How backcountry athlete Dave Norona Gets Prepped for Sledding Season

September 2018 Feature Viewed 2005 time(s) Web Exclusive


The first snowflakes have fallen, your avy training and equipment is all up to date, and that sweet new sled is being prepped at the dealer as we speak. It sounds like you're ready. But are you?

I know we love buying shiny new things, especially when they involve more power. However, the one thing you can’t buy is fitness and that just might be the biggest difference to having a decent day out absolutely slaying it.

Being fit allows you to ride longer, dig more after getting stuck and push harder on those deep days. Why is it, then, the last thing most sledders actually spend time on?

The reality? For many people, working on fitness is not that fun! Well, things have changed. Are you ready for it? E-bikes.

Norona on his Rocky Mountain Power Play e-bike.

One of the best ways to get in shape for sledding season is riding a bike. It’s easier and less jarring on the bones than running and you can do it on the road, gravel paths or in the mountains. You can do it with your sledding buddies, on your own or with your family. The problem with most people who are out of shape? Riding a bike––especially uphill––well, sucks. 

This all changes with e-bikes!

An e-bike is a pedal-assisted bicycle that provides you with three-to-five different modes of assist from economy to full boost. Boost, eh? I knew that would get your attention. But doesn’t having a motor defeat the reason for riding a bike in the first place? The answer is no!

You still have to pedal to get the assist––stop pedalling and the motor cuts out. The pedal assist motor works off sensors that measure your cadence and torque and applies the equivalent depending on what mode you are in.  So essentially everything is the same as riding a regular pedal bike except you are going twice to three times as fast which will have you yahooing for joy the instant you hit an uphill.

2019 Specialized Turbo Levo Expert

Despite what many believe you actually get a better workout cardio wise on an e-bike because you will ride harder and faster up the hills. However, you don’t have to. In fact, you can ride the bike easy and this is the second reason it is such a good training tool.

On a regular bike, most big guys who are out of shape would be suffering at the first rise of any hill. With an e-bike they will be cruising up the hills and getting a long, slow, distance workout. This builds efficiency, cardio and strength and riders will see improvements much faster on an e-bike over a regular bike, all while going faster and having more fun!

Fitter guys will push the bike harder and therefore experience a better cardio workout as well. In all cases, because the motor is helping you, it works your legs half as much. The beauty of this is that you come home feeling like you got a wicked workout but your legs are not destroyed. So you'll be excited for your next ride (or the real reality is you will have more energy to do your chores).

Norona rock and roll.

This summer I logged over 3,000 kilometers or 1,900 miles on my Rocky Mountain Power Play! It has been a total game-changer for me. Having spent 15 years racing as a professional mountain biker, racing and and winning 24-hour solo mountain bike events and even longer adventure races. My e-bike has brought the fun back into riding. Although my sessions are shorter, I get the maximum value of the amazing trails around my home town of Squamish/Whistler, BC.

The 2019 Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay.

I suggest you rent at first and lots of shops have demo’s that you can try for the day, this will give you an idea of what an e-bike can do and how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.  If you are really struggling for time using the bike to get to work will give you the fitness and help you dodge traffic at the same time.

Training should always be about fun and seeing improvements, and I guarantee these are two of the major things you will see if you hope on an e-bike!

Dave Norona has been a professional adventure athlete for 28 years and Ski-Doo Backcountry Expert for 9 years. You can follow his fun @davenorona


(Editor's note: We started riding e-mountain bikes last year and agree with Dave––it's a great way to get conditioned for the sledding season. We've been riding the Specialized Turbo Levo Comp from Bill's Bike and Run in Idaho Falls, ID. ––Ryan Harris)

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