Friday, January 9, 2015

Getting ready for Japan

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015, the year I at last give up the day job and get to follow my dreams. Only 6 more months to go peeps!

But first, a trip to Japan, to ski legendary powder and experience the unique culture. Can't wait!

The fitness campaign has been very hit and miss, but with Christmas overindulgences ended, and less than a month to go I'm pulling out the last stops and actually being consistent. Even whilst over in Canberra for 5 days I managed to go out for a jog on 2 days. My brother's dog was eternally grateful!!

Since returning home I've been back on the bike racking up the kms and working the heart rate monitor to make sure I don't slack off. Between a cycling computer and a HR monitor, my OCD tendencies get all the feedback they need to keep me on track and my cadence up where it's burning those kilojoules. There may be no hills to speak of, but a strong headwind does just as good a job...

Over in Canberra I picked up my new skis, which I'd purchased a few months ago online and which my brother had picked up for me when the retailer offered to bring them to Canberra when he attended a trade show. Just so no-one accuses me of ulterior motives, I had already purchased my ticket to Canberra for Christmas months before I bought skis or even booked a trip to Japan, it was all just a happy coincidence.

I also purchased a new ski bag, as the trip I'm going on insists on wheeled ski bags and I hate my old wheeled bag as it's too bulky and heavy and floppy in the middle. In contrast, the Douchebag (yes shame about the name) is light, much more streamlined, and remains rigid due to its ribbed construction allowing you to roll it up to exactly the same length as your skis. I also like how it has lots of rugged handles on it, meaning baggage handlers will use them rather than mishandle it. It was so easy walking around with it trailing behind me like in the video. Worth the expensive price tag.

My new skis are Rossignol Soul 7s. These are big wide powder skis, and because I can't actually see myself scooting over to Japan every year (though who knows?), I purchased them with Atomic Tracker 13 bindings. These are touring bindings, which means that the heel can be released for skinning, then easily re-engaged for downhill skiing. No new boots required either. Now all I need to purchase is a set of skins before heading to NZ and backcountry touring is doable.

I've also got basic avalanche gear (beacon, shovel, probe) and in the next few months I'll be researching some backcountry/avalanche awareness courses for my trip to NZ this year. Most likely I'll go on a 2-3 day back country trip but otherwise just ski the resort. And hopefully head back to Mt Olympus again, that place is the bomb!

Then I had a go at packing my new bag and discovered that I seem to have misplaced my ski gloves. I'm not sure if they were due for replacement and I offloaded them in NZ 18 months ago, but at any rate, it looks like I'm going to Japan sporting a pair of leather Kincos gloves. Very downmarket in the fashion stakes but they are actually great gloves, and a definite sign of an NZ clubby nutcracker aficionado ( I am actually a nutcracker novice, feel free to go watch that Olympus video).

As for the latest gadgets, I recently bought a very frivolous thing: a Bluetooth enabled beanie. Keeping my head warm whilst listening to tunes from my phone or iPod. This is seriously the coolest bit of gear, and perfect for a cold environment when I'll be wearing a beanie almost continuously. Just gotta not lose it!!

First go at packing the bag and there's heaps of spare space. As we're travelling quite a lot (read schlepping heavy gear through train stations etc) I'm taking a real minimum of gear, with no extra clothes for my week of sightseeing. Aside from the trousers I travel in, I'll just have my ski pants. It's winter after all, I remember wearing the same trousers and clothes for 3 weeks straight in China in 2008 because it was all I had and it was too cold to wash them. As long as they don't smell, all's good!!

So what's in the bag?
Skis, boots, poles, helmet, avalanche beacon, batteries, probe, shovel. Small backpack.
Ski pants, ski jacket, down vest, 2 thermal tops, one pair merino leggings, one pair compression leggings, 4 ski tops, 3 pairs knickers, 1 bra, 5 pairs socks, neck warmer, gloves and woollen liners. Pyjama pants. Sorel boots for when I'm not skiing. Fleece slippers for inside use. Go Pro with attachments. Knee brace.

As I'll be transiting through Kuala Lumpur (yes, I am flying Air Asia, one of the best airlines I've flown with in recent years) and it's the height of summer here, I won't need anything warm to wear until I get to Japan. So a t-shirt and trousers and light shoes will be my travel gear. The t-shirt will then double as my pyjama top in Japan, and the trousers won't see much action again until Kyoto.

This will be the lightest I've ever travelled on a ski trip, but with the constant moving around and ski focus of the trip, there's little need for apres ski clothing. The Sorel boots are quite heavy, but almost certainly a necessary for the conditions there. Some light gym shoes for travel to and from home, and for use in Kyoto, give me options in footwear.

So, bag is packed! All I have to do is throw in the laptop and camera into my carryon bag, and I'm good to go.

Just need to keep working on the fitness and put those abs into overtime.

The things we do for fun....

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