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Kiteskiing, Demystified

Posted by Stephen Regenold Dec 31, 2007

 

I went kiteskiing last weekend for the first time. A blast. And easier than I expected. Indeed, after two hours of kite instruction, I was cruising across a frozen lake, dipping my nylon sail into gusts for power, edging hard with the skis to turn, and flying down- and up-wind with fairly simple manipulation of the lines.

In Minnesota, where I took the lesson, Lakawa School of Kiteboarding (http://www.lakawa.com) offers a Snowkiting 101 Day Clinic for $300. This day-long course includes the fundamentals of kite flying and kite control, first in a discussion of theory then moving into the wind working with small trainer kites. After that it's on to the riding -- on skis or a snowboard -- first with smaller kites and slowly building into more and more power.

 

Instructor Tighe Belden and his staff work with each student to get them comfortable riding. In literally four hours, I was competent with this sport and confident enough to go it on my own next time. That kind of learning curve is rare in many sports, but Belden says most of his students require only one day to get up and riding. "After one lesson many students are ready to buy gear and start learning on their own," he said.

 

This is backed up by Belden's guarantee: Lakawa is so confident that they can get you riding in one day, that if you are not able to ride comfortably after a clinic, your next lesson is free.

 

Here are a few pics from my adventure on White Bear Lake outside of Minneapolis last weekend. . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THEGEARJUNKIE.com

Monopoint Media LLC

stephen@thegearjunkie.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GEAR JUNKIE ANNOUNCES TOP GEAR OF 2007

10 Field-Tested Outdoors & Fitness Product Picks

 

Minneapolis, Minn., December 27, 2007. . . The nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist Stephen Regenold — aka "The Gear Junkie" — has announced The Gear Junkie's Top 10 Gear of the Year Awards for 2007.

 

 

 

 

After training hundreds of hours and competing in a dozen ultra-endurance adventures around the country over the past 12 months, Regenold chose 10 products that stood out. "From marathons to mountaineering trips in northern California, to kayaking in the jungle of Quintana Roo, the value of top-notch outdoors equipment continually hit home for me this year," Regenold said.

 

Regenold chose products that helped him battle heat, freezing temps, fatigue and disorientation in locales as far flung as Vermont, Mexico, North Dakota and Nevada.

 

 

 

 

The gear — which includes running shoes, a backpack, snowshoes, skis, a bike, a training watch, and a sleeping bag system — represents the best of the best from the hundreds of products Regenold reviewed in 2007 for "The Gear Junkie" column, which runs weekly in 10 newspapers around the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Major expeditions/events where Regenold tested gear included the Twin Cities marathon; a climb on the 14,162-foot stratovolcano of Mount Shasta; the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour; cenote diving on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula; velodrome track-bike racing; a trip to scout "natural waterslides" in Vermont's Green Mountains; and a 6-hour orienteering rogaine in the Chequamegon National Forest of northern Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

"These 10 gear picks were instrumental in making my adventures a success this year," Regenold said.

 

 

 

 

Here is the full list of Regenold's picks:

 

THE GEAR JUNKIE'S TOP 10 GEAR OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2007

1. Newton Running Gravity Shoes

2. Atomic Snoop Daddy ski

3. Adventure Medical Kits Thermo-Lite 2 Bivvy

4. Inov-8 Race Pro 12 backpack

5. Kahtoola Inc. FLIGHTsystem snowshoes

6. Kona Paddy Wagon bike

7. Polar RS800G3 Multisport Training System

8. Big Agnes Dream Island Sleeping Bag

9. Ibex Qu T shirt

10. Salomon S-Lab XA Pro 3 off-trail shoes

 

(See here — http://thegearjunkie.com/top-10-gear-of-the-year-awards-2007 — for the complete story.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE GEAR JUNKIE:

Since 2002, Stephen Regenold's "The Gear Junkie" column has been the nation's No. 1 syndicated newspaper column on the outdoors. It is distributed weekly to 10 major daily newspapers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Albuquerque Journal, Casper Star-Tribune, Spokane Spokesman-Review, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Greensboro News-Record, Cape Cod Times, Jackson Hole Star Tribune, Redding Record Searchlight, Billings Gazette, and the Twin Falls Times-News. Active.com carries the column online, as well as Regenold's web site, http://thegearjunkie.com. Total weekly circulation: 2 million+

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THEGEARJUNKIE.com:

Operated by Monopoint Media LLC of Minneapolis, Minn., THEGEARJUNKIE.com was founded in 2006. It is an online publication devoted to the outdoors, health, fitness, adventure travel, and all the gear and equipment associated with those pursuits. It is based off a nationally-syndicated newspaper column of the same name written by freelance journalist Stephen Regenold, a world-traveling adventurer/journalist with a home base in Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Press Contact: Stephen Regenold

Editor and Publisher, TheGearJunkie.com

stephen@thegearjunkie.com

 

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GoldSprints

Posted by Stephen Regenold Dec 21, 2007

 

Goldsprint racing is a rising offseason cycling activity that melds a stationary bike trainer with a video game. Riders pedal to move wheels on a computer-connected roller system, transferring power output to its virtual equivalent onscreen, where an animated biker ticks along.

 

I tried this strange -- and physically taxing -- activity last month while on assignment for the local newspaper in Minneapolis.

 

 

 

[http://thegearjunkie.com/dailydose]

 

 

My effort on the bike yielded a virtual 1,200-foot distance in the first round's allotted 20 seconds, a middle-of-the-pack score. Physically, the goldsprint format was unlike anything I'd ever done, as you're forced to go from a resting heart rate immediately to your max physiological output.

 

Click here for the full story: http://thegearjunkie.com/goldsprints

 

 

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Yesterday was a teaser blog to my annual "Top 10 Adventures of the Year" article. But today I'm unveiling the whole list, starting in Utah's Wasatch Mountains where I skied 15,000 vertical feet of powder turns last January; heading south to a karst abyss called Cenote Dzitnup in Quintana Roo, Mexico; then going back to more traditional adventure pursuits, like dodging avalanches and 80mph winds on the flanks of a 14,162-foot stratovolcano in northern California. . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

[http://thegearjunkie.com/dailydose]

 

 

 

THE GEAR JUNKIE'S TOP 10 ADVENTURES OF 2007

By Stephen Regenold

 

From caves in Quintana Roo, Mexico, to the Nevada desert, to a 14,000-foot volcano in California, 2007 proved to be a year of high adventure for the Gear Junkie. Avalanches, mountain climbs, whitewater, crocodiles and even errant gunfire, were all part of the fun. The following 10 destinations are my top picks, including bike, ski, foot and boat adventures, from Vermont's Green Mountains to the Great Plains of North Dakota, from the wild to the absolute weird.

 

1. Ski Utah Interconnect Tour, Wasatch Mountain Range

In one epic ski day on Utah's Interconnect Tour you travel about 25 miles through the Wasatch Mountains, carving more than 15,000 vertical feet of turns on the slopes and adjacent backcountry at Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Brighton, Solitude, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Resort. A daylong guided trip, the Interconnect Tour follows a circuitous route of in-bounds ski trails and steep backcountry runs. Chairlift rides are combined with out-of-bounds traverses to connect the resorts that sprawl through this part of the Wasatch Range. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/utahs-epic-ride-skiing-six-resorts-in-one-day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Subterranean Cenote Swimming, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Southwest of the town of Valladolid, on the way to the Maya ruins at Chichén Itzá, the abyss of Cenote Dzitnup is an archetype of the unique karst geology ubiquitous on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, where water-filled sinkholes called cenotes were literal wellsprings of a civilization. My trip to dive a half-dozen cenotes last winter was an eye-opening and mystical experience. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/subterranean-snooping-on-the-yucatan-peninsula)

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Mount Shasta, Calif.

Can you say crap storm? My attempt to climb the 14,162-foot stratovolcano of Mount Shasta last May was killed by winds that reached an estimated 80mph where we camped. Indeed, my photographer friend T.C. Worley and I were nearly blown off the mountain. A large avalanche slid less than a quarter-mile from our camp. Our tent survived, though other climbers’ shelters did not: poles snapped, nylon ripped, some tents literally blew away, gear flying down the mountainside. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/new-york-times-the-mount-shasta-story ; Link to audio slideshow: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/travel/20070615_SHASTA_FEATURE/blocker.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Velodrome Track Racing, Blaine, Minn.

“My bike has no brakes and just one gear. But I’m pedaling with all I’ve got, tucked and spinning, breathing hard. Hands clenched on drop bars. Wheels humming. Thighs screaming. Knuckles literally white.” Thus starts a story I wrote on track-bike racing at the NSC Velodrome in Blaine, Minn., a 250-meter oval of weathered afzelia wood. The velodrome’s banks are pitched at 43 degrees, which creates long, sweeping curves impossible to complete without speed. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/velodrome-track-bike-racing ; Link to video: http://thegearjunkie.com/videos?vidID=8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Area 51 & the Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada

Definitely my weirdest adventure of the year. In March I drove north from Las Vegas in search of the Extraterrestrial Highway -- a.k.a. Nevada State Route 375 -- and Alien Country, where more UFOs are sighted than at any other place on the planet. I snooped on the edge of Area 51 with Joerg Arnu, a 45-year-old software developer from Las Vegas who keeps a trailer parked on some land in the hardscrabble town of Rachel. Mr. Arnu, a native of Germany, files a Freedom of Information Act petition each year to procure dates and times of major military testing periods. “That’s when all the action happens,” he said. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/the-extraterrestrial-highway)

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Kayaking Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

For this journey into Mexico's 1.3-million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a park in eastern Quintana Roo, I paddled into the “million spindly legs of a mangrove swamp” in search of vine-covered ruins, dropped jewels, crocodiles, and other Indiana-Jones-esque adventures. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/kayaking-in-the-land-of-the-maya)

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race

For the second year in a row, the humble state of North Dakota makes my list. This year's sojourn to the land of wheat and corn was for the state’s first-ever adventure race, the 12-hour Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race. The race included trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, orienteering and “mystery challenges.” Plus, my teammate and I actually got shot at, bullets whizzing by our heads, during the event. . . (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/12-hour-ar-262-miles)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Rogaine, Chequamegon National Forest, Wis.

Rogaining, an Australian offshoot of orienteering invented in the 1970s, puts teams of two to four people on a choose-your-own-adventure course in wilderness dotted with flags. It's one of my favorite sports, and for this year I ran a rogaine in the Chequamegon National Forest of northwest Wisconsin. My team took 2nd place! (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/rogaine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Natural Waterslides of Vermont

On assignment for New York Times last August, I journeyed to Vermont's Green Mountains in search of natural waterslides, which are essentially whitewater chutes navigable on your rear end. They flank rivers and streams in places like Vermont, where old hills with bedrock-bottom creeks can create perfect sliding. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/new-york-times-natural-ater-slides)

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Midwest Extreme: Mount Bohemia, Mich.

Mount Bohemia is a tiny ski area on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where chutes, cornices and cliffs exist on a 1,465-foot hill overlooking Lake Superior. The tiny, two-chairlift ski hill is an anomaly in its region, where short runs, manmade snow and icy groomed slopes are the norm. But at Bohemia, there are gladed tree runs and 71 named trails, none of which are groomed. Black diamonds dot the trail map. Deep blanketing snow -- up to 300 inches in some seasons -- covers boulders, streambeds, fallen trees and outcroppings of rock. A sign at the entrance to the resort reads “Warning: NO BEGINNERS ALLOWED.” (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/new-york-times-michigans-extreme-anomaly)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold's work.)

 

 

 

 

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From caves in Quintana Roo, Mexico, to the Nevada desert, to a 14,000-foot volcano in California, 2007 proved to be a year of high adventure for the Gear Junkie. Avalanches, mountain climbs, whitewater, crocodiles and even errant gunfire were all part of the fun. Here's the first in a two-part blog, highlighting my adventures Nos. 6 through 10 for this year. . .

 

10. Midwest Extreme: Mount Bohemia, Mich.

Mount Bohemia is a tiny ski area on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where chutes, cornices and cliffs exist on a 1,465-foot hill overlooking Lake Superior. The tiny, two-chairlift ski hill is an anomaly in its region, where short runs, manmade snow and icy groomed slopes are the norm. But at Bohemia, there are gladed tree runs and 71 named trails, none of which are groomed. Black diamonds dot the trail map. Deep blanketing snow -- up to 300 inches in some seasons -- covers boulders, streambeds, fallen trees and outcroppings of rock. A sign at the entrance to the resort reads “Warning: NO BEGINNERS ALLOWED.” (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/new-york-times-michigans-extreme-anomaly)

 

 

 

 

 

9. Natural Waterslides of Vermont

On assignment for New York Times last August, I journeyed to Vermont's Green Mountains in search of natural waterslides, which are essentially whitewater chutes navigable on your rear end. They flank rivers and streams in places like Vermont, where old hills with bedrock-bottom creeks can create perfect sliding. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/new-york-times-natural-ater-slides)

 

 

 

 

 

8. Rogaine, Chequamegon National Forest, Wis.

Rogaining, an Australian offshoot of orienteering invented in the 1970s, puts teams of two to four people on a choose-your-own-adventure course in wilderness dotted with flags. It's one of my favorite sports, and for this year I ran a rogaine in the Chequamegon National Forest of northwest Wisconsin. My team took 2nd place! (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/rogaine)

 

 

 

 

 

7. Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race

For the second year in a row, the humble state of North Dakota makes my list. This year's sojourn to the land of wheat and corn was for the state’s first-ever adventure race, the 12-hour Extreme North Dakota Adventure Race. The race included trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, orienteering and “mystery challenges.” Plus, my teammate and I actually got shot at, bullets whizzing by our heads, during the event. . . (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/12-hour-ar-262-miles)

 

 

 

 

 

6. Kayaking Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

For this journey into Mexico's 1.3-million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a park in eastern Quintana Roo, I paddled into the “million spindly legs of a mangrove swamp” in search of vine-covered ruins, dropped jewels, crocodiles, and other Indiana-Jones-esque adventures. (Link to story: http://thegearjunkie.com/kayaking-in-the-land-of-the-maya)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tomorrow: The Top 5 Adventures of the Year. . .

 

 

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In a story last week for Forbes, I virtually equipped the "Ski Gadget Man," a hypothetical downhiller outfitted head to toe with the latest and greatest in this season's ski gear.

 

The clickable graphic of the man is essentially a neat way to do a gear guide: Scroll over the helmet, goggles, gloves, poles, boots, etc., and a pop-up window details each of the nine choice products I picked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altogether the assemblage comprises a near-$4,000 fantasy package for the aspiring alpinist.

 

Here's a peek at the gear I picked. . .

 

SKIS: Volkl Tigershark 12 Foot

 

BOOTS: Atomic Hawx 110 Boots

 

POLES: LEKI Vision Venom SL Trigger S

 

OUTERWEAR: The North Face Unity Suit

 

GOGGLES: Zeal Optics Spherical PPX

 

HELMET: Giro G9 Wireless Audio Series

 

GLOVES: Kombi iRip

 

WATCH: Highgear Altis TI

 

PACK: Gregory Drift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Novelist and Pulitzer-Prize nominee Wayne Johnson has written a book about skiing. "White Heat" (Atria Books, $26.00) debuted last week, and it covers the lifestyle that is skiing -- in all its forms. Johnson, a 51-year-old native of Minnesota and now a resident of Utah, is a writer as well as a mountain patroller at Park City Resort outside Salt Lake City.

 

His 352-page tome includes a look into ski racing, avalanche patrol, Nordic jumping, park skiing, snowboarding, and steep and deep backcountry pursuits.

 

The book serves well as an introduction to all things skiing. Anyone who's ever been curious about ski bummery and "the mountain life" and all that will gain insight from "White Heat." Along those same lines, experienced skiers and/or mountain people might feel the material to be too geared toward the uninitiated.

 

 

 

 

 

[http://thegearjunkie.com/dailydose]

 

 

 

But Johnson's tales are entertaining. Stories about well-knowns like Bode Miller, Stein Erickson, Tony Sailer, and Jean-Claude Killy are featured alongside bits about the regulars from Johnson's life on the mountain at Park City.

 

Chapters include "Avalanche Control: On Duty with Dynamite Girl"; "The Curious and Arcane World of Nordic Ski Jumping"; and "Who Lives in East Bumblerut, Idaho, and other West of the Hudson Mysteries."

 

I enjoyed the "Dynamite Girl" chapter, where Johnson drools over the triple-bliss of powder snow, explosives, and a good-looking female mentor:

 

"RRRRR. RRRRRR, you growl behind Jackie, lifting your arms like some sleepwalker, or like Boris Karloff, laughing to yourself. . .  'Oh, baby,'  you say, in it a kind of total dread, but with it. . . excitement. And it has nothing to do with Jackie. 'Come on,' she says and, with an eagerness beyond explanation, you follow her out into the blizzard, to stand a block from the hut, taking it in. A damn near, bona fide whiteout. The mountains, in all that snow, are phantasmagorical blue-black and white teeth. Standing just behind Jackie, the snow burning your face, you hear a sound in the distance not unlike what someone would make leaping face down onto a feather bed. A whoooomphf!"

 

The book is written in the pseudo-first-person, by which I mean that it's written in the little-used second person. Though for a lot of the book the second-person tense is actually put through Johnson's first-person lens. Confusing? The format actually works, as the reader is put in the driver's seat, dead in the action, word after word.

 

 

 

Said Johnson: "I wanted to put the reader into the experience as much as possible, to collapse the gap between reader and subject, to get inside the experience and let them feel what it's like."

 

He accomplishes that pretty well with "White Heat."

 

Book's web site: www.joannadymond.com

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/White-Heat-Extreme-Skiing

 

 

 

 

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My story on ForbesTraveler.com today -- "The Top 20 Snowiest Ski Resorts in the World" -- honors the snow gods from Washington's Mount Baker to Hokkaido, Japan, where the white stuff piles so deep some years that resort workers have to dig out chairlifts.

The story highlights the top 20 snowiest resorts on the planet, as tracked by Bestsnow.net, which pulls meteorological records from weather stations, data from avalanche-forecasting centers and monthly snowfall amounts from ski resorts.

 

Our list includes big boys like Snowbird as well as little-known mountains like Whitewater Resort in British Colombia, which is smothered each season under an average of 397 inches of snow. Alyeska Resort near Anchorage, Alaska, made the list with its yearly 513-inch figure, as did Kirkwood Mountain Resort (473 inches) and Boreal (395 inches), both near Lake Tahoe in California.

The deepest of all? That title goes to Mt. Baker Ski Area, a resort on the flanks of its namesake 10,778-foot stratovolcano in northern Washington State. Indeed, Baker once recorded a snow year so mythically deep that it's regularly cited as the most snow measured anywhere, ever, on the planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baker has always been known for its tremendous annual snowfall, but during the winter of 1998/99 the gloppy snow of the Pacific Northwest literally buried anything in local memory. By season's end, Baker recorded 1,140 inches of snow -- a near-apocalyptic 95 feet of the frozen white stuff. "It was a legendary year," says Tony Crocker of Bestsnow.net.

 

Read the full story on "The Top 20 Snowiest Ski Resorts in the World" here: http://www.forbestraveler.com/skiing/snowiest-ski-resorts-story.html

 

 

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In the Nov. 30 edition of the New York Times, I write about my experience in a cyclocross race  last month, where a short-looped course included obstacles, ramps, bumps, sharp turns and lots of mud. True to the game, I rode a cyclocross bike (Kona's Jake the Snake), which is a road-bike-like cycle that has drop-bar handles, skinny tires and no suspension.

 

 

About 40,000 cyclists registered to race in a cyclocross event last year, according to USA Cycling, a Colorado Springs organization that sanctions competitions. That's up from 17,000 registered racers in 2004.

 

Cyclocross's idiosyncrasies-from sand traps and standing water to the get-off-your-bike-and-leap barriers-necessitate technique specific to the sport.

 

"There's an art to popping off, shouldering your bike, then getting back on without losing speed," said Mark Mettler, a 45-year-old cyclist from Minnetonka, Minn, who raced in the event with me and about 160 other riders.

 

 

Cyclocross is a fall sport, with races starting in September and continuing every weekend past Thanksgiving. Hundreds of races are held each year nationwide, many organized into regional series, from Maine to Colorado to California. USA Cycling's season-ending Cyclocross National Championships this year are in Kansas City, Kan., Dec. 13 to 16.

 

Go here to see my full story in the Times:

http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/travel/escapes/30cyclo.html?8dpc

 

Plus, here's the race report I wrote on the event last month, including a photo gallery: http://community.active.com/blogs/gear/2007/11/14/firsttime-cyclocross-race

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