Category Archives: Tips

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


  • 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


  • 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.


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


So you’re thinking of buying xc skis this year (part 2)

Once you’ve decided on skate versus classic, what size to buy (or rent)?

Here are some links to get you started:


Don’t forget these important dates!

Saturday, November 4th, 2017 – MEC Snowfest and Gear Swap (Toronto). Trakkers will also have a table at this event. See Jen’s October post for details.

Friday, November 17th, 2017 7:00 – 9:00 p.m – Trakkers Annual Open House
Swansea Town Hall, 95 Lavinia Avenue

After November 30th, 2017 – Membership fees increase to $80 ($75 until then).

Saturday, December 9th, 2017 – Training for Bus Captains for Sunday trips


See you on the trails.

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

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

Not a Trakkers member yet?  Click to join!

Destination Arrowhead

Arrowhead Provincial Park takes a little longer to get to than most other destinations we visit, but for many Trakkers, it is well worth it. This destination has a special, northern remote feel.

Arrowhead SignWe asked Xavier and Sylvia to share some reflections and to suggest trails for different levels of skiers.

Special Memories
“We brought friends from France a few years ago – a mum and her two children plus our daughter Alice, aged 13. They all came on the Trakkers bus. The French kids were new to cross-country skiing but had a great time falling and laughing. It was a unique, very remote experience for them and they did find it cold! Whenever we see them they still talk about their good memories of a true Canadian winter!”

Arrowhead trailTrail Choice Suggestions
“For a beginner, we suggest taking the 5k Arrowhead Lake Trail. It is lovely with many views of the pretty lake. There is one big climb and a downhill, but otherwise it is mostly flat.”

“More advanced skiers should try the Hardwood Hill Trail loop. It’s worth the climb to the upper parking lot with the charming little Mayflower Warm-up Chalet at the start and finish of the trail. This is one of our all-time favourites with rolling downhills where you can stay in the tracks for a thrill! “

Other Tips
“This is a remote location, so ski with a buddy. And don’t forget to bring snacks, water and a map with you on the trails.”

Getting Ready for Skate Skiing

Are you a new or returning skate skier looking for tips and inspiration before hitting the trails? Mastering skate skiing means learning a collection of techniques – Free skate as the foundation, one skate for acceleration, two skate for cruising, offset for moderate hills, and diagonal skate to conserve energy on longer, tougher hills. If you are a visual learner (and many of us are) you can get a lot out of viewing online technique demonstrations while hearing about the principles of propulsion.

Trakkers Ski School Coordinator Steve Favell recommends the instructional videos provided by CANSI (The Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) that feature Keith Nichol, a Level 4 CANSI instructor. Keith’s videos feature some of the drills used by Trakkers ski instructors during ski lessons. Here are some of Keith’s most popular skate videos:

Free Skate

One Skate

For one video that covers a whole range of skate techniques in a little over 8 minutes, check out the video by Saul Goldman, founder of Velotique, a ski and bike store on Queen Street East.

Remember that good skate technique relies on power from the legs, so any dryland leg strengthening workout will help you prepare. When you arrive at a ski destination, you’ll be glad you put some effort into getting ready.
Let it snow!

Get Ready Tips for Classic Skiers

Will you be ready to ski well when the snow arrives? Reviewing some basic how-tos can remind you of what it takes to get good propulsion on the trails.
We asked Trakkers Ski School Coordinator Steve Favell to suggest a video for us to watch to brush up on classic or diagonal stride ski technique. Steve’s pick is one provided by CANSI (The Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) that features Keith Nichol, a Level 4 CANSI instructor. This video includes some of the technique improvement drills used by Trakkers ski instructors during ski lessons.

Also popular with Trakkers members are the tips given by well-known skier Saul Goldman, founder of Velotique, a ski and bike store on Queen Street East. Check out the first 4 minutes or so if this video, filmed at Hardwood Ski and Bike, one of the club’s destinations. Here, Saul carefully explains the dynamics of the diagonal stride technique.

And here’s a very thorough video with quotes from some of Canada’s best skiers.  It includes good tips on climbing hills at the end.

Stay tuned for more skiing tips!


What to Take Tips

Trakkers Sunday bus trips offer a relaxing way to get to some of Southern Ontario’s best cross country ski and snowshoe destinations. Passengers take what they think they will need for the day onto the bus in a sports bag or backpack. We asked a few long-time members for their tips on what to bring for an enjoyable day trip.

Steve’s suggestion is to take different pairs of flexible wind-proof gloves (light ones for mild parts of the day and vigorous activity and a warmer pair for when the cold winds blow). Barb agrees and recommends the same with hats – a warm one for frigid temperatures and a lighter one for high energy skiing in moderate weather. Karen reminds us to bring sunglasses for those brilliant, cloudless days along with sun screen and lip balm.

Barbs Blog 2 003 small

Energy or granola bars can be brought along on the trails in case you need them. Bring your lunch or you can buy it at most of our destinations. A slim money pouch or thin wallet for essential valuables that you can keep with you on the trails is another good idea.

Keep in mind that skiing warms you up quickly so take thin layers that you can add or remove easily. Breathable synthetic or wool clothing is best. Paula brings a big warm coat to get from home to the bus and back. She leaves it on the bus during the day. Your ski or snowshoe workout may leave you damp and sweaty for the ride back to the city. Avoid this by bringing a pair of dry socks and a cozy top to change into for the journey home.

And for that ride home …. Karen suggests a newspaper, book or knitting. This is the time to indulge in a special treat. “I sometimes bring a thermos of hot chocolate with maybe a drop of Bailey’s Irish Cream for the bus ride back!” says Paula.