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.
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.
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.
Osprey Packs flew the flag over the weekend at the Fruita Fat Tire Festival in Fruita, Colorado. After a difficult start on Thursday evening when a brief storm blew through with winds approaching 80 mph, the remainder of the weekend brought perfect mountain biking weather and a fantastic festival. Thanks to all who participated in the Osprey festivities which included, Rippin Chix MTB skills clinics, Osprey hydration pack demos, a heated Fix-A-Flat competition, plentiful schwag giveaways and special deals through local Osprey retailers.
Fruita pulled out all of the stops with live music in the park, a New Belgium beer tent, a great selection of bicycles to test out, pancake breakfast and other exciting activities. Between Fruita and Grand Junction there are so many amazing single track trails that a weekend was not near enough time to explore all the opportunities. We look forward to coming back next year.
Loving this video from our Bike Blog. Now if this doesn’t make you want to explore the world by bike, I don’t know what will…
via Reveal the Path:
A visually stunning adventure by bike: Reveal the Path explores the world’s playgrounds in Europe’s snow capped mountains, Scotland’s lush valleys, Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches and Morocco’s high desert landscapes. Ride along and get lost in the wonders of the world… Enjoy the authentic locals living modest yet seemingly fulfilling lives, leading us to question what it means to live an inspired life – however humble or extravagant. Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.
Whether you are a full-on competitive racer or someone who just enjoys a weekend ride with the family the Sea Otter Classic is the place to be April 19th-22nd. Monterey, California will play host to the 22nd Annual bicycle extravaganza known as the Sea Otter. Competitive events include the full gamut of mountain biking; cross-country, dual slalom, downhill, and short track. Road racers need not feel left out, there is a circuit race, a road race and a criterium to fill out the weekend. A cyclocross race has even been added for 2012.
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.
High winds, rain and cold weather greeted us as we journeyed across the state line to Moab, Utah for the 2nd annual OuterBike event put on by the crew at Western Spirit Adventures. As we stood in the expo area, wrapped in down jackets, waiting for the winds to die down so the main tent could be erected, it was hard to believe that we roasted under sunny skies and 100 degree temperatures this same weekend the prior year. The heat in 2010 seemed to do very little in the way of discouraging participants, who came from all over North America, from getting out and having an absolutely fantastic experience.
My bike racing career started as a triathlete. After a couple years of passing people on the bike and then getting passed by them on the run I realized maybe I should focus on my strengths and just ride the bike. When I first moved to Colorado, I lived in Denver and commuted by road bike while working as a tech in a shop. One October, I went out to 24 Hours of Moab to be support crew for my buddies. Even though I’d only mountain biked once or twice I immediately felt I should be racing and not wrenching. The entire feel of the race was exhilarating, starting with the infamous La Mans start.