Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toronto Sportsmen's Show Moving to New Digs

It hit me like a hammer; the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show is moving! That’s right folks after 63 years at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds Southern Ontario’s largest outdoors show, the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, is moving to the Toronto Convention Centre.

I’m going to give this a while to sink in before wading in with my personal opinions of the move but I’m sure there will not be many fence sitters when it comes to the new venue. For those in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) the Convention Centre is very accessible and convenient for those that use public transit. For those of us coming from out of town it’s nothing more than a logistical nightmare. Oh well, decisions are made and this was likely not a knee-jerk reaction.

For now let’s take a trip down memory lane.

The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show has been a part of my life for just about as long as I can remember, so that means that I’m only a few years shy of having been there from the beginning. My grandparents lived in the east end of Toronto when I was growing up so events like the Sportsmen’s Show provided a great, low cost way for my parents to keep us kids amused for a few hours when we made the trip from Wingham to the big city.

Up until a few years ago the Toronto Sportsman’s Show occupied the Coliseum building at the CNE. Although the larger venue provided by the Direct Energy Building was greatly needed, it did in my opinion, loose all of its character and became just another show when the move took place.

Some of my fondest memories are of jostling crowds, the smell of hay in the arena, creaking floorboards, and a multitude of stairways and hidden corridors. And then there was the ever present smell of pipe smoke. Those were the days when Brigham pipes used to sell their factory seconds for a very cheap price and were set up right across the aisle from a tobacco vendor. No, I’m not a smoker and certainly don’t advocate smoking, but that was a different era and like everyone else I became a pipe smoker for a day. To this day the smell of pipe smoke conjures up images of camping supplies, fishing tackle, and creaking floors.

I remember buying my first upscale fishing rod there; it was a Berkley Bionix and when you bought one you got a Berkley Lightning Rod for free. I never did care for the Bionix, but the Lightning Rod has accompanied me on every fishing trip since the mid 70’s and has landed – and lost – tons of fish.

Over the years we have bought tents, backpacks, fishing tackle, and every new gadget on the market. You know, now that I think of it the move to the Convention Centre may not be that much of a stretch. The move from the Coliseum for me was like loosing an old, albeit smoky, friend.

The great outdoors is still very much alive in Southern Ontario and the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, regardless of the venue, will always be a memorable part of it.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

5 Key Muscle Groups and Exercises for Hikers

Spring is in the air and the hiking boots are starting to do the happy dance in the closet. You just can’t wait for the muddy trails to dry so you can get out and enjoy our wonderful Southern Ontario hiking trails. Soon the dark grey of late winter will explode into a hundred shades of green broken only by patches of beautiful wild flowers.

Now is the time to get your body in shape for the coming hiking season. The extent to which you need to do some pre season training largely depends on the kind of trails, and distance, you’re planning to hike. Here are a few muscle groups to pay attention to and some exercises that will help make your hikes safer and more enjoyable.

1. Abdominals
Crunches are a great strengthening exercise for your upper abs. Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and you hands on the side of your head near your ears. Keep your eyes focused on a point on the ceiling as you raise your shoulders about 8” off the floor and lower again. Work up to about 5 sets of 20 reps.

For the lower abs leg raises are very effective. Lay flat on the floor and support your lower back by placing your hands under your lower back; then with your legs straight raise your legs about 1 ft off the floor. Work up to 5 sets of 10 and remember, don’t let your feet touch the floor until you’re finished a complete set.

2. Back Muscles
Back muscles are a key component of core strength and yet the most overlooked. Strong abs and weak back muscles can cause poor posture and walking form. To strengthen your back muscles, lay on your stomach with your arms and legs extended in front of you. Keep your arms and legs straight; lift your arms and legs off the floor at the same time. Work up to about 5 sets of 10.

3. Quadriceps and Hamstrings
The quads are the large muscle group on the upper front of your leg while hamstrings are the large muscles at the back of the upper leg. Both are a key component of your forward motion and must be kept strong and flexible. Squats are a great way to work your quads and hamstrings. Stand straight with your feet a bit more than shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight and squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground (or as far as you can comfortably manage) then return to a standing position. Work up to 5 sets of 20 and remember to do these slowly.

4. Calf Muscles
Even if you’re just strolling a groomed rail trail calf muscles can take a real beating. Strengthening your calf muscles is an important aspect of your overall hiker’s workout. Stand flat with your back straight. Lift your heels off the floor and lower. Work up to about 5 sets of 10.

A more advanced exercise would be to place your toes on a step and lower your heels as far as you can, then rise up on your toes for one complete rep. This exercise provides the added benefit of stretching the Achilles tendon as well.

5. Arms and Shoulders
Although there are many exercises that target specific muscles you just can’t beat the simple push-up for overall arm, shoulder, and upper body strengthening. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders (palms down). Keeping your back and legs straight push up with your arms until they are fully extended. Lower again until your chest is about 2” off the floor and repeat. Work up to about 5 sets of 10. For a less strenuous push-up you can keep your knees on the floor.

Start a simple exercise routine now and you’re muscles will be in prime shape for the rigors of this year’s Southern Ontario hiking season.

Note: Lloyd is an outdoors enthusiast and martial arts instructor with a sound understanding of body mechanics.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Monday, March 2, 2009

Southern Ontario Cold Weather Hiking

What do a sudden thaw, a quick blow dry, and a fast freeze mean to Southern Ontario hikers? Well right not it means that cold weather hiking just became a reality again.

The last thaw pretty much destroyed x-country ski and snowshoe trails but there is an upside. The recent cold snap means that most of those muddy trails have frozen rock solid and approached with a bit of caution will provide all of the enjoyment of a brisk summer hike.

Rail trails may tend to be the best option right now because they are relatively flat and should be mostly dry and ice free. Bush trails and particularly trails that follow a high ridgeline – like many parts of the Bruce Trail – should be treated with caution because there will still be many icy sections and slippery rocks to navigate.

Even though we are back into the deep freeze be very carful when walking near or across ice; particularly river or stream ice. Currents weaken ice and what may appear thick enough to walk on may be irregular and very thin in places.

Regardless of where you go now is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy a late winter hike. It won’t be long before even the rail trails turn into a muddy sloppy mess, so why not get a jump on your spring hike before you need to done hip waders.

If you’re looking for a late winter distraction check out the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show for all the latest hiking gear and some great hiking destinations. The show runs daily from March 18 to 22...during March break.

Don’t forget to check out the new hiking destinations database at Southern Ontario Outdoors. Just click on the region of the map you are interested in and you will be taken to a page where you can select information about trails in that area.

©2009 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions