Dacks and Toga Active Life August Issue For Web

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Our August issue for living well in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Sports, Fitness, Travel, Adventure, Wellness!

activelife

®

SPORTS • FITNESS • TRAVEL • ADVENTURE • WELLNESS • AUG 2017

FREE

travel

hiking in the

Scottish

Highlands

get out on the

water with

SUP

yoga

Olympic and

World Champion

Andrea

Henkel Burke

from competitor

to trainer

profile:

Bob & Heidi

Underwood

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 1


The path to

better health

starts here.

KEENE LAKE PLACID SARANAC LAKE TUPPER LAKE

KEENE KEENE LAKE LAKE

LAKE PLACID PLACID SARANAC SARANAC LAKE LAKE

LAKE TUPPER TUPPER LAKE LAKE

LAKE

When When you’re in in in the

the

Adirondacks, it’s it’s it’s reassuring to

to to

know know know that that that you you you have have have great great great care

care

right right right here. here. here. We We We make make make it it it our

our our

mission

mission to to

to get get

get you you

you in in

in fast fast

fast and

and

and

deliver

deliver the the

the knowledgeable

knowledgeable

services and and support to to keep

keep

services and support to keep

you you and and your your family healthy

you and your family healthy

so so you you can can focus focus on on enjoying

so you can focus on enjoying

the the outdoors.

the outdoors.

518-897-APPT (5776)

518-897-APPT (5776)

adirondackhealth.org

adirondackhealth.org

contents

FEATURES

9 Flashback:

A look back in

time at cycling,

track and field, &

roller-skiing

18 Cover Story:

Get on Board

with SUP Yoga

22 Andrea

Henkel Burke

Transitioning from

world-class competitor

to personal trainer

26 Active Life

Profile:

Bob & Heidi

Underwood

Taking a shared past in

competitive kayaking

through a lifetime of

competitive challenges

30 Travel:

The Scottish

Highlands

A rocky start gives way

to an amazing hike

IN EVERY ISSUE

5 Editor’s Letter

7 Food

8 Active Life

Short List

34 Calendar

18

Short List

22

ON OUR COVER:

Tobey (Durga Om) Gifford,

Yoga instructor and owner of

Lemon Tree Healing & Arts

Studio, demonstrating the yoga

posture Firefly (Tittibhasana) on

her SUP board on Lake George.

Photography by

SaratogaPhotographer.com

26

30

2 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 3


Below: Our photographer wanted a

photo of our model Tobey walking

out of the water with her board.

The resulting photo is at bottom.

PHOTO: SaratogaPhotographer.com

Behind the Scenes

at our Cover Photo Shoot

normally believe that luck is the result of hard work and proper

I planning, but on the morning of our photo shoot in early June, I

believe we experienced pure luck, plain and simple.

While planning for the shoot, a couple of locations were suggested

to me, but I had my heart set on a location on the west side of

Lake George. After spending many happy family get-togethers there,

I knew exactly how perfect the setting would be. Our photographer,

who was working in the area, stopped by one afternoon to take a

look and agreed it was a good location.

It is hard enough to get three busy people together for an hour,

but the bigger problem was the seemingly incessant rain we’d been

experiencing for weeks. It had rained almost non-stop daily up until

that very morning. What would I do if it didn’t stop? Not only did

neither one of us have time to reschedule, but I had no backup plan

or backup cover story to go with.

When I started the drive up to our location with my son, who’d

been recruited to help out, I still did not know which way it would

go. However, I have learned that whatever weather we are experiencing

in Glens Falls, the complete opposite could be occurring in Lake

George, so I was game.

It wasn’t long into our drive that the clouds began to fade and the

sun came out. Our drive up Lake Shore Drive further revealed the

glorious morning that was to be.

Shortly after we arrived, our model, Tobey (Durga Om) Gifford, arrived

as did our photographer. We all agreed that we couldn’t have

had a more beautiful morning. The only setback was that the water

was still quite cold. This was not a problem for our photographer

who had a wetsuit. Nor was it a problem for Tobey, whose skill at

SUP yoga kept her from falling in. However, my son had to stand

still in the cold water for over an hour, while I guiltily stayed on the

warm, sunny dock.

Gabrielle Katz

welcome back...

It’s great to see you again!

Thank you for joining us for our 2nd issue of Dacks and Toga ® Active Life. Once again, we’ve worked very

hard to bring you interesting, motivating stories with great photos to illustrate the active lifestyle we all enjoy.

In the editors’ letter from our first issue we likened the launch of our magazine to the planning and goalsetting

involved in undertaking a new training regimen. For the second issue we learned that planning and

goal-setting are still involved, but there will be some curve balls thrown at you and the necessity to duck.

Once again the issue was rain, but unlike the day of our cover shoot, we were not so lucky. While we were

deep into the production phase of this issue, the heavy rains during the weekend prior to July 4th caused

half the ceiling in our office to cave in, just missing our computers. We lost two, much needed days of work in

the process and had to move our computers to our dining room table. We thought that might be it for us and

were about to hang up the towel (well some of us were and some of us weren’t), but in the end we all kept our

focus and persevered.

We think the stories in our Flashback Retrospective, our story on Andrea Henkel Burke, and our travel story

to the Scottish Highlands illustrate the same theme: going forward on the journey no matter what mishaps or

transitions life and events force us to navigate. And for dedication and perseverance, look no further than the

example set by our two Active Life Profile subjects, Bob & Heidi Underwood.

Finally, we hope you enjoy our SUP Yoga story and photos, which remind us once again why we are so lucky

to live in such a beautiful region.

Active Life Magazine

Wants to

Hear from You!

Nominate Someone for an

Active Life Profile:

Do you know someone who

epitomizes the active lifestyle, has

overcome a setback, challenges

themselves, pursues their goals or

is always on the go? Send us an

email at info@87npub.com with

the subject line “Active Life Profile”

and a few words about the person

who inspires you.

Let Us Know What Keeps

You Motivated:

What keeps you going, keeps you

jogging in the rain, heading out to

the gym at the end of the day,

setting new goals, or travelling to

your next adventure? Send us an

email at info@87npub.com with

the subject line “What keeps me

going” and a few words about

what you do and why you do it.

editors’ letter

Enjoy the rest of your Summer,

The Active Life Team

Discover the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway...

...as we share our story of the waterway west,

the Erie Canal, and the role our communities

played in the westward expansion of the

country and the Industrial Revolution.

Job # 000 - Mohawk Towpath - Sales Rep/Artist

Have Year-Round Fun!

Biathlon • XC Skiing • Running • Mtn Biking

Swimming • And More!

Try Biathlon

This

Summer! *

*Rifles and

Instruction Provided

www.SaratogaBiathlon.com

P.O. Box 90

Clifton Park, NY 12065

518-406-8610

mohawktowpath.org

4 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 5

Job # 000 - Saratoga Biathlon Club - Sales Rep/Artist


TM

TM

TM

TM

TM

FREE

activelife

SPORTS • FITNESS • TRAVEL • ADVENTURE • WELLNESS • MAY - JUNE 2017

life &styleMAY

LIFE • STYLE • ARTS • TRAVEL • FROM SARATOGA TO

2017

gift guide

5 fun

ways

to shift

gears

Nick

Marcantonio

chases the

Ironman

hiking

the

Devil’s

Path

still racing

after all

these years

Bill Parks skis

the Birkebeiner

Advertise in Dacks and Toga ®

Active Life Magazine

and Become a Part of our

Active Life Community!

Call 518-636-5960

or email ads@87npub.com

Current issues are available online with live links to advertisers’ websites.

Holiday

THE ADIRONDACKS

life &styleMAY

LIFE • STYLE • ARTS • TRAVEL • FROM SARATOGA TO

2017

Summer

music guide

festivals, great venues,

free concerts and more

THE ADIRONDACKS

life &styleMAY

LIFE • STYLE • ARTS • TRAVEL • FROM SARATOGA TO

2017

THE ADIRONDACKS

10

great

places

to get

together

life &styleMAY

LIFE • STYLE • ARTS • TRAVEL • FROM SARATOGA TO

2017

THE ADIRONDACKS

Vows

great

locations

to tie the knot!

Coming in December 2017

Dacks and Toga ®

Life & Style Magazine

Call 518-636-5960

or email ads@87npub.com

Current issues are available online with live links to advertisers’ websites.

5

®

activelife

Publisher

87 North Publishing, Ltd.

www.87npub.com

Managing Editor

Jody Katz

Creative Director

Gabrielle Katz

Contributors

Alex Kochon

John Jacobs

Ethan Katz

Advertising

To advertise, call: 518-636-5960

or email: ads@87npub.com

Contact Us At:

518-636-5960

or email: info@87npub.com

Manuscripts, artwork, photographs, inquiries and

submitted materials are welcome.

Email submissions to: info@87npub.com

87NORTH

PUBLISHING, LTD.

Dacks & Toga ® Active Life magazine is owned and operated by

87 North Publishing, Ltd.

P.O. Box 495, Glens Falls, NY 12801

© 2017 by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction in any form, by any means in any form, mechanical or

electronic without permission from the publisher is prohibited.

Ads created by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. for this magazine

cannot be reproduced in print or online without written permission

from the publisher.

87 North Publishing, Ltd. and Dacks & Toga ® Active Life Magazine

reserve the rights to refuse any advertisements for any reason.

Acceptance of advertising does not mean

or imply the service or product is recommended by

87 North Publishing, Ltd. or Dacks & Toga ® Active Life.

Product Information highlighted or shared on

Dacks & Toga ® Active Life’s editorial pages is meant for information

purposes only, and does not imply that the product is endorsed or

recommended by 87 North Publishing, Ltd. or Dacks & Toga ® Active Life.

food

Become a

Backwoods

Gourmet!

When backpacking or

camping, it’s easy to fall

into a cooking routine

dictated solely by practicality

with little thought

given to taste. If you find yourself in a

rut, eating the same easy but uninspiring

freeze-dried camp meals, it might

be time for a change. Though you can’t

beat the simplicity of pre-packaged

meals, with just a little more effort and

some preparation and creativity, you

might be surprised with the high-quality

cooking that’s possible!

If you want good taste, though,

you will have to do some prep at

home. There’s no getting around it.

Whether it’s pre-cooking, organizing

and packaging, or dehydrating (more

on that later), this is what makes

these types of meals feasible in the

middle of the woods. That being said,

we’re sure you will find your efforts

well worth it.

When looking for recipes to adapt

to the backcountry, start with recipes

with fewer ingredients that have

more flavor. For instance, sun-dried

tomatoes, dried mushrooms, garlic,

nuts, bacon bits and a savory poultry

seasoning are all easily packable ingredients

that add tons of flavor. And,

speaking of “packability,” it’s important

to creatively substitute ingredients

for ones you can easily bring with

you. For example, say a recipe calls

for half an onion. Instead of trying to

keep half an onion fresh, or carrying

around half an onion in your pack after

cooking the other, try bringing a

comparable amount of shallots and

use them all. Another factor to keep

in mind is what is easiest to cook in

camp. Quick-cooking pastas (angel

hair, ditalini), couscous and even instant

mashed potatoes will provide

better results than rice.

You may even try purchasing a food

dehydrator. It is incredible the amount

of ingredients that you can find freezedried

versions of—but you won’t find

everything. What if you are really in

the mood for shrimp? Food dehydrators

are a cheap kitchen appliance

that exponentially increases the variety

of dishes you can make. You might

even find yourself using it throughout

the work week—they can be incredibly

handy. But don’t stop at drying ingredients!

Try drying entire homemade

meals and packaging them in Ziploc

bags, or better yet, re-purposed freezedried

meal bags, so all you need to add

is boiling water for a delicious taste

of home cooking in a beautiful backwoods

setting!

Run, Walk, Bike, Ski...Enjoy!

The Trails of Cole’s Woods, Glens Falls

The First Lighted Ski Trails in North America

Maintained by the Friends of Cole’s Woods

For information: coleswoods.weebly.com

THINK

FLAVOR!

A little bit of

sundried

tomatoes

& dried

mushrooms,

spices, even

bacon bits, will

add a ton of flavor

and take up little

space in your

backpack.

A food dehydrator has one

purpose—to remove most of the water

from food. There are two basic types

of food dehydrator: stacking dehydrators

that have several trays that stack

snugly on top one each other and shelf

dehydrator, which will have shelves that

slide in and out of a main unit.

Each style has it’s advantages.

Shelf dehydrators are more accessible—

the food in any of the trays is accessible

while only the food in a top tray on a

stacking one is quickly accessible. On

stacking units you have to separate the

trays in the tower to get to food in those

below the top tray.

When looking for a dehydrator

look for one with a fan and a heating element.

Good ones will be have a design

that promotes even airflow though the

trays or in the shelves. Better units will

have dual fans and have higher wattage

outputs. Look for one with an adjustable

thermostat so you can control and

maintain an even temperature setting.

Food dehydrators can be purchased

at department stores and

prices will range based on features and

build quality (plastic vs. metal). Expect

to pay about $30-$50 for lower end

models and well over $100 for higher

end models.

PHOTOS: Shutterstock

6 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

Job # 000 - Friends of Cole’s Woods - Sales Rep/Artist

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 7


short list

n Keep your burden light

when you’re out trekking with a set of these

Fizan Compact 3 trekking poles. These 3-section,

aluminum poles are adjustable and collapsible,

and at only 158 grams per pole, they are the

world’s lightest trekking poles. Great for both

hikers and backpackers! Put them on

your wish list or gift a set to a hiker

close to your heart.

Available at Inside Edge

and Reliable Racing.

n Give your feet a

chance to recover

after a race or practice with

OOFOS ® footwear, engineered to help

your feet recover in ways typical footwear

can’t. They absorb more shock,

have great arch support, enable a

more natural motion, and reduce

stress on feet, knees and back. Not

only will you want to slip into them

after a pounding workout, they’ll be

the first thing you grab after a long

day on your feet.

]n

[

Summer~

Hiking,

Biking and

Running

Enhance your outdoor

activities and fitness

training with these ideas

from our current wish list.

New Release:

Northvile-Placid

Trail Guide

The Adirondack Mountain

Club (ADK) has recently

released the fifth edition of its

Adirondack Mountain Club

Northville-Placid Trail in time

for the Nothville-Placid Trail’s

(NPT) 95th Anniversary.

Edited by Jeff and Donna

Case of Mattydale, NY, the

volume has been extensively

revised and redesigned.

The text includes a detailed

description of the reroute

of the NPT’s southern

approach, which leads

hikers from the south through

forest and around a lake,

avoiding the approx. 10 miles

of punishing road walking on

the previous route.

The NPT passes through

what many consider the

wildest and most remote

parts of the Adirondack Park.

The guide is available at

outdoor supply stores, both

ADK stores in Lake George

and Lake Placid, online and

through mail order.

For info: 800-395-8080 or

www.adk.org

n Improve your visibility and

peace of mind while cycling.

The world’s first cycling radar,

Varia Rearview Radar from Gamin helps create a safer

cycling environment by warning cyclists of vehicles

approaching from behind up to 153 yards. The radar tail

light also warns approaching vehicles of a cyclist ahead.

It can show multiple approaching vehicles and indicates

the relative speed of approach and threat level.

Flashback:

60’s

70’s

80’s

Nowadays we have every type of sports innovation,

equipment and clothing available, but back in the day,

things were a little different.

Join us for this three-part retrospective where we

revisit the way it used to be for a young athlete and recount

the evolution of two popular sports.

8 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 9


How Modern Road Cycling

Came To Glens Falls

The time a teenager’s wish, a businessman’s decision, and serendipity

all combined to bring a new kind of bicycle to the North Country.

The year was 1967, and young Jeffrey

Jacobs at age 16 was off to

a two week summer ski racing

camp in Aspen, Colorado. One afternoon,

he recognized a well-known ski

racer coasting on a 10-speed bike, doing

60 miles-per-hour coming down

the road from Independence Pass.

Jeff later realized that Jean-Claude

Killy, the triple Olympic gold medalist

in alpine ski racing, was training in

Aspen that summer. He was the guy

on the bike! Jeff made a mental note:

“I have to get one of those bikes when

I get home!”

While in Aspen, Jeff was training

for a ski race along with some of the

best junior and collegiate racers in

the country. He found out that many

of the elite European and American

ski racers rode lightweight, French

10-speed bicycles called Peugeot to increase

leg strength and stamina. Upon

10 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

By John Jacobs

his return to Glens Falls, Jeff asked

his dad to find him a Peugeot bike. At

the time, none of the area shops offered

anything of the sort. You could

get a Schwinn Varsity from Skelly’s

on Bay Street, but they weighed 45

pounds! Or possibly a Western Flyer

10-speed from Montgomery Ward,

which was even worse! The road bikes

coming out of Europe used high-carbon

frames and lightweight components.

The bikes weighed less than 25

pounds, and were great for going long

distances and climbing mountains

and hills. These were the bikes that

were ridden in the Tour de France, but

very few people in the North Country

at the time knew about that.

The story really starts with Jeff’s

parents, Tom and Marilyn Jacobs, the

founders of the Inside Edge ski shop.

In 1957 Tom had been the director of

the Steamboat Springs Chamber of

Commerce and managed Howelsen

You could get a Schwinn Varsity from Skelly’s on

Bay Street, but they weighed 45 pounds!

Hill, the local ski area and ski jumping

facility. He and Marilyn, now with

three young babies, decided he needed

a “real job.” He asked his father,

a paper machinery engineer who had

done some work for Lyman Beeman

(the CEO of the Finch & Pruyn paper

company) to see if he could land him

a job. Tom was offered a position selling

paper in New York City for Finch

& Pruyn, thus the decision to move

the family to Glens Falls in 1958. Tom

would travel every week to New York

City to open new accounts for the paper

mill.

But that didn’t stop Tom from moonlighting

in the ski business. Upon the

family’s arrival, he soon took on the

ski school directorship at Hickory Hill,

and later, in 1961 when the Brandt

brothers opened West Mountain, they

offered Tom the ski school and rental

shop concessions. This was the beginning

of what would eventually become

the Inside Edge and Reliable Racing

Supply.

In the mid-60’s, Tom and Marilyn

had moved their retail enterprise from

West Mountain to a location on Bay

Street. There was a bike shop at that

location that didn’t operate in the winter,

so the shop owner rented the space

for the Jacobs’ ski shop, which became

the Inside Edge. Soon after, the

bike shop owner decided to close his

business, creating the opportunity for

year-round operations for the Inside

Edge. Problem was, no one wanted

to buy skis in the summer! That fall,

faced with the knowledge that another

summer was around the corner with

rent and payroll having to be covered,

Tom knew something had to be done.

Jeff’s request for a Peugeot bike intrigued

Tom. So he decided that on his

next business trip to New York City in

July, he would try to locate the Peugeot

importer in Manhattan. He started

with the Peugeot car dealership in

Manhattan, and they informed him

that they didn’t sell the bikes. Fortunately

for Tom, the manager of the car

dealership knew the bicycle importer,

Franklin Imports, and gave Tom his

address in Manhattan. He entered the

lower level of the brownstone and met

the gentleman from France, who barely

spoke English. Tom asked him if he

could buy a bike, and the man said,

“No, you have to become a dealer.”

Tom’s reply was “Well, what do I have

to do to become a dealer?” To which

the man answered, “You have to buy

three bikes.” Tom returned home with

three brand new Peugeot bikes. Still in

their boxes were the UO-8, UO-18 and

their best and lightest road bike, the

PX-10.

Jeff and Tom managed to assemble

the bikes as best they could, and started

riding them. Jeff rode the PX-10,

The rumor had spread locally as well, and coming

out of the woodwork were a couple of local guys

who actually had knowledge about cycling.

and Tom the less expensive UO-8 while

the rest of the Jacobs family shared

the UO-18 “mixte bike” (a smaller

frame with reclining top tubes that

Marilyn and the younger, shorter kids

could actually straddle and ride). Later

that fall, knowing that spring would

soon come and summer income would

need to be generated, Tom called the

importer in New York and placed his

order for “20” to be delivered in May

the following spring. Word started to

get out that the Inside Edge had ordered

these lightweight road bikes,

and folks started to express interest in

them through the winter.

Tom was sure the importer had taken

his order for 20 bikes, but showing

up in May was not 20 bikes. It was a

20-foot container of bikes! In disbelief,

he and his manager Steve Dew

off-loaded the bikes from the container

and contemplated just how they were

going to sell over 200 bikes in one season

so that he could pay the invoice!

Tom quickly got the word out through

his ski racing connections throughout

New York and New England that the

Peugeot bikes had arrived at his Glens

Falls store.

The rumor had spread locally as

well, and coming out of the woodwork

were a couple of local guys who actually

had knowledge about cycling.

Jack Sturgeon was a plastics engineer

who helped develop the first extruded

catheter. Jack was a bike racer and

knew just about everything there was

to know about cycling. Joining him

was Mick Hinnoff, an insurance executive

at Continental and former collegiate

cycling national champion at

Yale. Mick was as equally expert as

was Jack. That summer, in their spare

time, Tom hired Jack and Mick to help

assemble the Peugeot bikes and do

bike repairs. He even convinced them

to teach a few local teens, Tom’s sons

Jeff and John, Steve Kvinlaug, Wes

Bishop and Tom Eletto how to properly

ride a road bike. The teens were also

quickly mentored by Jack and Mick on

bike repairs and assembly. The boys

learned how to build and true wheels,

adjust a derailleur and perform general

bike repairs and maintenance. Soon

after, Tom hired Huck Davies to manage

the bicycle effort, even expanding

into a Schenectady location the following

year! Somehow, the Inside Edge

managed to sell just about every Peugeot

delivered that spring. The invoice

got paid and the Inside Edge became

a true bicycle specialty shop, a perfect

complement to being a purveyor of alpine

and Nordic equipment.

In November of 1969, Tom was

scheduled to board Mohawk flight

411, a flight from LaGuardia Airport to

Warren County Airport with a stopover

at Albany. For some reason he missed

his flight. Flight 411 crashed near the

top of Pilot Knob Mountain, killing all

14 remaining passengers and crew.

For Tom it was an epiphany. He soon

after resigned from Finch & Pruyn, after

which he and Marilyn put their full

time effort into their growing ski and

bike shop.

Much excitement was generated by

Tom in those early years of road cycling

in the Glens Falls area. In the 70’s the

Inside Edge sponsored a weekly time

trial series on West Mountain Road,

and the shop became known by some

of the most elite riders in the US. US

road racing champions like Stan Swain

of Manchester, VT, John Howard and

Bob Allis would occasionally attend

the time trials, and ultimately in 1976

the US Olympic road trials were held

in Lake Luzerne where the team for

the Montreal Olympics was named.

Many people in today’s local cycling

community got their start at the Inside

Edge, including Rick Chiasson of

Rick’s Bike Shop, Steve Fairchild of

The boys learned how to build and true wheels,

adjust a derailleur and perform general bike

repairs and maintenance.

Grey Ghost Bike Shop, Andrew Cappabianca

of The Hub in Brandt Lake and

Fred Patton of Trexlertown, PA (Fred

would go on to become an internationally

respected timekeeper and cycling

official). Ben Serotta would spend a lot

of time at Inside Edge looking at frame

designs. He would go on to establish

Serotta Bicycles and become an internationally

acclaimed custom frame

builder and bike manufacturer.

So, somewhat by accident - along

with purposeful intention - the first

lightweight road bikes came to Glens

Falls, and as they say, the rest is

history!

Photo of vintage Peugeot PX10 by John

Paul, Courtesy of Victor Miller, Vic’s

Classic Bikes, Louisville, Kentucky. Photo

manipulation by Active Life magazine.

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 11


When I was young, I could run

like the wind. I’m not kidding. I

was fast—the fastest kid in my

Elementary and Junior High School

gym classes. I was the fastest boy in

my group growing up in the Marlboro

Projects in Brooklyn (of French Connection

Movie fame) and the fastest boy

in my summer camp that my parents

saved for all year so our family could

spend a summer in the Catskills.

That said, there was no doubt that

when I went to High School, I’d try out

for the track team. Why not? I was the

famous “6-G” (a nickname my friends

gave me—it was my apartment number).

I’d surely be the fastest kid on the

team. What I did not know was that

Lafayette HS was known for its athletes.

It boasted a long list of famous

athlete alumni including: Sandy Koufax,

Bob and Ken Aspromonte, Pete

Falcone, John Franco, and Fred Wilpon.

I had only heard of Sandy Koufax

from that group when I entered

the school, which drew athletes from

that Italian part of Brooklyn (Bensonhurst)

and Jewish and black athletes

from the projects that were a short distance

away. I quickly found out at the

tryouts that I’d have to work hard to

distinguish myself on a team with so

many fast runners.

Growing up I was the only one in my

family who was athletic so I got little

Mission

Accomplished

A Teenager’s Quest For

Running Gear

Getting outfitted for the track team was a challenge in itself for this

determined high school student in the early 1970’s.

By Jody Katz

support when I needed a new glove, a

basketball or football, or when I needed

gear for the Lafayette HS Track Team.

After days of constant pleading and

arguing with my parents, they finally

agreed to give me $100 for all the track

gear I needed, even though that amount

was almost a month and a half’s rent

for our 3-bedroom apartment. I was

warned to use the money wisely since

there would be no more coming.

After days of constant pleading and arguing

with my parents, they finally agreed to give me

$100 for all the track gear I needed.

12 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

So here I was with this mission—buy

running gear and not overspend. I

made a list that included: a duffle bag,

trainers, running spikes, and a set of

team sweats. First off the list was the

sweats: two-pieces, bright red with

white graphics emblazoned with a running

foot with wings that looked suspiciously

like the Goodyear Tire logo.

They cost $15.00 through the coach.

Next was the duffle bag. It could not

be any bag; it had to be an adidas bag.

The running world in the late 1960’s

an early 1970’s was adidas and basically

no one else. Just about everyone

on the team had that huge, beautiful,

white adidas duffle bag, but there

was only one place locally I could get

it-- Thom McCann shoe stores. It was

expensive too—$20—but I had to have

it. So I went there for my first piece of

“luggage”. There were no Dick’s stores,

no running shoe stores, and Modells

and Herman’s (the only sporting good

stores I knew of when growing up) were

either in downtown Brooklyn, Manhattan,

or Long island—all places a naïve,

boy from Brooklyn was not allowed to

go to, at least not by himself.

Next to be purchased were running

shoes. Thom McCann only had one

pair of running shoes—a blue suede

shoe with a gray sponge like rubber

sole called “Teppa Sport”. The store rep

claimed they were great shoes, would

last a long time, and he pitched the allure

of them being made in Italy, which

was attractive to me even though I did

not know of any famous Italian runners,

but they did make fiendishly fast

cars. They too were $20.00.

Next up were the “game changers”—

the track spikes. Virtually all

the tracks we were going to race on

were outdoors and that meant tarmac,

cinder, and dirt. A racing shoe and

two sets of different height removable

spikes were mandatory. No local store

in Brooklyn (that I was allowed to walk

Virtually all the tracks we were going to race

on were outdoors and that meant tarmac, cinder,

and dirt. A racing shoe and two sets of different

height removable spikes were mandatory.

to) sold such race specific running

gear. I heard from teammates about

an adidas factory outlet in downtown

Manhattan. I had never been to Manhattan

by myself and that was understandable—I

was only 15.

To my surprise, my mother gave me

directions on how to get to the outlet

even though everyone in my family

knew I was awful with directions and

navigationally challenged. My first

thoughts were that she was insane to

let me go on this “trip” and that by

sending me there alone she was hoping

to “thin the herd” and reduce the

kid count to two. But, I still needed

the spikes—we had a race in three

days. So, the next day, after school, I

took the subway to some now forgotten

stop, transferred to a train line

I can’t remember, and ended up at

what I thought was the correct train

station in NYC. After going upstairs

I realized I had no clue where I was

and also realized I had forgotten the

address that I had carefully written

on a piece of paper. Was it East

14th Street or West 14th Street? Was

It 17th instead of 14th? What was

the store number? Too many questions

for a kid who could get lost if

you spun him around in his own

bedroom. So I came up with a plan

and walked up two blocks in one direction

looking at all the stores. No

adidas outlet. I tried the same for the

opposite direction, again with no outlet

found. I tried the remaining two

directions, and no street level store

had anything with the adidas name.

In fact I saw no shoe or sneaker

stores at all. It was now late and even

though I was in Manhattan it might

as well have been France. I was that

confused and no closer to finding the

outlet than I was an hour earlier. So

I went down to the subway station

and asked directions back home and

got there with nothing but a wasted

afternoon and a pounding headache

to show for my effort. The next day I

asked a friend of mine if he wanted to

accompany me to NYC to buy track

spikes and he said yes. Good for me

since I thought even if we got lost, at

least I would not be alone.

We arrived at the same station,

around the same exact time, and I had

a growing fear of a repeat performance

of the previous day. But Jeff brought

one thing to the table—the idea of

looking up. We walked halfway up

the first block that I walked the previous

day and sure enough, the adidas

outlet was on the second floor of this

old row of connected buildings. There

were huge, full-sized window posters

of adidas shoes, runners at the Olympics,

and the glorious adidas logo. It

was an adidas mecca and I could not

wait to go upstairs. But something was

I told him that I needed running spikes for a

race in a few days and to my amazement he came

down and opened up the outlet just for me.

wrong, the door would not open and I

then saw the sign with the store hours.

The store had just closed. I panicked

and could not think what to do but to

head back home. I then heard a faint

voice from above saying, “Hey, can I

help you?” Though far from religious,

I assumed the voice was an inner voice

and that the “man upstairs” was talking

to me to help me right my wrongs

and become a better person. Jeff, however,

responded differently and turned

me around to show me that there was

a man upstairs talking, and he was

standing behind an open window asking

us what we wanted. I told him that

I needed running spikes for a race in

a few days and to my amazement he

came down and opened up the outlet

just for me. 20 minutes later I walked

out grinning like a cat that just ate

a canary and holding a bag with my

brand new pair of adidas Meteor running

spikes. They were the coolest,

raciest shoes I’d ever owned. Cross another

$25.00 off the total.

The next day I tried my training

Teppas at track practice and learned

quickly that the experience did not

match the sales pitch. The Teppas

were no more comfortable than running

on pieces of steel strapped to my

feet: they gave me world-class blisters

but not world-class speed. After

three days of running, the soles did

not break in and if possible became

harder. My feet were in such pain with

blisters that were protected by double

layers of bandages. I spoke with the

coach about it after he saw me limping

(which wasn’t hard to miss), and

he told me that he had just put in an

order for multiple pairs of Onitsuka Tiger

training shoes and they would be

in in a week or so. If you’ve never seen

Tigers, they were the shoes made famous

by Bruce Lee. When they came

in I was amazed—they were incredibly

light, super comfortable and great for

indoor races like the Armory in NYC.

They cost $18.00.

So, with train fare I came in about

20 cents under the $100 budget and

learned a few things. Italy—great for

food and fast cars, not so good for running

shoes. Always remember to look

up. And, just because you are the fastest

guy in several groups (with people

of mixed skill levels) does not mean

you will be the fastest guy on a team.

So, always work harder.

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 13


How Len Johnson Changed

the Face of Roller Skiing in the US

Early advances in roller skiing were developed in Europe,

but when Bill Koch surprised everyone with his skating technique

in 1982, it was the U.S. company Jenex that met the challenge.

Roller skiing is unquestionably the

best way for Nordic skiers to get in

shape for the snow season. Sure

Nordic skiers will run or ride bicycles

in the off-season but if they could only

do one sport to prepare for the ski season

it would be roller skiing.

Travel back in time to the 1950’s

and 1960’s: roller skis were huge monstrosities

with three baby carriage like

wheels (one in the front, two in the

rear) and a hinged rear half of the shaft

to aid in the kick phase of classic skiing.

They weighed a ton, were not very

nimble or responsive, and all had one

similarity—they were designed only for

diagonal striding (skating hadn’t been

invented yet). By the 70’s, roller skis

had gotten smaller. Some were actual

snow skis cut down with wheels installed

in the hope they would generate

the same on-snow feel as the skis

gave before being modified. Most still

had three wheels and all were made for

classic technique.

Then something remarkable happened.

In the early 1980’s, the Nordic

ski world was turned upside down by

Bill Koch’s skating in the 1982 Nordic

World Ski Championship. The new,

radically different technique boasted

grace and speed, and quickly became

popular. But there was a problem—

how to skate on roller skis. Threewheeled

roller skis were not suitable

They weighed a ton, were not very nimble or

responsive, and all had one similarity–they were

designed only for diagonal striding.

Kris Freeman roller skiing

on Jenex roller skis.

Photo by Len Johnson

for skating.

A few years later in 1987, Len Johnson,

a Dartmouth engineering graduate,

was in Sweden watching the Polar

Cup races. The Swedish National

Team XC coaches informed him that

current Nordic skiers were training

more hours, but the physiological

test results indicated their training

was not as effective as the training

programs from the 70’s. The junior’s

dry land training program consisted

of about 50% roller skiing and the

data indicated that the metabolic demand

of using roller skis was about

30% less than when skiing on snow.

There was simply insufficient training

stimulus for optimal fitness. With

this information Len returned to the

US with a mission—to design a roller

ski that would be as close to simulating

on-snow training as possible. Experimenting

with different designs,

Len sent a few prototypes to elite skiers

in the United States and Sweden

for testing. They were so well received

that when he retired from his job at an

electronics company, he began making

V2 roller skis full-time. This was

the beginning of Jenex, the Milford,

AL: Where does the Jenex name

come from?

LJ: When I co-founded an electronics

company the name was Genex. It

became a successful company and

was acquired by Teradyne Inc. and

the name changed to Teradyne Connection

Systems. Twenty-five years

after founding Genex I started making

roller skis and since my last name is

Johnson decided to call it Jenex.

AL: What other companies in the

US were making roller skis at

the time?

LJ: No one.

AL: Where did you get your

inspiration for the look of the

first V2?

LJ: There was really no inspiration for

the “look” of the roller skis. We wanted

a very slow ski that would generate

the same metabolic demand as skiers

training on a tough snow course and

we patented a kinematic damping device

to increase rolling resistance and

also designed a super light frame.

AL: Looking at other roller skis,

what did you try to do better?

LJ: To simulate snow skiing we increased

the rolling resistance and

shortly thereafter introduced our

popular Speed Reducers to make roller

skiing safer and also provide variable

rolling resistance.

AL: Did others work with you on

the original roller skis?

LJ: No, I developed the roller skis

from input from exercise physiologists

and elite skiers.

AL: Did you rely on other

research that was available or

did you do your own R & D?

LJ: R&D was done in house. But the

data from exercise physiologists and

comments from elite skiers was used

to develop the flex and rolling resistance

of the skis.

AL: Where did you do the work—

garage, basement, etc.?

LJ: I still worked in the electronics

Len sent a few prototypes to elite skiers in the

United States and Sweden for testing.

NH based company that manufactures

some of the best skate and classic

roller skis in the world.

Jenex founder—octogenarian Len

Johnson—took time out of his busy

schedule to give us some insights

about how Jenex changed the face of

roller skiing. Len supplied Active Life

Magazine with the details from a study

conducted by Anders Ek and supervised

by Dr. Karin Piehl-Aulin where

company when we made the first prototypes.

Teradyne was one of the largest

manufacturing companies in NH

so I personally made the prototypes

on equipment there. The first production

units were made in my basement.

I continued making them in the basement

for several months then moved

to a facility in Amherst, NH.

AL: How hard was it to source

parts you could not make yourself,

for the first roller skis?

LJ: We had a large manufacturing

facility where I could build the prototypes.

With the exception of the rubber

tires we could make everything in

house and I located a rubber manufacturer

in Massachusetts who could

make the tires. Standard parts, such

as bearings, bolts, nuts and screws

could readily be purchased from

many suppliers.

AL: How long did it take to build

your sales network in the US?

Internationally?

LJ: Because our skis were quite

unique it went extremely quickly.

Olympic and World Champion skiers

immediately began to use our skis

and it took less than two years.

AL: Once you were ready to

produce the first V2 roller skis,

how many people were working

at Jenex? How many are employed

now?

LJ: All custom parts are produced

by local high technology manufacturing

firms so Jenex only designs, tests

and assembles the components. Only

a few people work at Jenex and the

number has been the same for over

twenty-five years. If we produced the

custom parts in house we would need

equipment costing over two million

dollars and about ten more employees.

This is impossible to justify in

such a small market as roller skis.

AL: We understand the “V2”

connection, but what was the

reason for the “Aero” part of the

name and what are the benefits

five skiers were tested on roller skis

and snow skis over the same distance,

and the same course (with snow and

without snow). The Jenex model used

was the V2-910 (Jenex’ slowest classic

ski) and the data proved remarkably

similar, proving that his roller

skis were able to accurately simulate

on-snow skiing. Active Life magazine

asked Len several questions about

Jenex and his early roller skis:

of large, pneumatic wheels?

LJ: The Aero part was not used until

we developed the pneumatic tires in

1999. Skiing on snow is smooth, but

skiing on solid rubber wheel roller skis

can cause substantial vibration and

discomfort. The Aero tires dramatically

reduce vibration. Other companies

had tried pneumatic wheels before

1999 but they were unreliable and

the companies stopped selling them.

The 150 mm tires are extremely reliable

and because they are pneumatic

we dubbed them Aero. They are much

safer since they can roll over debris

that will cause smaller wheel standard

roller skis to come to a sudden stop resulting

in a fall. They are also smoother,

more comfortable and the Patented

Speed Reducers and Brakes are more

effective on the pneumatic tire skis.

AL: If you were given the chance

to do things differently with

Jenex, what would have done

different?

LJ: Would have invested in more

manufacturing equipment for making

prototypes. We have very powerful

CAD programs, but only one CNC

milling machine for building prototypes

in-house. Producing prototypes

on our supplier’s fiber-optic laser machines

that costs over one million dollars

makes the prototypes extremely

expensive.

AL: Where do you see roller ski

design going in the future?

LJ: We need to develop a very stable

and easy to use roller ski that people

with limited skiing skills can use.

To make the ski safer and smoother

it will utilize the pneumatic “Aero”

wheels and Brakes and Speed Reducers

will be standard. We have been

working on the new design for over a

year and expect to introduce it in the

near future.

Active Life Magazine thanks Len

Johnson, Diane Bell and everyone at

Jenex for helping us with this article

during their busiest time of the year. n

14 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 15


health & wellness

PHOTOs: Shutterstock

Protecting Your Skin

With the arrival of Summer, your skin is under assault.

Get your defense strategy in place before sunburn,

blisters, rashes, and insect bites ruin your Summer fun.

Our skin is one of the most amazing organs in our bodies. It sends signals to our brain with

information about the outside world we encounter, all while being an important barrier to it.

One of our skin’s most important functions is to protect us from infections. Our skin carries a

large part of this burden as it has the most contact with the outside world. Any break in our skin,

whether by sunburn, cuts or bites, can create a pathway for infections. Here are some obvious

solutions to protecting ourselves. As with everything, establishing good habits is the key.

n Create a first aid kit for everyone in your

home. It need not be anything more than a zip loc bag containing

sample sizes of sunscreen, antibiotic, insect repellent, anti-itch

cream, anti-bacterial gel and a few band-aids. Keep it handy so it

can go in your backpack, your swim bag or even your cooler.

If a kit for everyone is too much, make one for the car so it’s

with you at all times.

n Keep some supplies in your front hall

closet or mud room. A child playing outside or running

out the door in a rush can quickly stop to reapply sunscreen or

repellent. Again, always keep some in your car for spur-of-themoment

activities or with your garden supplies. Buy two of every

product so it’s always handy and you never run out.

n Change out of sweaty clothing items as soon as

possible, as lingering in them can promote rashes and fungal

infections. Are you away from home at a 5k or half marathon?

Bring a change of clothing, a large towel and a couple gallon jugs of

water so you can rinse off, towel dry and change.

n Bring two pairs of socks.

Hiking? Prevent blisters and discomfort

by keeping your feet dry. If you are

leery of the chemicals in insect

repellent, wear longer socks and

spray at least those and your boots

to discourage ticks.

n Invest in some UV

protected clothing, at least

one packable brimmed hat, and one

long sleeve shirt per family member.

n Rememeber the basics:

If it’s itchy, don’t scratch it; if it’s cut,

wash it and use antibiotic; and if

you’ve been in the water 2 hours,

reapply your sunscreen.

Keep

Your

Sport

Bottle

Clean!

Can your sport bottle

make you sick? Maybe.

Mold and bacteria can build

up in our water bottles and with

the Summer heat and humidity,

it’s time to improve your sports

bottle hygiene. Rinse your bottle

every day and wash it thoroughly

at least 1x a week. If it can

go in your dishwasher, great.

If not, fill it with a 1 to 5 ratio

of white vinegar to water and

let it sit overnight. Add some

baking soda for extra cleaning

power. Use a bottle brush on the

interior, and don’t forget the cap.

Clean your hydration bladder

and its hose with the same

mixture. Buy a replacement

hose when needed.

Turn your

bottle upside

down to dry.

You can hang

the hose from

a shower

curtain rod.

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16 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 17

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Get on Board with

SUP YOGA

Warrior I

Virabhadrasana

Don’t be intimidated if you are only a beginner

at yoga. If it makes you more comfortable,

you can begin with a lesson in basic

SUP techniques first.

Increase your balance,

strengthen your focus,

and have a lot of fun–

It’s easier than you think!

By Alex Kochon

PHOTOS BY SARATOGAPHOTOGRAPHER.COM

Model: Tobey (Durga Om) Gifford of

The Lemon Tree Yoga & Healing Arts Studio

The first time Patty Pensel saw someone standing upright

on top of the water, moving along at an impressive clip with

just one paddle in hand, she was hooked. “I saw this body

standing on this platform, just gliding across the water and

paddling,” recalled the founder of Patty’s Water Sports on Lake

George. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this looks amazing. What is it?’ ”

She started researching this thing called SUP (stand-up paddleboarding).

Not only did she want to try it herself, but someone had

asked her if she would start selling boards. She signed on with Naish

boards and Patty’s Water Sports was born in 2010.

That spring, she tried it — and to her surprise, didn’t fall in. As

the weather improved, Pensel’s love for SUP grew, almost to a fault.

“I kind of overdid it actually at first because I got on the board and

would go for hours,” she said. “I ended up doing the things that you

shouldn’t do because I didn’t have the proper techniques down. I

got sore elbows and back and shoulders, so I started researching

more about the correct way to paddle.”

That led her to an ocean SUP yoga retreat, which she said was

fun and different than paddling on a lake (due to a different board

style and more buoyancy in the ocean). She decided to learn more

and became a certified SUP instructor with the American Canoe

Association (ACA). Then she brought her newfound teaching skills

back to Lake George.

Today, Pensel offers lessons for private, semi-private and large

groups as well as PaddleFit and SUP yoga classes out of her shop

in Cleverdale on Lake George. A certified yoga and PaddleFit instructor,

Tobey (Durga Om) Gifford, of Lemon Tree Yoga in Lake

George and Glens Falls, teaches both classes. A typical SUP yoga

class might start with some paddling out to a location, and then

some stretching exercises on the board. The exercises are a great

way to loosen up from the paddling, and transition to the yoga postures.

While already knowing some yoga is helpful, don’t worry if you

are a beginner. You can usually find a class to match your level and

most instructors will tailor your experience to your ability. (If you are

still hesitant, you can start with a lesson in SUP basics.)

Already an experienced yoga practitioner? SUP yoga will bring

you to the next level. It is different than practicing in an indoor studio.

The challenge of being on a board on the water will force you

to increase your focus and balance. It will engage your senses and

body core differently as well.

Classes in the Adirondack region typically start in late June and

continue into September. So what level of skills or fitness do you

need to do SUP yoga, and what’s it going to cost to get involved?

For starters, Pensel said you don’t have to be able to swim for

Peacock

Mayurasana

her lessons, since all of her students are required to wear a personal

flotation device (PFD). But it’s best to disclose your swimming ability,

or inability, up front. Second, the more balance you have, the better,

but don’t worry about falling in. She’ll make you take the leap

regardless.

“The biggest fear is falling in, but once I teach them and how to

fall in, it eases their anxiety,” Pensel said. “Once they fall in and realize

it’s not so bad, they’re good to go. Then they soar.”

The falling-in factor is why classes typically pick up in July, when

water temperatures are upwards of 70 degrees.

In terms of cost, classes in this area (spanning from Saratoga

to Saranac Lake) tend to be around $35 for a board rental. If you

have your own board, expect to pay closer to $20. While class

rentals at Kayak Shak on Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs include

a board, paddle, PFD, and instruction, instructor Rhiana Stallard

recommends wearing comfortable clothes you won’t mind getting

wet in and sunscreen/sun protection. She also suggests bringing

drinking water.

This marks the third season of SUP yoga at the Shak, but Stallard

said they’ve been stand-up paddling for probably eight years.

“It’s really growing,” she said of the sport. “Personally, I’ve kayaked

maybe twice since I started paddleboarding.”

“You can really move around on the board, whereas in a kayak,

you’re just in one position,” Stallard added. “Also, I feel like with

paddleboarding, there’s a misconceived notion of it being only for

people who are wicked strong, and that’s just not really the case.

It can be a really great ab workout, but it can also be a really great

bring-a-cooler-and-relax-and-go-fishing.”

At the Shak’s weekly SUP yoga classes, beginners are welcome,

but a little bit of yoga knowledge is beneficial, Stallard said.

18 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 19


Lotus

in headstand

Padmasana

Few things are more relaxing

than being on a board, out on the

water, and enjoying nature.

“I always say that doing yoga on a paddleboard

is like doing yoga on a mirror because

your movements are reflected back

at you immediately,” she explained. “The

transition from one posture to the next is

really focused because you can’t move on

a paddleboard without mindfulness, because

you’ll fall, so it kind of forces people

to really stow down and pay attention to

their movements.”

Despite the challenge, she said that a total

of only about eight people fell in during

their yoga classes last year.

“It’s much more doable than people

originally think,” Stallard said. “They see

people standing on water and they think,

‘That’s crazy, I could never do that!’ This is

a great place for beginners because it’s flat

and calm.”

Yoga classes on Fish Creek start with a

roughly 15-minute upriver paddle, followed

by a 1½-hour class in the lily pads, then

15 minutes of paddling back to the launch.

SUP 101 classes teach technique. Keep in

mind that SUP is weather-dependent so on

a questionable day, check to see if classes

are still on. Also, search “SUP” or “paddleboarding”

on meetup.com for paddle-board

get-togethers in your area.

As challenging as SUP yoga may look,

no one can deny the exhilarating experience

of being out on the water, especially

at sunrise or sunset. The upside is that on

days where the water is calm, doing yoga

on a paddleboard will have a calming effect

on you. Since “yoga” means “union”,

what better way to practice it than outside,

on a paddleboard, taking in what nature

has to offer?

As Patty Pensel says of her passion for

SUP, “It’s water therapy for me. You go out,

especially early in the morning or in the afternoon

after you’ve had a stressful day,

and if it’s calm out there, you forget about

everything. It just puts you in this really relaxed

state.” n

SUP Pointers:

Wear a PFD (always a good idea, and

the U.S. Coast Guard requires that you

have one onboard. Children under 12 are

required by law to wear them in New York

State.) Inflatable belt packs are an option

for experienced paddlers.

Wear a leash, which is attached to the

board, around your ankle for safety.

Start out in a calm bay or stream

with minimal-to-no current. Avoid wind

and boat wakes, and motorboats in general.

Paddle close to shore.

Carry a phone in a waterproof case or

dry pack, which can also include a small

first-aid kit.

Wheel

Urdhva

Dhanurasana

Some local SUP shops

offering rentals & lessons*

LAKE GEORGE:

• Patty’s Water Sports:

pattyswatersports.com

• Lake George Kayak Co.:

lakegeorgekayak.com

SARATOGA SPRINGS:

• Kayak Shak:

kayakshak.com

HADLEY:

• Sacandaga Outdoor Center:

4soc.com

LAKE PLACID:

• High Peaks Cyclery:

highpeakscyclery.com

SARANAC LAKE:

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As soon as you stand up, put your

paddle in the water and start paddling.

“That paddle is your third point of contact,

and it helps keep you balanced in

the water,” Pensel says.

The blade of the paddle should angle

forward. The shaft of the paddle should

be straight up and down.

“Look up, stay up.” Pensel explains

that keeping your head up and eyes on

the horizon will help you stay upright.

Place your feet shoulder width

apart, point your toes forward and use

good posture (stand up straight and keep

your knees relaxed/slightly bent).

20 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 21


Clockwise from top left: The testing

begins with the athlete at rest. The

athlete does a few intervals running on

a treadmill, with the speed increasing

at each interval. Andrea monitors the

results. A triumphant Andrea.

The athlete runs a 2-minute

interval without the mouthpiece.

Those that

can do, Coach!

How a Great Biathlete Takes on the

Challenge of Retirement

By Jody Katz

andrea Henkel Burke’s athletic

resume is impressive.

It’s the result of many

years of hard work, focus

and a passion to succeed.

While some of our readers know her

race history, fewer may know what

made her dedicate such a large part

of her life to the sport of Nordic Skiing.

Her explanation was simple,

honest, and funny.

It all began with the Nordic Training

Program in Germany at the age of six

because Andrea admired the ski pole

with hanging medals that her sister

Manuela (3 years her senior) had hanging

over her bed. The young Andrea

wanted her own set of medals. Simple

as that. Growing up, Manuela’s no longer

used gear would become Andrea’s

and she was very supportive of Andrea’s

skiing—something that would continue

later on as she became Andrea’s biggest

fan. The two had a great family moment

that Andrea calls “a sister feeling” when

they both came back from the 2002

Olympics with gold medals.

Let’s take a good look at her resume.

It boasts 5 years competing on

Germany’s Junior National Team followed

by 16 on the National Team. It

shows that she was on four Olympic

Teams and won four Olympic medals—2

of them gold. It highlights her

participation in 12 World Championships

where she earned sixteen medals—including

8 gold medals—and

where she has 36 Biathlon World Cup

victories. So, what does an elite athlete

do when it’s time to hang up the

rifle and skies and move on to the next

phase of their life?

Well, for Andrea it was not a hard

transition. Like Forrest Gump deciding

he was tired from all the running,

she knew when it was time to

stop competing. As the senior racer on

the German team, she was over a decade

older than her closest-aged teammate—for

her a sure sign to retire in

2013. She had been Nordic training

for over three decades and it became

time to focus on how she could turn

all that experience, all that knowledge,

into a new career. She chose coaching,

training and metabolic testing, eventually

taking several training courses

for the Aeroscan ® testing system which

consists of several parts including the

Aeroman ® unit and the proprietary

Aeroscan ® software. To keep up to

date she communicates often with the

Aeroscan ® Team and the company’s

founder in Germany.

I had the opportunity to watch and

photograph Andrea while she gave a

Nordic skier an Aeroscan ® test. We

met at the beautiful Crowne Plaza Hotel

in Lake Placid because Andrea’s

two-building training/coaching/living

She was over a decade

older than her closest-aged

teammate—for her a sure

sign to retire in 2013.

facility was still being constructed and

she was waiting for training equipment

to arrive. The Aeroman ® testing

unit comes in a protective aluminum

briefcase. It is easily portable and is

about the size of a small garden watering

can. Andrea thinks it might be the

only one in the United States. When

compared to the large floor standing

units I have seen in the past, the Aeroman

® is smaller and far less ominous.

22 | DACKS & TOGA activelife PHOTOS: Aeroscan® testing photos by Jody Katz. All other photos provided.

DACKS & TOGA activelife | 23


Andrea competes in the Biathlon. Below: Andrea’s impressive

2006/2007 Biathlon World Cup Total Points trophy.

24 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

It relies on a laptop computer with proprietary

software rather than a builtin

computer and measures respiratory

output and heart rate taken under different

levels of difficulty. The athlete

being tested was quickly instructed

on how the test works and the mouthpiece

was adjusted to fit while a chest

strap heart rate monitor was put on.

The test started with the athlete

breathing into the mouthpiece while

seated and then moved over to the

treadmill where he walked for a couple

of minutes and then breathed into the

mouthpiece/respirator for 30 seconds.

This process (2 minutes running without

the mouthpiece, then 30 seconds

running with the mouthpiece) continued

for several additional intervals

with treadmill speed increasing from

slow trot to fast pace running and

treadmill incline adjustments to add

difficulty. While the test could have

gone to participant exhaustion—like

a threshold test—this was not necessary,

since after about 7 different

treadmill adjustments, there was more

than enough data to plot the curve.

Andrea can also give an Aeroscan®

test on a stationary bicycle but for a

Nordic skier who also trail runs the

treadmill application was more fitting.

Throughout the test, Andrea carefully

marked results for each testing interval

on a sheet with the same level of

focus a polygraph tester gives to marking

points where questions are asked.

So, how did the athlete feel about

the test? He commented: “it was a

bit uncomfortable and awkward, but

manageable…definitely not as intense

as I had expected.” From a spectator’s

standpoint it only took about an hour.

Once done, the athlete’s heart rate and

calories burned per hour were measured,

including the related percentage

of calories burned from fat and

carbs. The athlete’s heart rate was also

monitored to see at what point it left

the aerobic zone. Once these things

were plotted, Andrea was able to tailor

a training regimen to make sure

the athlete was in the correct zone for

training and for faster, more aerobic

events. She also was able to use the

chart to give advice regarding nutrition

and how to be in shape for longer, endurance

races.

After the treadmill test at the hotel,

we followed Andrea back to her impressive

new training facility in Lake

Placid that is nearing completion. The

space is large and expertly designed,

with fantastic mountain views. She

expects it to be finished this summer,

and proudly gave us a tour of the soonto-be-completed

gym. In her office, we

spent about an hour going over the

chart and she pin-pointed the athlete’s

reason for reduced performance during

the second half of races—not enough

carbs left, or better worded—the athlete

used his carbs way too quickly. So

she advised him to start training at a

much lower intensity to build his fatburning

capacity so he would not tap

into his carbs so quickly. The second

test in about 6 weeks will tell if the ath-

Andrea reviews the results of the Aeroscan ® test with the

athlete and discusses a training program.

lete has improved.

I found Andrea to be a very interesting

person to write about. She listens

intently and responds quickly with onpoint

answers that clearly show she

knows what she is talking about and

she has a keen sense of humor. After

having the athlete being tested adjust

the treadmill speed several times I,

(jokingly) suggested she have him turn

Though humble, she is

still proud of her trophies

and the hard work that

earned them.

it up past 10 mph because he had been

mean to me. She didn’t skip a beat, gave

me a Cheshire Cat smile and quickly

asked—“how mean?” Though humble,

she is still proud of her trophies and

the hard work that earned them. She

let me hold her huge (weighing easily

35 pounds) 2006/2007 Biathlon World

Cup Total Points crystal globe—an impressive

trophy that due to its weight

can only be safely displayed on a wellconstructed,

supportive shelf.

Andrea has a clear vision in regards

to Aeroscan ® testing. She not only sees

it as a great testing tool for athletes,

but also great for college teams, gyms,

clubs, and even businesses. She cites

the importance of employee health

to the productivity and success of a

business and metabolic testing could

help employees be more productive

by showing how to get them in better

shape. In addition to Aeroscan testing

Andrea is available as a personal

coach and as a trainer where she is

certified using the Life Kinetik Exercise

Program.

She has taken her passion for competing

to the next level by helping others

achieve their goals.

GET in

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and

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SHAPE

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DACKS & TOGA activelife | 25


active life Profile

Bob & Heidi Underwood

A Life Together Training & Competing

Bob and Heidi on their way

out to an evening group ride.

Photo: Jody Katz

By Alex Kochon

From their shared past in

competitive kayaking at the

national and international level,

Bob and Heidi Underwood have

built a life around competitive

sports and personal challenges.

Before Bob and Heidi Underwood were runners, before

they did triathlons, before they were educators, administrators,

coaches, and nonprofit founders, they were paddlers.

Bob was the youngest of four brothers who grew up

on Caroga Creek in Johnstown. Heidi was the youngest of

two sisters and made memories canoeing with her dad near

their home in Stillwater. When Heidi was 11, she and her

father did a five-day cross-state canoe race. She was the

youngest competitor.

At age 13, Heidi was named to the USA Canoe/Kayak

Junior National Team as a flatwater kayaker. Around the

same time, in 1982, Bob made the Whitewater National

Team as he was finishing up his studies in geology and

environmental science at St. Lawrence University, where he

cross-country skied collegiately as well.

Nine years later, the weekend after returning from 1991

Canoe/Kayak Slalom World Championships in Yugoslavia,

Bob and Heidi were married. They started a life together

in the Queensbury area, where Bob began teaching highschool

earth science in 1985, and bought the house that’s

now their home on the east side of Lake George ten years

later. They had two kids, Will and Emma; Will works in

Colorado and Emma graduated from the University of New

Hampshire in May. Also in May, Bob and Heidi welcomed

a new addition to their home: a golden-retriever puppy

named Uncas.

But what happened in that time before kids and dogs,

before they conquered multiple Lake Placid Ironman triathlons

(Heidi did four from 2003 to 2010, and Bob did three,

most recently when he turned 50 in 2010), and before Heidi

won the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in 2000?

Bob, 56, and Heidi, 47, won multiple kayak national

championships and met because of their shared Olympic

aspirations. Bob qualified for 1988 Olympic trials after following

the lead of his oldest brother, Jim Underwood, who

was eight years older and preceded him in making the national

team. Jim and Bob won several whitewater national

titles together as a two-man team.

Today, Bob and Heidi work in the same office at Adirondack

Enrichment in Glens Falls, where Heidi, a speech pathologist

and St. Rose graduate, is the director. Bob, the

school administrator, retired from teaching and coaching

at Queensbury two years ago after

33 years with the district. He

initially coached JV soccer, then

headed up the varsity crosscountry

running, nordic and

alpine skiing, and track teams

for more than 30 years. Bob

also currently owns and operates

Underdog Race Timing, a

race management business. In

August, their nonprofit, Under

The Woods Foundation,

will host its 10th annual summer

camp for children on

the autism spectrum or with

other developmental disabilities,

called Camp Under The

Woods.

The Underwoods figure

they spend more time together

than most couples,

but as they celebrated their

26th wedding anniversary in

June, they wouldn’t have it

any other way.

Active Life:

How did you meet?

Heidi Underwood:

Through Olympic kayaking. I was actually

in high school [laughs] and we were

both on the national team, so you travel in

the same circles. You get on a flight and

you’re like, “Oh, we’re on the same flight!”

AL: How many years were you on

the national team together?

Bob Underwood: I was a whitewater

paddler. I would do flatwater some years

and some years I wouldn’t, so I was kind

of on and off, and Heidi was more of a

flatwater paddler. Then Heidi started

doing whitewater and we were on the

whitewater team together for four or five

years, and that’s when we started dating.

AL: How did you get involved in

kayaking at that level?

HU: I used to do open-boat whitewater

racing, the Hudson River Derby that’s

been around forever, which I did as a kid

— Bob did, too — and then just through

meeting different people, I got into flatwater

kayaking and racing and I did it all of

my high-school career. That was the sport

I did even before I got into high school.

Initially we lived in the Latham/Loudonville

area and we trained on the Hudson

River right down in Albany, but my

parents bought an island in the middle

of the Hudson River when I was going

into 10th grade and I trained right on the

canal there, so I was pretty lucky. A lot

of your training is on your own, but being

on the junior national team, we had a

coach from Poland, so they would send

you your workouts through the mail.

You would go to a camp in Florida

during breaks [and] have training clinics

up in Lake Placid. I spent a lot of time in

Lake Placid and we raced and trained

on Mirror Lake.

BU: I grew up in Johnstown. My father

used to do canoe trips so he had a kayak

and we lived on a little whitewater stream

so we got into whitewater paddling. There

was a guy from the U.S., Jamie McEwan,

in the 1972 Olympics, he got a bronze

medal in whitewater canoe slalom. Then

my brother Jim got into racing and we just

started going to races. Back then, there

was a huge number of whitewater races

all over the Northeast — the Hudson

River, the Sacandaga — there were races

all over the place, and as you start to

race more and more, you train harder and

move your way up.

It’s different than what Heidi experienced

with the flatwater national team.

Since it was an Olympic sport, they had

much more of an organized program with

training camps. With whitewater, it was

an Olympic sport with one Olympics back

Above: Bob Underwood racing at

the 1991 ICF Canoe/Kayak Slalom

World Championships in Tacen,

Yugoslavia. Left: Bob Underwood and

Heidi Becker, now Underwood, at the

opening ceremony for 1991 Canoe/

Kayak Slalom World Championships

in Yugoslavia. Photos provided.

in ’72 in Munich, but then it was gone

and it didn’t come back until [the 1992

Barcelona Olympics]. So it was different,

there weren’t training camps, but we

had a good group of paddlers around us

that did whitewater paddling and whitewater

kayaking. Actually, it’s weird — in

Johnstown, there were a whole group of

guys that were into it and did really well

nationally.

[Note: Bob eventually switched to flatwater

kayaking and went to 1988 Olympic

trials in that discipline.]

AL: What other sports were you

doing at the time?

HU: The only thing I did in high school

was running. Nobody really knew about

me and kayaking because you don’t see

it. So I was always a little runner.

BU: I ran cross-country and track and

then I skied, and I actually went to college

and skied for St. Lawrence. More in high

school and in college, I was more of a

skier, and then I did a lot of [kayaking]

junior-national races and things like that

in the springtime and summertime, but I

really didn’t start to seriously train until I

got out of college.

[Bob was a Junior National Champion in

26 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 27


slalom, and Heidi won the national twoperson

marathon event at age 13).

AL: How did you decide it was time

to move on from the sport?

HU: For me in high school, it was pretty

intense training and the goal was the ’88

Olympics. It’s competitive, like anything

else. I didn’t make the team trials and I

was done with it. I had been doing

Above: Heidi Underwood, formerly Becker,

racing at 1991 ICF Canoe/Kayak Slalom World Championships

in Tacen, Yugoslavia. Opposite: Bob Underwood navigating

rapids on the Ottawa River in Canada. Photos provided.

it for so long. I was like, ‘Oh man,

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I’ll go for a run.’ I didn’t want to get

back in a boat and do that anymore,

and then Bob’s like, “Here

try this sport. It’s kayaking, but

whitewater.” And I was like, “OK!”

I was a kayaker by trade and I had

done whitewater canoeing with my

dad as a little kid so I knew it, and that’s

when I started whitewater kayak racing.

BU: I actually got out of my whitewater

boat and trained flatwater, so I made

the trials and went to the trials in 1988. I

didn’t make the [Olympic] team, but we

had a really good team that year [the U.S.

Team won two gold medals that year].

They took eight for the team, and I was

like 10th or 12th. I was a better whitewater

paddler, so I went back and just did

whitewater racing.

I kept training and I raced all through

the late ’80s, then we started dating in

’89 and I kind of got her into whitewater

and she made the team with us, and then

the last World Championships we went to

were in 1991. And then after that we had

kids. But you know what? I had been racing

competitively for a long time. We got

married, we had other things to do.

HU: The last whitewater race that we did

[at ’91 World Championships] was very

intense. It was a really, really challenging

river and the end of it was really challenging,

and two girls had died on training

runs. And so I was like, ‘Oh my God.’

BU: It kind of emptied into this one huge

rapid at the end when you’re really tired,

and then at the end of the rapid you had

a hundred yards and you had to pull off

the river or else you were going through

The best part of the whole thing

was that I loved training and I

loved racing and going off to

these different places and racing.

— Bob

this un-runnable gorge. That was really

strange. It’s a pretty safe sport, and usually

when you hear of somebody that’s

died in whitewater kayaking it’s because

they’re doing something crazy that they

shouldn’t have been doing.

AL: What were your career highlights

in kayaking?

BU: Making the Olympic trials and making

World Championships and racing the

World Championships. I think the best I

ever finished was 13th in World Championships

and I had a couple World Cup

races where I got top three, but not very

often, and national champion. Heidi was

national champion a bunch of times. …

The best part of the whole thing was that

I loved training and I loved racing and

going off to these different places and

racing. I got to travel all over the world

and paddle on these beautiful rivers and

be with a great group of people.

HU: I think what I get from it now, and

maybe it’s different because I’m older,

but I really like the working hard part of

it and doing well. I remember my mother

was so mad because I didn’t want to

come home for my high school graduation

because I was training up in Lake

Placid. Not every kid can embrace that

kind of lifestyle and it just suited me, and I

think that was the best part of it.

I think the highlight is being in such

a competitive arena. I felt like I was one

of the best at that time and you don’t

get that feeling often. When I went to the

[Masters] World Championships in Canada

for triathlon, I was nervous because I

looked around and I’m like, ‘These people

are just really good. I’m with the best of

the best.’ That’s a pretty cool thing.

[Last year at the 2016 Ironman 70.3

World Championship in Mont-Tremblant,

Quebec, Heidi placed fourth in her age

group.]

AL: Why did you get into

triathlons after that?

HU: I don’t know. We met some people,

and actually a bike that Steve Fairchild

[who now manages Grey Ghost Bicycles

in Glens Falls] let me borrow was one of

the first triathlete bikes. It didn’t have any

aerobars. I was racing with my mountainbike

shoes.

BU: I think the first three or four triathlons

we did, I borrowed a bike.

AL: What attracted you to the Ironman

(2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and

26.2-mile run)?

HU: It was so new in this area. It was the

big thing that had come to Lake Placid.

I had done Tupper Lake [half Ironman]

a whole bunch of times and people who

were doing Tupper Lake were doing Ironman.

It was like, ‘I did a half, I’ll sign up

for a full.’

BU: For me, it was the challenge of doing

it. The training’s really hard, to put all

those hours of training in, especially when

we were doing it because we had kids.

So we would split forces. Heidi would go

and then I would go.

HU: The first Ironman I did, I remember

every Saturday I’d do a long ride, and

there was about four times I’d be out

there for at least six hours and Bob would

be home with the kids all day. I’d feel so

guilty because when I got home, you’re

useless. You couldn’t take care of a

hermit crab or make dinner or do laundry;

you’re just spent.

BU: When I was coaching, I used to

bring my bike sometimes. I’d bring my

bike to the Eddy Meet [in Schenectady]

and I would ride my bike home after the

meet… or the Hudson Falls Invitational, I

would run back from Hudson Falls after

the meet was over. … The Ironman, I

remember the first one I did, that was so

cool. Then you’re done and you’re thinking,

‘Holy cow, I just did 140 miles today.’

AL: What are your main sports now?

HU: I really love to ski. I’ve learned to

love to alpine ski, and I love to train

triathlon. I’m not so gung-ho about

racing as much, but I like the people. I

like that intensity and that wanting-tobe-fit

group. But it’s petering out for me.

I would race every weekend or every

other weekend, and I have one race on

my docket this year [the Ironman 70.3

World Championship in Chattanooga,

Tenn., on Sept. 9]. We’ve gotten

into mountain biking and we

both can do that together. It’s

just something that I really enjoy,

something new and different and

challenging and you can get

better at it.

BU: I love to ski in the wintertime,

and I love to bike and run… I just

went whitewater kayaking [in early

May], but whitewater kayaking

is kind of limited. When I was training

whitewater, I would paddle all year long,

all winter. You’d travel or else you’d wear

warm clothes.

HU: That’s really unappealing.

BU: But now, when it’s snowing out, I’m

not gonna go whitewater paddling. I just

love to be outdoors, and like Heidi always

says, it just makes you happy.

AL: What other sports or fitness

goals do you have?

HU: They say you should do yoga, but I

don’t really like it. Bob seems to like it a

little more than I do. I really would like to

do more mountain biking, and I’m going

on my first big hike trip this November

[a five-day hike up Mexico’s 18,000-foot

Pico de Orizaba] so I could be a hiker.

I don’t know how much I’ll like it…. I’m a

little afraid of getting altitude sickness.

I remember my mother was

so mad because I didn’t want to

come home for my high school

graduation because I was

training up in Lake Placid.

— Heidi

BU: My biggest thing at this point it just

to stay in shape … and feeling like I can

still go and do the things I want to do. I

don’t have any big races or goals that

I’m going towards, but I want to be able

to go ski and ski hard, and we’re doing

a mountain-bike trip, and another one, a

hut to hut in Colorado for seven days from

Durango to Moab. It’s 230-something

miles. They bring all your food and water

to the hut, so you just have to make it to

the next hut. It’s like 35 miles a day.

AL: What do you think this area could

use from a recreational standpoint?

BU: I’ve always thought passive recreation.

The hiking trails, the mountain biking

trails, the Rush Pond trail. … I think it’s

great to have hiking trails and mountain

bike trails and once you put them, they

don’t really cost anything. There’s very

little maintenance costs and they’re used.

HU: I just think anything that’s going

to promote kids to be outside playing. I

really love that the Queensbury School

is starting to get the mountain-bike team

together.

BU: We started back up the Bill Koch Ski

League this winter [with Friends of Cole’s

Woods] and we had 40 or 50 kids there.

We didn’t have a great snow year again,

but even when most of the snow had

melted and we could just use the field, we

played games. The kids had so much fun.

HU: Just to be able to pass down some

of the things that we enjoy. A lot of racing

is not in our future, but to be able to give

that opportunity back for kids to experience,

that’s pretty fun. I would love to see

more of that outside stuff.

28 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 29


travel

A Will, a Way,

and Two Munros

Views along the West Highland Way,

headed towards Fort William.

Opposite: Two of the Three Sisters

of Glen Coe, featured in several

movies, one a big draw for tourists.

A late September weekend in the Scottish Highlands

by Ethan Katz

My mind wandered slightly from sleep to a state

of higher awareness. Rolling onto my right

side I paused as the last wisps of my dream

melted away like spindrifts. Wait. I snatched

up my phone; the glowing screen read: Missed

alarm 5:15. It was 6:39. My bus was for 6:50. I now had

Olympic seconds to throw together clothes and supplies

into my little red pack before I was out the door running.

A perfect series of events conspired against me. Nikki,

whom I meant to meet for this hiking trip, had planned

everything—I often do the planning and gladly let someone

take responsibility. Also, she didn’t have a UK phone number,

and I’m me and didn’t turn my alarm off vibrate when I

went to bed, knowing full well my tendency to sleep through

early alarms. So, there I was—6:48—full-tilt running down

Cathedral Street toward Glasgow’s city center. Things were

literally flying out of my pack.

Unbelievably, I made it the five blocks to the station with a

minute to spare, not that it mattered. I hadn’t a clue where

the bus was leaving from, and instead of asking the desk,

I spent 50 seconds hopelessly running around the station

looking for the bus and Wi-Fi to contact Nikki.

The plan was to take the coach from Buchanan Bus Station

to Fort William and hike the West Highland Way to

Kinlochleven, where we’d stay the night at a B & B. Then,

in the morning, take the quick bus ride over to the Glencoe

Visitor’s Centre and get in a little more hiking before our

CityLink bus left from there at 5:30 that evening.

Weighing my options, I decided to buy a bus ticket to the

Glencoe VC and hike the WHW toward Nikki instead of trying

to catch her from Fort William going the same way. I

didn’t know where the trail came through the towns, and I

figured a visitor’s center could help.

It was now 8:00, leaving me thirty minutes to completely

re-do my hasty packing job, try to eat something, and run

back to the station. Bag packed, I slugged a protein shake

and multivitamin (no time to cook my usual feast) and bolted

out the door again.

The coach ride was about two and a half hours, and were

some of the most impressive two-and-a-half hours of landscape

I had ever seen. Indeed, I was constantly hopping

across the aisle to absorb as much scenery as possible, not

containing my excitement in the least. We passed by the

ever amazing Loch Lomond, whose blue waters and low

mountains barricading the far shore reminded me more

than a little of my own Lake George. Rumbling northwest

on the A82, deeper into the highlands, the greens turned

to rich reds and tawny browns, and the low fells grew taller

and rockier, their craggy peaks scraping at the hanging,

gray skies above. Small rivulets turned to burns, and finally

into waterfalls, as these tree-less giants shed their coats

of water. This was the scenery made famous by the movie

“Skyfall”, and it did not disappoint.

I

left the bus on the side of the highway and began walking

up the drive to the VC. Snooping around looking for

the information desk, but finding none, I poked my head

into a Hamish MacDonald art exhibit where I found a lovely

woman, Nicola, who was in charge. Explaining my situation

and my plans, she told me that I should continue up

the highway along an adjacent footpath toward Fort William

and wished me luck.

Two dubious miles further, I stopped at a gift shop to ask

for further directions. The clerk presented me with a map—

I needed to be in Kinlochleven. “You’re a bit out of your

way,” she said passingly. Kinlochleven was seven miles

from this intersection and it was getting close to noon. It

was no small fact that I didn’t know the distance Nikki was

hiking or her speed (we’d never hiked together). So, with a

shimmer of doubt, I ran.

The heat I had begun my day with shattered away to miserable,

freezing rain. But when the sun did poke through

on occasion, I was granted with spectacular rainbows over

Loch Leven. And it was in a break like this that I ate my

peanut butter sandwich on a guardrail beside the highway—my

only real food so far.

An hour and a half later, I pulled into Kinlochleven, a

quaint but inarguable ghost town. As I entered the streets, I

saw one person smoking outside of the Ice Climbing Center.

He must have been used to hikers and gave me very detailed

instructions on getting to the WHW as well as a pub

that I could warm up in near where the trail cut up the hillside.

Incredible. The only visible person told me everything

I needed to know. Luck was once again running with me.

Squelching into the pub, it immediately struck me how

wet my belongings were as I drenched the oriental lobby

rug and soaked up the disapproving looks of the manager

with the best show of American naiveté I could muster. I

threw on a dry shirt, updated my location to Nikki, and

headed back to the trailhead, marked by a wooden post

with a cryptic symbol embossed in white denoting that this

was, indeed, the Way.

The path rose quickly with frequently placed stone steps

Nikki and I atop the summit of Stob Dubh.

Loch Etive is behind us.

and I was soon above the trees and into the barren mountain

pass. Looking back towards Kinlochleven, I could see

the small town nestled between the high hills and Loch Leven,

framing a perfect postcard image. Looking forward, an

occasionally pebbled dirt path snaked and rolled straight

through a valley until it was obscured by a marching wall

of rain in the distance.

For now, though, it was very warm again, and I picked up

a high-spirited running pace, finding great pleasure in covering

the rolling terrain quickly. On one of the steeper uphill

sections I power-hiked past a large group of backpackers going

the opposite direction. They looked like wearily animated

statues, both surprised at my pace as well as my appearance.

I was wearing running shorts, trail shoes, compression

socks, and a thin windbreaker, and only carrying my

2L hydration pack. Most of their lot had full waterproof suits

on and were weighed down with large packs of 35L or more.

I smiled and continued onward, now buffeted by 30 mph

winds and pummeling droplets as I crested the hill. It would

seem I had met the wall of rain. Quite quickly I was becoming

soaked again and was losing zeal, but I forced myself to

continue at a brisk pace. I felt guilty for sleeping in.

Further on, atop another rise, I could see almost a mile

ahead. Scanning the trail like a hawk I searched for

human-shaped irregularities but found none. Just a

muddy stripe cutting through the valley until it receded

into opaque nothingness. I stopped to do this with increasing

frequency, as I was getting wetter and colder by the

minute in the unrelenting rain and my pace and mood were

both suffering. Nearing some ruins I decided it was high

time I put on my New Balance tights I had been guarding in

the dry bag for later.

On the “porch” outside of the ruins and next to the

sign warning hikers to stay out of the unstable building, I

stripped down, being careful to place my feet on my shoes,

though I don’t know why I bothered, my socks were pretty

wet already. With the tights on, I proceeded to struggle with

fumbling cold fingers on the quick release laces of my Salo-

30 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 31


mon Sense Pros. Finding my silk gloves, I slid them over my

icy talons as I looked into the distance and could just make

out a person colored like a highlighter. Slinging on my pack

I began my shuffling jog again, now several degrees warmer.

As I neared, I found a familiar face under the high-vis hood.

It was Nikki. I could turn around now.

She had hiked all the way from Fort William, meaning she

had already done about 14 miles that day. We had three-ish

miles back to Kinlochleven, and I was assured that this was

the prettiest stretch of the path she had seen. I didn’t feel as

bad about missing the rest.

Back at the pub, we tried to dry off and warm up. I ordered

a bowl of “Drunken Pig Soup,” which somehow seemed requisite.

An elderly couple at the table beside us turned out to

be from the states, and incredibly, the woman had taught

at Nikki’s high school!

The bed and breakfast was amazing. Fifty pounds got us

a room with a window overlooking the mountains, a communal

drying room, and a flat screen. The bathroom had a

Jacuzzi and the shower was about four times bigger than

the waterproof cupboard I had in my flat. And a full Scottish

breakfast was only an extra five quid each. We watched

dog herding on TV, I had two full entrees at another pub in

town (“I’ll have the burger and the mac n’ cheese” … “You

want two entrees?” … “Yes.”), and I felt completely spoiled.

The full Scottish breakfast: porridge, eggs, ham, beans,

and black pudding. I am not a picky eater, but breakfast is

my favorite meal of the day, and I just don’t have any desire

to eat beans that early. And the black pudding is pretty

weird. I had it several times and it always looked and tasted

like a charcoal hockey puck.

Boarding the bus that we thought would take us to the

visitor center, we sat down in the upper-deck. The bus

did not, in fact, stop at the visitor’s center. It followed

the route I had run the previous day, stopping two miles

short, near the gift shop where I had asked for directions.

It was an easy walk though, knowing the way. At the VC,

I made sure to stop into the art exhibit but unfortunately

Nicola was not due until later. We found the park ranger

station where there was a map and decided we could likely

hike Buachaille Etive Beag, between Glencoe and Glen

Etive, on the edge of Rannoch Moor. It has two summits

that are both considered Munros—a Scottish peak or summit

above 3,000 ft.—first tabulated by Sir Hugh Munro in

1891. In the lexicon, the two summits would be considered

Munro “tops” because they are not separate mountains, but

hold a requisite prominence between them. Walkhighlands

had this to say about the mountain: “Buachaille Etive Beag

is often overlooked in favour of its more illustrious neighbor

[Buachaille Etive Mor]. It is, however, a magnificent ridge

in its own right, offering superlative views down Loch Etive

and of the surrounding peaks of Glencoe.” Not to mention

it was listed as only “three boots” on the site’s difficulty

scale—just within Nikki’s comfort zone.

We lucked out and successfully hitched a ride before we

even left the VC driveway with an older couple from North

Carolina. We had them drop us off at the Three Sisters of

Glen Coe which was a bit too early. We had almost a mile

of highway walking before we reached the start of the trail

right off the A82.

The trail climbs quickly and pretty soon we were about

halfway to the bealach and feeling the expanse of the moorland

and mountains. Despite its proximity to the highway,

the trail seems far from civilization. Once atop the bealach

we had a choice of which Munro top we wanted to climb

first. Stob Dubh was the furthest away and the taller of the

two, and we were told it had the best views, so we continued

in that direction first.

Once on the ridgeline I was immediately struck by two

thoughts. For one, the view reminded me of the view along

32 | DACKS & TOGA activelife

This is not the trail

to Buachaille, as

we soon realized.

New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge looking north towards

Mount Lafayette. And also, though not nearly as tall as New

Hampshire’s summits (Stob Dubh is 3,143 ft. while Lafayette

is just shy of a mile), I felt I was many thousands of feet

higher than I actually was. This I attributed to the absence

of trees for size comparison of the land features. The highlands,

bar some scattered forests and woodland, are devoid

of trees. The historic demand for timber was just too great

a pressure on the area and with the constant water erosion

and sheep and deer grazing, it is very hard for the trees

to return. The lack of trees though makes the landscape

extremely unique and unforgettable. We were afforded a

break in the clouds for a vista encompassing Loch Etive,

Bidean nam Bian, the Aonach Eagach ridgeline, and in the

distance to the north, we could just make out Ben Nevis,

the only peak above the clouds.

Nikki’s knee was bothering her on the way down to the

bealach, so she opted to sit and enjoy the views and the

occasional sun while I continued the quick jaunt up to the

slightly shorter summit, Stob Coire Raineach, with captivating

views of the Buachaille’s bigger twin ridgeline, but I

didn’t linger. The descent seemed quick, even despite running,

and it wasn’t long before we’d reached the road.

Walking back west on the A82 we soon caught a

hitch back to the VC with plenty of time before the

café closed, and well before our 5:30 bus. And yet,

when the time came, the bus did not stop. Worse, I didn’t

have cell service to call CityLink.

It was now dark, and completely quiet bar the occasional

speeding car. We had no idea what to do. But then, a man

came rolling down the drive on a bicycle, and, just as he

was passing by us, we heard his phone begin to ring. We

both stared at him, ready to pounce. He pulled over on the

grass fifteen feet away and pulled out a pink, bedazzled

iPhone. We were saved.

Steven was a typical lad, though in his forties. He politely

lent Nikki his phone to call CityLink, while he cracked

wise with me for several minutes. A defining Steve quote:

“Y’know, if this all goes tits up, I’ll be just up the road and

headed for Glasgow in the mornin’. You’d be welcome, I’ve a

camp and waaay too much whisky.” At one point Nikki was

writing down the time for the next bus (19:42) and showed

it to me when Steve scratched his chin and said with nostalgia

“Aye, t’was a good year” and began laughing. CityLink

allowed us on the next bus free of charge—we apparently

were supposed to wait on the other side of the highway

(there was no pull-off or shoulder) and the bus would just

stop. Despite being a bit peeved, I couldn’t believe the good

luck I’d had. Even with the heavy afternoon rains on Saturday,

Sunday’s weather was a rare treat for an autumn

day. And, I managed to find Nikki, despite knowing nothing

about where I was going, and events seemingly going wrong

at every turn. It all worked out in the end. For my first trip

to the Highlands, I couldn’t have asked for more.

The rockstrewn

summit

of Stob Dubh.

My first Munro

in the bag.

Ruins along the

West Highland

Way. This is where

I succumbed to

the heavy rains.


calendar

“A trophy

carries dust.

Memories last forever..”

Mary Lou Retton

Sat.-Sun., Aug. 5-6*

Churney Gurney

Gurney Lane Recreation

Park, Queensbury

For info: Facebook Churney Gurney or

bikereg.com/Churney-gurney

Sat., Aug. 5, 8:00am*

15th Annual Race

the Train

Train Depot, North Creek

For info: Tracy Watson,

(518) 251-0107 or active.com

Sat., Aug. 5, 8:00am*

10th Annual Tour of

the Catskills

Tannersville

For info: tourofthecatskills.com

Sun., Aug. 6, 8:00am*

15th Annual Christine

Nicole Perry Memorial

Bike Ride

The Hub, Brant Lake

For info: chrissysfund.com or 644-3020

Sat., Aug. 12, 8:00am*

9th Annual Camp

Chingachgook Challenge

Half Marathon & 10K

Kattskill Bay, Lake George

For info: areep.com/events/acc/

Sun., Aug 13, 7:50am*

6th Annual Old Forge

Triathlon (Intermediate)

Lakeview Ave, Old Forge

For info: atcendurance.com

Sat., Aug. 19, 10:00am*

Over the Top 10K

Mountain Bike Duathlon

& 5K Trail Run

West Mountain, Queensbury

For info: www.westmtn.net/ or 636-3699

Sun., Aug. 20, 9:00am*

Four Lakes Tour to

Benefit Tour de Force

The Hub, Brant Lake

For info: bikereg.com/34983

or Rachel Harvey, 496-0874

Sun. Aug. 20, 10:00am*

37th Annual Lake George

To Ticonderoga Bike to

Boat Ride

Lake George/Ticonderoga

For more info: lakegeorgesteamboat.com/

cruises/specialty/mohicanspecialty

Sat., Aug. 26, 8:00am*

17th Annual Pat Stratton

Memorial Century Ride

Mount Pisgah Lodge,

Saranac Lake

For info: bikereg.com/pat-stratton-memorialride

or Bob Sheefer, 891-5873

*Check websites first for registration deadlines, start times, information and changes or errors.

Runners in headlamps get ready for the early morning start of last year’s

ADK 80k at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid. PHOTO: Jody Katz

Create new memories as you challenge yourself at these upcoming events.

Sat.-Sun., Aug. 26-27*

ADK 80K Mountain Bike &

Trail Running Races

Sat. 5:30: Trail Run & Relay.

Sun. 8:00: MTB Race.

Mt Van Hoevenberg,

Lake Placid

For info: adk80k.com or 523-3764

Sat.-Sun., Sept. 2-3*

12th Annual Lake George

Triathlon Festival

Sat. 7:00am, Sun. 6:45am

Battlefield Park,

Lake George

For info: adkracemgmt.com

Sat., Sept. 9, 8:00am*

Camp Challenge

Bike Ride

Double H Ranch,

Lake Luzerne

For info: doublehranch.org.

Sat.-Sun, Sept. 9-10, 7:00am*

Tour de Daggett Lake

Daggett Lake Campsite,

Thurman

For info: visitadirondacks.com/events/tourde-daggett-bicycle-ride

Do you have an event to share? Email us at

info@87npub.com, subject line: Calendar and

we will list your event, space permitting.

34 | DACKS & TOGA activelife DACKS & TOGA activelife | 35


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