Thursday, January 31, 2013

Legends of the Thaw...

Well it's January here in Vermont and at times it can get warm, wet and windy! While the Ol' Ski Hill out back can get kind of.....well, lets just say it was beautiful..

Never let yourself second-guess getting out, no matter the conditions. In the end you'll always be glad you did.

Good thing I had the fat skis?! Where are my E99's when I need them most?
Good thing I brought some cold beer.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Beckons at Millstone Hill

Rider Kevin Jaques.

Here's some more two-wheeled love in our latest post from guest writer Cody Chouinard. If we weren't missing our bikes before, we certainly are now. Thanks, Cody, for sharing your story with us!

If you're like me, every time you see your bike jammed in the corner of your garage you get a brief flashback of shredding single-track all summer long. Thanks to our friends at the Millstone Trails Association you no longer have to suffer. Whether you are whipping around the turns creating a snow wave or just the casual biker looking for some great views, the trails at Millstone have everything you want in a winter mountain biking experience. If you have ever ridden at Millstone in the summer you know how beautiful the quarries are, but there is something about them in the winter that is equally if not more amazing. The snow outlined pieces of granite create a skeleton-like look to the grout piles towering above you. Winter riding doesn’t compare to summer riding, but the Millstone Trails Association has done an amazing job creating trails that will help you cope with those single-track flashbacks.


Cody Chouinard lives in Barre, Vermont, and likes to ride his bike

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our local hill finds the snow rolling; literally.

Odin doesn't like being left out of a good run. 

 A couple of weeks ago we found ourselves in the midst of some wonderfully unique weather out our backyard.  As the blue sky clashed with dramatic and intense clouds, the heavy wet snow and gusty winds created some beautiful skiing. This is what we found:

Snow rollers were something we had not seen before.  With the wet snow and heavy winds the snow is pushed and rolled into what looked almost like delicious snow pastry, ranging in size from a softball to a large exercise ball. A unique day, to say the least.

With today's fresh snow in the mountains (we needed it), I hope you'll find your way outside today - I know I will, even if for a quick lap out the back.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Wax to Waxless: Voile's Game-Changing BC Skis

We're so excited about the Voile Charger BC and Vector BC skis! These are our new skis for 2012-13 (well, the Vectors are still on back order ... ), and they're a favorite in our quivers. (Our small quivers include Rossignol BC 125s, and an old pair of Karhu Tenth Mountains - all of which are great skis, too.) To make these skis, Voile essentially put waxless bases on two of their very popular downhill skis.

Stepping into the Vector BC, mounted with a Voile  3-pin hardwire binding, was like love at first ski. It's sturdy and capable, yet light and tourable. And oh-so glide-y (is that a word?), yet climbs like a tractor. The revolution comes in the fat widths of these skis, but more importantly, it's in the rockered tip. Rocker is typically associated with keeping those skis afloat in the deep, deep powder days to our west, but they also really help with navigating dense New England backcountry by keeping your tips up and above debris, blowdowns, or crusty layers of snow. The Charger BC delivers all the same, but with a fatter base. Read on to get the low-down and our take on these fabulous new skis.

Voile Vector BC (a.k.a Sarah's New Love)
Dimensions: 92-96 under foot (a "mid-fat" ski)
Design: These have a mountain scene and cute fuzzy bear, which means I heart them instantly
They ski like: the dickens! I didn't want to stop skiing, despite painful blisters from a different boot/outing. This ski handled breaking trail in wooded terrain, climbing rolling hills and ravine banks, and descending tight down-hill trails with ease and grace. They edge beautifully, carving awesome turns through any conditions. Amazingly, they descend like a downhill ski while still being lightweight enough to climb comfortably - and climb you can, like a skidsteer with chains. Loggers should use these puppies to drag felled trees out of the woods. There is something both burly and sleek about this ski, simultaneously, that makes you want to ski them all day. Recommended set up: Voile 3-pin hardwire, light plastic telemark boot, an appetite for all-day fun (and the snacks to keep you going)

Voile Charger BC
Dimensions: 110-114 underfoot (like a fat powder ski, but built to take it all)
Design: These have a mountain goat on them, because they eat mountains for breakfast!
They ski like: a dream! This is a true adventure ski! It has the look, dimensions, and performance of a deep powder ski. But make no mistake, Voile excels at making this a really light, semi-stiff ski that is highly versatile. It's at home in the backcountry - either in powder or not, and can even handle your favorite groomed Nordic or downhill trails. I've taken this ski many times down the local snowmobile trail to make some laps on a local pasture hill - its a light, versatile ski that does it all well. Also, the rockered tip keeps the ski from diving in deep powder or rugged backcountry conditions, and it smooths the transition between turns.
Recommended set up: Voile 3-pin hardwire, light plastic telemark boot

Another plus for both skis: Made in the USA! Continue to support local, small shops by buying yours at ORS Cross-country Skis Direct - these guys don't just sell skis, they ski 'em!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Sleep Til April

We have been blessed with snow - lots of it, and all high-quality, with continuous flakes refreshing our favorite powder stashes every couple of days. Vermont's skiers are excited - we've all got big smiles. We're taking advantage by getting out almost daily, from lunch-time tours in the City Park to long half-day adventures in our Town Forest to full-day excursions into the backcountry. And we've brought our friends along! Our Sunday night ski-dinners have been a hit. Last Sunday, we had over ten skiers out on the trails at night, then back to our place to enjoy a dee-licious potluck dinner and a rambunctious round of "Celebrity." (I am terrible at that game and should stick to skiing and feeding people.)

Check out a few photos from our latest adventures. We hope to see you out there!

Exiting the Town Forest at sunset onto one of our favorite hills - and views.

Skinning up
The night crew

Fresh local turns, then fresh local dinner from the farm (upper left)

Odin knows the way back up

Homegrown Singletrack

Trail crew Mike, Zack and Chris
Don't get us wrong, we're loving all this great snow. But there's not a day that goes by that we don't think of our bikes. Partly that's because they're hogging one-third of our mudroom, and we have to step over them to get to the ski poles, but we also just really love two wheels.

This love got us thinking back to last fall, and ahead to next spring. That's the beauty of this spinning planet: we will ride again.
November in Vermont is a unique time of year. Snow in the mountains lures one for early season turns, while sweet single track below can be had amidst Vermont's short hunting season. This year the focus for us has been singletrack in our back yard.  After a year of cleaning up our woods by removing blow downs and piles of brush, the real work has finally started: trail building.

So this year that wonderful cold, frosty lure of early season turns, that itchy anticipation of scratching down the mountain hasn't quite happened for us. Instead, we're hearing the call to build.

Rider Chris Lee on R.I.P.
Sarah and I are no strangers to driving to some of the best hard built, hard fought singletrack in VT, like Perry Hill, Carse Hill, Adams Camp, Northfield ... the list goes on.  But driving there can be the least fun of the whole experience, so when we searched for a place to call home, land was certainly of most important interest. As a child I can't ever remember driving to ride my  mountain bike; it was a home grown affair. We would get out of school, get on our bikes, and ride 'til dinner. I remember not being able to stay awake all day in class, only to be magically awakened as the last hour of class slowly ticked away and I looked forward to getting on my bike.  This is something I want to recreate from my youth, out-the-door riding. And Patrick Kell, formerly of VMBA and now of IMBA, once told us that everyone should have a trail to ride within 15 minutes of their front door. We're shooting for 15 seconds.
Riding - plain and simple. Absolutely no driving.

Late night brush burning.
So what can you do with 5 acres?  Well let's just say there's no world- class caliber XC trails to be had here(this will hopefully change). But we do have some great contours to play with. So with that I called  friends, gathered some tools and beer, and started digging.

So far we've put together some great lines, like R.I.P and B-line, that are all collaborations of riders'\builders' ideas. Next year we hope to bring in more than a bit of dirt and build a pump track, all ready in the design and recruitment stage, plus a skills course, and as much flowy singletrack as 5 acres can handle.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter warmer

What better way to stay warm than to keep moving and enjoy the winter's amazing natural powder snow?