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Live Every Day as if it Were your Last

August 22nd, 2013


Nothing like an alien brain tumor the size of tennis/baseball to spice up my summer! For the past two years, I had noticed that my coordination and memory were just not spot on, but I attributed it to stress and my insane work, play and farm schedules. But starting in February, things began to get very strange: First I fell asleep at the wheel about a hundred times from the Outdoor Retailer show to Silverton, Colorado. Then I forgot to pack entirely for my three week Canadian adventures and my KEEN Osprey Rippin Chix Camps at Crystal Mtn, Red Mtn and Whitewater. I ceased to pay all house bills, insurance or do any invoicing or sponsor updates and, what’s worse, didn’t even notice. I actually forgot to catch a plane to Reno where I was the keynote speaker for Microsoft and a roomful of CEOs. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was on June 30th when I almost burned the house down cooking our piggy’s bacon for breakfast. While I was oblivious to my actions and just moving through life like everything was normal, Jason was most definitely freaked out by my behavior. It was if there was another person who now inhabiting my body.

After I just about killed myself with the now infamous bacon incident, Jason called our local rural Paonia doctor and begged for something to be done immediately. Dr. Meilner obliged and called every hospital within a two hour radius to see who could perform a CAT scan at midnight on a Saturday night. Finally Saint Mary’s in Grand Junction could take us, and Jason coaxed my almost lifeless body out of bed and into our ancient Subaru. Strangely, the alien tumor made a potent move at that point, and about the last thing I remember was directing Jason to where the hospital was located. Next thing I knew it was two days later, I was suddenly entering surgery at the Ann Shutz neurosurgery center at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. I couldn’t understand why all my family had flown or driven in to see me — luckily I didn’t comprehend the papers I signed, as this surgery is most deadly (hence the sudden arrival of all the family). Next thing I knew, I woke up in the ICU, which was a scene out of the bionic woman TV show, and my brain was clear and sharp. Immediately I demanded my dental floss, much to the glee of the hospital staff, my friends and family, and especially Jason who had not left my side; my feisty normal self was back! Again, I had not known that many people take several years to recover their memories and often have partial paralysis, although I did have amnesia from the bacon moment onward and most of June was a more than a bit blurry.

I’ve been out of the hospital for just over a month now, and can’t believe how fast the recovery is — way easier than it was for eight ACL/meniscus/articular cartilage knee surgeries! I’m back to working planning the upcoming ski and bike seasons, which I love (thanks Osprey!), walking and hiking, lots of farm work and joyous harvesting, fracktivating and planning a big keynote speech next week for the EPA, The Whitehouse and The Green Sports Alliance. More than anything, I notice the wonderful little things in life — a great night’s sleep in a comfy bed, petting the dogs, eating our amazing food and kissing my amazing guy. I’ve reflected on how amazing my life has been — how I have gone after everything like it could have been my last opportunity. And even though I am a bit petrified for my full body PET scan and three spinal MRI’s on September 6th, I feel confident that my neurosurgeon, my naturopath and my naturopathic oncologist Dr. Nasha Winters and my Ketogenic Diet with the Namaste Health Center in Durango will take me to a whole new level of health and well-being. Cheers to this wonderful life — the sky is blue and there is a big puffy white cloud that is so pretty, and I’m actually able to go eat four squares of organic dark baking chocolate right now!

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adventure, Bike, causes, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, photos, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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Forcing Nature at the Whistler Bike Park

May 23rd, 2013

I usually try to avoid the opening weekend of the Whistler Bike Park. Some reasons for my refusal to participate in this annual event are paltry, being that there are just a few muddy trails open, huge lines and the fact that other Sea to Sky venues are in mint shape this time of year, including, well, everywhere else.

All of that aside, I went this year. I think the Whistler Corp would like to hear that it was because of their barrage of marketing prior to the lifts firing up. Not really, although I did enjoy the first Force of Nature Video released before opening, featuring their motley bunch of bike athletes. The video shows riders carving perfect corners and lofting sculpted lips in what looks like epic mid-season conditions. Pretty convincing stuff, but the deciding factor for me was some good ‘ol fashioned arm-twisting by a group of buddies. A deal was struck where we worked out a balance of park and pedal, in a few Sea to Sky locations, over this Canadian long weekend.

It was a good decision. The bike park was all-time. The trail crew put in their due diligence, preparing almost every lower mountain trail in time for the gates to drop. The dirt was tacky and the riding was heroic. We had a casual start to the day, nothing like the kids who waited in line from 3 a.m. in order to secure first chair. The casual start was no hindrance though, as we were greeted by mellow lift lines that grew progressively larger over the afternoon. The wait in line was welcome though, as I could rest my cramping hands and catch up with friends. “How was your winter?” and “Epic conditions, eh?” were refrains echoing through the queue.

I had my own “Force of Nature” Friday night after a questionable chicken burrito wreaked havoc on my guts for the next 36 hours. I almost pulled the plug and hightailed back to Vancouver to recuperate, but the weekend was heading into high gear, so I decided hang around to see if things would improve.

The next day dawned wet and rainy, and my guts were still churning something fierce, so we abandoned the “official” opening day of the Park for a pedal in Squamish. A lush rainforest met us there, along with some fun new trails that magically sprung up over the winter, not unlike the mass proliferation of green undergrowth that appears with the spring rain.

The weekend was a blur of riding, eating and sleeping. My food poisoning waned, so with renewed energy I sampled more bike park, usually riding the lifts in the morning until the lift line got too oppressive, and then trading bikes for a pedal in the Whistler Valley or Pemberton. An amazing way to spend this Victoria Day long weekend!

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Reminiscing Red Rock Rendezvous, Cheers to 10 years!

May 1st, 2013
Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden poster signing at the booth.

Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden poster signing at the booth.

The 10th Anniversary of the Red Rock Rendezvous not only had a great attendance rate by pro climbers and climbing enthusiast alike, but also had the best weather it has seen in the past years. The tormenting desert winds took a hike the weekend of the festival, which left climbers with the perfect conditions for enjoying the festival events and outdoor activities.

The weekend was filled with various clinics from wilderness first aid, multi-pitch climbs, trad leads and even mountain bike clinics by our very own Osprey athletes Jeff Fox and Alison Gannett. Osprey provided demo packs to attendees for a chance to test out our new hydration packs and reservoir as well as our climbing specific packs, the Mutant and Variant.

As the festivities began to wind down and outdoor enthusiasts returned from their adventures, Red Rock Rendezvous continued the party with events like the Dyno Competition, where individuals would miraculously dyno to holds 6-9 feet above, and with guest speakers including Conrad Anker and Malcolm Daly who spoke about some of their landmark climbs from the past years, to bumping beats from various DJs later into the night.

Whether you were a local from Las Vegas, a dirtbag from different parts of the country, or a newbie just checking out the scene for the first time, Red Rock Rendezvous offered experiences for all skill sets and allowed strangers from all walks of life to celebrate climbing and outdoor community.

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Sea Otter Classic 2013; One for the Books!

May 1st, 2013

The Sea Otter Classic proved to be bigger than ever this year as the 22-year-old event brought together racers, fans and bike companies from around the globe to start the spring season with four days of festivities, races and all things bike. The attendance was staggering this year; it’s grown exponentially since 1991, when only about half a thousand gathered around the course, to nearly 65,000 people attending, all in the name of love for our two-wheeled friend, the bicycle.

This year, there were a variety of races from road races to downhill mountain biking. Sea Otter serves as the first race to kick off the season as top pros in North America and from around the world flock to Sea Otter. However, all of the events are also open to amateurs so if you want to race your bike, you have the chance!

One of the greatest things about Sea Otter is that it is open to the general public, which allows everyone to check out and demo different bike product for the upcoming season from a wide range of vendors. Osprey teamed up with Cambria Bike shop for a four-day sale of Osprey Hydration packs and demos.
Osprey mascot Talon also made an appearance at the event as he cheered on our Osprey athlete Macky Franklin and even had a photo shoot with the Sea Otter himself!

Start planning your trip here for next year as everyone is welcome!

Photo via Alex Strickland

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4 Million feet of climbing, The higher you get the higher you get!

January 28th, 2013

I had re-started my watch after last year’s previous million vertical feet. I wasn’t too concerned about going for it again.

Later in the season, I was up in Kelowna mountain biking with my brother, when he asked me “Are you going for another million”? As I looked at my watch, I was aloof, but all of a sudden something in me ignited. I got motivated. I did some quick calculations. Well, I wouldn’t say quickly. I actually had to grab a calculator. I was at 750,000 with only two months to go. I would have to average over 5,000 feet per day for the next two months. If I was this close I might as well keep going, right?

In the past on the bigger mountains I had a bad attitude and when I didn’t feel like it, I would bag it. So I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Yes, it was going to be hard and boring, and motivation would be low in the fall with less daylight and usually less snow. But the snow soon arrived with a vengeance and I was ready to rock.

Along the way you can’t help but ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Where’s my lift pass”? But then you have those moments when you push on whether it’s raining or dark, where you find that flow state and start begging for more. That happens when you push through the pain and pressures in life and live in the moment; a moment you can only achieve through human powered travel. When it’s your tenth lap and the temps cool, the weather clears, and all of a sudden you are skiing knee deep pow when everyone went home, you know you were there for the moment because you were in the cycle.

The streak was still alive! I compared it to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks game playing streak for some extra motivation. Like they say, it’s not the end result but the journey that counts.

I’ve been given the nickname Andy Gump for my obsession with traveling uphill. But as much as I enjoy the climb, it still really is about the down. It just feels more rewarding when you have to work to get there.

As in life, people will make fun of you for you doing something against the grain; like skinning up a run when they are skiing down. If I was a kid, I probably would have done the same thing. Not every day are the conditions right for backcountry travel due to snow stability.

Sometimes this game even leads me to where there’s no snow and I’m skiing on rocks. That was the case when I was visiting family in the Okanagan, so I had to make the most with what I had. There wasn’t really a dedicated backcountry zone, so I was relegated to doing short laps on Kelowna mountain with a 40 cm base. Now that tested the motivation!

In the end you have to follow your passion and enjoy being outside. I want to be out there every day, so I try to make it happen. This is where I truly feel alive and free.

Hopefully my 4 million feet motivates somebody to get out there and get off the couch, be it by climbing ten feet or riding the bike to the corner store.

Be calm like water, roll with the punches. Sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride.

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adventure, Osprey Athletes, Outdoor Activities , , ,

Who Needs Video Games?

December 13th, 2012

Osprey sponsored mountain bike racers Jake and Nye Yackle show us their skills and awesome attitude toward getting away from the video games and enjoying the outdoors.

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Outerbike Closes Osprey Event Season

October 11th, 2012

Castle Valley Overlook on Upper Porcupine Singletrack

It has been a very busy but extremely productive event season for the Osprey Packs bike crew. We spent much of the summer traveling thousands of miles in our Sprinter van to attend bike events throughout the country and provide attendees with the opportunity to browse and demo Osprey cycling packs. This past weekend our event season came to a close with one of our favorite events. Outerbike takes place in Moab, Utah, just over 100 miles from Osprey world headquarters in Cortez, Colorado.

Outerbike is one of our favorites for many reasons; the spectacular location in Moab, the awesome team at Western Spirit that organizes the event, the amazing participants from around the world, and the opportunity to get some end of the season rides in before snow starts flying. This year marked the third annual happening of Outerbike and it was the best yet. Temperatures were in the 70s with sunny skies and light breezes each day, which provided absolutely perfect riding conditions. There were plenty of demo bikes to keep participants busy on the trails and out of lines awaiting a ride. Osprey had a very successful event, sending out a record amount of demo packs and raising funds for the Moab Trail Mix. Moab Trail Mix has been responsible for most of the new trails that have sprouted up over the past couple of years and reviving Moab as the mountain bike mecca. Extensive new trail systems such as the Bar-M network, the Klondike Trails network, Magnificent 7 and Pipe Dream are well worth a trip to Moab if you haven’t been recently.

The 2013 line up of packs in the Osprey cycling line were very well received by all. This is great news for us as the participants of Outerbike are dedicated cycling enthusiasts and their feedback means a lot to us. With the largest concentration of customer interactions coming first thing in the day and repeating at the end of the day, we were fortunate enough to get a few spins around the local trails ourselves. Here are a few pictures from a fabulous weekend:

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Shredding MTB Moppets, Mad Skills, Rad Racing!

September 7th, 2012

Check out this cool video of Osprey supported Yackle Brothers Racing.  These kids can tear it up!

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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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