Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mid-life Chrysalis

Mid-life Chrysalis
by John Atkinson
Mammut Ambassador

Twenty years ago, if you asked me how I thought I'd spend my fortieth birthday, there is no way I would have predicted dirt-jumping and downhill mountain biking to celebrate.

And yet, it was exactly how I wanted to spend it.

(all bike images by Peter Wadsworth)

Mountain biking has long been a passion, but downhill and bigger air were not part of my repetorie until fairly recently.

In a few short seasons though, I've started doing things I never thought possible for me. My addictions to gravity, adrenaline and endorphins have grown too.

Through a combination of hanging with better riders and coaching lots of beginners through the techniques, my skills have developed.
Old dogs can learn new tricks ... not that I'm old yet.

So what does all this have to do with Mammut? Well, to start, mountain biking in Vermont is often cool and nothing keeps me more comfortable than Mammut's base layers.
They're stretchy enough for armor, form-fitting enough for good wicking, durable enough for ripping through the blackberry patches. The new wool mixes look even better.

I've got enough to worry about, staying on the line and flowing down the hill. All the gear has to work.

Trail-building is another addiction that has only grown over the years and M ammut's Nirvana backpack is the absolute best pack I've ever used. Believe me, carrying a rake, pulaski, mcleod, rock bar, handsaw, loppers, water, food, extra clothes, medical and repair kit, and sometimes chainsaw chaps and a protective helmet will test any pack.

All the strapping options allow for tremendous versatility, the big ice axe loops actually fit the tools and I swear it makes 50 pounds feel like 30 pounds. ;)

A friend told me 40 is the new 28. I am a big fan of this "new math." Alright!

Fall is winding down here in Vermont's Mad River Valley, although this particular season has been out-of-the-world gorgeous, with vibrant leaf colors and a nice coating of mountain snow to really set off the displays.

We were busy at Sugarbush right through Columbus weekend, with Adventure camps and bike clinics. Even in the cold rain, the kids had a great time. Check out the slackline and our nature scavenger hunt!

The snow prompted thoughts of turns, which my wife and I made a reality as soon as we could.
Early season skiing on the East Coast is best enjoyed on upper elevation, grassy, low-angle slopes, like the kind you might find at Mad River Glen.

Snow in October doesn't usually last more than a few hours, but this round has continued to hang on for more than a week.

No sense wasting time though. Freshies in the foliage are pretty fine.

Just in case you were wondering, the Nirvana excels as a winter mountain pack too.

Sometimes the beauty just takes your breath away.

Ski hitchhikers on RT 17.

A few views of Sugarbush.

So, turning forty may not be what it used to be, but it's still a milestone for many of us. Happily, I have rededicated my life to the mountains and hope for at least forty more excellent years of gravity grooving, smiling in the rain, and relishing the sun and snow.
Happy fall!
p.s. I am convinced that mountain biking is the single best cross-over sport to skiing and snowboarding. The movements, focus and fun are almost exactly the same. Gravity still works in the summer. Here's something to consider, my big bike has essentially bottomless suspension. Imagine riding bottomless powder year-round. Mmmm, okay.

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