The Backcountry Calls: Know Before You Go
Here in Colorado, playing outside is just what we do. We hike, bike, ski, snowboard, snowshoe and generally enjoy the Great Outdoors with zeal and abandon. It’s a rite of passage for us.
With innovations and advancements in technology in recent years, folks are increasingly flocking to the backcountry with the promise of untracked snow and the absence of lift lines. Moreover, the crushing weight and restrictions of the pandemic have made getting “away from it all” even more alluring. Indeed, backcountry-related equipment sales between August and October of last year skyrocketed 76% over the same 2019 period, according to market research company The NPD Group.
All-terrain ski equipment – skis, boots and bindings – were up 51%. Backcountry accessory sales including avalanche shovels, beacons, probes and climbing skins were up 74 % during that period. And splitboard sales experienced a whopping 151% spike in sales over 2019. By all measures, this backcountry category is the fastest growing in the industry and is gaining momentum at breakneck speeds.
But getting into the backcountry requires more than just the gear. It is imperative to know what you’re getting into because what you don’t know can kill you. Check out these resources so you can be prepared: https://castlerockbikeandski.com/backcountry/
KBYG.org can provide you with many of the basics you will need to have a successful backcountry adventure. In a nutshell, there are five main things you need to know before you go (KBYG – you see what they did there):
1. Have the correct gear
2. Take an avalanche course
3. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the weather and avalanche forecasts
4. Take the time to look at the terrain you plan to recreate in before diving in
5. Be mindful of where you are on the mountain and stay away from avalanche-prone areas
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has the latest updates on Avalanche conditions around the state and the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education offers classes and tutorials for both for both recreational participants as well professional instructors.
This has been a particularly dangerous year for avalanches. The snow is extremely unstable and while the idea of a big powder day away from the crowds at the resorts sounds nice, we have already seen eight people die in avalanches and we’re only halfway through the season. To compare, six people died during the entire 2019-2020 season.
There is little doubt that strapping on a pair of skins on AT skis or splitboard and skinning up the hill is exhilarating and a heck of a workout. It’s fun, challenging and invigorating. But it can also be dangerous. If you are interested in the fun, challenging and invigorating parts but aren’t too keen on the dangerous part, consider skinning up inbounds at any number of resorts around the state.
Not every resort or mountain allows uphill access but many do. Check with your favorite resort or mountain to see what their rules and regulations are before you go. Some allow uphill access only certain times of the day.
Many have implemented uphill access passes and most have specific routes for skiers and riders wanting to skin up the mountain. But it is a safe and easy way to get into the sport and this year it’s a great way to avoid the avalanche danger in the backcountry.
Vive le Tour!
With all the craziness, uncertainty, and disruption in all our lives right now, it’s nice to see the Tour de France finally get underway, albeit two months late. Somehow, the world seems a little more normal watching 176 colorfully clad bicyclists racing around the French countryside for three weeks.
Watching the Tour is an annual ritual in our family. We’d wake up at the crack of dawn, make a big pot of coffee, and watch the daily drama unfold. Everyone was in on the excitement. We all had our favorite riders. We winced when they crashed and then were amazed when they rode their hearts out the next day.
Our daughter, Tess, was classically creative in coming up with nicknames for the riders. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her dubbing Aussie sprinter, Robbie McEwen, as Harry Potter “because he just appears out of nowhere like Harry with his invisibility cloak.”
We’d watch grueling climbs and daring descents with awe. We cheered. We yelled. We gasped. We marveled at the complex strategy of each race. We basked in the French chateaus and giggled at the crowds. Who doesn’t have a good memory of Dieter “Didi” Senft -- known as El Diablo, or the Devil of the Tour de France -- running alongside the riders with his horns, staff, and red cape urging them on to victory?
Eventually, some of our idols were pushed off their pedestals after they were revealed to be doped athletes, not the superheroes we thought they were. Drug-induced, performance-enhancing scandals proliferated in the mid-2000s and many of the sport’s biggest names – including cycling’s biggest star, Lance Armstrong – were dethroned and banished. It broke our hearts but not our love of the sport.
This year features new riders, new teams and new stars. We miss Paul Sherwen but we are thrilled to welcome Phil Liggett, Bob Role, Christian Vande Velde, Chris Horner and Paul Bermeister into our living room for the next three weeks. It will be a different race this year. But it will be just as entertaining as it has always been.
GEEZER RENEWAL !!
By Bob Neel
Aug. 25, 2019
Background: I live on the highest point in all of Seattle, a city of hills. Riding a bike, once a favorite pastime, became a challenge. Going out -- EASY. Coming back home -- old knees and lots of wheeze weren't fun anymore. Over a decade ago I gave up on biking.
Then son Mark talked up the virtues of electric bikes. On a visit last May I gave one a try and was HOOKED! As of my 74th birthday (Thanks Mark, KC & Tess!) I'm back into biking.
THESE THINGS ARE AMAZING! AND ADDICTING!! They deliver *all* the fun with *none* of the grunt. Big-ass hill? Just shift down a gear and invoke the motor. Steeper? Up the assist from "Eco" to "Tour". Still more? Go for "Sport." And then "Turbo" will propel you up any gut-buster in a gear 5X what you'd normally expect, at a speed that puts athletes in the dust, with virtually NO effort. NOT exaggerating!
As a true test, I went shopping DOWN at the local center. Picked up a 28-lb. box of copy paper at Staples, plus about 16 lbs. of groceries stuffed into a pannier. The rack & pannier worked great, and I got back up my considerable climb as though nothing was there!
Full Disclosure: True to all us selfish Boomers, I fully expect my kids to care for me in my dementia-riddled dotage. As such, this is an unvarnished promotion for all my Old Fart friends to get your saggy buns over to Castle Rock Bike & Ski and grab one of these rejuvenating miracles!!
Spring is here and it’s time to tune up your bicycle at Castle Rock Bike & Ski. Mention this post and receive $5 off a tune-up. Call us for details at 303-688-1722.
The weather is getting warmer and that means it’s time to get on your bike. Come visit us at Castle Rock Bike & Ski or call us today at (303) 688-1722.
It’s beautiful outside and it’s Valentine’s Day, which means it’s the perfect day to ride a tandem bicycle with your favorite person. Don’t be fooled; it’s easier to ride a tandem than you might think. I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I don’t think it would work for us. We’d be fighting for […]
We want to give everyone the heads up that we will be closed Feb. 3-5. For the first time since we opened Castle Rock Bike & Ski in 2000, we are closing the shop to take a couple of days off. We’re going to be having some long overdue fun with family on the other […]
Bike Not Working? Bring it in today. We specialize in expert bicycle repair. Whether it’s an old dust-covered rig you want to overhaul or your custom machine that needs a basic tune-up, bring your two-wheeled steed to us and we’ll have it up and running lickety-split! If you pay upfront for your […]
Looking for some new skis? Just want to ski on something different? Rent a pair of our skis from our demo fleet and check out what’s new in ski technology. We have skis for every condition — bumps, trees, powder and groomed trails. If you are looking to purchase a new pair of skis, take […]
The annual snowsport industry trade show is coming to Denver Jan. 28-31. We will be attending the show to learn and see the latest trends in skis, snowboards, apparel and accessories. Come in or give us a call to let us know what you’d like us to take a look at and we’ll report back […]
Ride in Style Club Ride apparel has all the technical aspects you would expect from a high-quality cycling garment: turbo wicking material; anti-microbial; recycled and sustainable materials; pre-washed and lightweight. It also LOOKS GREAT! You’ll want to wear these shirts and shorts (the chamoix liners are removable) as much off the saddle as you will on […]
The Man, the Myth, the Watchmaker
Pierre-Yves Müller, the notorious Swiss watch maker, is sitting in a minimalistic garden chair outside his house located in the heart of fairy tale Swiss Alps. FashionFreaks were lucky enough to get an interview with this mysterious precision watchmaker.
It strikes me the second I see him, this man is the real deal. Well groomed fingers with nails trimmed to perfection. These hands are his tools and they are taken care of in the same manner an auto repairman takes care of his tools.
Pierre-Yves greets us with a conservative smile, there is no room for small talk in this interview. But small talk is not necessary, we want to know everything about the man and his company, Tick Tock, Tick Tock...
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