Category Archives: Strong Trakker

Exercises, Stretches, Conditioning

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

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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).

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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).

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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.

Strong Body. Strong Trakker. | Pre-Season Conditioning

As temperatures drop, it’s time to think about getting your body ready for the ski season.

XC Ski Indiana gives great tips on:

  1. Stretching to improve flexibility
  2. Improving your balance and stability
  3. Toning your muscles for increased endurance

http://www.xcskiindiana.com/articles/condition1.html

Blitz Conditioning also offers a great strength training routine for those wishing to improve their performance:

blitzconditioning.com/strength-training-for-cross-country-skiing/

Not a Trakkers member yet?  Click to join!

Strong Body. Strong Trakker. | Cross-training

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Are you a runner? A cyclist?  Read about the benefits of cross training with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

Cross-Training 101: Cross-Country Skiing (Competitor.com)

For runners:

Cross-country skiing: The ultimate winter cross-training (Canadian Running)

Cross-training Options for Runners (Runner’s World)

For cyclists:

Cross Training and Cross-Country Skiing (Hunter Allen Power Blog)


Interested in becoming a Trakkers member? Click to join!

Dryland Ski Drills – No Equipment Needed

Thinking about doing some training specifically for skiing?

You can recreate the rhythm and movement patterns that mimic classic cross country ski technique with ski walking and ski striding. The term ski bounding is also used. All you need are a pair of poles (ideally the poles should be of a height that allows you to put them under your armpit), running shoes and some open terrain in a park or school yard.

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