Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day Three

A couple of weeks ago, I saw one of the women from my biking group in a store, and we talked shortly about missing biking and cross-country skiing. I told her I'd been thinking of trying out cross-country, and she encouraged me to call her, because she loves to ski and loves company. So I did. And today, I went out with her.

I've biked with A in a group for a while, and she's my hero. Seriously, she's in her 70s, and she bikes pretty much every day in the summer, and skis and such all the time in winter. She's in great shape, and lots of fun to be around.

What I learned today is that she's also a great teacher. It turns out she's a retired phys ed teacher, and still teaches skiing and stuff in winters. And she's really good at it.

What fun! She helped me get my knees bent better, and showed me all sorts of things, introducing one at a time, giving me time to practice, and reinforcing with lots of encouragement.

My favorite was skiing without the poles. It was weirdly easier; I think I had less to focus on, and so I could focus better on bending my knees, moving my hips, keeping my arms bent, and so forth.

Now I'm thinking of buying myself a ski kit.

Pros: I can imagine it being fun were I to get even a little better. Already it's fun, but I need more fun to want to get out in the cold and go.

It's great exercise. Even at my low level, going for little more than an hour, I can feel the goodness.

Getting out just makes me lots happier.

Cons: The economy sucks, and I'm worried about that.

School is starting soon, and I wonder if I'll have time?

I'm worried that I won't enjoy it enough to make getting my own stuff really worth while.

When I think about ways to spend my money (A says I can probably get a beginner set of skis, boots, and poles for about $300; that's a fairly big purchase for me), there are lots of other ways to spend that money. But you only live once, and I'm not getting younger, so if I want to get through winters here, getting good enough at skiing to really enjoy it makes a lot of sense. It seems like a really good life-sport, like biking. You don't need a lot of people, just the skis and stuff, snow, and trails. The snow and trails are pretty common around here in winter.

Yeah, I know I'm really lucky to have this sort of dilemma.


  1. I think you should get the skis: they'll last for years. Of course, you could just rent this year and see how often you get out. But I find that when I have my own stuff, I'm more likely to just head out and do the activity. I like the notion of getting in tune with the winter and getting yourself set up to enjoy the season.

  2. I agree about getting the skis. It seems totally worthwhile for years of fun.

    I like skiing without poles too. Downhill as well as x-country. It helps you learn to do the right stuff with your legs, gives you more confidence in your balance, and less stuff to concentrate on.

    PS: I hope by "You don't need a lot of people, just the skis and stuff, snow, and trails" you don't mean you plan to ski solo! That seems to me like a recipe for getting injured in the middle of nowhere and not being found until hypothermia had set in!

  3. Skis will last for years and give you a great way to enjoy winter and exercise. Go for it! The economy is bound to get better! (Can't get any worse, right? And if you're not going on the job market, then you're stuck with winter.) If you were about a year from retirement, things would be different, but you have lots of years of teaching left. Embrace your winter sport!

  4. My dad always taught skiing with no poles at first. Hands on knees/thighs. I think I skied for years before I first used poles. I think the idea is keeping a lower center of balance - poles make you stand up if you have them in your hands...better to learn low, and then learn to use the poles at an angle while staying low. Ask her, though...we weren't professionals or anything, we just all taught each other in the family.

  5. Get the skis. From another academic in winter wonderland, I need to find something to do to make winter bearable, and I have been looking at cross country skiing. If you look at $300 amortized across a per-use basis, it really isn't that much.

  6. Susan, Interesting perspective; I'm feeling like, having rented the skis, I need to GO every day while I have them. Except I'm skipping today because it's bleeping cold and I'm a little sore and I'm going to a movie with a friend. :) But I DO like the idea of getting out there a lot.

    StyleyGeek, Erm, actually, I was thinking of skiing solo, but on trails in town (at the local golf course, for example). It's hard to get other folks' schedules to mesh and stuff, especially once break ends. Is it that bad an idea?

    Fie, I'm not sure the economy will get better, and if it gets bad enough, who knows what will happen to my job? If I were a year from retiring, I'd get them for sure. Odd, eh?

    MSILF, Hmm, she had me swinging my arms, to sort of give umph to the glide part. Before, I was constantly using the poles, with my hands way out in a sort of classic cartoon panic mode. But just swinging my arms helped me keep them in more.

    EmmaNadine, That's true about the amortization! And that's part of how I justified my MUCH more expensive bike. But I already knew I loved being on a bike.

  7. SO GLAD that you're out there doing the skiing. It's really my fave thing to do in the whole world. And you don't even need the trails, once you get yourself accustomed. You can make your own. Congratulations on your lovely quandary.

  8. Oh okay, if you're in town, I'm sure it's fine. Especially if you have a mobile phone with you or something. I guess I've gotten used to having to go out of town, and out of mobile coverage, for skiing.