The Agassiz Winter Duathlon

Published on Mar 31, 2009 by in Cardio, Skiing, Yoga


click on pics to enlarge the chi hit…

Though it be spring, ilg still has a few snow-filled treats up his sleeve…check out what i did yesterday; The Agassiz Winter Duathlon!

“Oh yeah, this outta work,” i smiled to Ananda as i wheeled Nalanda (my cross bike) out my driveway yesterday at around noon. she just shook her head saying, “Be careful,” already accustomed to my need for quixotic workouts within the Sacred Peak wilderness.

my intent?

it seemed a go(o)d one to me: cycle up to the ‘closed’ alpine ski area carrying my skis, nordic ski up the ski runs to timberline at 11,500′, telemark down, and ride back home. the salient feature on my planned route would have to be the 4,150′ two-sport climb in just about 9 miles.

now, over the course of several decades, many of ilg’s similar ideas have quickly disintegrated into a battle of what fellow WF Mountain Yogi Bantu may call, ‘yet another battle between stubborness and stupidity’, however, yesterday, the Mountain Gods were very kind and i came away with a world-class winter duathlon workout that is just classic. if you look closely at the little bulge in my ski pole strap in the photo above, that strap bulge kinda points at my top-out point right at timberline on Agassiz Peak. after Ananda snapped this picture, i was off and less than two hours and two sports later, i was at timberline, gazing down on all of my Beloved Southwest….here is the story and some more pics to inspire your own WF Practice…thank you for supporting DIRECT LINES; The Tribal Newspaper Rock of Wholistic Fitness since 1982.

BIKE UP SECTION: 8 miles from 7,350′ to 9,800′ in 1:03.

you may notice in the first photo, ilg is not wearing his helmet. putting on my brain bucket moments after the picture was taken and shoving off into the omnipotent Flagstaff March wind*, realization of the first trial arose. five minutes into my workout, my neck was ready to cramp because whenever i lifted my head to look ahead (always a wise thing to do while cycling, by the way!), my skis forced my head back down. “This will be fine for the climb up,” i told myself, “it’s flying back down the switchbacked ski road coming coming home where not being able to lift my head will be an issue.” so i pedaled onward and upward, content that constantly looking down would help my Time Trialing in my upcoming bicycle races this spring.

you know you’re looking pretty crazy when tourists slow down in their cars and take pictures of you during your workout. i guess to some spiritually-impoverished people, seeing a Fitness Warrior cranking up a mountain on his bicycle while carrying skis, boots, and poles on his back is peculiar. poor, poor creatures…ilg pities them so!

SKI UP SECTION: 2 miles from 9,800′ to 11,500′ in 46:57

at 1:03, i reached my Ski Up Transition point at the Agassiz Ski Lift, elevation 9,800′. having only one water bottle for the entire workout, i took a paltry swish to help soothe the PowerBar Gel Blasts that i crammed into my mouth to spur me on the Ski Up. they work. they all-ways do. i had pre-mounted my climbing skins on my tiny, edgeless skate skis, so my transition was only a few minutes. on the ride up, i was passed by some local snowboarders who had driven up to this location to hike up the hill. i saw them about a kilo above me, hiking in the warm sun on this chilly afternoon.

upward, i began to ski using my familiar nordic technique of a half-jog/half-classic stride. during steep headwalls, like the one pictured above, i employ a herringbone technique matched by strong arm poling for to backslip is a supreme waste of energy and time. fortunately, on this Day of Days, the Sacred Mantra began running Itself in my mind nearly immediately and, at the speed of enlightenment, ilg too, was soon awash in the splendor of what lies dearest to my incarnation; that Rocky Mountain High!! ilg is very Blessed and in this m(om)ent writing to you, ilg sends into your HeartMind, that same feeling of what it feels like to be Rocky Mountain High and Fit Enough to go Higher Still…

within 7 minutes i had bridged up to the snowboarders and within another 6 minutes, they had dropped out of view as the floor of northern Arizona began unfurling at my quickened ski pace up the Sacred Peak. it is almost certain that something of this kind of mystical fitness will arise in any sincere warrior of sweat and stillness as inner consciousness realizes our innate enlightenment potential…a potential free from excessive religiosity, ritual, tradition, or superstition of any sort. i recall a hymn from my studies of the MahaYogi Jesus Christ, a hymn that celebrates His amazing Practice;

From that Holy Body broken
Blood and water forth proceed;
Earth and stars and sky and ocean
By that flood from stain are freed.

All paths lead toward the One.
ilg prefers a Steep and Direct path…
ilg, however, is not as brave, strong, loving, or willing enough to tread the super Steep and Direct path which Yogi Jesus and other adepts have so awesomely created.
so, for now, ilg returns to the snow, and breath, and pure, clean effort in devotion to the Mantra…the Grand Connector.

SKI DOWN SECTION: -2 miles from 11,500′ to 9,800′ in 13:42.

with the help of Hanuman’s Hand, i nearly flew up the ski runs reaching the summit (above photo) in near record time; the slightly melted crust was ideal for clackety-clacking my way up the slopes without slipping hardly an inch. tearing off my climbing skins and doing a quick Pranayam in the Hawk-high air, ilg smiled. an entire ski resort at my feet with only Hawk himself to accompany me on my next feat; the ski down.

ilg mistakenly thought that the Ski Area management would have groomed the ski runs after Sunday. currently, the Ski Area is only open from Thursday-Sunday. ilg was wrong and now it was time to pay for it. as you’ve gathered, i’ve skied down some pretty treacherous terrain using all sorts of equipment. this descent was gnarly.

photo of a ‘good’ section of the descent; imagine skiing on 2″-wide skate skis, super light race boots, and flying down ‘snow’ that had all the envious texture of semi-frozen hog slop. can hardly believe it took me nearly a quarter to descend that mountain, yet it did.

at one point, i came careening down the multi-crusted slop toward a telemark skidding stop above the snowboarders whom were curious about this flying man-object now standing above them. some fun was to be had;
“Hey,” i yelled in my most Ski Patrol Authoritative Voice at the boyz whom were building a jump for their snowboards, “Don’t you boys know that this Ski Area is CLOSED?!”

they both returned my glare with that same sinking feeling that i myself have been the receiver of so often…“uh, uh…” they stammered.

“Just kidding,” i quickly smiled and dropped into them for a moment before continuing my awkward descent back to my bike now shining like a medallion in the lowering rays of Grandfather Sun.

BIKE DOWN SECTION: 8 miles from 9,800 to 7,350′ in :24

attempting to be smart, i took time in re-strapping my skis and poles to my pack for the fast descent. i had been in a headwind since the start of the Ski Down and was only going to get colder during the high-speed descent on my bike coming up. not wearing my helmet was no option. my attempt to be smart was only partially victorious as i soon realized upon the bike descent. still unable to hold my head up for any length of time, i invoked Quasimotto. holding my head to one side of my skis, back hunched over to stabilize my handlebars, i soared down the serpentine Ski Road, giggling with delight at my quest. every now and then, for the sheer fun of it, i yelled aloud with the Hanuman Wind in my face, fingers now frozen,
“SHE BROUGHT ME WAAAATER….” in my best Lon Chaney impersonation…

half-day to multi-day training camps with Coach Ilg are available for all levels of warriors…come out to the Sacred Peak and share the transformative Pure Pran with us!

*(“it only makes me stronger,” is the affirmation i use in lieu of cursing wind…it’s important for yogis to recall that wind is, after all, the metaphysical breath of the Son of the Wind; no other than the most mightiest warrior of all time; Hanuman!)

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