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CAT Ski: Offroad Rollerski -- for sale!
CAT Ski: Offroad Rollerski -- for sale!
November 11, 2013
$370 (inc. S/H)
[$370 mailed in the US. Non-US pays excess.]
Autumn is the XC ski training time of year! Some nasty, slushy weather is ahead until we get our beautiful snowy winter. Regular rollerskiing doesn't work when it's wet or slushy. And it doesn't work offroad at all.
So what are CAT Skis? They're "Classic All Terrain" rollerskis.
They let you do safe, realistic, intensive ski training offroad or onroad in any weather condition.
That's a lot! (Pause to reflect.)
What's more they let you do both Classic AND Skate training! Yes, Dale has figured out how to doublepole on them. (See my and his websites for info about the Striding Doublepole and the Cat1 moves; also YouTube.)
I've been using mine a lot already, and in some nasty weather. It's great to be able to stay off the roads when I want to. Trails are always nice even when it's nasty out.
Dale is an engineer and he keeps on refining these things. They're now a few generations old -- a new molding is just now being produced (as of late Oct, 2012). So if you order now you get the latest, greatest. He worked hard this summer to get this latest refinement released. The glide surface is now totally smooth and the action is quieter. I like my previous gen versions just fine so these new ones must be fine indeed.
But that's not all: they also TEACH how to ski better in a fundamental way. Skiing is far more about kick than it is about glide. After all, glide only comes from the kick. And both classic and skating are about the same leg action. I've just realized that it's harder than we might think to learn how to move our body over a ski that's moving! Skis slip'n'slide all over and yet we're trying to learn to position ourselves counterintuitively so as to kick efficiently. Many skiers, even racers, end up fudging this and so they can't grip as well as they could on uphills or skate easily. But what's a great fix? --The CAT Ski! They stay put on the ground. And you can't outkick them. If you underkick them you'll overglide them and "clack" the end of the ski. If you kick hard and true your foot will set down forward past your hip and the ski will work smoothly. Also, weight transfer is a HUGE issue for skiers -- it's the source of the evil *toilet seat*. But you MUST transfer your weight to use CAT Skis! You can't "tromp" them down a trail unless you change all your weight from ski to ski. On snow-skis this is so easily fudged, in fact it's hard to do it right since the skis are gliding as you're trying to move over them. Coaches should have these CAT Skis. If even a good skier with "issues" tries CAT Skis a couple times these huge glitches might be fixed. I'd say to use them even on snow and then hop over to your snow-skis and you'll find that you can GRIP EASILY ON UPHILLS and skate efficiently with no more toilet seat.
Wow! And you notice that I haven't made any wild claims. Don't they make sense?
So here's how they work: they're a one-way slider on top of a trail-gripping rail-thingy. The slider is connected to the rail but it also has bungies that connect to the back. So you stride, then glide down the rail, then kick and lift the ski. The bungies then fling the ski back forward under your foot.
Oh, just watch the videos. Look at the pictures. You'll get it.
They're lightweight and tough. The parts are serviceable and tend to last a couple years of steady use before replacement, which is about $5 an item (bungie or paw-tread).
They train you to use great technique. They improve your skiing. (Unlike rollerskis which can hide mistakes.)
These skis are good coaches: If you overglide, you'll run into the end of the ski. Better skiing has a quicker tempo and emphasizes a good kick. CAT Skis encourage this. The other day I was skiing when for some reason I got spunkier and picked up my tempo in a lively way. I suddenly was reminded of CAT Skiing.
The only downside is that they "clack" a bit. Not loud, but still. And there's a bit of a foot-bump when the ski slides forward. Ya know, one could say that the action itself is a bit corny, but c'mon, it's a nice ski motion -- it's not THAT corny. The skis are well-designed and even look pretty neat -- they're compact.
These CAT Skis are great for Classic -- and everything else. You don't fall when using them -- they're totally stable -- they don't move! And they're low to the ground. You can use them anywhere, even on slushy snowy roads.
And when I haven't had time to exercise outside and it's close to dinnertime and I only have 20 minutes, the CAT Ski is the way to go. I go out to the neighborhood trail and in 20 minutes I can get in about an hour's-worth of rollerskiing.
It's low-impact. It's a lot like trail-bounding, but because you glide it's not hard on the knees. Also, unlike trail-bounding, I find I can dial it back. For me, trail-bounding tends to be an AT workout -- anaerobic threshold -- at my comfort limit. With CAT Skis -- due to the soft glide -- I can back off enough to keep my heart-rate down. Or go for it hard, if I want.
Why not just stick with rollerskis?
Regular rollerskis can be harsh all around. They inevitably involve crashes. Sometimes this is a problem (say, if you're old). They're not so great around cars. And aren't so hot at night, either. They're often quite low-resistance: fast and fun (in a way) but not such a great workout. They're also fairly high impact: you can run into arm-joint troubles fairly easily from poling on pavement.
I have rollerskis. I likes 'em. I use 'em. I'm not religious about them, but they're great for variety. Variety is my key for staying fresh with outdoor action. CAT Skis fit into the mix along with rollerskis. ...Especially as fall comes around I can't hold back! ...And because we tend to have spotty snow around here. (This year for sure, but even in good years you have to JUMP to catch it. I can usually get 50 nice ski outings annually nearby, but only because I am free to jump on a lunch-hour foray for a quick -- and marvelous -- hour.) You REALLY want to be in good ski shape when the first snow falls. Rollerskiing makes this easy. I haven't missed any early season snow in years simply due to being ready. I don't get sore and wiped out if we get a good first week, say. Prep makes a HUGE difference. (A little biking, canoeing, hiking with poles...and rollerskiing...and bungie pulling...each fall and you're good to go.)
...Except that rollerskiing is LOUSY for training regular Classic technique, which is the kind of skiing we mostly have around here. ...And which is the most beautiful and sustainable way to ski, too.
The Amortized Worldview
I have quite a few toys, but what's nice about things like rollerskis is that for me, in my non-race phase of life, they last about 10 years before needing maintenance. Yeah, they're kinda pricey, but they amortize. I still use a fair bit of stuff I got in highschool, man! My canoes are decades old, as are most of my bikes. When I paid $500 for them way back when that was a lot. But over 20 years? C'mon! Anyway, it's my northern outdoor world and I like doing a variety of things out in it. Why, I'd even pay more.
Why haven't I heard about them?
Dale hasn't promoted these devices as hard as they deserve because his margin is so small with them. There's a lot of cost in the parts alone, not to mention assembly. They cost maybe $50 more than regular rollerskis but they have twice the cost in parts and twice the cost in assembly, giving only 25% of the margin as rollerskis (which are actually very simple devices -- shaft and 2 wheels). They are more popular in Wisconsin where he lives. He's a high school coach and he has his kids on them -- and they've won top HS honors two years in a row. He says it's not coincidence that they use CAT Skis. (He notes that it's unsafe to have a dozen kids out on the public roads.) Also, he's a known racer in that area -- and he trains with CAT's himself -- and he's a Gold Medalist World Masters skier, with other medals, too. So his neighbors use them because they see him doing so well with them. He's long said that he doesn't know why more world-class racers don't use them since they're so good. They seem good to me!
[$22 postpaid in the USA. Non-US extra.]
Andy Liebner is a fast young Alaskan who went from top junior and collegiate (NMU!) XC ski racing results to signing up for the military the day after 9-11 to then racing around the world to see how far he could go in XC skiing and biathlon…