I should preface this piece by stating that I am not an experienced Enduro racer, but rather one that has participated in several races, and likes the idea of a race that is like a ride with friends, but against the clock in the fun sections. The burgeoning excitement over this new style of racing is contagious, but I am unsure of whether to completely jump on the bandwagon of those claiming it’s the next big thing. Is it the next big thing? Can it dethrone the juggernauts that are DH racing and XC?
A group of Osprey team members, friends and family hit the trail for a Sunday ride at Stoner Mesa in San Juan National Forest, Colorado. After 26.5 miles—more than half of that climbing—the crew stopped for a quick photo and some much-needed refreshments.
Cheers to finding some singletrack in your neck of the woods this week!
For the second year in a row the USA Cycling Association Cross Country National Championships took place against the beautiful backdrop of Sun Valley, Idaho. Blue skies, warm temperatures, and calm winds greeted racers from around the country who showed up to challenge the best of the best and battle for the coveted national championship jerseys.
I was invited along for a weekend of riding in the Kamloops by a small crew led by Seb Kemp, who was writing a story on the Loops for Dirt Magazine, and Reuben Krabbe, who was capturing the images for the article. I had not been to Kamloops in a long while, focusing my travels on other parts of BC, and more exotic locales in the previous few years. I feel strong ties to that arid part of the province though, having spent many weeks there in the early days of my freeride career, shooting for the New World Disorder movies and getting into the youthful trouble that seemed to follow our film shoots around in those days.
The McKenzie River Trail (the MRT) is situated in Central Oregon, on the west side of the Cascades. This mountain range, predominantly made up of dormant and not-so-dormant volcanoes, does an efficient job of stopping the moisture from the Pacific Coast. On the west side you have temperate rainforests and old growth timber, and a stones throw to the east you are exploring an arid desert-like landscape. The MRT, being on the west side of the volcanoes, features towering Douglas fir, mossy forest floors, a raging river (complete with big waterfalls) and a cool climate. Apparently it rains frequently, but it was nice and dry for our visit down this renowned trail.
Freedom to roam has a very different meaning in Scotland than it does in the United States. In Scotland you can walk, mountain bike or ride a horse on any and all land — public or private, as long as you do so without damaging it. This is meaningful because it means, if you know where to go, there are trails and routes “up there in them hills.”
So, naturally, we got off the marked trails and with the help of our new friends (an amazing community of Scots who have lived in the Borders Region for their entire lives) we were treated to some spectacular riding — unmarked, undocumented and completely legal.
Head buzzing from wine, stomach full of cheese, meat and bread, I careened haphazardly down the mountain, the Rhone Valley far below and a group of howling bike riders in the exact same boat as I following closely behind.
We were mid-way through an eight-day sampling of some of the finest Swiss and French downhill mountain bike gems. Some days took us to established bike parks, and other days to obscure trails hidden to the general public, and only discovered through a combination of bribing locals, studying maps and some good ‘ol fashioned luck.
I am 11-year-old Jake Yackle and I live in Cortez, CO. For four years I’ve been XC Mountain Bike racing in the Four Corners States and for the past two seasons I’ve stepped up to race teenagers and adults in competition. My brother, Nye, and I traveled to the Sea Otter Classic last month to race against nationally ranked 13-14 year-old juniors that are closer to our age.
Before our XC race, each of the three consecutive days, we completed pre-rides on the dry, hot 14.5 mile Sea Otter course. The Osprey Verve 4’s ample water capacity and innovative lightweight design proved perfect to help keep us fresh and energetic for our second most important race of the season.
With the arrival of spring comes the introduction of new trails, poking up out of the melting snow like so many April flowers. They may have been lovingly crafted over the previous summer, granting a lucky few passage before the winter took hold, or they are a result of a trail builder’s many dark, wet, cold days digging and sculpting while others are riding powder on the higher reaches of the mountains (myself included).
Regardless of when they were built, these fresh nuggets of mountain biking pleasure reveal themselves to us in the spring, bringing exciting new experiences to share with our friends. New climbs to conquer, gaps to clear, or technical DH lines to master, these handcrafted pieces of dirt artistry hold in them the potential for another season’s worth of adventure, fun and challenge.
Nowhere is this celebrated more than at a trail opening. I grew up in Nelson, a town where these events were revered, looked forward to. The trail builder was not asked about certain nuances of their work in progress, but rather the details of the celebration that would take place once the trail was complete.
The openings would be a raucous affair, including all the characters that made my home what it was. More frat party than group ride, entire crowds would gather around key features on the new trail, cheering on the local legends and heckling others that timidly approached the line. Riders, spurred on by the crowd, took their risk taking to a whole other level, greeted by loud cheers upon success, and catcalls and laughter with failure. This would continue all the way down the trail, adding an element of spectator sport to the ride.
At the trail end, the rowdy group would then spill out onto the beach, or backyard, or backroad and the real trail opening celebrations would commence. My few friends and I were youngsters amongst this motley group of mountain freaks, and we would watch from the fringes, content with the ride we just had the chance to share with this crew. Eventually we would pull ourselves away, resigned to a curfew imposed by parents, riding away from the crackling bonfire, skunky clouds of smoke, and laughing voices recalling trails of the past, and talk of ones in the future.
I was happy to see that the trail opening tradition is being revived here on the Coast, perhaps in a slightly more commercial fashion, but managing to keep the raw excitement and spirit of a new trail launch party. Ted Tempany in Squamish is dropping the ropes on his new masterpiece, Full Nelson, on May 5th. With support from the Province of BC, SORCA, Anthill Films and Red Bull, Ted and others toiled over this berm and jump-filled snake run all winter, and are launching it to the public this coming weekend. The Red Bull-sponsored party is an all-ages celebration, unlike the trail openers of my youth. Lawlessness aside, the spirit is still there: a party to commemorate the hard work of some dedicated and visionary trailbuilders, and a chance to have some fun with your buddies on a brand new mountain bike trail.
Teaching mountain biking skills seems so straightforward… I’ve been teaching women during my Rippin Chix Camps with Osprey Packs since 2003. Watching the confidence build and the fears fade changes women’s lives, and not only in skiing, biking and surfing. It permeates into family, jobs and dealing with whatever life throws your way. At Red Rocks Rendezvous, Jeff Fox, the bike marketing manager for Osprey, and myself were in charge of teaching men’s and women’s mountain bike camps. Most of these participants are climbers, looking to do something in addition to all the amazing rock climbing camps at the event.