Ken Roberts - - Cross Country Skiing

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France ski trails

March 2009

La Feclaz and Les Saisies were as much fun as ever.

also tried . . .

Praz de Lys

here's some quick notes as I remembered . . .

Praz de Lys was rather pretty: surrounded by spectacular mountains (though also some mechanical alpine ski lifts and crossing some alpine ski trails)

But too many long hills for us, not enough rolling and interesting curves.

We started at the foyer de ski de fond at the low end where the road from Taninges enters Praz de Lys (which I think was a good idea) Ken skated the Lys loop, the Savoliere loop, parts of Molly loop, and also skated over the Col de la Ramaz (long steady climb, not interesting) down to partway into the Sommand trail network. (less pretty mountain views than Praz de Lys).

best trail: blue 5km Savoliere (still it had one long steep climb, which would not have been included in a "blue" loop at other nordic centers).

Both Sharon and I found the marking of the main Lys trail confusing (or missing) in its final 25% (Sharon had trouble finding her way back to our car).

Austria - Germany ski trails


I've continued to search for fun ski trails in Austria, expecially Tirol, and nearby southern Germany.


  • I found there really are better trails for my style of skating than at the often-mentioned Seefeld + Leutasch area.

  • I'm thinking the best strategy to find the fun ski trails is to have a car (or bus) and drive around to a different nordic center each day. St Johann and Koessen and Reit im Winkl (perhaps also Pillersee?) are easily connected by roads which are open in winter.

  • I wish I printed out sections of the trail maps off the web, since (unlike Seefeld + Leutasch), lots of the other centers had only one map posted at the start-finish point, and after that I just had to trust the trail marker signs -- didn't work so well when I tried to connect different loops.

I started by visiting Seefeld again for a couple of hours, and it confirmed my feeling that for my style of skating it's not as good as my favorite places in France + New York. Too many long hill climbs, too many Classic-style-only trails. (Funny thing was that the first section of the "Weltcup" trail seemed narrower than some of the Classic-only trails, but it was open for skating.)

St Johann im Tirol + Oberndorf

just north of the big Kitzbuehel downhill ski resort.

Oberndorf: I skated the Bichlach loipe (10km loop). Lots of variety, flat + hills, farm country + village, fields + forest. About the best skating trail I've found so far in Austria + Germany. For a little more variety, I also did the "Training" loipe which connects around it. Only drawback is a series of road crossings thru the Oberndorf village where I had to take my skis off multiple times. Some maps on the web showed a connector trail between Oberndorf and the St Johann trail network, but not when I was there.

St Johann: I started at the Koasa-stadion and skated the Hinterkaiser loipe (16km) which follows some of the Classic-style course for the annual Koasaloppet race.  Interesting variety in the middle section, including views of cliffs above. Start was gentle, but then a long moderate slanted "off camber" climb. Then enjoyed everything until the last 3km back to the stadion, which was all flat and had too many road crossings where I had to take my skis off. Might be nicer to find some other place to park and some clever connection which avoided that last 3km.

There's other trail networks around St Johann and Kitzbuehel which I didn't get to explore, but overall looked promising.

Reit im Winkl + Winklmoos

in Germany just over the border from Austria by Koessen.

Reit im Winkl: I parked by the stadium and skated first to Blindau, then partway east toward Seegatterl, then turned around and found the connection to Entfelden. Overall interesting and fun and I'd do most of it again. Except I'd skip the part toward Seegatterl, that was mostly a long very gentle climb with not much to see. A bit tricky to find the non-Classic-only trails to Blindau. Funny thing was that it seemed to me from looking at the start of some of the Classic-only trails at Reit im Winkl were wide enough so that most New York ski centers would have groomed them for both skating and classic (and wider than the first section of the Weltcup trail at Seefeld which is groomed for both skating + classic).

I saw lots of people skiing classic on the trail from Seegatterl to Reit im Winkl. The trail was long enough and lacking in variety, so it's hard for me to imagine that many of them also skied back to Seegatterl. So I suspect they got some motor transportation (shuttle bus?) to Seegatterl, and then only skied one-way back to Reit im Winkl.

Winklmoos:  I parked at Seegatterl and skated up to Winklmoos and then across into Austria, almost to the Moarlack, and came back more or less than same way. First I skated between Germany + Austria. The climb from Seegatterl up to Winklmoos was pretty tough: pretty unremitting moderate-steep or steeper. Much of it also used by downhill skiers. I could have ridden up on the bus for 5 Euros (? but I would have missed out on the exercise?). Winklmoos also has ski lifts. The 7km trail between Winklmoos was basically a snow-covered road, groomed for skating and classic. Some long moderate uphills and downhills. Nice view near Moarlack, but I didn't do the last steep section down what looked like a food hut at Moarlack, because I didn't want to climb back up it. A 3km variation on the way back was interesting (and hillier).

There's other trails around this area which I didn't try.
Northeast toward Ruhpolding (Germany) is a chain of pretty lakes with gentle ski trails. Unfortunately some of the trails are Classic-only, so the sections which permit skating which can be connected are not very long. If good at double-poling and enjoy lots of flat trails, could be worth a visit. (? might help to work out some motor transportation so only have to ski the trails in one direction ?).

Hochberg (near Traunstein, Germany)

Rather pretty and fun 12km loop -- I'd say one of the most fun trails I've found in Austria or Germany. It's a "locals" place: there's no sign for it, no official name for it, you have to know where to park (a friend took me there). I felt it was completely superior to anything at Leutasch (though it's not as high, so sometimes it might not have enough snow). Quiet setting among working farms. Includes a big view of surrounding mountains, and a pretty little chapel.  Much of the trail is gentle, maybe three of four moderately long moderate climbs, lots of moderate curves.

After skiing: It's a short drive to a restaurant at the top of the Hochberg hill, and a grand view over the big Chiemsee lake and the city of Traunstein.

other places?

  • Koessen (Austria): I stopped there in my car and looked at the terrain which had the skating trails, and all I can say is that it looked promising. (Koessen is nicely located on the roads between St Johann and Reit im Winkl. There's also various ski trails along the way between Koessen and St Johann, but I don't know anything about them (except that at least once a year they connect them into a big race course for skating). I do not believe there's any ski trail connecting between Koessen and Reit im WInkl.

  • Pillersee (Austria): A friend said he had a good time skating there once, but I've never been there. East from St Johann im Tirol. One village is St Ulrichen im Pillersee.

  • Ruhpolding + Inzell (Germany): have various ski trails, some open for skating. I've driven thru there several times (between Reit im Winkl and Traunstein, or connecting to Berchtesgaden), looked pleasant, but I didn't try skiing any of it.

ski aiming angle 30 puzzle


I was doing V1 skate on freshly groomed trails and went back and carefully looked at the angles between my left and right ski tracks, and clearly it was never more than 60 degrees (and often a bit less). Even up steep hills like 10% grade or more. I looked at tracks of a couple of other skiers and got the same observation. So that's a maximum of 30 angle to each side from the overall forward motion direction.

This is puzzling because the obvious physics suggests that a much higher percentage of the pushing force goes directly into forward propulsion if the ski's aiming angle is more like 45 degrees away from the overall forward motion direction - (in which case the observed angle between the two ski tracks would be more like 90 degrees). The percentage of the component of direct propulsive force is sine of the angle, so about 70% for 45 degrees and 50% for 30 degrees.

The remainder of the force is not wasted, because it goes into sideways kinetic energy which contributes propulsive work to the next leg-push on the other side. But presumably there are some losses in converting the force into different forms and then applying it to propulsion only later. So why not a higher percentage applied immediately directly?

after doing some calculations, my conclusion . . .

you have to be skating at a very slow overall speed (and with a fairly high turnover frequency, or else a time gap with no active pushing in each step) in order for the geometry of distance moving forward to distance moving sideways to allow for more than a 30 degree angle away from overall forward.

  • sideways motion of foot versus hip is not going to be much more than 0.7 meter (and typically less). Because the extended leg has a distance of about 1 meter from hip joint to bottom of foot, and the maximum leaning of the leg away from the pushing foot is not more than 45 degrees (usually less), and anyway the leg-extension push is aimed partly backward, not purely sideways. Realistically it's more like 0.5 meter.

  • lift-off of the ski from the ground sorta has to come after the body center-of-mass crosses the "center line" of overall forward motion path to the side away from the side of the ski which is finishing its push, so there's little or no sideways distance of foot motion to be added from sideways motion of the body center-of-mass.

  • very slow speeds occur when climbing up a steep hill, but skiers are not going to allow a significant time gap with no active pushing while on a steep hill, because they'd "stall out".

  • a slow speed is 1.5 meter per second = 5.4 km per hour = 3.35 mph. At a high turnover frequency of 54 rpm = 0.9 full stroke cycles per second = 1.8 strokes by each leg per second. Which yields 0.833 meter of forward motion per single leg-push. With 0.5 meter of sideways motion of the foot in each leg-push, the tangent of the aiming angle is 0.600, so the aiming angle is 31 degrees.

  • I suspect most people are only going to sustain a ski-aiming angle of more than 30 degrees if they're using single-poling "herringbone" skate. Almost nobody is going to be willing to do V1 skate (with "offset" double-poling) at a slow enough speed and high enough turnover frequency get the angle over 30 degrees.

  • For a special "demonstration" to prove something, more than 30 degrees could be performed for short periods. But for realistic skating to effectively "go somewhere" out on the snow, more than 30 degrees is not going to be seen much.

more thoughts:

  • Force (in Newtons) is not the most relevant quantity. What matters for the goal of speed is the the transmission of Power (in Watts).

  • With long skis, it's biomechanically difficult to achieve a spread between aiming of the two skis greater than 60 degrees. When I tried for more, even 60 degrees feels like a lot. Trying to acheive a larger angle feels awkward, and I could only do it at rather low speeds.

  • Human muscles produce their highest rate of (sustainable aerobic) Power (in Watts) at lower muscle speeds and higher muscle forces. (The key limitation of classic striding for racing is that it requires high muscle speeds). A larger aiming angle tends to require higher sideways speeds while giving less sideways resistance for the muscles to push against.

Mohonk trail distances

These are some approximate distances for some of the trails around the Mohonk Mountain House and Mohonk Preserve. I estimated the distances from looking at a paper map.

what's here:

hotel side (south of county rt 6)

summary distances

Gatehouse to Ski Shop (by Mountain House) = 4 km  (2.5mi)

Gatehouse to Skytop tower and return to Gatehouse = 11.25 km  (7mi)

Ski Shop via Old Minnewaska Rd to Rhododendron Bridge = 2.05 km  (1.3mi)

jct A = junction of Lake Shore Dr + Forest Dr

jct A from Gatehouse = 4.7 km

jct A via Old Minnewaska Rd to Rhododendron Bridge = 1.3 km

jct A via Laurel Ledges to Rhododendron Bridge = 4.2 km

jct A via Oakwood Dr to Rhododendron Bridge = 7.6 km

jct B = junction of Hemlock Lane + Huguenot Dr

jct B from Gatehouse = 2.6 km

jct B via Short Woodland + Laurel Ledges to Rhododendron Bridge = 6.3 km

jct B via Bridge Rd and Oakwood Dr to Rhododendron Bridge = 6.2 km

jct B to jct A = 2.1 km  (1.3mi)

loop Overcliff + Undercliff = 7.6 km  (4.7mi)


big loop Ski Shop - Rhododendron Bridge: Laurel Ledges > Oakwood > Huguenot = 12.5 km  (7.75mi)

grand tour: big loop + Skytop loop + Eagle Cliff loop = 19.5 km  (12.1mi)

big loop Gatehouse - Rhododendron Bridge:  Gatehouse > Ski Shop > Laurel Ledges > Rhododedron Bridge > Oakwood Dr > Bridge Rd > Gatehouse = 17.7 km  (11mi)

grand tour from Gatehouse:  big loop Gatehouse + Skytop loop + Eagle Cliff loop = 24.7 km  (15.3mi)

one-way with car shuttle:  Gatehouse (rt 6) to Iron Bridge (rt 44) by way of Short Woodland + Laurel Ledges: 12.7 km  (7.9mi)

details by trail section

Gatehouse -> junction of Hemlock Lane + Huguenot Dr = 2.6 km
. . . (by way of Huguenot Trail, Whitney Rd, North Lookout Rd, Hemlock Lane)

Huguenot Dr: Hemlock Lane to Skytop Rd = 0.8 km

Huguenot Dr: Skytop Rd to Ski Shop (by hotel) = 0.6 km

Skytop Rd up to Skytop tower and back = 4.45 km

Lake Shore Rd: Ski Shop (by hotel) to Forest Dr = 0.73 km

Lake Shore Rd / Old Minnewaska Rd: Forest Dr -> Short Woodland Dr = 0.07 km

Old Minnewaska Rd: Short Woodland Dr to Long Woodland Dr = 0.35 km

Old Minnewaska Rd: Long Woodland Dr to Rhododendron Bridge = 0.9 km

Undercliff Rd:  Rhododendron Bridge to Trapps Bridge (rt 44) = 3.85 km

Overcliff Rd:  Trapps Bridge (rt 44) to Rhododendron Bridge = 3.75 km

Oakwood Dr + Kleinekill Rd: Rhododendron Bridge to Rock Spring Bridge = 5.5 km

Bridge Rd + Huguenot Dr: Rock Spring Bridge to Hemlock Lane = 0.7 km

Forest Dr:  Rock Spring Bridge to Lake Shore Dr = 1.4 km

Home Farm loop = 0.7 km
. . . (not including connectors)

Short Woodland Dr = 0.6 km

Long Woodland Dr: Old Minnewaska Rd to Humpty Dumpty = 0.7 km

Humpty Dumpty Rd: Short Woodland to Copes Lookout = 0.6 km

Copes Lookout Rd: Copes Lookout to car road by hotel = 0.6 km

Eagle Cliff loop = 2.5 km

Laurel Ledges Rd: Copes Lookout to Rhododendron Bridge = 2.9 km

golf course Bonticou side (north of county rt 6)

summary distances

perimeter loop = 11.75 km  (7.3mi)

Guyot Hill inner loop = 3.9 km

Bonticou Crag view loop: Gatehouse > Bonticou Rd > Spring Farm Rd > Gatehouse = 6.8 km  (4.2 mi)

tour of Bonticou + Guyot Hill

Gatehouse > walk across bridge over county rt 6, take Bonticou Rd past Bonticou Crag view to junction with Cedar Dr. Turn Left and climb south to Guyot Hill > ski the Guyot Hill loop > exit the same place joined loop, north down to junction of Bonticou Rd + Cedar Dr.  Continue north down Cedar Dr (and the extension loop) > curve back south + southwest to Spring Farm Rd. Climb southwest long up Spring Farm Rd, straight across intersection with Bonticou Rd, more climbing (pass by left turn for Guyot Hill) and a little further sometimes there's a another left turn onto groomed (not on the Trail map) near the sledding hill and  to return to Bonticou Rd not far from bridge to the Gatehouse -- otherwise just continue on Spring Farm Rd (usually the snow runs out before reaching the bridge) = 17 km  (10.5 mi)

details by trail section

Perimeter loop

Bonticou Rd: Gatehouse to Bounticou Crag view to Cedar Dr = 4.2 km

Cedar Dr: from Bonticou Rd via extension loop to Spring Farm Rd = 4.1 km

Spring Farm Rd: Cedar Dr to Bonticou Rd = 1.35 km

Spring Farm Rd: Bonticou Rd to Gatehouse = 2.1 km

Bonticou Rd, another section: Cedar Dr to Spring Farm Rd = 0.5 km

Guyot Hill loop

SE side = 2.2 km

NW side = 1.7 km

connectors between Guyot Hill loop and perimeter loop:

South connector from Bonticou Rd = 0.5 km

West connector from Spring Farm Rd = 0.7 km

North connector from junction of Bonticou Rd + Cedar Dr = 0.6 km 

my long day: all of Mohonk

One day in January I skied every single groomed trail between Trapps Bridge (rt 44) in the south and Cedar Dr in the north. Skiing every section of trail required skiing some sections of trail twice (in opposite directions) -- which is how my total distance came out over 60 km.

Gatehouse to Ski Shop = 4.0 km

. . . side trip to Skytop tower = 4.45 km

Ski Shop via Old Minnewaska Rd to Rhodendron Bridge = 2.05 km

Undercliff + Trapps Bridge rt 44 + Overcliff loop = 7.6 km

Rhododendron Bridge via Oakwood w side circle to Home Farm to jct Lake Shore Dr + Short Woodland = 7.7 km

Lake Shore Dr jct Short Woodland via Laurel Ledges to Rhododendron Bridge = 4.1 km

. . . side trip to Eagle Cliff = 3.7 km

Rhododendren Bridge > Old Minnewaska Rd > Long Woodland > Short Woodland > connect thru Home Farm > Forest Dr > Bridge Rd to junction of Huguenot Dr with Hemlock Lane = 4.4 km

Hemlock Lane to Gatehouse = 2.6 km

Total on hotel side = 40.6 km

golf course Bonticou perimeter loop: Bonticou Rd - Cedar Dr (with extension loop) - Spring Farm Rd = 11.75 km

connectors (3) between NW + SE side of perimeter loop = 0.9 km : (each done twice) = 1.8 km

Guyot Hill loop = 3.9 km

connectors (3) between Guyot Hill loop and perimeter loop = 1.8 km : (each done twice) = 3.6 km

Total on golf course Bonticou side = 21 km

Total all Mohonk = 61.5 km  (38 miles)

next time . . .

Next time I try a "grand tour", I'd try to get a higher ratio of scenery to distance, by skipping some of the "connector" sections -- perhaps some combination like:

  • grand tour from Gatehouse (above under "tours" for the hotel side)

  • Undercliff + Overcliff loop

  • Old Minnewaska Rd in both directions together with a clockwise loop on Long Woodland + Short Woodland + upper Forest Dr + Home Farm circle = 3.95 km

(or if skip upper Forest Dr and Home Farm and instead do only Old Minnewaska Rd in both directions together with a loop on Long Woodland + Short Woodland, then it's only = 3.45 km)

  • tour of Bonticou and Guyot Hill ("tour" above under golf course Bonticou side)

Total = 24.7 + 7.6 + 3.95 + 16.9 = 53 km  (33 miles)

The idea is that the only trail missed on the hotel side is much of Forest Dr a little of the Home Farm circle, and the only trails duplicated are Old Minnewaska Rd and Short Woodland. On the Bonticou side all that gets skipped is some of the "connectors" (including a section of Bonticou Rd), and the only trail duplicated is the "north connector" between the Guyot Hill loop and teh perimeter loop.

more . . .

see also


concept words: ski skiing cross country cross-country xc snow skier skiers skis nordic roberts report