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Breck Bike Week 2013

July 25th, 2013

Breck Bike Week – Aug. 15-18, 2013 – may only be four days, but the lineup packs a week’s worth of activities into long weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado. The grassroots cycling event sits sandwiched between the Breck Epic (Aug. 11-16) and stages two and three of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (Aug. 20-21); tack on a few bike-in movie nights and math wizards will arrive at something like 12 days of cycling in Breckenridge.
Addition aside, Breck Bike Week brings a bigger-than-ever expo, which serves as event headquarters (be sure to stop by the Osprey tent!) and meeting grounds for many Bike Week events. Here are a few things you’ll want to catch while you’re there:
• Bike-in movie nights at the Warming Hut: Kick off the festivities with an outdoor screening of
Breaking Away. Strap the camp chair to the cargo bike and head to the Warming Hut for free
popcorn, plus appetizer and drink specials. Thursday, Aug. 15, plus other nights throughout
August
• Trails 101: Raise the shovel and trail awareness with the Friends of Breckenridge Trails crew.
Riders will learn what it takes to make a sustainable trail and put in a little elbow grease. There’s
nothing more rewarding than lapping a section of trail you’ve helped to build. Friday, Aug. 16
• Super D Race and IMBA Fundraiser Party: Think of it as a community block party. With a super
d race ripping through the backyard. As riders chow down and kick back (for live music and an
outdoor movie), they’ll get the good feeling that comes along with supporting Summit Fat Tire
Society, a local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Saturday, Aug. 17
• Guided Rides: Not familiar with Breckenridge trails? No worries. Non-profits Summit Velo and
Summit Fat Tire Society will lead Sunday’s guided groups rides, both road and mountain. The
local experts are in charge, and they’ll be showing off some of the best cycling routes in the
area. Sunday, Aug. 18
Other events throughout the week include women’s mountain bike skills clinics, a happy hour ride with Breckenridge Mayor John Warner, Poker Ride (Go Fish ride available for the kiddos), a youth race series and more. Visit BreckBikeWeek.com for a full schedule!

A dedicated fan of fun, Rachel Zerowin loves exploring and writing about the outdoors, especially when it relates to cycling. As the public relations manager for GoBreck, she gets to do a bit of both during work hours in Breckenridge, Colorado. Check out more of Rachel’s work on BreckConnection.com or say hello on Twitter @ColoradoSummit.

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Active Lifestyle, Events, Guest post, Osprey Life, The Cycling Buzz , , ,

Dust Buster

May 22nd, 2013

Wind. Without it we wouldn’t have storms and without storms we wouldn’t have snow. I get it, but in recent years the wind has brought little to the San Juan Mountains each spring but dust. I’m not talking about a few rogue particulates that have blown in from the desert. I’m talking about dust storms that make me think Apocalypse.

I’ve been skiing in the San Juan’s for the better part of two decades, but the dust storm phenomenon has only been plaguing our spring snowpack for the last five years. Local backcountry skiers now know the dust is coming each spring, it is just a matter of when it will come. To add insult to injury, the dust storms of the last two springs have coated an extremely thin snowpack. Scientist are saying that the dust is contributing to about 45 fewer days of snow cover in the San Juan’s each season than a decade ago. The dust storms flare up when we get a stiff and steady wind from the southern side of the compass. This year the first major event hit April 7th the following week. By late April the snowpack looked to be a color best described as somewhere between an off-brown and adobe. Regardless of where the dust comes from, it’s here, so I can either hang up the skis or suck it up and get out while there is still snow to ski.

In late April we get a minor reprieve with half a foot of snow. The dust lurks beneath the surface but for a day I have a small window to get some turns in snow that is relatively free of visible dirt. The objective is a tight couloir off the eastern side of South Lookout Peak near Ophir Pass in southwest Colorado. I have been looking at this line for more than a decade, trying to find a time when coverage is sufficient and the couloir and run out are free of debris. From highway 550 I look at the line through my binoculars and it looks good to go. I drive a few miles up the Ophir Pass road find a small pull-out and put things in motion.

South Lookout Peak (El. 13,370) and the couloir from Ophir Pass Road.

The last storm cleared out less than 24 hours earlier, but as I start to skin, I notice shades of brown starting to poke through the brighter snow. As I gain elevation, the depth of the new snow increases and the visible dust dissipates. I traverse a large alpine basin and climb until the pitch exceeds the grip of my skins. I toss the skis on my pack, latch on the crampons and continue to head higher. The couloir narrows and the pitch steepens. I glance down at my bootpack and notice two distinct dust layers within the cross section of snow exposed with each footprint. The dust layers are separated from each other by an inch of snow and from the top by less than three inches. With today’s brilliant blue sky, I know that by tomorrow this white snow I climb will look like a chute of soot.

The pitch intensifies and gets my attention. It is steep enough now that my helmet grazes the surface with each step. This is the only time I ever feel truly exposed when skiing dicey terrain. The fear of sliding backwards, chest down, on a cliff-lined 45-degree pitch keeps me focused, which is probably good given the consequences of a fall.

After the crux, the climb mellows to a more comfortable 45 degrees.

After a period of sphincter-tightening steps, the couloir widens and mellows enough to allow me to take more relaxed steps to the top. The top of the couloir is a narrow notch in the rocks that provides exceptional views of the Wilson range to the west. From my perch I can see that the Wilsons took the brunt of the last dust storm. Being the first major mountains east of the desert has made the Wilsons a geological catcher’s mitt for massive amounts of dust. In terms of coverage, the snowpack looks like it should in early June, but the tone of the surface is sickening.

View west toward the Wilson Range from the top of South Lookout Peak showing dust on the snowpack.

Lunch is consumed, gear is stowed and it is time to drop in. Skiing couloirs is a methodical but detailed process where each turn needs to be executed with precision to avoid putting a disastrous chain of events in motion. I get my game face on and feel the pull of gravity as I aim downward. The goal to skiing couloirs efficiently is to work with gravity, not fight it.

Letting gravity do the work in the couloir.

Rhythm is the key, and within a couple of turns, I have found mine. I stay focused a couple turns ahead and try to keep my speed up fast enough to not let my sluff catch me. I approach the narrow section and swivel a couple turns to dump speed as the slot is too narrow to allow my skis to turn perpendicular to the slope. After I pass the choke I cut right, make a wide turn, and let the sluff pass on my left side. The crux is over and now this is simple high-angle fun. The couloir widens and I gain speed quickly. The last of the cliff walls disappear and I find myself on huge well-sloped apron, where I dump a hundred vertical feet with each arcing turn. The entire run has taken a couple minutes but is well worth the multi-hour effort.

I soak up the San Juan sunshine while waiting for the rest of the crew to join me in the basin. Once we are all back together we start laying out a plan for our next ascent and select some possible lines. The north-facing slope above us still looks to hold some powder from the last storm. The last few turns we made have left white marks on the brown snow.

Art and snow. Interesting but reason for concern as this isn’t what snow should look like in late April.

While it looks interesting, it is another sign that our spring snowpack will likely be gone earlier than ever. Not knowing how much longer our San Juan snowpack will last this spring, we decide that there is no better time than the present to get after it. Skins come out, water goes down and more sunscreen goes on. This is the cycle of my life, and life is good.

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adventure, Conservation, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Endangered Rivers in the US

April 17th, 2013

Photo: Pete McBride

For more than two decades American Rivers has released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. American Rivers released the 2013 list today, and the river at the top—the most endangered river in the nation—is the mighty Colorado.

As Americans we are lucky to have this river in our proverbial backyard. But our demands on the river’s water now far exceed its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that it no longer flows to the sea. A century of water management policies and practices promoting wasteful water use have put the river at a critical crossroads.

Take action here.

Read more…

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It’s Winter Bike to Work Day in Durango

February 28th, 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.

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Climate Change to Dent Ski Industry $12.2 Billion?

December 14th, 2012

Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Freeskier, founder of The Save Our Snow Foundation and an award-winning global cooling consultant who has spent her life dedicated to solutions for climate change.

While I’ve been working to save our snow from climate change for over 20 years, superstorm Sandy was still a huge wake up call for me. One of the biggest problems for us global warming geeks is that “it” was always happening to someone else, usually thousands of miles away in a third world country. My skiing travels certainly made it more real for me as glaciers and snowfields I had skied just a few years ago disappeared forever in just five years or so. But the impact of Sandy hit close to home, so to speak.

For years, arguments have passed back and forth regarding what “safe” amounts of carbon dioxide emissions that we could emit might be. A recommended 80 percent reduction by 2050 was often seen as the only sensible way to keep extreme weather at bay, save our snow, and keep low-lying countries above water. Yet this was often regarded as too extreme and unreasonable to reach. While at Copenhagen in 2009, I watched the U.S. delegates actually argue for a one percent reduction over 1990 levels, while most of the rest of the world argued about 80 percent not being sufficient. McKibben’s recent speaking tour, along with a demonstration of actual higher-than-projected-emissions, are now showing us on path for a 7-14 degree temperature increase. Considering a two degree increase is most likely to put many countries under water and most ski and snowboard resorts out of snow, we now need to really skip the baby steps and focus on real and meaningful reductions.

This all doesn’t have to mean doom and gloom and crawling into a cave – I’ve happily reduced my energy use and carbon footprint in half in the last several years – all while saving money and increasing my quality of life. We are able to do this, but it means that we have to get real with reductions and stop being so damn nice about it. Forget recycling and driving your Prius; What is your carbon footprint and can you cut it to three tons from 40? This is going to involve some hard choices for all of us. In 2001: I gave up heliskiing; in 2005: my snowmobile; and in 2010: my ski pass. Each one involved tears and temptation, yet in the end I believe I am happier and healthier.

All of this leads me to another report I read this week, this time from Protect Our Winters (POW) and the National Resources Defense Council. It’s called the Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States. So often, folks tell me that we can’t afford to implement changes in our lives due to the economy, yet (as this report shows) it is the very economy that will suffer the greatest in a world with super wacky weather such as droughts, floods or a combination thereof: super storms. Yet until now, no one has ever attempted to put a financial figure on the losses that the winter sports communities might incur, or the amount of jobs that might be lost. While skiing and snowmobiling contribute $12.2 billion dollars and 600,000 jobs to our national economy, the numbers from the state of Colorado alone are staggering; a $154 million in revenue could be lost due to the impacts of climate change.

“In order to protect winter – and the hundreds of thousands whose livelihoods depend upon a snow-filled season – we must act now to support policies that protect our climate, and in turn, our slopes,” wrote study authors Elizabeth Burakowski and Matthew Magnusson of the University of New Hampshire.

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The Extra Mile

October 26th, 2012

We all have challenges in life, from balancing work with family to juggling our health and schedules. Each day we tack on ever-increasing years and mileage just by being present. Sometimes falling short is the best we can do, sometimes going bigger than we could imagine is asked of us with no more warning than the arrival of the sunrise. I’ve always on some level viewed success in life as having control of my destiny that day when I first see the sun, but that’s just the goal, a vision, and sometimes just being awake is more of an achievement than we give ourselves credit for.

On September 15th, I was scheduled to enter my first ultra-marathon, a 50-miler that would take place in the La Sal Mountains of Utah and end in the slickrock paradise of Moab — The M.A.S. 50. After hitting some major trail running goals this summer, I elected to take the next step in my mountain-obsessed career and try this. Trying something new and unleashing the process that has allowed me to throw myself at so many bizarre goals is a yearly struggle for me and brings about occasions I fight to rise to. I hate to lose as much as I hate to quit, but sometimes my goals look more like I hate myself, although that is not actually the case (I really just want to know what I’m made of). What looks like punishment from the outside is actually just evidence of emerging flaws within — weakness, doubt and uncertainty that I hope to purge. This process challenges me to constantly conjure a willingness to move forward despite obstacles and in that process, man, I feel good when I execute.

Sure, the above sounds inspiring but this is not a story about the M.A.S. 50, I did not toe the line on that day – September 15th. In fact, I did not complete one mile on that trail that day, and I didn’t even go to Moab. I met a greater representative of who I am inside, and learned to appreciate a different virtue — vulnerability on such a greater scale — just three days before that day I had prepared for with a single-minded focus. On September 12th, my wife and I welcomed a son into the world, eight weeks early.

Annie and Charlie Clark

My wife gives me credit for all the years I spent negotiating life and death situations in the mountains sometimes when I deal with something in a way others may not. However, on this occasion, all of that training saved our son’s life. It was just one simple decision to stop and get gas before speeding an hour and a half down the Telluride Valley to Montrose, Co. that made the difference. Her water broke after dinner, we packed a bag, said goodbye to our dogs at 7:10 and out the door we went, her in an immeasurable amount of pain coupled with the fear and anxiety of a premature birth and far from the world of advanced medicine and OBGYNs.

As any mountain guides know, when things go wrong, making quick decisions can alter the course of action to irreversible. I could tell that this situation was getting intense so we called our doctor in Grand Junction, asked for some advice and as I poured a cup of coffee in the gas station, grabbed my wife a cold water and pumped a few $4 gallons into our car — the five minutes of letting the situation unfold properly passed like an eternity. That five minutes to look at the situation clearly dictated the next two hours. Rather than deliver our son in the car and on the way to the hospital, we safely took an ambulance to the Telluride Medical Center where my wife and an extraordinary team delivered a 4lb 8 oz. boy — one of the few babies since 1964 to be born there. He was welcomed into the world just moments before his first chopper ride to Grand Junction, Co. and a month long stay in the NICU of the hospital.

Drink a cup, save a life.

So, no race that weekend. What I was actually training for was here early and I am proud of him as he showed me that being barely able to do anything on his own, being completely vulnerable, completely helpless, unable to really even live without so much help was OK. We saw a lot of sunrises as he stayed in the NICU in the hospital for almost a month with my wife and dedicated mother-in-law keeping constant vigil over his every breath. Each day was a small step forward as he learned to eat, breathe and keep his eyes open. He taught me it doesn’t take amazing physical feats in the mountains to uncover the human spirit, it is here already everyday — in each of us. He is the best proof I could ever have that life goes on, that moving forward is not always easy, but it is possible, and that life itself is the goal. The situation also taught me that dumb luck trumps the best laid plans; had he been delivered in the car he would have not have made it, drowning in fluid that filled his lungs. To top if off, we had to move our family two and half hours away to Grand Junction, Co. until he can come home in 4 to 6 months.

But that is not the end of the story. Life is about doing what you can even when it seems like you can’t. I always remind myself that patience and an eye for opportunity will overcome the present day at some point good or bad. It helps me to freak out a little bit when it’s bad, get over the adjustment and then pick it up and motor to the next of however many phases there are to whatever new challenge surfaces.

So two weeks later than The M.A.S. 50 in Moab, with my wife’s permission, I toed the line of a 50 Mile race for the first time. This race — The Devil Mountain Ultra in Pagosa Springs Co. started at sunrise on 9/29/12. It was just above freezing at 6 a.m. and after two weeks of very little sleep, being on high alert and a gut wrenching uber dehydrating food poisoning episode two days before, I covered 50.87 miles on trails, climbing and descending 8300′. The most memorable part of the race was spent under a tree on a mountainside during a scary electrical storm that drenched me to the core and lasted 45 minutes at mile 42. Accompanied by another shivering and damp racer, Roger Youngs, who shared the same fear of being hit by lightning, I stood back up with a stiff and riddled body to give it what I had and climbed 800′ back up to the saturated plateau that led for another 8 miles to the finish.

Although the circumstances were not ideal, I never questioned why I was here doing this. I was lucky to meet Roger Youngs that day and hang out for way too long under that tree while the storm raged above. He had destroyed his feet in minimal running shoes, I had hobbled, run and overcome a massive blow to the outside of my right foot at mile 8 that made it swell up and bruise like it had literally been run over or beat with a sledge hammer by mile 23. These were newbie mistakes that put us both at the back of the pack with fresh legs and motivation to finish, but mistakes I could accept easier than telling my wife I had been gone for a couple of days and not really done anything but bruise my foot to the point where I couldn’t run for two weeks.

My foot after a 50 Mile trail Ultra Marathon.

When we arrived at the last aid station at mile 44.5, I gave Roger my more cushioned shoes and put on a fresh pair I had waiting in a drop bag there. We plunged downhill into approaching darkness and I finished that day by headlamp at 13 hours and 8 minutes, 3 minutes behind Roger who I made a believer in the Brooks Pure Grit shoe that after 45 miles in his other non-cushioned shoes might as well have been hovering above the trail with soft marshmallows under his riddled feet. Running slowly in the darkness with nothing more than the distantly faint sound of music and people around a feast at the finish that I was too late to enjoy, I had no idea if I could finish or not and that was not an easy feeling. I didn’t know if my foot may just completely collapse under a catostrophic stress fracture and totally take me down as the last three miles stretched onward to mile 50, and then there was an extra .87 miles to go past that. I knew I could try until it did and when I finished, it was pretty anticlimatic except for that my foot had not broken in half. I didn’t feel anything at the finish line and wasn’t overly fatigued, kind of like when I summit a peak and have all the way down to go, there was gas in the tank but this time the vehicle had no tires. Despite what you might think there was no sense of relief or accomplishment, no excitement, no hunger, nothing. Well, take that back, I felt my foot and I felt a sense of urgency to ice it. This was OK for me and something I am used to, if you are of the mindset to complete a 50 mile race, delaying gratification is probably in your DNA as well.

Sometimes we have to balance a lot in life, we have to go an extra .87 miles, we have to work harder than others, we have to overcome ourselves and the mistakes we make, we have to push our limits with pain in every step. In this case, I didn’t so much overcome the mileage or the fear, I overcame my expectations and took control of one day of my life at sunrise in the midst of an otherwise out of control plot I am living. Just because I made it to that finish line that started so far away that day only meant that race was over. I had no emotion because the moment it was over, I thought about someone else and hisr accomplishment and was excited to be a part of it. I thought about my wife and my boy and I realized that in order to feel anything like what I thought I might, I would have to be with them. I liked that, realizing that for the first time something that seems like such an individual accomplishment would at least this time hold nothing more than a lackluster statistic of being some guy who finished in the back of the pack, as usual, a display that the only real talent I have to show for my athletics is heart. Beyond that, the true and quantifiable result of running that first 50 miler wasn’t just to realize I could go the distance, but to realize that the distance from my family would be the one that would hold the most meaning and it was time to jump in the car and get moving forward with my life again. This was not the time to pat myself on the back and get too comfortable. After all, there was another sunrise to catch and each one for the last 38 days has been better than the one before.

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Osprey Athletes Become Best Outdoor Personalities in Elevation Outdoors Poll

October 2nd, 2012

You may have already heard the news. Regardless, we’re proud to shout it out! Veteran Osprey Athletes Alison Gannett and Timmy O’Neill were both given the honor of being nominated Best Outdoor Personalities by Elevation Outdoors in its annual Best of Colorado poll.

The Colorado-based magazine Elevation Outdoors serves as the area’s guide to outdoor recreation. What’s more, it celebrates what’s best in outdoor sports and gear and who’s doing the most amazing things in the world of outdoor adventure. Here’s what Elevation Outdoors had to say about our very own Alison and Timmy:

Best Colorado Outdoor (female) Personality winner Alison Gannett is a World Champion Extreme Free Skier, an accomplished mountain biker, surfer and inspirational speaker. An Osprey athlete since the late 90’s, Gannett is a global cooling consultant helping companies and individuals find cost-effective and meaningful solutions to reduce climate change impacts.

Longtime Osprey Athlete Timmy O’Neill was named Best Colorado Outdoor (male) Personality. O’Neill’s resume includes climber, comedian, slackliner, lecturer, drummer and coffee drinker. This year, O’Neil was named executive director of Paradox Sports, an organization helping disabled individuals enjoy life to the fullest through climbing, biking, surfing and paddling.

“It is fantastic to see Elevation Outdoors and its readers recognize Alison and Timmy,” said Osprey’s Director of Marketing Gareth Martins. “We are huge fans of Alison and Timmy with great respect for them as both athletes and activists. We can’t wait to see where this season will take them!”

You can read the entire Elevation Outdoors Best of Colorado 2012 list here!

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Telluride Blues and Brews: Talon’s First Music Festival

September 25th, 2012
main stage

The main stage in Telluride Town Park.

The 19th annual Telluride Blues and Brews music festival took place this last weekend and Osprey Packs was there as always to join in the fun.  This year was something special though and it wasn’t just because of the B-52′s, Gov’t Mule or the epic jamming of Phil Lesh and all of his friends.  It was because it was Talon the Osprey’s first attendance at a music festival and boy oh boy does that bird know how to get down!

I had a brief moment to ask Talon some questions about his experience…

Read more…

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Endless Summer: Never Enough Mountain Biking

August 30th, 2012

As a professional skier I should be the kind of person who wants endless winter, yet I’m the person who can never get enough summer. Last night the temperatures dipped and we felt the first breaths of winter. Our gardens were safe, but I felt for sure that it might have frozen in Crested Butte, 3,000 feet above our farm in Paonia, Colorado. Between putting up food for the winter and work, I can only hope for several good months of riding here in the lowlands, dropping me fit as a fiddle into an epic powder skiing season.

Read more…

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Bike, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities, Southwest Colorado , , , , ,

The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge Wrap-Up

August 30th, 2012

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is the biggest and most challenging bike race ever held on U.S. territory. This year, it’s back with a vengeance. Starting August 20, for seven consecutive days, some of the best cyclists from around the world will take on 683 miles of the Rocky Mountains and ride through some of Colorado’s most beautiful cities. Osprey is proud to be the official pack sponsor of the Challenge and we brought you photos from each day’s events right here on the Osprey Bike Blog.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge stayed exciting from its start at Stage 1 all the way through the monster climb of Stage 4 and into the final flat and fast moments of Stage 7 when American Christian Vande Velde sped his way through Denver to win the 2012 race. As Vande Velde himself put it, “The opportunity to participate in a race like this, of this caliber is a beautiful thing. As long as there are races like the USA Pro Challenge in America, I want to race as long as I can. The crowds are so positive and so happy.”

From the USA Pro Cycling Challenge site: “We have some of the best cyclists in the world racing in Colorado,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “This is one of the biggest stage races in the history of our country. We call this America’s race, and it really is. The crowds were even bigger than they were last year; Golden to Boulder was pretty magical. I can’t wait for 2013 and we are already talking about routes.”

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