Monday, May 29, 2017

Stones Throw - Triathlon Training Dream Cabin

A few months ago, HS and I sold a couple of condos with the intention of buying a vacation rental instead. We originally looked at a place along Highway 50 but that didn't work out. We had considered the Tahoe area, but any place that was in our price range wasn't necessarily a place we would want to stay at or rent to people. Our next thought was Bear Valley, but when we heard that we would need a snowmobile in order to see the property we changed our mind and stopped in Arnold instead.

Snowy day in Arnold
There was still plenty of snow in Arnold, but you could still get around and it didn't require a snowmobile. As HS navigated the snow lined streets, I scrolled through the Trulia app noting properties to look at. One property caught my eye as I scrolled to the bottom of the screen. It was like no other cabin we had seen. It was modern, and different, and had a huge wall of windows. I started to make note of the address when I happened to look out the window. To my shock, I was looking at the that same cabin. "There it is!" I exclaimed to HS.

Love at first sight 

We drove on to the first property on our list, but called and asked the realtor if we could look at the modern one we just saw. She said sure and set up an appointment that same day in just a few hours. We drove and looked at a couple other places to kill time and grabbed a bite to eat. When we finally got to see the inside of the modern cabin, it was love at first sight for me, HS...well, he eventually grew to love it too. I guess for me, it was the fact that it was brand new and it was entirely different from the ranch style houses we had always lived in.

Special thanks to Kip Machado and Carmie Sanchez at Better Altitude Properties for all of your help!

I love how the windows seem to let the forest inside
We looked at a few more properties after that, but none could compare. The modern cabin was mid-way in our price range and to me it was ideal. I could see it being an attractive property for families looking for a unique property for their vacation. I could also see it being an ideal training location for triathletes looking to blend vacation and training time together. We put an offer in and it was accepted. Now the hard work began trying to setup the place.

Furnishing a brand new cabin - top to bottom
can be very stressful
After finally getting our keys, we spent the next couple of months arguing over design ideas and attempting to buy furniture. Coming to a consensus on how to decorate and what to buy was often difficult. HS and I both had veto power, so many, many, many ideas were squashed before anyone could whip out their credit card to make a purchase.  Eventually the cabin came together and we were able to come up to stay without a long list of chores. We finally had time for a little recreation...I could finally try out my triathlon training dream cabin.


There are a couple of swimming options up here. One is the pool at the Blue Lake Springs recreation center. They even have designated lap swimming times. I haven't tried to pool out yet, but it looks nice and now that summer is here, there are lots of people. During the winter, however, you could probably have the whole pool to yourself.

I wouldn't recommend this
When things start to warm up, there is also Fly in Lake.  There are other lakes in the area but you can walk to Fly in Lake in a matter of minutes from Stones Throw.

I tried swimming in Fly in Lake a couple of weeks before IRONMAN Santa Rosa 70.3. It would be my one and only OWS before that race. This practice swim was in the beginning of May and the water was absolutely freezing. I had on a full sleeve wetsuit but the water temp still took my breath away. My face and fingers were frozen. I think I lasted about 15 minutes before I got out.

Yesterday, about a month after that first swim, HS and I went back down to the lake. I had packed my full sleeve wetsuit for the weekend, but when I saw all of the kids swimming in the lake, my pride would not allow me to wear it. HS and I walked down to the lake and set up our beach chairs. I saw a man swimming butterfly across the lake (show off). Another guy got out of the lake, stuffed his goggles in his pocket, put on his running shoes and took off running down the street. I guess I'm not the only one that thinks this is a great place to train. I watched the kids playing in the water and finally decided it was time to get in.

Cap & goggles and my Kindle (in case I decided not to swim)

What I like about this lake is that it feels like a safe place to swim. There are four floating islands in the middle of the lake that are about 50-60 yards apart. If I wanted to, I could swim and stop at each one. However, just knowing that they are there is enough for me. I could just keep swimming.

The water on my second swim was much warmer. However, there seemed to be a cold stream of water from the inlet to the lake all the way across to the overflow. I had to swim through that, but once I got over to the water on the far side of the lake, things seemed much better. I was able to get 30 minutes of swimming done this time. The one think I noticed this time was that I actually enjoyed it. There was no pressure to race, all I had to do was swim nice and easy. I cleared my mind and focused on my stroke.


There are four bedrooms in the cabin. The first one is right off the entry and given that every bedroom has it's own bathroom, this one is used as a bike garage when we come up to stay.

Bike storage

Bikes are always welcome here

Up hill or down hill, but never any flats

We haven't ventured too far out of the neighborhood, but MapMyRide has a lot of interesting routes that I am anxious to try. I was hoping to try one this weekend, but when we arrived at the cabin and started unpacking we realized that HS didn't pack any cycling clothes. I, on the other hand, had two pairs of shorts and two jerseys because, well, you never know. I asked HS if he wanted to borrow a pair of my shorts, but he didn't think my Pearl Izumi Sugar Shorts (my favorite riding shorts) would look good on him. He's probably right...I like them because they are short and you can get a good tan.

LTD Map Jersey and my Sugar Shorts
I also stumbled across something on Facebook called "Bike to Arnold." Apparently you ride from Stockton to Arnold. If I could figure out when they hold this ride, I would definitely want to do it. I think Rodger from S.W.E.A.T Fitness did this ride as well as Robert Fuller from RS Bike Lab. Rodger or Bob, if you're reading this, give me the details.


What can I say about running. You can run anywhere, right? Being from Stockton means that I'm basically running at sea level when I'm home. Hills? What are those? At Stones Throw, I get a slight intro to elevation training. If I really want to up my game I could head up to Bear Valley for a 7,000 ft training run. Even though the area where our cabin is at is only about 4,000 ft., I did notice a change after a week long stay when we were setting up the cabin.

Pre-run selfie on the deck at Stones Throw
Usually, when we are at the cabin working I will run for about an hour. If I turn left at the driveway, I get a nice long climb. I've learned my lesson trying this run on cold legs, so now I will take the dog for a walk first and then I will do this run. I've even set up a Garmin segment for this run called "Barrelling Down Patricia". It's the last half mile to the cabin and it's basically all down hill. If you are brave enough, you can really get going! Hope to see your time on the segment.

Hilly Run/Walk


When you are done with the swimming, biking and running, there is still plenty to do in this area. HS and I have found several great places to eat in Arnold... Sarafina's Italian Kitchen (make a reservation a week in advance or eat in the bar like we do), the deli at the Chevron staton...just try the "Porker Club", you won't be sorry, but you may have to put in some extra miles to burn off some of the calories.

The "Porker Club" gas station food ever!
If your family thinks you've been ignoring them, take them to see Big Trees State Park, the Moaning Caverns, Arnold Rim Trail, or downtown Murphys. Speaking of downtown Murphys, there are some great restaurants and tasting rooms. Our favorites so far have been Alchemy, Murphys Irish Pub, and Twisted Oak Winery. There's so much to do up here, I can't begin to list it all.

One of my favorite places to relax after a workout
Local Events

There are some local events you might want to come up and do:

April - Angels Camp Triathlon (hopefully it will be back next year)
April - Mr. Frog's Wild Ride (century ride)
July - Hernia Hill - 5k, 10k & Half Marathon
September - Bear Valley Triathlon