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?
In Copenhagen, Denmark, half of its residents already commute to work by bike. While this may seem like a feat in and of itself—and while it is a pretty remarkable one at that—Copenhagen city planners don’t want to stop there. According to an article in The New York Times, the head of the city’s “traffic planning section,” Brian Hansen, says this: “We are very good, but we want to be better.”
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.
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.
If you build it, they will come… in the case of bicyclists, this just might be the case. Check out this chart that Reuters posted last month:
This is a chart of the number of bike commuters in New York. It’s known as the NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator, and it comes from surveys taken ten times per year at predetermined points around the city. It doesn’t give a good count of the number of bike commuters in New York, but it gives an excellent idea of the trends: bike commuting has essentially quadrupled in the past decade, and has doubled over the past four years. Which just happen to be the four years during which Janette Sadik-Khan has run the Department of Transportation.
This is important because it shows just how effective strong leadership can be, when combined with a dedication to creating good infrastructure…
The lesson of this chart, then, is that if you build bike lanes, cyclists will appear to fill them. That’s fantastic news, since cities with lots of cyclists are always the most pleasant cities to live and work in — even for people who don’t bike themselves.
Have a lane that you love? Send us a photo! You can post it to our Facebook page, shoot us an email at blog[at]ospreypacks[dot]com or upload to our Flickr group and we might just feature it here on our weekly photo feature, Lane Love.
The NRL Racing Team had a great time at the Sea Otter Classic visiting many of our wonderful sponsors like Osprey Packs. As usual, the venue was hustling and bustling with activity, showing that the bike community is a strong one.
For those of you who didn’t go, yes, you did miss out on a bunch of cool stuff. Here is a sampler.
- Brian Lopes vs Jared Graves on the Dual Slalom Finals. Both racers are multiple world champs. epic.
- Sea Otter Road Stage race! This was the first time this was held and it was a huge success.
- Awesome sneak peeks at the latest and greatest…but you already knew that.
I hope next year they have a pro mountain bike stage race with the following stages. This was an event in the past, but it is not at the current moment.
Thursday = Individual TT of around 20 minutes. gives seeding for STXC Race call ups.
Friday = STXC Race
Saturday = XC Race
Sunday = Super D Race, Individual TT style.
All around, a super fun time! Look forward to it again next year.
Yes, my season is starting off well! This post gives an overview of my last four weeks. My 2011 schedule has races in the USA and ~eight other countries. It will be an exciting year.
As mentioned in my blog I spent the winter riding with Scott Morris exploring Tucson, AZ area trails, attending social MTB events, volunteering with Trips for Kids, and offering MTB skills clinics. The 2011 Race season began in February, ready or not!
Feb 5th SSAZ
The race season started by doing “race pace” efforts in Singlespeed AZ on Feb 5th. That race is so much fun, this year I got to ride with Jake Kirkpatrick, Tom Ament, Dax Massey, the Durango crew and other super fun singlespeeders. I was never able to catch Niner’s Tim Allen. Most of us got a flat at some point, mine was at the top of Milagrosa, I ended up finishing 4th (1st woman).
Neutral roll-out, chatting about how long SS bars should be
Getting heckled by Dejay and crew on the dirt road climb to singletrack.
The coveted mug with Rudi Nadler artwork!
Well, one of two mugs, Tim won the other one.
Fridays are the best!! There is the entire weekend to look forward to and if you live near Cortez, CO you can join in the weekly bike polo match!
Bike polo in its simplest form is two teams of four people competing head to head with the objective of scoring more goals than the opponent. Goals are scored by hitting the polo ball into the net using a polo mallet while riding a bicycle. A standard bike polo field is 100 yards long by 60 yards wide but any open area will suffice. A playing field of grass is recommended but not required. Our games take place in a wide open asphalt parking lot which makes for a much faster (and much more dangerous) game. Evidently there are some rules to the game which can be found at the U.S. Bicycle Polo Association website. However, our games are simple with only 2 primary rules; you have to hold the mallet with your right hand and if your foot touches the ground you are “out of play” until you ride one complete 360 degree circle.