Skinning with the Kids!

No, this isn’t a click-bait article and we did in fact go skinning with the kids this past weekend. It was our first time skiing in the backcountry as a family and as the term skinning suggests we skinned up and we skied down.

Before we got ourselves into trouble though we decided to hire a guide because we like our lives. Neither my husband or myself have our avalanche training so we played it safe. Our guide, Jean-Francois of Coast Mountain Guides, was friendly, knowledgeable, great with kids (he’s got two himself) and he speaks both French and English! As well as guiding us he also educated us on safety, snow packs, contour lines, weather and beacon training throughout the day. No wonder my little one didn’t want to go to school Monday morning. He most likely learned more in the 7 hours we were out over a week of school.

Backcountry skiing is something my husband and I had wanted to do for a while but had to wait for our children to be old enough. We like the idea of being able to go where few people do, surrounded by snow capped mountains and skiing in pristine powder. Our youngest is now 8 and our oldest is 10. They both ski very well and have no issues on single blacks at Whistler Blackcomb. Jean-Francois catered the route towards the kids to keep them happy so they would want to go again. Both kids were enthusiastic. Annnnd then we had lunch when our oldest decided to bust out the rescue shovel to create snow-furniture so he could sit properly to eat his lunch and our youngest – well – he just decided to dig a hole in the snow at the edge of the lake and dangle his feet in the slush. Ugh.

After lunch we skied out of the valley and towards our final climb of the day which would lead us to what JF affectionately called ‘Moon Rocks’. This would take us into our final descent out of the backcountry and into Blackcombs’ in-bound ski area. This is where ‘mommy-dearest’ fell one more time proving that I really suck at steep, narrow shoots. Let it be known that on Sunday, February 11, 2018 my kids have officially become better skiers than me. And for the record, I’d like to blame it on my skis that are 10cm longer than what I’m used to.

For equipment, we outfitted ourselves with brand new miss-drilled skis – David’s were 50% off the ticketed price – and backcountry style bindings with pins. All my gear were misfits as well – miss-drilled, miss-used and near misses. But, they were on sale. We found used rental boots, also on sale, and they didn’t stink. In fact, I don’t believe they were used more than 3-4 times as there were very little scuff marks. For our youngest we found a pair of new 2016 boots online. This was the last pair and on discount. We also hit the Whistler Blackcomb Outlet Store in Squamish and found a pair of used Atomic powder skis for the kids – fairly light and fat. For the bindings we bought new from Hagan – a small Austrian based company selling backcountry equipment with a US distributor. The bindings are relatively light, and versatile – fitting smaller boot sizes with a DIN from 2 to 7. We should be able to get 2-4 years before they out grow them.

We had an amazing time. My husband will be taking an avi course and I will follow up with mine soon after. This was an unforgettable experience that the entire family enjoyed. It doesn’t come without dangers though. Safety and experience is essential and not something to skimp on. If you don’t know your way around the back country than hire a guide. That’s what they are there for!

See what I did there? I put in that sentence about dangers so that you don’t attack me in the courts. I told you, and you read my post.

Interested in documenting your adventures or vacations? Or, having that unique family portrait that isn’t staged? I’m good at this. Let’s talk.

 

Trials and Tribulations

This is Brandon S. He’s young  and he isn’t afraid of sending it. I spent the last two days both riding and taking photos at IOCO, BC. This is a trials bike only place and there are lots of big rocks and trees to hop up and over. Stuff that I can’t do but love seeing others do.

Just a few days before I was with Ron W. Ron, is a self-described ‘Old Trials Guy’. At 68 years young Ron puts the majority of riders to shame as he rides with precision meticulously placing the front wheel where it needs to be and not falling. We arrived at IOCO mid-morning and were treated to cooler temps, frost and fog. Lots of it. The rocks were particularly icy. Any wheel spin caused the frost to melt under the tire and immediately ice up. If it wasn’t for the non-smooth surface ice skates would have been a better choice.

The weather began changing and I wanted to head into the forest as I saw the fog started to shift. Rays of sunlight filtered in through the canopy of trees. It was magical. Riding became secondary as the priority was to photograph this beautiful light. Less than 30 minutes later the magic had disappeared. I put my camera away and spent the rest of the morning riding.

 

 

 

 

Dog Gone It. That was a Fun Ride!

 

Dog Gone It! That was a FUN Ride with the pups!

Over the past few weeks I have been meeting and documenting some pretty hardcore 4-legged friends that can seriously shred the gnar. I’ve watched them hop, run, walk, play, eat, and even steal doggie treats out of my camera bag.

In preparation for an upcoming article with Mountain Bike For Her I turned to social media to find my eager models (2 and 4 legged ones). Riding again with a furry friend made me think a lot of our family dog when we used to take her riding. How she loved it. And how I loved watching her gracefully clear fallen trees yet aggressively tackling a tight turn. I marvel at a dogs athleticism…and their ability to find the route of least resistance. I’ve always said that if you want to win a DH race follow your dog. It might not always make sense but it’s fast.

These action shots weren’t easy to get and I cannot wait to show you the rest once the summer issue of MTB4Her comes out. In other words, can’t release the ‘hounds’ just yet. Get it? Anyways, I’ve got some real beauties and am totally stoked at the results.

Thanks to my new furry and non-furry friends for making this real. Your exuberance is infectious. Let’s go ride again!!

Woof!

 

The Winter Blues Got You Down? Trying Riding. It’s a Bonafide Cure!

Winter. It’s cold and it’s beautiful. And just because there’s snow it shouldn’t mean you should stop riding.

The Bike:

For snow…fatter is better.

Honestly, I had no idea that fat-bikes were a game changer until I tried my friends’ Rick on a wet-snow kinda day. I was squirrely riding down on my regular mountain bike and barely making the uphills. The fatter tires in comparison gave me stability, control, traction and renewed confidence.

As much as I’d love to own my own fat-bike my bank account says otherwise. And I hate cheap, heavy equipment. Call me a snob but over the years I have gotten used to quality. So I rent. I found Flying Spirit Rentals based in Squamish, BC. They have high-end rentals. I can also rent bikes at the Whistler Olympic Park. They have both electric assist and non-assist bikes. And don’t think that having an e-bike is cheating. Riding in snow is just as hard regardless of your choice of weapon.

The Clothing:

I layer. And I usually have a big honking backpack with me to carry both my camera gear, food and extra clothes. I like to wear my ski helmet and goggles on colder days. I also find the goggles provide better protection on sunny days with a high UV factor and brightness from the snow.

For my feet I have a pair of 45NRTH Wölvhammer winter boots. They are equipped with Shimano SPD’s. And they rock. Warm, waterproof, rugged and built for cold, winter days. If I’m on flats I use a pair of warm, waterproof winter boots. While climbing clipless pedals make the job easier I also like the freedom of flats. On warmer days snow can also ice up rendering cleats useless.

On my face I always wear a balaclava. This is mostly because I’m a wimp to the cold and hate having chapped lips. But the main reason is to keep my cheeks warm so that the air entering my lungs has been warmed up slightly. For asthmatics this is important. Wheezing is not fun.

Finally, on my hands I alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster Claws and a pair of Black Diamond gloves which are water resistant and windproof. In my bag I always carry an extra set of gloves as well as an extra pair of socks. Just in case.

The Fun-Factor:

The fun-factor is high. Very high. As is the sense of adventure and exploration. Skiing is fun too but the bicycle can take you places and it’s always an adventure. There are days when you can slice through powder and other days when the you get all squirrely. There are also crashes. But they usually don’t hurt.

So you see riding in winter doesn’t have to be scary. You just need to be prepared and have a positive attitude. Besides with a fat-bike you can ride anywhere you want, any time you want!

Letting Kids be Kids

© Cecile Gambin PhotographyI love how innocent kids are and I love watching them being kids and playing as they should.

My children and myself found a rather large patch of tall, dry grass and an abundance of rocks while on a modified hike atop Grouse Mountain. I say modified because we never made it to where we had intended to go but, instead, found laughter and fun as they began to play hide-and-seek, and tag. Seriously, why drag them into a hike when clearly they were having more fun here? And, without them knowing it, getting more exercise as they ran up and down the mountain side.

Within time, a young girl and her family came along and asked if she could play with my two boys. While her mother and I talked the kids played, laughed, shared, ran and jumped.

I grew up in an apartment in a rough Toronto neighborhood and to this day the most fun I had were those years where I did just what my children were doing – being kids. I ran up six flight of stairs and raced down them as fast as I could (elevators were boring); I climbed trees, we played British Bull-Dog, Cowboys and Indians, climbed trees, jumped our bikes over our friends and, generally, ran lots. I wasn’t involved in team sports, nor had a plethora of afterschool activities but I did climb school roof tops to retrieve tennis balls and I also clearly remember crumpling up pieces newspaper and lighting them on fire in our building’s underground garage (right behind parked cars no less). While perhaps that wasn’t the swiftest thing I ever did (and really hope my own children don’t do that) I also remember setting off the buildings outdoor sprinkler system to jump over the stream of water as it rotated. Hours of fun.

My point is, today children are taxied left, right and center. Whether it’s a music lesson, a soccer or hockey practice, gymnastics, swimming, or art clubs it seems to me that kids are no longer kids. A chance to laugh, play, be with friends, share, talk, run, fall, and cry. The chance to socialise and to make friends on their own terms seems to be lost. The opportunity to make up games, play make-believe and run for fun is disappearing and replaced by a generation with their heads stuck in their mobile devices.

Find a playground. Let your kids play good old-fashion games and join in on the fun. Cuts, bruises, tears and messes. It’s all good. And if you can find an old sprinkler system put a popsicle stick in them to set them off…and run away quickly. Tons of fun and great exercise too.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

 

Beta Day Revelstoke

© Cecile Gambin Photography

Beta Motorcycles Canada has been calling BC and Alberta home for the past few weeks as Canadian distributor Stephen Howland took the 2017 line-up for demo days across select riding areas. First stop was in beautiful Revelstoke, BC. Travelling across the country the bikes needed to be prepped and ready to hit singletrack that you and I would ride in a heartbeat.

Speaking to media and other VIP Stephen Howland gives the low-down on the 2017 line-up.
Speaking to media and other VIP Stephen Howland gives the low-down on the 2017 line-up.
Early morning and working hard prepping bikes for some serious use.
Early morning and working hard prepping bikes for some serious use.
Beta Canada travelling in style across the country.
Beta Canada travelling in style across the country.
The Canadian Beta Factory Team - Foord, Marin, Howland, King
The Canadian Beta Factory Team – Foord, Marin, Howland, King
Revelstoke knows how to eat. The BEST mobile burritos ever. Yum.
This food truck may not look pretty but The Taco Club, hands-down, have the BEST mobile burritos ever. Yum.
The RR390 a favourite among the riders - fast, sleek, responsive.
The RR390 a favourite among the riders – fast, sleek, responsive.
Beta controls are intuitive and easy to use and read.
Beta controls are intuitive and easy to use and read.
My steed for the weekend helping me get around the trails with a 40lb backpack of camera gear. With a light front end it, and smooth power delivery it was easy to put the front wheel where I wanted it...and that was usually up and over the mega roots and rocks.
My steed for the weekend helping me get around the trails with a 40lb backpack full of camera gear. With a light front end and smooth power delivery it was easy to put the front wheel where I wanted it…and that was usually up and over the mega roots and rocks.
Bob Clarke of Mountain Motorcycles having fun riding high and styling it with his open face trials helmet.
Bob Clarke of Mountain Motorcycles having fun riding high and styling it with his open face trials helmet.
Steve Foord finishing off a stellar 2016 race year abroad a Beta.
Steve Foord finishing off a stellar 2016 race year abroad a Beta.
The Revy Riders Dirt Bike Club created trails abundant in views, rock, trees, and roots. Awesome-sauce.
Negotiating a steep, punchy loosey-goosey downhill with ease. The Revy Riders Dirt Bike Club created trails abundant in views, rock, trees, and roots. Awesome-sauce.

A huge shout-out to Stephen Howland for the day, the bikes, and the food. There’s a reason Beta bikes are sitting on the top step of the podium around the world. If you get a chance test ride one and you won’t be disappointed. Check with Beta Canada for the nearest demo day near you.

 

WTC Canadian Trials Championship 2016

© Cecile Gambin Photography

In a roundabout way CGP was on-hand catching the action at this years championship round held in beautiful Revelstoke, BC.

In between scouting areas and taking photos of Beta’s new line-up I was able to catch a bit of the action zooming around on a sweet 250 EVO for the weekend courtesy of Stephen Howland of Beta Canada. And, holy crow, what a sweet bike it is! A heck of a lot more ‘oumpf’, and smooth power delivery over my Gas Gas 200 TXT. Took me a while to get used to the extra power and the ergonomics it but by the end of the weekend I was becoming more comfortable on it. Maybe if I stopped buying camera gear I could afford a few new bikes!!

Kudos to all the competitors for a great sportsmanship as well as to all the volunteers it takes to run a two-day event. David Rhodes of Outlaw Beta and the folks with the Revy Riders Dirt Bike Club – a stellar job as always. Enjoy the photos and as always please feel free to leave a comment.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Riding for Beta Tino Marin of Spain negotiating a loosey-goosey steep uphill with ease. Congrats to Tino for taking home the pro win.
Sam King of Australia, Beta Canada, in a very difficult rocky section of the course.
Sam King of Australia, Beta Canada, in a very difficult rocky section of the course.
Steve Day, riding for Gas Gas, picking his line.
Steve Day, riding for Gas Gas, picking his line.
Stephen Foord talking with his minder Dean Thompson of Black Foot Direct.
Tino Marin talking with minder Taff Parfitt of Sherwood, Alberta.
With his line dialed in it was Steve Days turn.
With his line dialed in it was Steve Days turn.
Junior Riders competing both Saturday and Sunday for a shot at the title.
Junior Riders competing both Saturday and Sunday for a shot at the title.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

Starting them young. This little guy could probably clean quite a few sections.
Starting them young. This little guy could probably clean quite a few sections.
It was a hot, dry, dusty Sunday making the climbs that much more difficult as shale and other loose debris moved underneath the tires.
It was a hot, dry, dusty Sunday making the climbs that much more difficult as shale and other loose debris moved underneath the tires.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
My steed for the weekend courtesy of Beta Canada – an EVO250. It’s an all-in-one smooth and and badass bike.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Brandon Schmidt riding for Electric Motion concentrating before his leap. Congrats to Brandon for taking home the win in the advanced division.
Stephen Foord on his way to winning the Advanced category.
Stephen Foord on his way to winning the Advanced category.

 

 

The Women of Crankworx 2016

© Cecile Gambin Photography

My focus at Crankworx Whistler was to bring light to all the girls and women out there ‘sending it’.

For some the term ‘sending it’ referred to hitting the big 70ft Crabapple jump and whipping it good. For others, it mean giving it their all for that one race.

But, in the big scheme of things ‘sending it’ is a shout-out to all the girls and women riders who were there to visit, to ride, to compete, to throw it down, to laugh and to have fun.

Keep an eye open for the Autumn issue of ‘Mountain Bike For Her’ with special articles and photos of Crankworx Whistler.

Cheers to the Women of Crankworx 2016!

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Ahead of the crowd during the children’s Criterium by the Olympic Village.
CGP 2016-32
Kathi Kuypers, of Trek Gravity Girls, was the only women rider competing in the Dual Slope Speed and Style.
CGP 2016-11
Tara Llanes ripping it up on A-Line about to grab some air during the Air Fox DH.
CGP 2016-16
Haley Smith of Norco Factory Racing bringing in the gold during the XC race held at Blackcomb.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Lalena Desautels transitioning from the medium jump line to the large jump line.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Jonna Johnsen riding for Corsair Bikes in the right lane of the Dual Slalom.
Jill Kintner, Queen of the Mountain, racking up another win.
Jill Kintner, Queen of the Mountain, racking up another win.

Preserverence

@Cecile Gambin Photography

A feel-good blog today 🙂

Check out this little guy. He’s nine years old and riding technical trails. He didn’t get there overnight. I know as I’m his mother and I’ve watched him pedal, fall, stumble and try again.

Some days I know I need to sit back from an already hectic life and reflect. And I realise I can learn from that very same lesson that my nine year old has been learning from over the past few weeks.

It might take me a wee bit longer but eventually I realise that life is good, and that through preserverence I can achieve what I want.

Hanging with the Chump Cars

© Cecile Gambin Photography

Bracing myself against the passenger door the driver yelled back to me to hang on tight as we dipped into a sharp right hand turn. Feeling the G’s pushing me back against the frame was nothing short of an adrenaline rush. Oh yea baby…I’m hooked! Hanging out the side window of a pace car is super fun!

On Sunday May 22 I drove to The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA to take photos of a Chump Cars World Series race. Having spent the last few years directly involved with off-road motorcycles it was fascinating to see the resemblances between the two sports. Whether you have two wheels or four we are the same…with a few exceptions.

I determined that the number one difference was the sheer level of organization simply needed to attend an event just to race. The amount of gear, pit crew and team members needed for a weekend race is mind-blowing. Bike riders bring BBQ’s, tents, motorhomes, tool boxes as well but with cars everything seemed bigger, larger and more plentiful. Think about it…everything needs to be doubled. Double the tires, the rims, the stands, the gas, the jacks, the oils and so on. Bigger trailers and towing vehicles too.

What I liked about Chump Car Racing, a parody of Champ Car Racing, is the accessibility of racing to the average person. Using cheap cars, insurance claims, or beaters a limit of $500 is placed on the car in order to keep a level playing field. Teams will be penalized for any performance mods made to the car that drive that amount up, safety features excluded.

‘If you cheat or screw-up or both… you’ll be docked laps. If you come to Tech Inspection with a car that’s worth $1,500… plan on starting the race about 100 laps down from everyone else. You can still run in the race and you’ll have a great time… but you’ll never win. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re our kind of Chump!

Seems fair to me.

While car racing is decidedly more expensive than off-road racing the camaderie and sense of belonging is equally as strong. Just because a vehicle has two extra wheels doesn’t mean that they aren’t sewn from the same cloth. Respect, competitiveness, rivalry, family and friendliness – this is racing at it’s finest.

I would like to thank Sandi Gellner of Chump Car World Series for accommodating me,  The Ridge Motorsports Track and to all the racers for welcoming me into their world.

For event photos please click HERE. My photos are for sale (digital format or prints). I thank you in advance for your support – it’s greatly appreciated.

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Getting ready to rock n’ roll.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Hanging out the back of a Ford Mustang with Nikon D3S, 24-70mm in hand trying to get an artistic motion-blur shot at 100 kph give or take. Yeehaw!
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Let the games begin.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Pit Stop including mandatory driver change which must be done every two hours or less during a 6 hour race.
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Working on the exhaust system that I believe was falling down. The welder is a driver from another team. Love the camaraderie found at this level of racing!
© Cecile Gambin Photography
A gear bag isn’t big enough for a weekend race.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography
Ridge Motorsports had some cool areas for pans. Find your car in my event photos.