Saturday, February 21, 2015

Android Skiing App Review

We are lucky to have a great skiing hill near by.  It's nothing in comparison to the Alps or Rockies but it's still great because it allows us to go skiing every weekend.  The owners of Seven Oaks Recreation are also very passionate about slope preparation, snow making and providing the best skiing opportunities possible.  Personally I think their skiing is so great because they use PistenBullys to do their snow grooming. LOL The cool part this year is the newly created ski race club that our kids are enjoying a lot.

Seven Oaks Ski Race Club

I've been tracking my skiing just for fun on Trace Snow, formerly known as Alpine Replay.  Other alternatives for Android phones are Ski Tracks and Snocru.  However, it pretty quickly becomes obvious that Trace is by far superior to the other two.  Running all three apps simultaneously today only Trace recognized my 32 runs. The app as no issue identifying the lift segments and analyzing the data.  Only on the rope tow lift, which runs too slow, does the app have trouble to correctly detect that you're on a lift and not skiing up the very gentle slope.  Ski Tracks and Snocru record the whole day as a single run.  Basically you could have just run any GPS tracking app like My Tracks from Google.

Trace Snow:

Trace Snow - Overview

Trace Snow - Run details

Ski Tracks:

Ski Tracks - Overview

Ski Tracks - Map

Ski Tracks - Split data by vertical decent, distance, or hour


Snocru - Speed

Snocru - Distance

Snocru - Altitude

Snocru - Vertical decent

Snocru - Runs
Besides tracking, Trace and Snocru advertise their social features of the app.  Here Ski Tracks stands out by not requiring an account.  All data of Ski Tracks are stored on your phone so privacy can be guaranteed. 

Snocru is purely an mobile app platform.  Only the top stats of the leader board is published on their website, every other interaction is done through the mobile app.  You can befriend other Snocru members and chat with them apparently.  But at least for my region, the app doesn't show any Snowcru users.  Even the Near Me features that should identify business such as restaurants doesn't show anything.  So while Seven Oaks is listed as a Resort, it doesn't appear with the Near Me feature either.  From what I see Snocru is pretty much a let down in the social aspect of the app as well.

Trace also has a decent web interface where you can review your skiing tracks, follow friends and other skiers at your resort.  Even Seven Oaks has already 18 different Trace members on their leader board.  It's no Facebook though.  While you can easily reach out to other skiers, the social interaction doesn't seem to be a main activity by its member.  Which is totally fine with me, it's much more fun to ski than to sit in the lodge over your phone checking messages.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I should have known something was wrong

Having gotten a barely used set of studded winter tires my argument of never riding when there's snow or ice on the ground changed. These tires do such a great job in packed snow that its a lot of fun riding them. On dry asphalt/concrete ther work but you'll wish the packed snow back. The ride will sound like riding on a crushed limestone path. I also have the feeling that turns need to be taken with care when on dry road.

Bicycle commute on a warmer day

Today was the first commute with these tires, and the first bike ride of the year because of the snow. I loved it. It was really fun. Strangely on the ride home I got the chills and for the first time my fingers got cold with the Outdoor Research Alti Mitts. It wasn't any colder that evening compared to the morning. -3 (-9 wind chill) versus -1 (-11 wind chill) fahenheit. Recalling it now I remember the cold being a chill, totally different than the freezing your limbs off.

Yes, tonight I got miserably sick. Probably the stomach flu that everybody but me got over the holidays. I guess even with sickness I'm slow to catch on ;) Hopefully I can go to bed, rest and get well soon.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Red Rock Kayak Camping

What better way to experience your first overnight camping kayak trip than to take your whole family and friends along.  I relied on my experience of prior overnight bike and hike trips but packing for 7 people seemed to accumulate lots of stuff and I seriously doubt all the stuff would fit into the kayaks and that the kayaks would be overloaded.

The bad part of the Midwest, or at least Iowa, is that it's all heavily fertilized and chemically treated farmland around here.  So even with the great filtration system out there I don't want to drink that water.  That meant packing 9 gallons of water for a two night trip on top all the other stuff.  Surprising though everything fit into the kayaks without a problem

This trip was also the first time kayaking for our friends.  Even loaded down they didn't have any problems of their new found sport.  We all had an enjoyable 1.6 mile paddle from the Whitebreast beach to the Hickory Ride hike-in/paddle-in campsites. Oskar was our guide as I made him study satellite images of our campsite and the route to it.

No, these kayaks aren't ours but I just noticed now, writing the blog, that Oskar's kayak is the same one he paddled on our last trip.

The kids had a blast at the campsite.  Lots of swimming in the lake and kayaking around.

Hickory Ridge used to be time share campground. The layout of the wilderness area does give a hint of this.  Some electrical poles can be seen here and there.  The only structure still standing is a large shelter with picnic benches. Iowa National Heritage Foundation purchased the site after it had been vacant for 10-15 years.  Army Corp of Engineers now manages the 47 acres with eight camp sites of which four can be reserved.  Source: local radio recording  Additional campsite info  At present the water hydrant and vault toilet has not been installed.  A port-a-potty did exist which could have used a servicing.

Besides the usual animal sounds like coyotes howls and owls hoots we heard a whole bunch of dogs barking.  It sounded like a puppy mill was across the lake finger.  They did eventually quiet down for a few hours that night.

Next morning we paddled up the finger into the Campetine creek all the way to the Kennedy street bridge exploring on the way and watching a gray crane.

Yeah, we wimped out and didn't stay for the second night.  I knew there was a thunderstorm coming through the second night and was somewhat prepared.  I even brought a huge tarp along. But at the end we decided that there is not much gained from staying the night and instead headed back while we are still happy campers. 

One of the girls was picked up earlier in the day so I towed an unmanned kayak back.  Not fun at all. The kayak didn't stay in a straight line and zig-zagged around behind me.  It even got loose once which I didn't notice right away.  Towing Heidi in her kayak was much nicer.

One part we paddled past was rocky and neat.  I've seen other pictures of Lake Red Rock and there apparently many interesting shore lines to explore on the lake.  Certainly worth to come back sometime for another kayaking trip.