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.
We had a great weekend at the Red Rock Rendezvous, catching up with old friends, fitting in some climbing and mountain biking and of course soaking up the sweet, desert sun. If you couldn’t make it this year, mark your calendar for Red Rocks in 2013, they just keep getting better!
The Red Rocks Rendezvous kicks off today at Red Rocks Conservation Area — Spring Mountain Ranch State Park to be exact.
Powered by Mountain Gear and sponsored by yours truly here at Osprey Packs, the Red Rocks Rendezvous is a funtastic outdoor extravaganza featuring a full slate of outdoor clinics focused on climbing, mountain biking, trail running and much more.
Believe it or not, today is the first day of spring. Our friends at Adventure Journal kicked it off with 5 Reasons to Celebrate Spring. Just a few reasons to count your blessings and celebrate the season…
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.
Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each week. We call it the Osprey Round-Up… Happy Friday!
This week has been a busy one for us here at Osprey, so we figured the best way to wrap it up was to give shout-outs to some of the folks who have us inspired this week…
Welcome home to Majka Burhardt! Majka just returned from her expedition to the Lost Mountain of Mozambique where she explored the cracks and recesses of Mt. Namuli’s 700-meter cliff face, searching for new species of life. Before that, Majka spent a few weeks in Ethiopia with the great folks of imagine1day. Thanks for all of your incredible work, Majka!
Another big welcome home to Kim Havell who came home after an epic ski expedition to Antarctica. Kim had this to say about her trip to the bottom of the Earth: “We arrived to a place with no one else, with endless first descents and up to 9,000-foot peaks straight up from the ocean. This is a backcountry skier’s dream realm…” Glad you’re home safe and stoked, Kim! To read more about an Antarctic ski adventure and to check out some beautiful photos, please visit powdermag.com.
A huge congratulations from us here at Osprey to Krista Park and other Osprey Bike team members Stephen Ettinger and Chloe Woodruff who will represent the US Mountain Biking team in the 2012 Olympics!
And because the snow is falling here in Colorado, we decided to leave you with a great short video filmed in our own backyard from our friends at Felt Soul Media. Just watch. It will have you packing up your Kode and heading up to the mountain in no time.
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Some mountain bike meccas have their “mecca” designation handed to them with ease. All of the elements are there for them: the ideal topography, a dedicated bunch of locals with a vision, and the freedom to ride in the aforementioned hills.
Jasper mountain bikers have never had it easy. The town is situated in the middle of a national park, which presents many obstacles on the road to becoming a mountain bike destination. Parks Canada, which was formed exactly 100 years ago in 1911, has never held mountain bikes in high esteem, shutting them out completely from vast areas of national park land. Jasper, however, is a living, breathing anomaly in the Parks world, with mountain bikers slowly carving out a niche for themselves in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.