Author Archives: lauresabatier

Review on Beginner Hill Lessons

Trakkers offers free lessons to members and guests. Lessons range from absolute beginners to advanced skiers, for classic skiing and skating. CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) certified instructors provide lessons on Sunday Trips. Sylvia has been an instructor for many year and tell about her latest Beginner Hill Lesson.

Sunday, January 20 was a cold day for Trakkers who headed to Hardwood Hills Ski and Bike. I was happy to have five keen students for my Beginner Hill Lesson despite the -34° wind chill!

Because everyone was at different levels, we started on a very small hill. Getting the right body stance was important to practise to build confidence. We gradually moved to snowplows. We didn’t move to higher hill until everyone was comfortable.

The benefit of having a lesson dedicated to hills is there is plenty of time to practise.

Some highlights were:

  • learning herring bone technique to get up the hill
  • body position and straight run
  • snowplow
  • snowplow turns to manage turns on trails

In addition to the many skills learned, we all managed to stay warm for the 75-minute lesson!

The special moment came when everyone skied snow plow and snowplow turn on a higher hill.  Applause and cheers rang out for an absolute beginner who clearly made the most progress.

If you’re hesitant on hills, sign up for the Beginner Hill lesson. With the guidance of your instructor, working at your comfort level and having lots of time to practise you will feel the difference!

Learn more about the ski lessons and tips to ski at trakkers.ca/lessons.

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Niki’s Chocolate Date Balls

Niki has been a Trakkers member for a number of years and is a first-time bus captain volunteer!

After years of participating in events and Sunday ski trips, I decided to try my hand at contributing to Trakkers Ski Club through bus captaining duties. The January 6th Sunday ski trip was my first go at the role so I decided to make a post-ski treat for everyone on my bus pre-post-ski-nap. I ended up making a nice healthy no-bake energy ball recipe. I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that entirely goes to Dinner Mom. For all those who asked, here is the recipe below:

energy ball recipe for cross country ski snack

Chocolate Date Balls are sweetened with medjool date paste so they’re free from refined sugar. Easy, no-bake, vegan recipe with just 6 ingredients!
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 224 balls 
Calories: 74kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 medjool dates pits removed
  • 1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond butter or your favorite nut butter

Instructions

  • Fill a glass container with very hot water. (I heat about 2 cups in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.)
  • Add dates to water, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5-10 minutes. This softens the dates and makes them easier to puree. It’s not necessary if the dates are very soft.
  • Remove dates from water and place in a small food processor along with 1 Tablespoon of water that the dates soaked in.
  • Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add additional water to thin the consistency of the paste, if desired.
  • Set date “paste” aside.
  • Combine oatmeal, cocoa powder and coconut flakes in a medium sized bowl.
  • Add date paste, vanilla extract and almond butter to the dry mixture.
  • Stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Form dough into Tablespoon-size balls.
  • Refrigerate balls in an air tight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 117mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 0.2% | Calcium: 2.5% | Iron: 2.5%

cross country skier Niki on cross country ski track around Toronto
Niki on the ski trails

Winter Bliss

Gillian is a long-time cross-country skier. She recently joined Trakkers Cross-country Ski Club with her family for the simplicity offered by the bus ride. Read about their first day with Trakkers.

Do you know that feeling of being so happy in an experience… and somehow in the middle of that bliss, when nothing else matters, just wanting to break out and invite others to experience the same? Having it all is not always enough: sharing it all also matters.

My first trip as a new Trakkers member brought me that feeling, along with the fullness of having joined a community where the sharing of winter bliss is central to the values and workings of a club.

My family are long-time cross-country skiers. My mother converted me (from downhill) to the trails when she discovered cross-country, and I was 12. Since adolescence, I have skied enthusiastically with my family of origin, my (and my siblings’) next-generation families, and many friends. Still, my ski community just expanded so simply and so delightfully with joining Trakkers this past fall.

For decades, living car-free in Toronto meant that ski days depended on that occasional good dump of snow on a weekend (when we are able to enjoy our local ravine) or a weekend trip involving car rental, overnight packing and preparations (that was always worth the energy, but not repeatable at high frequency). I first found Trakkers online when the subway only opened at 9am on Sundays, and the Trakkers bus left at 9am. The subway’s fairly recent change to an 8am start changed everything in principle. This year, I finally got organized in practice. And so with my partner, and our 13 year old, I joined in on the first Trakkers Sunday trip of the 2018-19 season.

That morning bus took us to Scenic Caves resort, on a mountaintop close to Collingwood where all the trails were open and perfect, entirely heedless to the grey monotone we left behind in Toronto. To top it off, we won the lottery when I met a young grade 9 student on the bus who had been skiing with his mom through Trakkers for two years, and we hooked up with them for a full day of skiing – all five of us with similar skills, stamina, and delight!

Meanwhile, I was equally delighted to meet the many members on the bus who were not of my skill level. A total of 17 beginner and absolute beginner skiers signed up for the free lessons that day! Witnessing this showed me a whole other side to the club: how the teaching and learning of new skills is central to Trakkers culture. I also learned that there are opportunities to hone my skills and get certified to share my cross-country ski passion with the many newcomers to this lifelong sport. Trakkers’ commitment to teaching, learning and enjoyment of skiing in the woods, without any competitive focus, is unusual and inspiring.

On the way home, it was hard to contain my excitement amidst a rather quiet bus culture …but that aspect of the club did make for a very restful trip home: in the dark, many of us napping, taking full advantage of our professional driver.

Back in the city, my feelings of vigour and happiness lasted days longer than my muscle aches. I have since invited both seasoned skiers and newcomer winter enthusiasts to join us as guests on a Sunday. …And here is my more public call-out to other families with teens who, when pulled from their screens, might get into the zone: both those who already know the route to a well-earned black-diamond-downhill, and those who would aspire to it after a few lessons and a few fun Sundays in the snow.

Experience this aliveness with us on a coming weekend!

Newbie Trakkers at Scenic Caves

Stefan and Vera arrived from Germany a few months ago, with their two children. They became members of Trakkers Ski Club to experience a local winter outdoors activity. Read about their first adventure with the club as they participated in the Sunday trip of December 16.

Absolute cross-country beginners, brand-new with Trakkers, and just a few months into Canada: Saturday evening, we scratched our heads whether we had every form filled correctly (we didn’t), all the gear ready (mostly), and enough food stocked up to survive Canadian winter (just so).

What a brilliant experience this was – for all four of us!

Finding the bus was no problem at all. Getting the kids out of bed on a Sunday morning may still need some practice. The bus ride itself was a breeze with a few friendly chats along the way. I haven’t travelled in a bus for years. Sitting in the last row brought up memories from long past school outings where the last row was the place to be. Travelling with kids, we were also quite relaxed to find that there’s a washroom on the bus, and an electric plug for smartphone people, and even cup holders (just not for oversized refillable venti thermos cups).

IMG_E3696

Slowly nibbling away on our food supplies, we enjoyed watching the landscape flying by, and getting whiter and whiter. The bus ride was convenient, it was a pure luxury on the way back with sore muscles and pleasantly tired.

Finally, we arrived at Scenic Caves – what a beautiful winter day. We quickly grabbed our gear and kids (and figured out we could leave some stuff in the bus and in the log cabin).

IMG_E3744

So, beginners we are and enrolled in Xavier’s beginner’s course. A very good decision, even as proficient downhillers, to learn the basic cross-country was essential, and big fun as well. Xavier is a brilliant instructor and took us through snow ploughs and quick steps along the tracks, and even recruited some of the other skiers coming by to demonstrate how going down a little hill.IMG_3750

After this, we moved around far from elegant but felt sufficiently prepared to explore the easy peasy lemon squeezy tracks through the forest. What a difference to our downhill experiences in the European Alps where slopes can get pretty crowded. We enjoyed the peace, wondered about animal tracks in the snow, and experienced a nice blend of sweat (uphill) and adrenaline (downhill).

IMG_E3760.JPGEasy peasy track, but expressive map-style.

This was fun. We are so glad we joined at the start of the season, and will surely be back as often as possible. Every one of us, had their little successes and learning opportunities, and when we stepped back into the bus, we were tired and joyful. What a beautiful day. Thank you, Trakkers.

Note to ourselves: Add sunglasses next time. Bring even more drinks. Remember to take the improvised toboggans again for the kids, and bring more books.

Sites & Cycles: The August Bike Tour with Jim & Jannette

Sunday, August 26th* 10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Event Description

A guided bike tour encircling Hamilton and Burlington, with stops at historic sites such as the Hamilton Lift Bridge, the Beach Canal Lighthouse, H.M.C.S. Haida, and Dundurn Castle. This is a trip designed for Trakker members with at least moderate cycling experience. Options also available include driving a Go Kart and a post-tour supper.

Route

This moderately-paced bike tour will travel on both pavement and hard-packed trails as well as on paved roads and streets, many with designated bike lanes. The total distance is approximately 40 km., broken into 7 segments. Although much of the route is relatively flat, there are 4 uphill grades which can be walked if need be.

What to Bring

  • A multi-speed bicycle (road, touring, mountain, or hybrid style) in good condition,
  • A bike helmet, bike lock, and a pannier or backpack for your food and drink,
  • A picnic lunch,
  • A water bottle and sunscreen are highly recommended.

Start and End Point

The bike shelter in the South Parking Lot of Aldershot GO station.

Getting There

If you don’t have a car, our tour is scheduled around the GO train leaving Toronto’s Union Station† at 9:13 a.m. and a return train departing Aldershot’s GO Station at 6:31 p.m. Most of the train’s coaches have places for two (and sometimes four) bicycles.

Cost

The deadline for registration and payment of the $10 registration fee is August 10th, but if you participate in the tour, that fee is fully refunded to you. On the day of the tour, there are additional fees for those who wish to take the following options:

  • Guided tour of H.M.C.S Haida: $5 ($4 for seniors),
  • Guided tour of Dundurn Castle: $12 ($10 for seniors),
  • Go Kart rental.

Contact & Register

There are fourteen (14) spots currently available. If you are interested in this trip and would like to join us, please e-mail us at jannette_jim@yahoo.ca or phone us at 416 921 7737. We look forward to spending an enjoyable day out in the fresh air with you. Jim & Jannette

Important Notes:

* In case of a heavy rain forecast for Sunday, August 26th, our alternate date is Sunday, September 9th.

† Please note that this is the regularly scheduled train which may be boarded at stations other than Toronto’s Union Station. For full details of train times and station stops, see the schedule and for the cost of the return train fare, see GO Transit’s fare calculator.

Participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

Spokes & Spigots: the 7th Annual Winery Bike Tour with Jim and Jannette

Sunday, July 15th*

Event Description

A guided bike tour with fellow Trakkers to wineries† and a lavender farm near Niagara-on-the-Lake, with an optional supper at restaurant en route. This is a new route and new destinations not visited on our tours.

Route

Starting from St. Catharines GO train station, this moderately-paced bike tour will be on flat terrain, mainly on paved roads and streets, many with designated bike routes and lanes. We will be visiting 4 wineries and a lavender farm, before returning to our starting point. The total distance is approximately 40 km broken into 6 easy segments.

What to Bring

  • A multi-speed bicycle (road, touring, mountain, or hybrid style) in good condition,
  • A bike helmet, bike lock, and a pannier or backpack for your food, drink and any purchases that you may make,
  • A picnic lunch,
  • A water bottle and sunscreen are highly recommended.

Start and End Point

The bike shelter at the south end of the St. Catharines train station.

Getting There

If you don’t have a car, our tour is scheduled around the GO Bike train leaving Toronto’s Union Station‡ at 9:00 a.m. and a return train departing St. Catharine’s train station at 7:41 p.m. This special excursion train has at least two dedicated coaches with bike racks on the lower level. Most of the train’s other coaches have places for two (and sometimes four) bicycles.

Cost

The deadline for registration and payment of the $10 registration fee is July 6th for the bicycle tour itself, but if you participate in the tour, that fee is fully refunded to you. And, of course, if you want to indulge in any winery tours or tastings, each winery levies its own charge. The fee for the optional lavender farm tour is $5 per person.

Contact & Register

There are fourteen (14) spots currently available. If you are interested in this trip and would like to join us, please e-mail us at jannette_jim@yahoo.ca or phone us at 416 921 7737. We look forward to spending an enjoyable day out in the fresh air with you.

Jim & Jannette

 

Important Notes:

* In case of a heavy rain forecast for Sunday, July 15th, our alternate date is Sunday, July 22nd.

† Some wineries on route: Small Talk Vineyards, Palatine Hills Estate Winery, Strewn Winery, and Southbrook Vineyards.

‡ Please note that this is a special excursion train, so it does not stop at all stations along its route. If you wish to use a station other than Toronto’s Union Station, please confirm that it is a station serviced by this train. For full details of train times and station stops, see the schedule and for the cost of the return train fare, see GO Transit’s fare calculator.

Participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

Petals & Pedals: a bike tour with Jim & Jannette

Sunday, June 17th* at 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Jim & Jannette offer a guided bike tour to 3 Royal Botanical Gardens sites in Burlington and the gardens of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton with fellow Trakkers. Landscape designer/gardener, Jannette Porter, will provide garden commentary.

Route

Starting from Aldershot GO train station, this moderately-paced bike tour will travel mainly on paved roads and streets with bike lanes. We will be visiting 3 R.B.G. sites (Hendrie Park, the Rock Garden and the Laking Garden) and the Dundurn Castle kitchen garden. The total distance is 18 km, broken into 5 primarily flat, easy segments, but does include one longish uphill slope (this can be walked if need be).

What to Bring

  • A multi-speed bicycle (road, touring, mountain, or hybrid style) in good condition,
  • A bike helmet, bike lock, and a pannier or backpack for your food and drink,
  • A picnic lunch,
  • A water bottle and sunscreen are highly recommended.

Start and End Point

The bike shelter in the South Parking Lot of Aldershot GO station

Getting There

If you don’t have a car, our tour is scheduled around the GO train leaving Toronto’s Union Station† at 9:13 a.m. and a return train departing Aldershot’s GO Station at 5:31 p.m. Most of the train’s coaches have places for two (and sometimes four) bicycles.

Cost

The deadline for registration and payment of the $10 registration fee is June 9th, but if you participate in the tour, that fee is fully refunded to you. On the day of the tour, there is a $16 ($13 for seniors) R.B.G. entrance fee which grants you admission to all three RBG garden locations. Entrance to the Dundurn Castle garden is free.

Contact

There are fourteen (14) spots currently available. If you are interested in this trip and would like to join us, please e-mail us at jannette_jim@yahoo.ca or phone us at 416 921 7737. We look forward to spending an enjoyable day out in the fresh air with you.

Jim & Jannette

 

Important Notes:

* In case of a heavy rain forecast for Sunday, June 17th, our alternate date is Sunday, June 24th.

† Please note that this is the regularly scheduled train which may be boarded at stations other than Toronto’s Union Station. For full details of train times and station stops, see the schedule and for the cost of the return train fare, see GO Transit’s fare calculator.

Participants will be asked to sign a waiver.