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A Snippet of Singletrack: The BC Bike Race

August 8th, 2013

Eagles soar overhead, and I fixate on countless coves I wish to build my dream cabin on as we sail across the scenic Strait of Georgia to the isolated northern Sunshine Coast on the BC Ferries Queen of Burnaby. Powell River is a town that has ridden the tumultuous wave of boom and bust for years, starting when the first pulp mill was built there in 1908. With the last downturn in BC’s forestry industry, the town saw significant job cuts, and another cycle of depression. More recently, Powell River has turned to other forms of industry, such as eco-tourism. The BC Bike Race is the perfect fit, as proven by our reception upon arrival. We depart the ferry on foot, walking up the main street toward the start line, crowds of locals cheering us on. Tiny cheerleading squads toss each other in the air while teenage boys smash out rhythms on drums. Storeowners hand out watermelon to racers, while bagpipers stand at attention on a street corner. We make our way to the start line, which is also our campsite for the evening, located right beside the ocean on the green grass of the town park.

The singletrack of the day’s stage proves to be equally welcoming. We quickly dive into flowy singletrack winding through the temperate rainforest surrounding Powell River. The riding demands full concentration, but whenever I raise my focus from the task at hand I am rewarded with a beautiful view of a pristine lake, river or some other natural wonder. The community spirit overflows onto the trails as well. On the first of two timed Enduro sections of the day, hundreds of people line the freshly-built track called Death Rattle, yelling encouragement and smashing cowbells. There’s even one fellow railing out rock anthems on his guitar and battery-powered amp. The energy is electric as I rail turns down the mountain, carving up berms of dark coastal dirt, cascading my way through some of the most enjoyable trail I have ever ridden. The stage ends right where it began, next to the ocean, and many racers take advantage of that fact, soaking tired muscles in the cool waters of the Pacific.

That evening we convene for dinner at the local sports complex. The hockey rink is devoid of ice, and now features cloth-covered tables and silverware, complete with candles and decorative white lights adorning the sides of the rink. Girls on rollerskates float around serving local craft beer and wine while we dig into barbequed pork roast, shrimp and asparagus pasta, local organic veggies and caramel-glazed cake for dessert. While we loosen our belts and sit groaning from the herculean amounts of food we have just ingested, local talents hit the stage for the evening’s entertainment. The night is capped off when an awkward, chubby teenager shuffles on stage to sing. He starts off with Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” and has the crowd on its feet cheering incredulously after the first few pitch-perfect notes, like a scene out of an American Idol audition. Later, as the sun sets over the ocean, and I fall asleep to the sound of waves on the shore, I marvel over how this was just one of seven amazing days of this race. Each day is an experience unto itself, and the whole week an incredible adventure.

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Two Days in the Mountains: Climbing and Skiing Mount Baker and Mount Cheakamus

May 19th, 2012

We live in a pretty spectacular place, so earlier this month, I hatched a plan to take advantage…

Day 1: climb and ski the Coleman Deming route of Mount Baker in Washington State.

Day 2: Do the beautiful Spearhead ski traverse, and if the stars align, ski the North Face of Cheakamus Mountain in British Columbia.

To prepare for a trip like this, it’s important to study the weather forecast and avalanche stability. It’s a lot of hurry up and waiting for a two-day weather window.

Even then, there are no guarantees in the mountains and success is not just in achieving goals in terms of summits and descents. It’s all about new experiences, meeting new people and maybe a new sense of purpose and energy after returning to the real world.

Here is a short video and photo gallery after our trip to the mountains…

YouTube Preview Image

Special thanks to Matty Richard, Tim Grey and Dominic Melanson who unbeknownst to us had the same aspirations to ski Mount Cheakamus, but started from Whistler Mountain (the other side of the traverse). Lucky for us, they were friendly and set a good boot track up. Good vibes! Thanks for your humble offerings and gracious boot pack.

Mike Traslin grew up skiing on the North Shore Mountains of British Columbia. Starting on plastic skis at the age of 3, his passion has remained steady ever since. Being Canadian, it was always ice hockey and skiing for Mike in the winter, but soon it turned into racing gates and then freestyle skiing. And once he discovered powder and backcountry skiing he was hooked, and never looked back.

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Three Years, Three Million Ridiculous Feet of Climbing

February 16th, 2012

Over the past three years I’ve been keeping track of my vertical feet of climbing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking. I have now climbed a total of three million feet.

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High Pressure Bonanza at Rogers Pass, British Columbia

February 13th, 2012

Inversion in the Pass

From my last post you might think that all it does is snow up here in the Selkirks of BritishColumbia. Well, usually it does and for most of January it sure did. Alas, last week the snow hose shifted its focus, and squinty eyes and sun burned noses returned to the mountains of BC.

With my father in law, the original owner of my backcountry ski lodge Valhalla Mountain Touring, in place as the hut keeper, I knew I needed to get out of my neck of the woods and go play in the big peaks of Rogers Pass. A quick 2.5 hour drive from home (not including the snowmachine ride to my truck and the half-hour ferry ride inland), Rogers Pass is the number one place I go to play when I have some time off.  If you haven’t been, its time to change that, as it is host to some of the best road-accessed ski touring in the world, hands down.

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Skiing Mt. Seymour: Keeping it Real in Our Backyard

December 9th, 2011

Mt. Seymour one of the first places my father  took me to ski — once to be exact.

Years later, when I’m short on time I find myself back at Seymour for dawn patrols. After 20 years of skiing the backcountry, it feels like I have skied every chute I could find and all the nook and crannies in between. Looking back now I have realized Seymour has kept me in shape for skiing all over the world and parts I still dream of. Sometimes the size of the mountain doesn’t matter, it’s best to just get out there, have fun and do it.

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The Unsung Heroes of the BC Bike Race

July 26th, 2011

A race, in its most basic form, breeds heroes. These heroes usually take the form of the champions, the athletes that rise above to conquer his or her field, besting all contenders.

The demanding format of the BC Bike Race allows for new heroes to emerge. These are the folks that may not be the fastest of the day (heck, some of the heroes end up being some of the slowest riders out there). But these unsung heroes are the ones grinding and toiling out on the course, leaving behind their day jobs and lives back home to focus on one thing and one thing only: getting across that finish line each day of the race.

There are people like Dave, who spent the whole first night in Cumberland overcome with a vicious flu. The night was passed curled up in a dirty bathroom, alternating between bouts of vomiting and fitful sleep. He crawled to the start line in the morning, and fought through the day. The next day his flu subsided and he kept going strong on course.

Speaking of overcoming challenges, there was the couple from Austin that was looking forward to a week of racing without their kids in tow. Their nanny fell through at the last minute, and undeterred they changed their race entry to tag-team, brought their kids, alternated days of racing and had a great BC Bike Race family vacation. Not Disneyland, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.

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Lane Love: Vancouver

July 18th, 2011

Interesting perspective on a bike lane in cycle friendly Vancouver, BC. Always good to see creative markings of bike designated routes.

Have a lane that you love? Send us a photo! You can post it to our Facebook page, shoot us an email at blog[at]ospreypacks[dot]com or upload to our Flickr group and we might just feature it here on our weekly photo feature, Lane Love.

Image: waferboard

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Lane Love: Ancaster

July 11th, 2011

A classic summer cycling shot from Ancaster, Ontario.

Have a lane that you love? Send us a photo! You can post it to our Facebook page, shoot us an email at blog[at]ospreypacks[dot]com or upload to our Flickr group and we might just feature it here on our weekly photo feature, Lane Love.

Image: Nicki Varkevisser

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BC April Ski Tour: Mt. Philistine Photo Gallery + Video

May 16th, 2011

Aside from the looming overhead cornices on the climb, and the swimming uphill travel at the top of the couloir, the 3,000-foot ski descent was epic, knee deep powder. Take a look.

YouTube Preview ImageMt. Philistine-North  Couloir


Skiers: Andy Traslin, Mike Traslin, Alex Gibbs, Maddy Armstrong

Story: Andy Traslin Photos: Andy Traslin, Alex Gibbs

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The Hut Life: Skiing the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia

April 25th, 2011

There is nothing quite like standing on an untouched mountain ridge surrounded by friends and looking down at untracked powder-laden rib lines that beckon for a descent.

Last week my team and I were embedded in the Esplanade range, less than a two-hour ski tour from a warm, large ski lodge, where no person had ever skied before and no other person was to be seen for miles around. We were alone in the vast expanse of the backcountry.

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