Any Good How-To XC Books?
Any good thorough xc how-to books out there? Entry thru advanced, even.
I just checked out of the library:
They're a bit dated but the technique shouldn't be. I mean, they should've at least been able to help people "back then."
The main problem is that they're really BAD.
Bad errors, bad approaches, bad graphics stem to stern. Just mishmashes.
It looks like John Caldwell, godfather of XC, gave up his book franchise years ago. I recall his book being solid, yet I also recall thirsting for more. His book did for skiing with Sloane's book did for cycling---inspired, but made many thirsty for more.
Some of the vids I've seen seem too advanced tho they supposedly start out with the basics.
I checked out a bunch of YouTubes. One seems good for beginners, if
incomplete: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3Vue10ItXg. Really, all the others seem awkward and more incomplete. I'd like to make one
Any book tips?
I recall that "Cross country Skier" magazine always had god tips columns. Maybe they put together a book of them. I see that their main technique writer, Steve Hindman, has a book. I just checked it out from our library and will report back.
Amazon didn't have anything else that looked promising. Snowshoeing is where it's at, baby. Nothing to learn there, right?
Here's a little tip about shoes: modern snowshoes are great for walking trails that are just a bit soft or for shoeing in tight brush or icy, crusty sideslopes. Firm trails are fine in winter boots. Truly icy trails beg you to use those new stretchy casual crampons. For deep, unbroken snow in open country get a long wood shoe---they float wonderfully and are true marvels. I haven't had luck with flotation with new-style shoes.
Hey, I'm going to check out a bunch of snowshoeing books and see what they're like also. I'll also go out and test some shoes at our local nature center and see if the new shoes somehow float now like they used to not. To me, the surface area of a small shoe means it can't float. And the large area of a real shoe means you need skill to use it---anathema to Americans! ...But we'll see.
I do have a most wonderful winter skills book, by the Conovers, "The Winter Wilderness Companion." It's quite recent. It describes all the wonderful skills and things they do in their lives as northwoods guides. They say that the modern shoes are stupid. ...Except as entre's to real shoes. So there's that. The downside might be if someone tried to go thru real snow with a modern shoe. They may well flounder and suffer and decide they dislike it. So that would be a bad entre'. In contrast, with a little lesson and real shoes anyone can go into real snow and experience a true delight which is exactly the same as walking on water...
...But let's see...
OK, I got the Steve Hindman XC ski book: it's really good! So that's a winner.
(It's amazing how *murky* the pics seem, though. B&W pics converted from color printed on "toothy" paper just seem to easily print without much contrast or detail. But maybe I'm just going nuts over print quality lately, what with the full-color Net and so much glossy color in print now. A lot of the pics in the above book first appeared in perfectly color and detail in XC Skier mag. It's kind of jarring to see them in flat B&W.)
The Gaskill book has only 2 pages on technique. So even though it seems to be his ski book, it's not. It's more just recipes for workouts. I suppose that was innovative back in the day. I need to remember that this was just when HRM's were becoming available.
I also got the last Caldwell before he gave it all up---very sketchy! He added skating to its mix and ended up diluting its classical. I suppose it always was more of an inspiration book. I've now checked out the old edition just to see and will report back on that also.
Yeah, it's funny "reviewing" a buncha old out of print XC ski books, but what else am I to do? Is there anything new out there? Nope!
Since it's all snowshoeing now, I checked out a few titles there. I received Claire Walter's book. It's pretty good, but has a strictly "western" bias. The modern style shoes were first called "westerns" by their innovator because he designed them for approaching mountains for winter work out west, in crusty, heavy snow. They weren't designed to be snowshoes per se, but to be packed in and used before a mountain ascent. They've since busted out of that niche and taken over the world. Even though they're just not as good as big, webby shoes for enjoying deep fluffy snow in mellow northwoods terrain. Walter seems to go out of her way to put down the big, webby shoe without coming out very well with her heavy-snow, crust-conditions mountaineering and/or packed-trail bias. She mentions awkward waddling as often as possible. But once you have the knack you don't waddle with big, shaped shoes. Oh well! I guess there are 2 schools in the shoe world and the modern small-shoe world has 90% of the pie right now. A modern shoe could be made large, light and with a fine web for truly floating on deep snow. I wish they would! I'm not just stuck on tradition: I want float.
I've now looked over several old editions of the John Caldwell books. I can see why they were so inspiring. I remember really liking them. At the same time I recall not knowing anything about how to ski after reading them. It's hilarious in that he was a coach. But maybe that's not so odd: his take is pretty clearly that we need help from a real teacher to learn how to do all this right. He also says there's no one right way but that experts will know it when they see it and will all have their own ways of helping us improve.
What I really love about his books was that they showed XC fitting into all of life. They had all sorts of pics showing makeshift training rigs using biketire inner tubes and such. And showing wholesome young women working out with side tubes. Then there were pics of hill-bounding and trail-running. His oldest editions emphasized trail-building and trail-maintenance---in pics of him pruning brush with his little boy nearby. And pics of his wife doing the same with another urchin on her heels. There are also family picnic pics. All this is what XC needs! ...But I do think we need a bit more help in learning HOW to ski.
One of the neatest things I noticed in reading thru his old editions was a section on teaching young kid how to ski: DON'T! : ) He says, Just let em ski! They'll learn well enough just playing around imitating others up until they're 10-12 years old. What a breath of fresh air!
It's also fun watching his editions evolve. Much is the same but he expands and tries new approaches here and there. The pics change, too.
But you can kind of tell when he's retired from the scene---the energy is kind of faded. After that, no more new editions.
Well, he did the BEST service for the US xc scene of anyone! He helped inspire the boom we enjoyed in the late 70's.