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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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I Hate Road Trips

June 20th, 2013

Das Rad Haus owner Christine ripping on Xanadu in Leavenworth

I hate road trips. Especially trips to awesome new zones to go bike riding. They are a blur of teases: quick, sneaky peeks into great scenes that you previously didn’t even know existed. One short day of checking the area out, maybe a few if you’re lucky, and you are on to the next spot, fantasizing about pulling up stakes, quitting your job and moving to your new-found riding center of the universe. And if the road trip is anything like the one I just got back from, the next little haven you pull into will have the same effect, making you wonder just what life would be like if you never left this freshly-discovered Shangri-La of bicycling.

My girlfriend Rachel and I left from our home in Vancouver on a trip into Washington with four bikes and one goal: ride a lot. The plan was to minimize the driving by staying in one small corner of Washington State, and riding our road bikes and mountain bikes everyday in a new area. The loop we planned took us through the North Cascades National Park, through Winthrop, down the arid and beautiful Okanogan and Columbia River valleys, up over to Leavenworth, detouring over Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie, and finally back up to Bellingham to end off the six day excursion. No one day did we drive more than two hours, and every day we got in a scenic road ride and a sweet mountain bike ride (or two). In other words, six days of being teased and tantalized by some amazing areas in this part of the state.

The Loop

The path of most resistance.

Our schedule was simple: Wake up in our new locale, go for a morning road ride, eat breakfast, go for a mountain bike ride, eat a late lunch and head off to our next destination, usually making plans for the next time we found ourselves passing through that area again.

The roads in America are great, often much better than in Canada. Where we have a decrepit, pot-holed forestry road, Americans have a smooth winding strip of asphalt through some amazing country. We took advantage of this fact on the uber-scenic North Cascades drive, and on some memorable road rides through miles of orchards and vineyards in Chelan and Leavenworth, and along quiet country highways along the Methow and Snoqualmie Rivers.

Tuscany?

Nope, the rolling hills and smooth pavement of Lake Chelan.

Rachel is relatively new to mountain biking, and I have had mixed success with introducing her to the joys of riding. One decent pedal in Squamish is quickly overshadowed by a horror-fest of technical roots and rocks on the Shore, or a crazed B-Liner running her off a berm on his personal race to Strava glory. Washington gave up the goods for her, with a variety of trails that were a lot of fun for the both of us. Highlights included the Sun Mountain trails in Winthrop, the amazing variety of the Duthie Hill Bike Park near Seattle, the long climb but epic descent of Fruend Canyon in Leavenworth and the flowy goodness of Galbraith Mountain in Bellingham. I got out on a couple shreds as well, on a super cool ridgeline DH off of Chelan Butte, and a sweet rip down Xanadu in Leavenworth with some locals.

The towns beguiled us with their charms as well. Winthrop has gone with the Western theme, but pulled it off in fine style. As we walked up the main street taking in the views, Rachel noted: “Even the gas station is adorable!” Can’t argue with that. We had a quick peek into the potential of the Methow Valley, but barely scratched the surface. The fellows at Methow Cycle and Sport (a fine Kona dealer) alluded to many more singletrack epics up in the surrounding hills above Mazama and Winthrop. But, like any road trip, we shelved those ideas for later, and carried on.

Taking in the views on Echo Ridge, Chelan.

With my F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) disorder going into overdrive from all the epic spots we were merely sampling, I almost blew a gasket once we arrived in Leavenworth. Two weeks, let alone our two days (actually only one night and a day) would not be enough to experience everything this town has to offer, once you look past the kitschy Bavarian theme that pervades every element of the main drag, including the McDonalds sign. It would take me at least a few days just to get through the menu at South, an amazing Mexican restaurant in town. Trails abound here, leading out of every corner of this alpen town. Rivers cascade out of the tight mountain valleys, climbable rock spires reach for the sky, and friendly locals (like the ones at Kona dealer Das Rad Haus) point visitors in the direction of the singletrack goods (while probably saving a few secret nuggets for themselves).

Ridge Ride

Taking in the views from the top of Xanadu

Fantasizing about our new lives in Leavenworth, we carried on our way, spoiling ourselves for a couple nights at the fancy Salish Lodge and Spa near Snoqualmie (thanks Groupon Getaway deal!) and riding the very unique and super fun Duthie Hill Bike Park, which is located just minutes from the Lodge. Coming to terms with the realization that we could not live in the Lodge full-time, we drove up to Bellingham to end off the trip with some fun exploration of the Galbraith Mountain trails, with a side trip to Boundary Bay Brewery for some eats, and Trader Joe’s to stock up on some cheap cheese and Two Buck Chuck.

So, like I mentioned, I hate road trips. Especially when they are as awesome as this one was.

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Lost in Peru

May 30th, 2013

Many of us spend most of our days cooped up in a building, attending to our duties and responsibilities as working adults. So it’s important — if not imperative — to get away, whether in true physical form or from time to time, by way of a great video that shows off someone else’s adventure (and inspires our own).

Today, take a trip to Peru and let yourself get lost.

Thanks to Join Ali Goulet, Chris Van Dine and Aaron Chase for making this film!

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Active Lifestyle, adventure, Bikes Around the World, International, Osprey Life, Travel, video , , , , ,

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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Dominion Riverrock: Let the Festivities Begin!

May 13th, 2013

Osprey is proud to announce that we will be attending the action-packed Dominion Riverrock Festival in Richmond, Virginia during the upcoming weekend of May 17-19. We’re super excited to be a part of the only festival of its kind, one that combines the best of both the outdoor adventure and the music worlds. Throughout the Fest, there will be endless competitions in biking, hiking, running and climbing, as well as performances by top notch artists such as Toots and the Maytals and many more!

Not only will there be on-going comps, music and fun, we’ll be there hosting our own events. One such activity will be the infamous Osprey Packs bola ball toss, which you can play to win a pack! All proceeds will be donated to the Blue Sky Fund, which makes your chance to win a pack that much better. We’ll also be selling packs in alliance with Blue Ridge Mountains Sports at a killer 20 percent off, and our very own Osprey Athlete Ben Clark will be guiding hikes with Virginia Trail Blazers and signing free posters throughout the weekend.

If you’re in the area and looking for a mind-blowing good time with loads of things to do, stop by our booth to check out the packs, get a poster or try your chance at bola ball for a good cause! Connect with the Fest on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and share the #riverrockrva love!

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Bike, contest, Events, Music Festivals, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities, Retail Promotions, travel , , , , , , , , , ,

Bike Expo New York: A Roadie’s Paradise!

May 3rd, 2013

If you are in the Big Apple May 3rd and 4th, don’t miss the chance to attend the Bike Expo New York as there will be more than 60 vendors attending, one of them being yours truly, Osprey Packs! This event is great for road bike aficionados, and we’ll be showcasing and selling our recently redesigned line of hydration packs.

Over 50,000 spectators are expected to attend and admission is free and open to the general public. Hours of the show will be from Friday, May 3rd from 10 a.m. -8 p.m. as well as on Saturday, May 19th 9 a.m.-7 p.m., so come after work and check out the product tonight or head over first thing tomorrow. The event takes place at the Pier 36, 299 South Street, Basketball City, New York, NY.

Want to know a little bit more about what to expect? Here’s the rundown from last year’s awesome Expo:

In keeping with its mission to provide free bicycle education in New York City, Bike New York held several of its signature Learn to Ride classes throughout the event. Garnering more than 43,000 attendees, Bike Expo New York 2012 presented by Eastern Mountain Sports was the most attended inaugural consumer bike expo in the country.  BE NY carried an unmistakable New York flair with street signs, carpeted bike lanes and even a massive Verrazano Bridge suspended from the ceiling.

We hope to see you this year!

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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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Winter Outdoor Retailer & a WILD Conservation Alliance Breakfast

January 11th, 2013

The cold, dark month of January is plodding along after the madness of the holidays and a New Year Celebration. And that can only mean one thing, Winter Outdoor Retailer is nearly upon us again! The show kicks off with an all mountain demo on the 22nd, and the trade show will take place from January 23rd through the 26th. Of course, we’ll be there to showcase our brand-new packs and innovations, roosting at  Booth #5011. We hope to see you there!

We’re excited for the show as always, but we’re also stoked to announce that this OR, The Conservation Alliance Breakfast will welcome the incredible Cheryl Strayed, author of the incredibly powerful memoir WILD, which details Strayed’s journey as a 22-year-old solo-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. Strayed will present on Thursday, January 24th from 7 to 9 a.m. at The Marriott, Salons F-I in Salt Lake City. This is a breakfast you won’t want to miss, and we hope to see you there!

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The Next in MoveShake: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation

September 27th, 2012

MoveShake is a series of films that tells personal stories of movers and shakers creating positive change in the world around them. Follow MoveShake on Facebook to catch all of the updates on new installments and more.

In the latest MoveShake installment, Alexandria Bombach of Red Reel tells the story of Gregg Treinish, founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC). ASC is an organiztion that works to change the way that people spend their time outside while creating “an army of citizen-scientists” who can gather the information necessary to prove to decision makers that the right management choices must be made.

Last week, the MoveShake crew went grizzly bear tracking in the Tabacco Roots in Montana. Turns out if solid evidence of grizzlies in the area is found, there could be stronger protection of this beautiful area. What’s more, this week ASC is taking inner-city kids from West Oakland middle school to the Desolation Wilderness for pika monitoring with their Osprey-donated packs! The photos here are just a sneak peak from the latest MoveShake installment, but the upcoming film will certainly be worth waiting for. In the meantime, check out more images from the grizzly tracking expedition here.

And don’t forget to check back here for the upcoming MoveShake film that tells the story of Gregg and ASC!

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adventure, causes, Conservation, film festivals, Osprey Culture, Outdoor Activities , , , , , , ,

The State of Enduro Racing: Is It The Next Big Thing?

August 14th, 2012

The beauty of Enduro racing can be found on the transition stages with friends: riding along and enjoying the day.

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?

Read more…

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