We are staying at a hotel owned by an Australian, Alan Pennay. He is a skier, musician, local legend and resident for 40 years. Originally from Goulbourn in NSW, he played the piano professionally at Thredbo before leaving for England where he played for many years then settled here, originally earning his living as a musician. He turned 79 years old yesterday and looks in fine fettle. In this excerpt from a local newspaper, we discover other reasons why he is so famous. Anyway, he has offered to edge my skies for me so he’s immediately a good bloke.
The morning was bright and clear with the moon setting over Lone Peak as I had my last breakfast at Chets in the Huntley Lodge. At Big Sky, the mountain is superb, the townspeople friendly, the slopes uncrowded, the views forever and the chipmunks pretty cute………but………….the food!!! It would kill a robber’s dog. Irremediably crook, at all locations, in Big Sky.
Thankfully help was at hand. I sent an SOS to Margaret Carney to bring sustenance from Australia, which she did in the shape of a jar of Vegemite. Unfortunately, it only arrived just before departure from Big Sky. Nevertheless, here is a photo of me on the last morning, showing the two vital ingredients necessary for survival in a Montana ski resort.
After breakfast, it was down to Bozeman to pick up the rental. It would be misleading to call it a car. It was a small bus. A brand new Ford Expedition with only 700 miles on the clock. We could have held Amelia’s wedding reception in it. It was a beast. I shudder to think what the fuel consumption was. I expected it to run out of gas before we left the airport carpark. Got away at 915am for what was excepted to be a seven hour drive.
Drove south out of Bozeman back towards Big Sky. Had one of the worst cups of coffee imaginable just past the turnoff to Big Sky. I think I was poisoned so we fled south in the bus. Soon stated to see eerie, wilderness scenery as we approached the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Not as remote as Australian wilderness but not bad nevertheless. Our wilderness is red, theirs is white. Skirted the western edge of the park, before turning west and crossing the continental divide at Targhee Pass (7,075ft). This marks the boundary between eastern and western America. On the Montana side, where we had come from, the rivers run east towards the Missouri and ultimately the Mississippi. Once over the divide we were in Idaho.
In Idaho, the rivers run west into the Pacific Ocean. I have been on the continental divide a few times, but I always find it moving and so evocative of Lewis and Clark. The first major town we came to was Idaho Falls. Here Margaret, who was navigating got us lost. We took a break at a small gas station in the back blocks of Idaho Falls where I took the pawn shop photo displayed in the gallery. Only in America……..
The navigator was sacked and the Sun Valley address was inserted in the GPS. This lead us west on highway 20 , a provincial, two-lane road heading into the wilderness, towards the small town of Arco. I prayed that the GPS knew what it was doing as we had just gone off the edge of the rental car company map. I had some misgivings. We were supposed to be going south west. We were actually heading slightly north west. Still the decision to employ the GPS was fortuitous. The snow-covered back country west of Yellowstone was some of the most ethereal I’ve seen in the USA. It was a great advertisement for travelling in the winter and a wonderful opportunity to practice some of the things I learned in my photography course.
Before Arco Margaret was pulled up by the cops for doing 79mph in a 65mph zone. I wanted to laugh – the copper was only about 18 years old but Margaret was terrified. I never seen her so subdued. I wanted to tell him to arrest her for dangerous driving but thought I had best stay silent. Would have made a good story though.
“That policeman has got all my details. Do you think he will contact me and ask me out?” Margaret fretted as we drove away.
“Doubt it. Best you could hope for is some Facebook stalking,” I replied. The cop trailed us in his prowler right into Arco so Margaret, as well as driving very slowly, remained hopeful. Alas, it was not to be and after Arco we proceeded sans constabulary.
The wild scenery continued after we left Arco and headed south-west past the Craters of the Moon National Park. It stayed snow-covered all the way to Sun Valley and we finally pulled into Ketchum at 5pm. Some snow, lotsa grass. Looks depressingly like Thredbo. Obviously hasn’t snowed here for a number of weeks. My knee is very sore. Don’t think I will be skiing tomorrow. Still I’m not missing much. They are not having a magic season.
One of the things that Phil Thomas, my friend from the BBC, has encouraged me to use is modern software, called Ski Tracks, for monitoring skiing during the day. I’ve been fascinated when I ski with him to see the amount of information he gets out of it. All done on the phone of course. Just turn it on and carry it in your pocket. he takes great delight in sending me this page which shows max speed. He would see this and say I’m skiing like a grandma and he’d be right.
So I decided to try it today for the first time. I wanted something to monitor progress the same way I used the recumbent bike and various leg strengthening machines in the gym. Today was probably not the best day to do it. I didn’t get to sleep until around 4am. I think I am jet lagged and stressed from all the build up to that bid on the house in Manly yesterday. Bidding on a house is hard enough – trying to do it from the other side of the world over the phone is just a recipe for stress.
I felt really tired going up on the chair and my vision was blurry which it has been of late and as it was the day I hurt myself in Canada. I think it may be dehydration but everything looks blue. The weather was closing in and it was whited-out by the time I got up onto the top of the Lone Peak Triple chair. Headed off down Upper Morningstar which should have been easy but it was frozen solid and I couldn’t see. I felt my way down. Was not having a good time. It was like skiing on concrete and I couldn’t get an edge.
About half way down I momentarily lost concentration and realised just in time that I was heading for a small cliff off the piste. Same deal as Canada – did not see it until the last moment. Rocked back on my heels and managed to swerve past it. Gave me a terrific fright and I nearly fell over backwards. Another chipmunk ran out onto the piste while I was collecting myself and stood there regrading me with haughty disdain. They are beautiful animals up close. I continued to the bottom at a sedate pace and called it a day. Started to snow quite heavily. The lesson in this is: I have been warned to never ski:
- If jet lagged or
- If I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.
I ticked both those boxes and went out anyway. Bit stupid as these were the two issues I had in Canada.
Called Macca. It’s Sunday morning in Australia and that means Australia All Over. Told him about the Gallatin River which is visited by heaps of Australian fly fishermen every summer. Then tried the hotel pool. Twenty laps of boiling hot water. I would have been sautéed if I stayed in there much longer. Nevertheless, I have to do something as I’m sure Barry is training the house down back in Sydney. I won’t have much time to get up to speed when I get back
Software worked well. I think I’ll have fun with this when I’m properly back on my feet and I can get some rampage going. Put some zoom back into it. I hope Phil Thomas doesn’t see these initial set of stats. I’d never hear the end of it.
Didn’t sleep very well on Saturday night. Not sure why, maybe it was the sleep in the afternoon. Sunday was the first day of daylight saving. I decided to go down to the BBC and watch the World Cup rugby game between Australia and England. Kick-off was 6 AM Sydney time. That meant getting up at 5 AM daylight saving time which was 4 AM real-time. Very few things in life are worth getting up at 4 AM for and rugby is not one of them.
Still it was fun being down there in the stillness just before dawn with about 30 other diehard Rugby supporters. Australia won which was good but Rugby is a very flawed game – an exercise in extended tedium: lumbering forwards wandering around out in the backs, defenders standing up on the advantage line and endless kicking and meaningless stoppages. Too many men on the field. AFL and rugby league have nothing to worry about from Rugby Union as a spectacle.The sun coming up through the heads was the most riveting part of the morning.We had an unusual swim being a scratch race from the southern end of Balmoral around the island into Deadmans then back down to the beach in front of the Bathers. It was about 1200m and the first time in the club’s 100 year history that a scratch race has started from the southern end. I was initially going very slowly, trying to nurse my neck, until I got to Deadmans and as I was turning the buoy I caught sight of Peter McCormick just ahead of me. I moved up close to him before he saw me and put the foot down. He got a body length in front but I managed to haul him in and all of a sudden I forgot about my neck. We went at it, hell for leather all the way from Deadmans to the Bather’s buoy. I had half a body length on him going around the buoy and kept it to the beach. I was pretty pleased about that and my neck didn’t hurt too much, which is odd as it is the first time I’ve gone flat out for ages. Barry didn’t swim which was a bit sad.
Went home, picked up my gear and drove the Virgin gym at Frenchs Forest. I should have gone yesterday afternoon but had a sleep instead and felt a bit guilty.
Bike ………………… Warm up 30 mins. Level 7/8. Speed 70rpm. Power 120 watts. 231 kcl. Distance 9.4km
Leg Press…………..10 reps x 60kg both legs
Leg Curl ……………20 reps x 15kg broken-leg-only
Leg Press………….10 reps x 60kg both legs
Leg Curl ……………..20 reps x 15kg broken-leg-only
Leg Curl ……………..10 reps x 20kg broken-leg-only………increase in weight
Leg Extension….. …20 reps x 15kg broken-leg-only
Leg Extension…….. 10 reps x 15kg broken-leg-only
Leg Curl ……………..20 reps x 20kg broken-leg-only
Leg Press………….10 reps x 60kg both legs
Leg Extension…… 10 reps x 20kg broken-leg-only………increase in weight
Sprint start…………20 reps both legs
Pretty pleased with all that especially as I can now do 20kg on both the extension and curl machines with no pain.
Came home and watched the NRL Grand Final between the Broncos and the Cowboys. Great game but what a lack of imagination to call two Australian sporting teams after the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Cowboys. Someone should tell those geniuses in the NRL that there are no Broncos in Australia (Brumbies) nor are there any Cowboys (Ringers, drovers or stockmen). I’m sure it would be lost on them.
The first day of the Australian ski season opened rainy at Manly. Zoomed over to Balmoral for the 7am Saturday swim. Water cloudy and a lot colder then Manly but shock, horror and trepidation, the gas heating is broken and showers are cold. 1km swim and then cold rinse off in the shower outside the club. Did not linger. Didn’t whinge though, no point, everyone was too busy shivering too listen. A big pot of porridge with keffir on top fixed me up when I got home. Just as I walked in, a text from Phil Thomas with attached photo arrived from Perisher Valley. Couldn’t stop looking at it. I do so want to go for a ski and felt just for a split second that I could jump in the car and go down for the weekend. I know that’s fanciful. I’ll miss this season – won’t even see snow for the first time in decades. Slack day. Walked to Shelly and back. No other exercise.
Bitingly cold morning. Walked down to Manly in the dark. Roaring southerly wind that went straight through me as I walked into it. Air temp 6ºc on the clubhouse clock at the surf club. Water still dead flat. How lucky. Water was about 18ºc – three times the air temp. I was a bit lazy. Didn’t race Denise and Jan on the way back. Gym today was a killer . Belinda started me doing unsupported lunges and squats – three sets of each on both legs with 8 reps holding a 5kg dumbell, in both hands and positioned under my chin. I found this incredibly difficult. She wanted me to keep my back as straight as possible – hence the dumbell – with weight on both front and back legs. It made the muscles in both legs ache. We then moved to doing squats and dead-lifts with a 14kg weight called a Kettlebell. We did three sets of this with 8 reps.
Interspersed with this she had me balancing on my bad leg on the blue hemispherical gym ball. I found out these are called BOSU balls. They are an inflated rubber hemisphere attached to a flat, rigid base. I had been calling it a “blue half-ball”, but its proper name is a BOSU ball. Belinda said we will be using it a lot in coming months. I can balance on it fine with my left leg and I’m getting better balancing on my right leg. My left hamstirng is still pretty sore so we did no leg presses or extensions on the machines today. I’m really stuffed, but felt much better after one of the protein shakes and a couple of protein balls from the Virgin cafe.
On January 19, 2015, in the first couple of hours of a planned, one-month, skiing holiday, I smashed my tibia after skiing into a hole. What followed was a journey through the medical systems of three countries, numerous expert medical opinions, surgery requiring a plate and screws and a long period of rehabilitation. The latter I’m still enduring.
During this process I’ve learned much about the reality of skiing injuries, about doctors and medicine and about pain and trauma. I’ve learned about how we cope as we age and how suffering affects us mentally. Sadly, I’ve also learned that in this information age, there is no one place where a patient can access advice on the various aspects of surgery and treatment, including skeletal, lymphatic, soft tissue and venous implications. Moreover, there is no timeline that an injured sportsperson can go to check on the progress of their recovery.
To overcome this deficiency I have started this site which is dedicated entirely to the implications of tibial plateau fracture, surgery and rehabilitation. It is aimed at people 50+ but much will apply to those who are younger.
I hope you find it useful