Archive for February, 2013
In most of the country, today just happens to be the last day of February. But in Durango, CO, it’s not just the end of another month, it’s the Third Annual Winter Bike to Work Day. The event itself is put in place to honor the bike commuters who battle the winter elements in Durango, and the festivities surrounding it are open to cyclists of all kinds. The City of Durango’s Multi Modal Department is the key sponsor, and will be offering up hot drinks, food and giveaways today from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in front of Durango Coffee (at 730 Main Avenue). There’ll be a bounty of cyclists and commuters there to celebrate. What’s more, there will be schwag to give away, including T-shirts, scarves and even an Osprey Pack for the day’s raffle winner! For more information on bicycle commuting and Bike to Work Day in Durango, head here.
Need an excuse to get out for a weekend of riding bikes, trying out cycling gear and entering to win rad prizes? We didn’t think so. Hence, our announcing that the second annual Southeast Bike Expo is right around the corner! For the second year in a row, the SE Bike Expo will head to Conyers, GA for a three days of cycling festivities; the weekend will kick off with a free dealer-only day on Friday, February 22, followed by open public access on the 23rd and 24th.
Here’s some background from last year’s event, as well as what to expect this year, via Cycling News:
In 2012, there were over 600 bikes of all types for demo by attendees. With the addition of other major bike brands, up to 1,000 demo bikes are expected to be available for the weekend.
The expo will again include not only mountain bike and road manufacturers, but also other cycling industry vendors.
“Our goal is to put on a fun event in a great location for very low cost to manufacturers, retailers, and consumers,” said Brian Molloy.
Part of the excitement of the SE Bike Expo is that it allows consumers to see the newest and most exciting gear out there. There will be a ton of new product there, including Osprey Raptor/Raven and Viper/Verve packs available for demos. What’s more, if you join IMBA at the Osprey booth, you’ll be immediately entered in a raffle to win a brand-new pack. And even if you don’t win the raffle, there will be plenty of take-away schwag (think: stickers and tire levers) to take home with you.
There will be tons of vendors and fantastic bike companies to check out at the Expo, including Vee Rubber, Felt Bicycles, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, and Skanunu Lubricants. Add to that companies such as Tifosi Optics, Light & Motion, Camelbak, Shimano, Kenda and Thomson — and you’ve got the world of bike gear and garb nearly at your fingertips. We’ll see you there, rain or shine!
Crystal Mountain, Washington is one of those iconic ski areas that many skiers would wish to call home. Its got it all – steeps, trees, airs, accessibility to a big city (Seattle), and best of all for us last weekend – POWDER!
25 KEEN Rippin Chix students and five coaches, including free skiing champions such as Kasha Rigby, Karen Reader, Susan Medville and Molly Baker all converged to Crystal February 9th and 10th for a steeps camp run by founder and Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett.
Gals attended from all over and ranged in age from 14 to 59. Goals varied from overcoming past tumbles, to building confidence and skills, to learning Alison’s five fun ways to catch air. Four ability groups formed, with the “lower” group working introduction skills for steeps and the upper group charging out the gate demanding to “jump off more stuff.”
The hardest part about running Rippin Chix is always my worry that gals will push it too far and too fast. I have always believed that the best way to jump off a cliff is to learn how to jump a snowball on the groomer. Once the skills are solid, then the terrain can be pushed, and always on stuff with lots of runout room should things not go as planned. Crystal Mtn is perfect for this, with lots of fun north-facing powder bowls and zillions of chutes that fan out into big aprons. Luckily I had nothing to worry about, as these gals were fast learners and keen students.
Big smiles abounded on Sunday as we organized a group introduction and shared what everyone’s favorite skill was from Saturday. While I have adored my PSIA and race coaching training, I’ve never connected with terms like “functional tension,” and instead teach gals things like “squeeze the thong,” get rid of your velcro butt or tyrannosaurus arms and instead focus on “pouring the wine” and smushing the grapes.
Sad to say, we had quite a few flurries and clouds that prevented much video for this particular camp, so I’m going to attach the video from this year’s KEEN Rippin Chix Steeps Camp at Silverton Mtn, Colorado:
Next up on the powder seeking agenda? The Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival located in the heart of the legendary Selkirk Mountains at Whitewater resort near Nelson British Columbia, Canada. See you there?!
I have spent the last 20 years trying to check off every possible place on my skiing bucket list. Some years I would tick off more than others and some years I actually added more places to the list than I could cross off. A few years ago there was a lot of hype about Japan and people that had been told epic stories of copious amounts of light and dry powder, tree skiing that never ended and a really unique cultural experience. Every athlete and photographer I knew had gone to Japan and nailed it for powder. Being more of a realist than an optimist, I figured that eventually someone was going to go to Japan seeking the dream and get completely skunked. I didn’t want to be the one that came home with nothing to talk about but groomers and carving.
Over the summer, I started thinking more and more about Japan, so when an offer to go shoot with elite photographer Grant Gunderson came up, I jumped on the chance. As the trip approached I surfed the internet looking for an accurate weather report. We were heading to Myoko on the Honshu peninsula of the main island. Although this area is believed to get more snow than anywhere on the planet, the forecast I found called for a dusting of snow during the 10 days we were slated to be skiing there. Grant said to ignore the forecast and told me that it always snows in Myoko in January. Our tickets were already booked so I figured I would just take what I got and deal with it.
We arrived in Tokyo, hopped a bullet train and started the three-hour journey to Myoko. We drank beer served from vending machines and had our first of what would become endless meals of sushi. We arrived in Myoko under starry skies. Day one was clear and the locals were calling for light snow. We took advantage of the weather and toured above the highest lift at Akukura Onsen ski area. We skinned for 30 minutes and set up shot one of the trip. Within minutes, fog rolled in off the Sea of Japan and climbed up the mountain, engulfing us in a misty shroud. We skied the birch forest for some depth of field until we ended up back in the ski area. We were all tired and jet-lagged so we took a few laps to get our ski legs and headed to the hotel for afternoon tea, an early dinner and bed. As I looked outside I could see snowflakes picking up in intensity and size.
Our second morning couldn’t have been more different than the first. As I pulled open the curtains, I was shocked to see a full meter of new snow. I had never seen it snow so much in such a short amount of time. It was 7 a.m. and I had to control myself for 90 minutes until the lift opened to deliver us to the goods. In North America, a storm like this would almost guarantee a huge line-up for the chair. We found the ski area completely void of anyone but lifties waiting to brush of our lift seat.
For the next week, I skied the best and deepest powder of my life. We had more than 9 feet of snow during the trip and a bluebird day following each major storm. Myoko had some other skiers eventually show up, but they were not there for the powder. All the hype about the tree skiing in Japan is true. The forests are made up of birch trees that have no branches near the ground so you just line up a lane you want to ski and drop in. The trees are perfectly spaced and the snow is hero snow so you can just charge all day long.
I wasn’t expecting super gnarly terrain in Japan, but I quickly found out that you can get into trouble quickly if you get too adventurous. Nothing in Myoko is off-limits, except skiing under the chairlift, and little is marked so going off-piste is the real deal. Plenty of pillow lines, spines and steep gullies waiting for those with a nose for adventure.
The routine of eating sushi for breakfast, slaying powder all day, soaking in the natural hotsprings (called onsens), and then feasting nightly on a bounty of seafood and sake did not grow old. Now that I have been and tasted the nectar of Japanese skiing in January, I’m not so confident that anyone will get skunked, but I can gladly tell you that it wasn’t me. If you keep a bucket list, I highly recommend Japan be added to the docket, unless of course you are averse to powder and sushi.
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Well, whether or not I can comprehend it, my season ended two and a half weeks ago. If you follow my posts at all, you’ll remember that it was a questionable start, after getting an ankle joint infection from a cut from climbing that required surgery and three weeks on the couch. I fought back more slowly from that than I had anticipated, with five weeks of antibiotics and a few weeks of doing nothing while they took their toll on me more than I would have liked. But about three weeks later, all of that had faded into the background of being immersed in the life of running our ski touring business.
It’s a routine that makes the days fly by, including a 5:30 a.m. wake-up to do the weather, chop wood, prep breakfast and lunch, attend guide’s meetings, help guests with gear issues, and finally get out the door to ski at 8:30. That’s when the day gets simpler, lodge maintenance fades into the background, and the purity of one step forward at a time and snow assessment take hold. Your skis grant you the freedom to escape from the grind, whether you are a guest on holiday or a guide/owner/operator for a day at work. We all lose ourselves in the moment of striding uphill and flying downhill, from valley to mountain top and back again. Smooth and fast, we slide back to the lodge, the tasks take hold for me again, with a mirror image of the morning routine, but its great to watch the guests stay in that zone, melting away in the sauna, replenishing the burned calories and continuing with the simple life.
But then my world decided to change. Just when you are hitting your stride, sometimes the world has a different path for you to follow. I had just finished a big week of guiding with a group of guests, we averaged between eight and nine thousand feet of skiing a day, a few people squeaking in 50 grand for their week. Six weeks after having surgery, I was worried if I would pull it off, but hard and tiring as it was, it was also rewarding, considering as well that we had uncharacteristically bad snow for a bunch of days from an abnormal wind event that seemed to jack every bit of open snow in British Columbia. The next group came in and a few days later so did the snow. We settled in to the ‘normal’ five to six grand of skiing per day, which is plenty by my standards, and with 30 centimeters of fresh snow, it felt like a new world out there. So I was skiing like it was bottomless Kootenay cold smoke, but then I hit bottom. Or at least started my journey to the bottom.
In my typical, ‘I want to ski to inspire’ fast and fun style, I found the wind-jacked snow just below the surface, and my left ski decided to auger in and go a little to the right while my body kept going straight and maybe a little to the left. Then I heard the ‘pop’ you hear about and fear as a skier/athlete/guide. I instantly knew something was wrong. As is human instinct, I tried to get up and walk it off, but boom, I was right back on the ground, my left leg not working right. Deep in the backcountry, I looked at my watch and started to make decisions. I was still with a group of 12 guests and two other guides, so support was there, but that was the rest of everyone’s day, dealing with me. A few super labored zig-zag turns and collapses and I made it off of avalanche terrain and met up with the group, almost blacking out with pain and adrenaline. With cloud-building and a quality rescue sled made by Kootenay Rescue Bubble, Jasmin, my super tough wife and co-guide, made the right call to drag me out. So we immobilized my leg, put me in the sled and spent the next three hours getting me back to the lodge. It took 100 percent from everyone to make it happen, team work at its finest, but for sure Andrew (the other guide) and Jasmin worked the hardest.
Getting back to my cabin at the lodge is when it all broke down. Waves of emotion crested over me as I knew my path had changed. There will be no freedom in the hills for many months now, my endorphin source taken away. A new uphill battle through the ‘non-life threatening’ public health care system was setting up to be my fight. I wasn’t scared or upset at hurting my self, and looking at surgery and the road to recovery, I was more upset about letting down my wife, having doubled her workload at our lodge with me out of commission, scared at losing my freedom and becoming a prisoner of immobility, scared of losing touch with my wife and hound as I knew I wouldn’t be able to be up at the lodge for the rest of the winter as I battled down the road of recovery. The preciousness of the special and unique life we have seemed all too real.
We all adapt and change though, and we settle in to our new roles as best we can. Or maybe we just cope. Again and again, folks like to talk about the ‘reasons’ behind things happening. I don’t think things happen for a reason. I think we are all in control of our destinies. I think the ‘silver lining’ is something we find on our own and decide to focus on. One door closing just makes you realize that there are other doors to open and explore. I found my path and partner in life and I am going to fight like hell to get back on it and with her stronger than before. Eventually I will get in to surgery to repair my ACL and meniscus and my bruised up bones will heal. Maybe I will learn some cool things along the way, or maybe I will realize that in my mid 30s I need to stop breezing through my physical life and start making my body work harder for it and training. Either way, my eyes are open to what needs to get done and now I need to do it!
So you won’t find the deepest faceshot, most majestic views or insane physical feats coming from me for a few months. You will find me filling you in on the slow road to recovery that I know many of you have traveled down, with the small victories and defeats of the daily struggle. I know a ton of you can relate, and my strength comes from standing on the shoulders of so many of you that have hurt yourselves before me. In the end, no one died, and I should be charging in the hills again before I know it, so really it’s just a flat tire, with a busted spare, and a long walk to the nearest service station for help. And when I get the tire fixed I can continue down my wonderful path in life!
Above is a quick vid showing you the life I am now missing…
It’s officially Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as the day of love. It’s only natural, then, that we pronounce our general love for cycling right here and now. Thanks to World Bicycle Relief for posting this original image!
Sometimes we all need a good motivator, a reason every day to get out, an excuse that actualizes our habits. I usually need a mountain, a big one somewhere far flung, and something I can obssess about for months and then go and set foot on. As such a goal usually demands, there is an inherent discipline that goes with it, including daily exercise, weekly planning and monthly milestones. Recently however, as I have been preparing to do not one, but 14 continuous 14,000′ mountains in one 60 hour push, I joined a website that allowed me to hold myself accountable, communicate my daily training with some modesty and to participate in a contest to win a treadmill. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: why the hell would I need a treadmill living in Telluride, Co.? Read on…
When I began this #nevermiss contest, I thought I would win. It was titled #nevermiss and inspired by Mark Covert, the current record holder for the longest running streak at over 44 years of at least a mile every day. I’m an endurance athlete and have a lifestyle that facilitated the daily minimum — to walk or run one mile a day each day and build the longest streak of doing so between 11/1/13 and 12/31/13. I hoped to win the treadmill for my wife, who with our recently born premature child, has not been able to get out much but is a very cardio-motivated person as well. I started on 11/2, the day after a man named John Di Rienzo (a Hawaiin resident). Although most of his mileage would stay localized in the beauty of Hawaii, I would hit multiple locations in Colorado and Utah as my quest to get outside battled mother nature’s quest to force winter!
Sure, it sounds like a decent idea, but this was no bare minimum contest for either myself or Mr. Di Rienzo. There would be some 25 mile days, 50 mile days and over 340 miles and 52,000′ of elevation gain during this time, as I attempted to stay committed through a race and a rest period afterwards. I checked in daily and stayed in the game with Mr Di Rienzo’s daily posts. He was getting it done every day and so was I. It’s funny how this motivated me and how it challenged me to execute every day. I found excuses to climb some of the coolest peaks I had seen for years just right off interstate-I-70 in Colorado; I finally got out of the car near Crested Butte, Co. and hiked to the Dillon Pinnacles on a 7 hour drive; I took much-needed breaks from work to just stroll a mile around my hometown and remember why I live here and almost every day take a picture. #nevermiss became an actualizer of opportunity for me so much more than just a contest to win, it became a fundamental excuse to be conscious of how awesome my life is and how fortunate I am to meet this criteria, of being able to walk or run a mile everyday and share a photo of where.
Although Mr. Di Rienzo won the contest having started one day before me and because he honestly stuck to the ethos a little better — running a mile everyday rather than hiking some like I did, I did not feel bitter that I could not win the treadmill for my wife. Instead, I felt thankful that I had a new habit and had opened my eyes to things that otherwise I may have ignored on my quest to do the lower mileage hiking days. Now that I am nearing almost 100 days and 500 miles since 11/2/13, I can look back and say that this streak has been a good thing in my life and that I hope other people take on challenges like these, not necessarily for the fitness but for the chance to take a break, get outside and do something you love every day!
This month, fourteen committed runners will join elite athletes Scott Jurek, Gebre Gebremariam and Werknesh Kidane for the first ever trail race in the cradle of humanity, culminating a week of shared contribution to the eye health and educational strength of Ethiopia.
Osprey athlete, climber and writer, Majka Burhardt is producing the project, called Accelerate Ethiopia. The expedition sparked as an idea for a fundraising running event to benefit the Himalayan Cataract Project, an leader in providing high-quality, low-cost eye care optimized for the developing world. Majka pulled in another nonprofit, imagine1day, which is a charity educating the next generation of leaders in Ethiopia—and together they created Accelerate Ethiopia.
As Majka prepares to leave on her journey to Ethiopia we caught up with her for a few questions…
Mountain 2 Mountain’s Shannon Galpin has spent the past several years pedaling in Afghanistan, and in the midst of her journeys, she’s observed the following: “… usually the only bikes I see are simple Pakistani made commuters bikes, ridden around the country on dirt roads and highways by men and boys of all ages.” But last November, Shannon met the Men’s National Cycling Team, which made a huge impression. As Shannon put it, “They have a real love of the sport, racing in Kabul and in Pakistan. Several mentioned their hope to compete one day in the Olympics.” What’s more, even though it is culturally unacceptable for women to ride in Afghanistan, Shannon found out that there happen to be 10-12 women on the Cycling Team with the support of the coach.
While the cycling community in Afghanistan is there (and slowly gaining ground), it remains fact that those riding are doing so with virtually no support, on bikes that don’t always suit their needs and with gear that’s less than ideal. That’s why Mountain 2 Mountain is organizing a month-long bicycle gear drive that will begin on Friday, February 15th. Here’s the full run-down of details:
The most-needed items (i.e. suggested donations) are, for both women and men, both road and mountain bike: “helmets, pedals, shoes, cleats, seats, chammies, long pants, jerseys, gloves, jackets, windbreakers, sunglasses, socks, tools, tubes (no 29′ers please), tires, lube, air pumps. Lightly used old gear and new gear is welcomed!!” Cash donations to help with transport costs will also be accepted. There will be four drop-off locations in Colorado (Denver – Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop, Boulder – Boulder Cycle Sport, Golden – Rise Above Cycles, Frisco – Podium Sports). Additionally, individuals are welcome to send a box of their gear donations directly to Mountain 2 Mountain (PO Box 7399, Breckenridge, CO 80424). All gear will be picked up on March 15th, so gather your goods and get them out the door ASAP!
You can follow what’s happening with the drive and check for updates on Mountain 2 Mountain’s Facebook page.
If you want to make an online donation to support the teams or our upcoming Strength in Numbers program you can do that here!
It’s that time of year again! Vertfest is and always will be known as “the best Festival of Freeride and Mountain Mettle in North America,” and it’s back, ready to kick off on February 16th and 17th in Alpental, WA. Naturally, we’ll be there to help celebrate. Here’s the full scope of what you can expect:
The weekend will begin on Saturday with the Monika Johnson Memorial Rally, with a race division that’ll take participants on two laps up Alpental and back — in addition to a recreational division, as well as a 50+ and splitboard division, all of which will offer up just one lap. Saturday will progress with a contest, an awards ceremony and an epic raffle with ski and pack giveaways. Saturday’s festivities will cap off with live music from Head Like A Kite and Daydream Vacation.
Sunday is the day of educational clinics, ranging from an Intro to Splitboarding with Neil Provo to a clinic focused on landscape photography to a Sidecountry Steeps Clinic with our very own Osprey Athlete Kim Havell. This clinic will take place from 9-12 and 1-4 p.m. You can check the full clinic schedule for details here, but be sure to stop by the Osprey booth on Sunday between 4 and 4:30 for a chance to meet Kim Havell, who will be doing a poster-signing!
Throughout the weekend, Osprey will be providing free demos on the Karve series of sidecountry riding packs, as well as the Kode 22 backcountry riding pack, so be sure to swing by to try on a Karve or Kode pack and get fitted by a professional. We’ll have Karve 6, 11 and 16 as well as the Kode 22 on hand for free demos. What’s more, we’ll be there with the entire Osprey winter collection and all of the new packs that will be coming in Spring of 2013. And while you’re at the Osprey booth, be sure to take the 3-minute Osprey Vertfest survey for a chance to win a brand-new Osprey pack. We’ll see you on the mountain!