Friday, September 30, 2005

Is that camp or a mirage? - Day 5

I've really been enjoying the daily posts from Matthew Chapman who is one of the competitors of the Sahara Race. He seems to describe the pain and suffering so well...
...Hitting the 71km checkpoint 23 at 6.30pm, I looked ahead and could vaguely make out camp 9km in front high on a hill. Over the next hour, camp never seemed to move closer. The final kilometers were the toughest. I was elated to reach the finish line. For the next three hours, I lay at the finish in the sand, surrounded by tired bodies also too fatigued to move.
Day 5 was an 80km undertaking that surprisingly only saw a few people drop from the race. Race officials treated competitors to a treat of refreshing cold water at a mandatory checkpoint today.

Don't miss the final day of the race tomorrow.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Our man Joe - Day 4

Great news coming out of the Sahara -
The cool morning 5:30am start gave all a few hours of easier running and walking. Ray Zahab, Canada cruised through the course arriving at Camp Black Desert at 9:55am, Kevin Lin from Taiwan at 10:11 having overtaken American Joe Holland in the very last leg. Joe arrived at 10:20.
Yes, American Joe Holland is sponsored. Third place finish on day 4 tells me that Joe is still in the hunt. He's always been a competitor and this doesn't surprise me.

Bring it home Joe!


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Laundry Day: A Public Service Announcement

Empty your pockets!

Earlier I was moving my laundry from the washer to the dryer when I discovered 3 packets of CLIF Shot that I'd forgotten to take out of my jersey. I was so happy to have found them before tossing the load in the dryer and turning it on. I was especially stoked because one of the CLIF Shots was my favorite, Mocha Mocha, and it was my last one. Now it is clean.


Ullr is nowhere near the Sahara - Day 3

Ullr, bless him, is considered by skiers as the God of skiing. As each winter nears in some circles skiers reference the first snow as a blessing from Ullr. What does this have to do with Day Three of the Sahara Desert Race? Well, suffice it to say that Ullr is nowhere near the Sahara but I'm sure the 100+ racers wish he'd make a guest appearance.

Temps today were 51 C which is around 125 F. Yep, pretty damn hot.

From Tony Bammer's journal (a competitor)
Haven't changed my shorts since I started. Having to sleep outside. My tent mates don't like me in there any more...After my 13 hour hump yesterday, couldn't sleep. We decided to have a sandstorm. Tent nearly fell down. I'd be lucky if I got two hours in. I have no idea what keeps me going...Setting off at 5:30 in the morning. Oh joy
Ullr, please help them.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I have a dream...

A number of years ago my friend's dad told me something in an e-mail that has stuck with me since then.
"Ultimately nothing you have dreamed or not dreamed will matter if you have not used your time to act. It is the person, who accomplishes something, weather he dreamed it up himself, or borrowed the idea from someone else, who deserves the prize."
It's not like idea of ditching the "real world" for a ski trip of dream proportions is unique to just myself. Ask any working skier out there who still has the fire within them burning for a winter road trip. I'm not talking about the weekend or 1 week road trip to Jackson. I'm talking about the full blown 3 month ski road trip, the kind that will change your life forever.

Cheers to 4 dedicated skiers who made not only my dream but any other skier who calls himself/herself a skier's dream become a reality...and they documented it along the way.

Powder Road


Still hot - The pain sets in - Day 2

I think I've experienced heat, real heat. The kind that hurts when you breath.

When I lived in Southern Spain there was this phenomenon called "Levante" which translated means "the rising". It happens in the summer when the winds from the African Sahara blow northward in a clockwise direction and reach across the Straight of Gibraltar to clip the southern tip of Spain. Locals would say with a hushed voice, almost like passing a secret, "Hoy es Levante" [today is Levante]. In a matter of an hour the temperature could rise from the upper 90's to 120, smothering you with the most oppressive heat.

As I read an update from the Sahara Desert Race this quote reminded me of Levante:
...Just a moment ago, I emptied my last water bottle from my pack into a cup to make soup. The water was so hot that the soup cooked in minutes.
Now that's heat.

Stage Two updates


Monday, September 26, 2005

Insightful Carnage

Now, maybe I'm just a purist, but I've been noticing a disturbing trend in extreme sports movies lately: The tendency toward making an introspective travel memoir instead of a ski/whitewater/whatever movie.

It could be that I'm behind the times, and the world is clamouring for a ski movie with less Carnage and more quiet introspection set to video of good american kids eating foreign food in Planet Earth jeans, strutting their Volcom line across Red Square, and sporting their totally sick new '06 AK jacket in the austere, silent wilderness above the artic circle, all the while making a statement about how it really is a small world after all, man.


Give me CARNAGE! If I'm sitting for more than 3 minutes and there isn't a single incredible jump, rapid, or shot in there, something is horribly wrong. I'm not saying you can't slip some beautiful, artsy stuff in there, or some interesting insight into making extreme sports movies. I'm just saying there's an optimum Carnage/Fluff ratio and if it isn't met, there's price to be paid in lameness.

Let's hear it for CARNAGE!


Hot stuff - Sahara Desert Race - Day 1

What a day 1 it was - with temps reaching 122 F and a pasty 108 in the shade almost 10% of competitors threw in the towel. How's the saying go..."out of the frying pan and into the fire?" Joe and Lisanne of Team each find themselves in 4th place in their respective divisions and are looking good going into Day 2.

A couple of quotes from competitors to give you some perspective -

Its not that I’m hot its simply that my brain is slowly cooking, simmering in crispy, perforating sun

and from another:

...I planned to run when it was flat and walk when it wasn’t, out of 32k I ran ½ k. You cannot comprehend how tough this is

This is one of those situations where your gear and your preparation are all that can save you. Extreme is the only word I can imagine explains things.

Be sure to check out some of the amazing photos from Stage One over at the site.

Stay cool...

Technorati Tags - sahara desert race, adventure racing,


Friday, September 23, 2005

Sahara Desert Race - the details

I received an e-mail a couple of days ago from Joe Holland, athlete. He'll be competing in the Sahara Desert Race put on by Racing the Planet. It's basically a crazy man's dream of a "race" across the Sahara - self supported and carrying all of your own gear.

In only his second race it appears that Joe has gotten into this desert racing. The proof is in a spreasheet that he e-mailed me detailing the weight of each item he is carrying with some interesting notes. Here's a sampling of how an adventure racer thinks:
From his e-mail
This might look obsessive but call it a hobby.
- 7 lbs of food are required and 14K calories.
I could knock out 6 ounces if I took the packaging off the balance bar things. I didn't realize packaging weighed so much..
Now from the spreadsheet:
Paper towel(14 sheets)- 3.5 oz.
Evening wife beater shirt- 3.8 oz.
Gu - 1.10 oz. "Good for dark moments, but the kicker only lasts an hour"
E-Caps with bottle - .065 oz each
Sure Joe, everyone gets this intense about their hobbies. Good luck in Egypt!


Friday, September 16, 2005

Cerro Terro shuts down Distribution Center in Seattle

Cerro Terro has pulled out of the US by shutting down their distribution center in Seattle. They are pulling back to Asia and will look to ship direct to larger retailers. Can you say "Closeout List" REI has already pulled the trigger on some winter packs. Retailers beware you will priced out and sitting on this stuff.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Goat sighting - enter to win

Another Goat has been sighted, this time on "Tree's" helmet while climbing. Tree, yes that is his name, has been a fan of for some time now. Thanks for your submission Tree!

Check out the Horde page at to get two of your own Goat stickers sent out do you.

After you get your stickers, take a photo of the goat, especially if it's on an outdoor adventure with you, and submit it from the photo submission page. If it's good enough, perhaps you'll win $1000 to spend on


Spyder Jacket with an iPod...or is that an iPod with a jacket?

Just when you thought iPod products were exasperated comes this gem from ski wear maker Spyder - the Spyder Limited Edition Jacket available over at Bells and whistles you ask? They didn't skip a beat. Let's go over the necessary items a skier must consider in a jacket purchase:
  • Waterproof? Check - This baby has 20K waterproofing (think of it like money - the higher the number, the better. 20K is the best there is)
  • Warm? Check - Spyder's sublimated heat liner which is designed to retain heat without the bulk of a down jacket.
  • Pockets? Check - You'll be stopping at the lodge to purchase enough stuff to fill these pockets - they are plenty
  • Tunes? CHECK! - This is where things get really good.
The Limited Edition jacket comes with a 60G iPod that hooks into a jack (in one of the many pockets) which links to a remote control panel that is welded, yes I said welded, into the sleeve of the jacket. This allows you to control the iPod without taking your gloves off. No more fumbling your gloves on the lift or cold fingers just to skip forward to your favorite play list. This is likely the first of many iPod applications we'll see from ski wear manufacturers as more skiers are interested in skiing with tunes.

Oh and the price? Better save your pennies.

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Burton launches spring/summer apparel line

In an effort to have a year round presence Burton is launching their spring/summer apparel line in Feb 2006. It's a collection of knits, wovens, jeans, shorts, hoodies, street jackets and t-shirts. Burton doing what they do and pushing some fashion limits. The womens line was significantly smaller than mens but had some nice cuts and print applications. The mens highlights would be the street jackets and polo's. Will it work? With millions of snowboarders out there wanted to stay connected to their market, yes. Watch for the product on next spring.


K2 Inc continues to build the empire.

K2 Inc. announced that Völkl Performance Wear, the apparel division of Völkl skis, will move under its Marker Ltd. division in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 2005/2006 season will continue to be managed and serviced by Völkl Sport America in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Marker Ltd. will handle all sales, customer service, and fulfillment starting January 1, 2006. All product for the 2006/2007 season will be shipped out of K2 Inc.’s new distribution center in Reno, Nevada. Nora Stowell, Völkl Apparel Division Manager, will continue to lead the development of the Völkl Performance Wear brand under the existing sales force.

K2 Inc hopes to provide added financial and operational support to help Volkl be one of the key players in the Alpine Ski apparel business. Hmmm.......When was the last time you saw someone in Volkl ski apparel? Who is our rep anyway?


Monday, September 12, 2005

Ortovox Voluntary Preventative Recall

Ortovox, in cooperation with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has announceed a voluntary recall of it's M1 and M2 avalanche safety transceivers; all models, all years. Consumers should stop using the M1 and M2 tranceivers and contact Ortovox to obtain a new battery door, free of charge. These units have been sold in specialty stores from 1997 to 2005. Ortovox reports only 3 unit failures in more than 100,000 units sold worldwide.

Basically the problem is that due to slight discrepancies in battery length/width dimensions across different battery brands, depending on those dimensions of battrery used, certain batteries were capable of being dislodged from their contact points thus turning the unit off. Not cool!

Ortovox is stepping up though, taking on the voluntary recall on their own - all one has to do is contact Ortovox at 888-215-3131 for a, free of charge, new battery cover door that is easily replaced by the consumer in seconds. The new door creates tighter tollerances elliminating the problem immediately and effectively. This recall DOES NOT INCLUDE the F1/X1 Models. More info can be attained at


Sufferfest 2005

The term "Adventure Race" was coined by journalist and author Martin Dugard but he was a sideliner not a participant. If coined by a runner, he/she would have to have a short memory because when you're in the thick of one, it is neither adventurous nor a race. For most mortals, an adventure race is an oxymoron. It's more like a sufferfest survival. Whatever you call it, crazy is what most call the competitors. One such competitor is athlete Joe Holland. I caught up with Joe this past week to see how things are shaping up for his next "Adventure Race" across the Sahara Desert.

What goes through your head when you sign up for a race that will take you across the Sahara desert?
Joe: Last week I finalized my itinerary to Cairo which means there is no looking back and I will be running through the Sahara desert. From an adventure standpoint, this excites me tremendously and I have started reading books on Egypt and will undoubtedly see some cool stuff. At the Gobi Desert race in April, the Racing The Planet staff set an amazing course through very remote places with amazing geologic features. There is simply no better way to intimately experience a new land and culture than running through it with ones heart pounding and senses heightened. What scares me is the unknown. What did I forget? How do I prevent injuries? During the Gobi/China race I excelled in the mountain stages but I am a little concerned about my chances in the Sahara as there is very little vertical. However, if the footing and terrain is soft or rocky then the years of skiing, and related agility training, should pay dividends.

How does a guy living in Vermont train for a race of this magnitude?
Joe: A natural runner I am not but my wife tells me that I am relentless like one of those little dogs that bite your ankle. Fortunately I have a border collie named Schmitty and she waits patiently for me to return from work when she looks as me with endless ambition. She can run all day. On the weekends Schmitty and I hit the trails in both the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont where we run 2 to 4 hours. Once a month we do an 8 hour run. During the week we often do a 1-2 hour run and a day at the track in an attempt to regain some speed. I have no idea whether doing speed is a good thing to do when preparing for an ultra event but we always did it for XC Skiing and it keeps me honest. I might add that the courses are often set on challenging terrain that most people would not consider running on so my training goal is to replicate these conditions. Just find the most challenging terrain and try to run it. Recently I ran all 10 of the 4K foot presidential's in the White Mountains and it rained the entire time. That was a good simulation.

Is there anything you fear?
Joe: The lack of fear should scare me. Getting dehydrated is no fun and hopefully I have the sense to avoid this. Getting lost off course is no fun and we may consider GPS assistance this time. Fatigue, discomfort and pain is imminent but not feared. I try to explain to people that these endurance events are challenging but not significantly more than balancing a long day a work with family responsibilities etc. In fact, in many ways it is easier because all one has to do is get up, eat, drink and explore a new place while running. There is no work, family, cell phones or e-mail in the desert so all you can do is live in the moment and enjoy. I have only had moderate success convincing people of this.

If a band of wandering nomads takes you captive during the race, what will you do?
Joe: As long as they are a harem of super model gypsies, I can handle it.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New to the neighborhood

Looks like we'll be getting some new neighbors here in Park City - Rossignol announced today that all U.S. operations for Rossignol and Dynastar will be based out of Park City in the new to be created "Mountain Center". Quiksilver’s Snowboard division will relocate to Park City as well. All of this will take place as of Spring 2006.

My take is that Ken Block, the former owner and founder of DC is the one that started this whole thing. He's known Park City is the real deal for a while now. He built a sweet pad, the DC Mountain Lab, that has become the envy of all things snowboarding and opulence.

Of course there were some tax incentives from the state of Utah, but the secret is out - Park City is the place to be. Just in time for the real estate market to boom again.

The Full Story

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Lookin' for Love in all the Wrong Places

So, this is a bit off topic and more than a little shameless, (but after years of trying to get sponsored as a slack liner I'm pretty numb...) is conducting its annual Best of the Web survey and in the @Play catgory, under Shopping, after their list of usual choices (Amazon, eBay, Yahoo), there is an opportunity to nominate "Other Site".

So, I'm thinking here's a chance to not only demonstrate that not everyone mass consumes at the web's versions of WalMart, but to also show the humble dirt bags of a little Love, a hug if you will (hugs are good).

Or, nominate another of your favorite web sites in the other categories to show BusinessWeek that the web isn't always business as usual.


TNF brings their Footwear RD&D in house

TNF has announced the creation of a new Footwear Dept within their Research, Design and Development infastructure. The footwear line is currently managed by a company out of Oregon but with a 53% increase in their footwear over the last 4 years,TNF is bringing it all in house. They will be creating a new position, VP of Footwear, that will directly report to Steve Rendle, Pres of TNF. Footwear product directors will be focusing on 3 key platforms; trail running, multi-sport/hiking, and insulated footwear. "These investments are being made from a position of strength, to maximize the significant growth opportunity The North Face has in this category going forward,” said Rendle. "


Friday, September 02, 2005

Outside Magazine - smells a bit moosey

Recent discussion in the advertising and editorial worlds has pegged these two traditionally polar opposites as melding closer and closer. In a recent blog post at Tramline "yo" talked about how blogs are becoming more inline with profit driven publications which ultimately, as reported by the Online Journalism Review, will have an effect on the type of editorial that a publication will produce. For the consumer or the public in general, it may spoil the sweet taste of true editorial journalism.

Case in point. While thumbing through the new Buyers Guide from Outside Magazine I came upon an editorial piece about Moosejaw Mountaineering, based out of Michigan. Hmmm, this was the second piece I'd seen in Outside this year on Moosejaw. I couldn’t help but be somewhat envious as I shrugged my shoulders while thinking, “They must be doing something right.” That was until today; when in my mailbox landed the latest Moosejaw catalog, complete with hot outdoorsy chicks and a glossy full page add for Outside Magazine's one year subscription offer through Moosejaw. Coincidence? Things that make you go hmmmmm....


A river in the Clouds...

Cloudveil is announcing a line of Fly-Fishing products that will debut at the Fly-Fishing Retailer Show in Denver in Sept. They consider this an untapped market for technical outerwear, innovative design, and cutting edge manufactoring. I always thought the most innovative that fly-fishermen got was a new bug in their hat band... guess I was way off base.

Full Story


these boots were made for... ?

See if you can follow this:

The Technica Footwear general Manager is now the director of Teva.
The former President of Teva is going to be the president of Royal Robbins. (he left because the former CEO of Keen is now the president and CEO of Deckers, which owns Teva).
Deckers hired a former Rockport VP to be the International VP.

What kind of shoes and brand focus can we be expecting from this group in the future? A causal-water sandal- business-loafer?


the windy world...

prAna launched an initiative that provides its retailers with renewable wind energy certificates equivalent to the electricity their stores consume. They hope to involve all 1,000 of its retailers in this commitment to sustainable energy.

La Sportiva has also developed a program which has made it a 100% wind-powered operation. They added 3,000 kWh of wind-power demand per month in order to get more local businesses to switch to wind power.

Electricity production is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions and a change in the global environment and weather. Wind power is a clean and renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions or waste products. La Sportiva's commitment to 3,000 kWh of wind power per month is the equivalent of planting 5,040 trees, taking six cars off the road per year, and eliminating 130,980 ponds of CO2 emissions.

full story


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tecnica invested in Ground Clothing

Tecnica last year has given Ground an infusion of cash. Ground is helping them Tecnica and other brands develop product as well. It is a strategic partnership and on Sept 15th the documents get signed and are minor share holder in Ground. Ground maintains countrol of their brand. It's a huge shot in the arm for capital and will help them push the brand further and stronger than they already have done. Ground will broaden their product mix with new designers.

They now have 30 stores in Europe up from a handful. Tecnica is the major reseason because they are distributing their product. They hope to have 1400 doors in Europe by 2007.

Where will Ground be in 5 years? Hmmmmm........