They say a change is as good as a rest, but if that’s true why do my legs ache so much?
For the last week I’ve been holed up in Cervinia, Italy, in the shadow of the Matterhorn (or more precisely given we were in Italy; Monte Cervino). It was time for the traditional abandonment of sliding down slopes on two wheels for one week of sliding down slopes on two planks of wood instead.
I was a late convert to skiing; introduced to it by an expert, then spent years struggling down in her wake, cursing the time needed to learn essential techniques and skills, cursing my dumb body when it refused to move as fluidly as the people I was watching around me, but fell in love immediately with it and let’s face it what’s not to love?
Another opportunity to be in the mountains, technical steep descents, the feeling of all that free speed, the pleasure and gratification of ‘cleaning’ a challenge. Sounds kind of like mountain biking huh? The overlaps between the two sports are obvious and handily they appear to use similar muscle groups too.
So skiing has become part of my informal, unofficial, ‘training’ each year. Or maybe a better way to think of it is as ‘prepping’ for the riding year ahead. An opportunity to brutalise the legs for a week while getting a mountain fix. A simple recipe of hitting up the first lift and skiing ’til the last. One espresso stop in the morning and then savouring the empty slopes when everyone heads into the hut for an extended lunch, a second and last stop at three for a warming Bombardino which keeps the legs nicely loose for the last hour and a half.
Top to bottom of the mountain, rest on chairlift, repeat until the lifts stop running. Spend time daydreaming about how the mountains will look in summer, where the good trails will be, how easily the terrain ‘will go’.
Ski until you drop then reap the benefits when legs recover.
Weather battered, high on mountains, full of life and ready for spring. A week off the bike that fires me up to ride my bike in proper mountains again. Spring’s nearly here, yeah?