Jane where I discovered the Galloping Goose, a bunny hill. The chair lift was still pretty scary to me, especially after CJ left to ride some of the harder trails and I was left to ride the chair lift all by myself. But after a few runs I finally managed to get off the chair lift without falling and make it to the bottom of the hill without falling as well.

Snowboarding the big hills

After lunch CJ and I decided to ride some green trails and head from the Mary Jane side to the Winter Park side. The chair lift ride up wasn’t as bad this time. It was one of those fast ones that can carry like 5 or 6 people. Even though they are taller, I like traveling fast, so I can get there quicker and they kind of slow down so getting off the chair lift is easier too. The trails were only a few miles long but were jammed pack with people and I was already tired from snowboarding all morning. Half way down my knees were literally giving out on me and I ended up walking the rest of the slope down. This snowboarding is really a lot of work.

CJ makes it look so easy

April 4, 2010 – Winter Park

CJ and I spent Easter Sunday in Winter Park snowboarding. I started out on the Discovery slope, which is the bunny hill, and was practicing my turning all morning. I’m doing really well with the heel side, but not good at all with the toe side. I do really great with the falling leaf on the heel side too, but can’t do the toe side at all. CJ was carving some blue runs in the morning and in the afternoon the both of us headed to do some green runs. I did a lot better today but I was still very exhausted at the end of the day and my legs were just giving out on me on my last run.

It started out snowy and windy, but turned in to a great day on the slopes

CJ carving

April 11, 2010 – Winter Park

I headed to Winter Park by myself today, CJ likes to snowboard but not every weekend and since I’m still learning, the more often I do it, the better I‘m getting. More practicing to turn, toe and heel side. At times I’m now linking up to 2 turns, but that’s all. Today was one of the first days where I snowboarded most of the day and I left not totally exhausted. Finally some real progress since I want to be able to snowboard all day! I also really like Winter Park, there are some nice and sort of empty green runs that are great for a newbie.

April 17 - 18, 2010 – Copper Mountain

This weekend was closing weekend for many ski resorts, so we headed to Copper Mountain for the whole weekend. Jen, her husband Jim, CJ and I (the 4 motorcycle riders) left for Copper after work on Friday, and got motel rooms in Frisco so that Saturday morning we were at the slopes and ready to go. Snow conditions weren’t ideal for me Saturday morning, the snow was really packed and slippery and I was having a hard time, but by the afternoon it was all better.

Snow falling at Copper Mountain


Yes, Jen and I have the same orange REI jacket

Sunday was amazing though, in the afternoon I found myself some nice green trails and I was practicing my stuff. By the end of the day I was doing great, well – better than ever - so far. I had planned on this weekend to be my last weekend snowboarding, but now that I had made some real progress I wasn’t sure I could stop.

Jen took some pictures of me getting ready to head down the slope


Snow clouds moving in

CJ and ahead of him is Jen in the green jacket

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park in Spring

This Spring my mom came out to Colorado for the first time to visit me. So of course I took her to Rocky Mountain National Park, with a stop in Nederland and Estes Park. Trail Ridge Road was still closed through RMNP, and there was still so much snow here since we’ve had such a snowy winter and spring. But the scenery was amazing and since I live in Lakewood now and don’t get up to RMNP as much as I used to, I really enjoyed it. Here are some pictures from the drive up to RMNP.

Trail Ridge Road

Lots of snow up here on Trail Ridge Road

More snow clouds moving in

It was very windy on Trail Ridge Road

An inquisitive bird

An inquisitive bird leaves

At Bear Lake

My mom got my this alpaca wool hat in Estes Park - I love it!

There is a lake behind me somewhere under all this snow

Mom and I at Bear Lake

Rams at Rocky Mountain National Park

Pussy Willows - they reminds me of Poland

Lily Lake

Lily Lake was as smooth as glass today

Mom and I at Lily Lake

At the visitor center with moose

A real cowboy in Estes Park? I guess all this shopping got him tired