You can go uphill, but can you
We all know that what goes up must come down. Many uphillers, those hearty
souls who scale the local mountains for a workout, appreciate this law of
nature on a regular basis. For the most part though, athletes who go uphill
for exercise either snowshoe down, ski down or download on the lifts to
complete their quest. Well, I've got a brand new way to descend the mountain
and it's unbelievably fun. It's called "Swiss Bobbing" by those followers
who've been enlightened.
To ride a Swiss Bob, is to fly down the mountainside. Similar to a luge, the
swiss-crafted molded plastic flier is lightweight, making it comfortable to
carry on your backpack. After you've completed the "great outdoor
stairmaster" and summit, you can simply detach the sled from your pack and
get set for some sick fun!
Before ripping down your favorite local ski area or snow-packed trail, take
some time to practice stops and turns on a gradual downhill section of
terrain. That's exactly what I did with a good buddy, who
was bobbin' for the first time. After we topped out on our hike, the two of
us were like a couple giddy kids getting ready for some real kid-like fun!
>From a standard seated position on the sled, we practiced stopping- a
process of leaning the upper body slightly forward, while pulling back on
the side handles. This motion causes the pointed rear end of the sled to dig
into the snow, scrub speed and eventually come to a halt. Since the sled is
less than 3 feet long, your legs will be straight out in front of you. It's
important to practice stops, then turns to feel confident with speed. And
believe me, there's plenty of speed to be had.
After you've practiced stops, try a few turns. Turning is kind of like
carving on a ski or board. To apply the edge of this downhill toy however,
you'll need to lean into the turn. While leaning to the right to make a
right turn, pull up on the left handle at the same time. Then do the
opposite to initiate a left hander. All of a sudden you're linking turns!
Simultaneously a smile and uncontrollable laughter will occur, as if on cue.
To start out your very first Swiss Bob top-to-bottom run, simply lift your
feet off the snow and lean back slightly. Very soon you'll pick up speed,
especially on hardpacked (ideal) conditions. Continue honing your skills-
slowing down, stopping and turning at will. Then you'll be comfortable
taking on more and more speed and more adrenalin! Like skiing look where you
want to go. That means NO focusing on trees or lift towers-objects that
don't provide much fun. Like magic, you'll steer and go where you're
looking. As you push it and go even faster, you may set off sonic booms as
you enter the realm of mach speed. Go Speed Racer go!
One great thing about each new season is the opportunity to try something
fresh, perhaps a sport you've never experienced. So borrow a Swiss Bob sled
from a friend (the legion of "swiss bobbers" is growing by the day) or
purchase one at a local sporting goods shop like Aspen Sports and check it
out after your next uphill hike. I actually learned right after a full moon
snowshoe trek last winter. That evening, I saw the light. I discovered that
Swiss Bobbing is yet another great reward for a healthy uphill workout. You
may even flash back to childhood like I did, if you're lucky.
Up, up and away
To earn your bobbin' experience, you'll need to get up the mountain first.
On hardpacked or groomed
terrain, nothing beats a Snowtracker by Atlas Snowshoes to efficiently get
you where you want to go. These traction devices, which are basically the
snowshoe's binding and front cleat, grip better than Stabilicers with less
weight. In fact, when you pass people wearing Stabilicers, those "cleated
things", you're required to turn and give a knowing nod and chuckle to the
less efficient traveler.
Snowtrackers have been utilized for years in climbing circles and now by
winter recreationalists in certain snow conditions. Although I love my Atlas
snowshoes, the Snowtrackers are now another arrow in my winter quiver. Check
'em out at your favorite local snowshoe dealer. They'll only set you back a
few bucks. Dinero well spent.