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.
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.
There is a certain comfort with the trappings of home. The familiar nooks and crannies of a house that one has grown up in, the hiding places, the comfort that is bred through this familiarity. The trails I grew up on evoke similar feelings. My travels take me all over the world, but my roots run deep into the dark forest loam of the Kootenays, my first home. I recently visited my hometown of Nelson for a few days, and managed to get out for a few mountain bike rides.
More than just the trails themselves, the feeling of re-immersing myself in an environment that nurtured me from a young age was a comfort in itself. The stoic and silent mountains that I grew up in seemed to welcome me as I climbed up the logging road towards the first Kootenay trail of my return. Even the scents of the forest seemed familiar, reminding me of my youthful adventures on the very same mountain.
Where’s Your Adventure? That’s what we want to know.
Give us your most adventurous cycling photo; it can be from a gnarly section of single track or bombing down an urban hill on your single speed. Just upload your photo to our Flickr pool and tag it with “adventurecycling.” Every week during the month of May we’ll be picking our favorite to win an ACA membership and a Raptor 6. At the end of the month we’ll leave picking the winner up to you, getting our fans to vote and choose our People’s Choice Winner.
Note: Osprey will retain the right to images for future use in blog posts. And please note that we can ship to U.S. addresses only.
We’re happy that the Raptor was considered the “bee’s knees” by bike site 29 Inches. “Something I found incredibly useful, sturdy, comfortable, and impressive during my riding time in 2010.” Cheers to that!
Recently, I read an article that stated “the number of bikes one should own can be expressed using the formula:
N+1 where N= the number of bikes currently owned
This equation can also be expressed as:
S-1, where S= the number of bikes you can own without your spouse leaving you
As a first time exhibitor at the Outdoor Demo segment of Interbike, these equations have taken on a whole new meaning. My shed is already jam packed with more bikes than I could ever ride (I think it is 12 or 13), however this show has made me realize how many gaps there are in my riding arsenal. The primary purpose for my attendance at the Outdoor Demo was to staff the Osprey Packs booth and demo the new Raptor hydration packs to parched riders who braved the 100+ degree temps to hop on the latest in mountain and road bikes for a ride in the desert of Bootleg Canyon. As these thirsty riders hung out at the Osprey booth and maybe even took advantage of the awesome deals we offered as a fundraiser for the 88bikes Foundation, it gave me time to drool over the coolest innovations the bicycle industry had to offer.
Fortunately, I have not found the exact number equal to S (where your spouse leaves you) but may push the envelope in the near future. Surely my wife will understand that I absolutely need a carbon fiber, geared, 29 inch hardtail for racing 24 Hours in the Sage next year as my current carbon fiber singlespeed will no longer suffice. With Cyclocross season upon us, there is no way I can survive without one of the wicked fast 2011 model upgrades. And then there were all of the super cool cruisers that would make my evening pub commute so much better than my red steel townie that is a dozen years old. The myriad of new road bikes was so overwhelming that I could not possibly limit my purchase to just one.