Honorary Vermonter: Stephen Regenold?

LINK: New York Times

Wicked PR of the week: Eesa announces new East Coast rep

Eesa is proud to announce the addition of Tim Stuart, a.k.a., Stu to the 08 rep line-up. Stu will be holding it down in the New England territory and as a legit Masshole, Stu is destined to be a wicked pissah rep. Stu’s was born a poor white kid in the slums of Pembroke, MA. to the proud parents of Darryl and Sheniqua Stuart.

Stu cut his teeth on the family car restoration business and got his first taste of blood money. His Dad always got paid for the magic he performed on the locals rigs. In the early days some folks didn’t take a shine to paying for the work, but in the end Daryl always got his money whether it was cold hard cash or a cold hard beating, either way the blood money was always collected.

As Stu matured into a young man his Dad would send him out to collect on some of the ‘outstanding bills’, since Stu was more like Mom and less like Dad, he always packed his trusty 12-Gauge he lovingly called Alice.

Stu realized that thumpin’ people for money was a long and difficult row and set-off from the family compound to make his way in the world. After wandering the streets of New Hampshire for several years Stu was taken in by a family of snowboarders that showed him that there was more to life than just work. Although they completely duped Stu into working for pennies on the dollar, Stu felt like he had finally found a home at North Of The Boarder (NOTB). It was here that he met Steve Cleary and the two began to dream of even bigger opportunities. Cleary moved to Vermont to pursue a job with Burton Snowboards leaving Stu behind crestfallen and heart broken.

Many years passed and Stu thought he would be resigned to the life of a shredhead in the winter and surf-bum in the summers. While he didn’t mind the lifestyle, he knew deep down that life held something bigger for him. About that time when Stu was about to kick the chair out the phone rang, it was Cleary. ‘Stu, what’s happening? Listen man, I know it’s been a couple-two-three years and I hope the dental surgery and make-over worked out for ya. We’re interested in having you be our New England rep, are you down?’ Stu said he needed time to think it through and after a couple of sessions in the water called Cleary back and said the he was in fact down.


Some of my best friends are Northern White Males ...

" ... The lack of minorities in your state could be a problem, as many northern white males are effete (metrosexuals) and have lost the will to fight or defend themselves. The idea of chivalry is lost, so sacrifice to protect the weak is probably out of the question. Recruiting larger women with children might be your best bet, since their motivations would be clear ..."




So there he was, flying (plodding? Can one “plod” on a bicycle?) through the singletrack of East Burke, in the wake of Kingdom Trails founder John Worth. At 6’3”, the Greenneck is not a small man, but he’s got nothing on Worth’s six-and-a-half feet and 210 pounds.

It’s been at least a decade since the GN first rode the Kingdom Trails. Back then, there were not even a fifth as many trails as now exist. Back then, Worth was talking about this crazy dream of a mountain bike mecca that would elevate the local economy, and draw riders from across the globe. No one believed him. Last week, Worth (who is part owner of East Burke Sports and still works in the shop three days each week) rented mountain bikes to three guys from Japan who spoke no English.

It is perhaps unfair to pin all of East Burke’s success on John Worth. But it’s absolutely fair to suggest that without him, none of it would have happened. And it is a reminder that the power of one highly motivated person is a very real and tangible thing.

When I asked Worth if he ever thought the Kingdom Trails would become what they’ve become, he said yes. “But it’s all happened so fast,” he said. “I just didn’t expect it to happen so fast.” Then he swung a leg over his Trek, and barreled down a trail of his making.

Blackballed by the Piton?

The in-crowd:
Backcountry.com: The Goat
Base Camp
Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
Get Outdoors
Go Light, Go Fast
Moldy Chum
OIA's Press Room
The B.O.S.S. Report Blog
The Gear Junkie
The Jaw
The Mountain World
The Rockcreek Chronicle
The Snaz
Universal Klister

The out crowd:

Spray of the Day: BikeSnob NYC

..." I can also say that this bike climbs like a monkey in a set of crampons, descends like a monkey in a set of crampons being dropped from a helicopter, handles corners like a prostitute, and accelerates like a particle in a particle accelerator that itself is just a tiny particle in a giant particle accelerator... "



A letter from Oz

Instead of OR, it should probably be called Oz. It's a fantasy, a whirl of gear and product and sniggly little pockets with handwarmer linings.

But beneath the green footprints and paper-thin carpet (our version of the yellow brick OzDOT repaving project), it's just cement. And above it, the cataclysmic eruption of gear is primarily just a concoction of some fiery imagination.

A favorite showtime conversation starter of mine is posing the question: how much of the gear on display at OR will actually ever make it into the hands of Joe Sixpack? There's definitely a healthy percentage that never makes it into stores, and a healthy percentage of that never gets bought, so what's the whimsical percentage? Fifty percent? Sixty? Whatever it is, it's a good check on whatever reality it is that you're currently smoking.

The same can be said for conversations during the show. What is the discount on vaportalk? How many of those intense business meetings were just time fillers and courtesy? How much is real, after all?

Every show, it takes a few days before the candy-coated shell of a trade show crackles and peels off. Before the temporary high of business fantasy is supplanted by the tangible reality of walking to the office, of picking some fresh corn, of listening to "High School Musical" with the daughter. It's like taking your shoes off for the first time in weeks, and remembering what it's like to feel the grass and dirt beneath your feet. It feels good to be dirty. To be real. To be a part of the world again.

Of course, being barefoot again has it's own challenges ...like learning that a friend's husband just died while rock climbing in South America. Or finding out that another friend will hit the operating table for pancreatic cancer next month.

It's a short fall from Oz back the farm. Yet as much as I love the outdoor world and the drunken optimism it provides, there's no doubt that the dirt is where we're all needed and where we all can make our greatest impact.


Dr. John's Ark

In the town of Randolph, Vermont, about 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, there is a boat. A big boat. Two masts, 45 feet, and century old hardwood planks that are longer than a couple F150s end to end. It's not in the water, though. It's in my friend's back yard.

The boat has a history. It belonged to an ancestor of John McEnroe, sailed across the Atlantic, dawdled it's way south over a couple generations, and then landed on the coast of Florida as the base of operations for a scuba-loving couple enjoying their golden years. And few years ago, it caught the eye of Dr. John.

Like many Vermonters, Dr. John shares a family pad down around Cape Cod. It's on Cuttyhunk, one of those blissful summer islands that seem more like dream than reality. The ocean is in his blood as much as it was in the blood of his father, another landlocked doctor with a nose for the sea.

So shopping around for a boat was a natural decision for Dr. John. The fact that this particular craft was a wooden boat put it on the radar. And the fact that it needed a "little work" made it a slam dunk.

Vermonters and their boat projects are a funny thing. Guys spend decades in sawdust floor workshops with 200 year old mallets while seasons flip by. They peel off planks and recast their own fittings. The spend months making centimeters of progress. The do stuff like read 400 page manuals on how diesel engines work so they can rebuild one to fit a custom hole in a dark corner. And they're in heaven.

Sure, there's a little carnage from time to time ("Two and four," says one Vermont boater with a grin, referring to his current situation regarding his second wife and fourth boat), but in Vermont, it seems, the bigger the boat project, the better.

After a couple glasses of wine, it's easy to dismiss Vermont boat addiction as just a personality quirk that could be handled with a good dose of Prozac ... you know, seasonal affective disorder plus obsessive compulsive plus kleptomania plus escapethewifenia.

But it's not. Vermonters love their boat projects because of two things. One, it's that they're a living challenge that requires mastering history and engineering, woodworking and nautical savvy, and local zoning regulations as well as marital negotations.

And two, it's that the celebration will happen on a summer day, sometime in the future, somewhere on the water, and surrounded by the smiles of only their closest, dearest friends.

In other words, it's a date with a happy day in the future, and you've gotta love that.

Dr. John is a couple years into the double mast McEnroe project. And he's got at least a couple years to go. Maybe five. Maybe ten. Shit, maybe more. But he's into it. SO into it, in fact, that when i teased him about coming over and torching the thing so he'd have time to come golfing with me ... he looked at me like I was threatening one of his kids.

Make no mistake, Dr. John will finish that boat. I just hope I make the cut.



As the Greenneck emerges from a long, dark cocoon of work, he feels compelled to reflect on a summer that seems to have slipped through his fingers. To be sure, there were accomplishments beyond the mere exchange of words for money: Fence was built, the porch gained a few more windows, and there is now a substantial hole in the Greenneck’s yard awaiting a load of patio stone. The woodshed is full. The meat birds are fattening nicely, and a winter’s worth of hay is stacked in the barn. It’s a cozy list, a reminder that no matter what else happens this winter, none will go without.

But there were little of the activities that once defined the man. The longest bicycle ride of the summer, to date: 2.5-hours. The number of mountain climbed: 0. Times gone swimming: 2.

To be sure, there will be more warm days to come. But already, a chill is in the evening air. Already, the GN has turned his attention fully to the seasons to come. When one chooses to live on and with the land in a climate of changeable seasons, one is always looking forward, preparing for what is to come. In August, that means firewood. The old saying about firewood, that it warms you three times – once when you cut it, twice when you stack it, and thrice when you burn it – can seem an absurd understatement when you’re cutting and stacking on an 80-degree August afternoon.

Not that he’s complaining. At some point along the way, cutting firewood became so compelling to the GN that he chose to forgo a bike ride just to put up another half-cord. At some point along the way, he decided he’d rather spend a Saturday working on a barn, than climbing a mountain.

There are times he regrets these choices; times he yearns for that feeling that only comes of riding hundreds of miles each week, when pedaling a bicycle feels more natural than walking. Such a mark of devotion. But then, so is stacking firewood in August.

Still… anyone wanna go for a ride?


Outdoor Retailer, A to Z

A is for the guy I met with the Arbowear tattoo on his chest. He has no affiliation with the company other than a love for the brand. No joke.

B is for the Blogger’s Ball, the bi-annual opportunity to get together and see how much tanner the outdoor industry bloggers are than the guys who went the Yearly Kos. Btw, Eric Steele’s table swim was heroic.

C is for the Carlton Hotel, aka the Vermont ghetto. Somewhere between The Shining and Newhart lives this super stony shelter where no two rooms are the same, you can keep your key till next year, and the Japanese Maple in the basement looks an awful lot like the Vermont state flower.

D is for that Dude who I see every show hanging around the Patagonia booth. His name is Casey and he claims to be the company president. Yeah, right.

E is for energy bars, those tasty treats that are sliced into tiny pieces and put out at the front of just about every aisle. Every show I think it’s a good idea to eat them, and every show I end up with the same thing.

F is for Flatulence. See above.

G is for Green. As easy as it would be to get jaded and cynical about over-promotion of eco-sensitive materials, the reality was that the OR show was incredibly pensive and appropriate about the whole thing. Yes, there were more green products than ever before. But the majority vibe was not “we’re green and you’re not.” Instead it was one of shared responsibility and some mutual appreciation for how hard it is to change.

H is for the fortified hot chocolate energy drink concocted by Clif Bar. The also have an energized apple cider. It’s supposed to be for XC skiers and the like. But once the Schnapps comes out, I see drunk people.

I is for Ibex, who hosted a hell of a punk rock party. Not a real punk rock party, but a metaphorical one. An unpretentious gathering of like-minded people who just happened to be away from their kids for a couple days and have access to a film projector. Mexican food in aluminum trays, Herradura in Dixie cups, and some of the best short films I’ve seen in years from that Hansi guy. Maybe the good guys can win after all.

J is for John Waterman, who gave an intense and rousing speech on Arctic Warming at the Conservation Alliance breakfast … an event that remains the best part of the Outdoor Retailer show every year.

K is for Kevin Garnett. He wasn’t at the show. But he will be playing for the Celtics this year.

L is for OBG editor Dennis Lewon, whose watch was 6 hours and 32 minutes off, yet he still made every appointment. All hail the human computer...

M is for Mark Anders who is NOT on steroids, and Michael Collin who probably should be.

.... to be continued


True or false?

" ... I read in the LA Times today that global warming is having an unintended benefit for Hummer drivers...seems the higher temps are increasing the pressures in their massive tires, which lifts them even higher above the road, enhancing their already superior attitudes at no extra charge. Rumors that an original Hummer lifted by global warming ran over a Smartcar without even grazing its roof were not confirmed ..."

Coming soon: WickedBadPlastics.com

One of the benefits of stickering your laptop with a big black "WickedOutdoorsy.com" sticker is that people in the JFK clusterlounge occasionally stare at you and move their lips while they sound it out.

The other benefit is bringing a bit of inspiration to roving eco-activists in search of a campaign name for their latest ocean pollution call to action.

Good luck fellas.



As advertised

Wrong address on the invite.

$7 cover charge.

"We should probably order some pizza"

Eric Steele's table swim.

"Hewitt wants to see a redneck? He should come visit me in North Carolina"

"Which is the women's bathroom?"

"That was the opening band?"

I think we can definitely do worse next year.


EcoStalker: Michael's 'Fattywagon'

Year/Model: 1994 Ford E350 Passenger Van

Lineage: Was a hospital shuttle at Boston's Beth Israel. Purchased in 2005 with 72,000 miles on it for $1800.

Approximate conversion cost: $2200

Inside ceiling height: 6' 3".

Gear on board: Five fly rods mounted to ceiling, canoe mounted to wall, numerous hats covered in self-tied flies. Lots of nymphs.

Number of flies attatched to the Southern Culture on the Skids hat on the dashboard: 11

Quote: "It was an orphan. Nobody wants these things. But when you need to carry a couple boats and mountain bikes, it's fantastic."


A sea of green

"I'd like to see a rain jacket with umbrellas that pop out of the shoulders; a tent with hard wood floors, a kitchen, and a bathrroom so you dont have to go outside; sunglasses with pictures all over the lenses but you can see through; and a sleeping bag that feeds you food when you're sick."

So says my seven-year-old daughter. Even she wants to see more innovation at this week's Outdoor Retailer show.

My own daydreams are less creative, unfortunately. A recurring image is a long Kubrickian hallway that leads up to an elevator, fronted by a pair of twins holding hands and giving me that day-three stare. The doors open slowly, ominously, and a hundred thousand gallons of green paint washes past the dual creepsters to bathe the aisles of the Salt Palace convention center in a new hue.

Certainly, the prevalance of green marketing won't be that over-the-top at ORSM.

But it's going to be close.

Weekend with Max

"It's really exciting to host a group like the dowsers. This is a group of people who have a true appreciation for nature and the outdoors and we think it's great that they are going to experience everything The Valley has to offer in the summer."

Max the Crystal Skull goes golfing: As the keynote speaker of the 47th annual International Dowsers Convention, Max is a skull that enjoys a little r&r on the links. And, as a potentially extraterrestrial computer with the ability to record and replay any events that take place in his presence, Max is clearly the guy to keep score. Max loves golfing with dowsers, as they're wicked handy when he shanks a Pro V deep into the woods. Watch that slice, Max!

Max the Crystal Skull goes to American Flatbread:. Just because he's between 10,000 and 36,000 years old doesn't mean he can't appreciate a tasty hyper-organic kale-carrot-radish-and-rutabega veggie pie!

Max the Crystal Skull rides the Enchanted Forest: What better place to take Max for a little singletrack fun than this aptly named stretch o' premium trail? It doesn't matter if he comes from Pleiades or from Atlantis. He is a gift to mankind. He's here as a teacher, and as a tool, to bring people together as a Oneness. Plus, he rips!!

Max the Crystal Skull helps me re-side the Farmhouse: After scheduling my personal sesh with the big crystal skull, he told me what he really wanted to do was just hang out with 'normal' folks. It can be very tiring to meet all the time with psychics and gurus, metaphyscians, shamans, lawyers, Indian Chiefs, parapsychology researchers, UFO investigators, British Museum researchers, guys from the BBC, A&E and the Discovery Channel. For a disembodied crystal skull with mysterious origins, Max is a hell of a nail pounder.


No Child Left Inside, HR 3036

A bill to increase environmental education and connectivity in our schools? Sponsored by an East Coast urban guy? Something tells me that this is a big deal ...

* - Providing incentives for state educational agencies to create a State Environmental Literacy Plan for integrating environmental education into their K-12 curriculum to ensure that graduates are environmentally literate.
* - Providing funding to help states, schools systems, and environmental education partners to implement the State Environmental Literacy Plan.
* - Creating opportunities to improve teacher training, including field-based training in environmental education and connecting children with nature.

LINK: The sponsor
LINK: Treehugger's Take

Kit alert

Sure it's hot as hell today ... but what better time to get your winter kit? Eesa's having their first-ever warehouse sale down at 802 Action Sports in Burlington, Aug. 2-4. Food, music, and stylie gear ... as Stephen likes to say, "Shred on."