It has been a very busy but extremely productive event season for the Osprey Packs bike crew. We spent much of the summer traveling thousands of miles in our Sprinter van to attend bike events throughout the country and provide attendees with the opportunity to browse and demo Osprey cycling packs. This past weekend our event season came to a close with one of our favorite events. Outerbike takes place in Moab, Utah, just over 100 miles from Osprey world headquarters in Cortez, Colorado.
Outerbike is one of our favorites for many reasons; the spectacular location in Moab, the awesome team at Western Spirit that organizes the event, the amazing participants from around the world, and the opportunity to get some end of the season rides in before snow starts flying. This year marked the third annual happening of Outerbike and it was the best yet. Temperatures were in the 70s with sunny skies and light breezes each day, which provided absolutely perfect riding conditions. There were plenty of demo bikes to keep participants busy on the trails and out of lines awaiting a ride. Osprey had a very successful event, sending out a record amount of demo packs and raising funds for the Moab Trail Mix. Moab Trail Mix has been responsible for most of the new trails that have sprouted up over the past couple of years and reviving Moab as the mountain bike mecca. Extensive new trail systems such as the Bar-M network, the Klondike Trails network, Magnificent 7 and Pipe Dream are well worth a trip to Moab if you haven’t been recently.
The 2013 line up of packs in the Osprey cycling line were very well received by all. This is great news for us as the participants of Outerbike are dedicated cycling enthusiasts and their feedback means a lot to us. With the largest concentration of customer interactions coming first thing in the day and repeating at the end of the day, we were fortunate enough to get a few spins around the local trails ourselves. Here are a few pictures from a fabulous weekend:
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?
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.
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.