Brain Fart: Cat Herding and Pet Photoggery

AlpineI’ll be the first to admit that attending the occasional press camp is one of the primo perks of my job. Case in point: jetting into Durango to ride Gary Fisher’s all new Roscoe and Trek’s updated Fuel EX bikes. It should come as no surprise that riding the latest and greatest bikes on world-class trails ranks a lot higher on the “journalistic fun scale” than, say, sleep-deprived proofreading during late-night deadline sessions.

Beyond riding cool bikes in Durango, I was wined and dined, and treated like a rock star. To be sure, everybody involved in the camp had a vested interest in keeping me, a “pen-is-mightier” journalist, as happy as a pig in mud. But I’m of the opinion that the folks organizing the press camp went out of their way to be good hosts because they are good people. You know the feeling—fellow mountain bikers helping one another out, showing an out-of-towner your best trails and making sure that the “guest” has a great time. That’s the sort of camaraderie that makes mountain biking such a great sport.

Before that warm and fuzzy kumbuyah feeling fades, I want to recognize the folks who made this press camp such a treat. Travis Ott and Aaron Mock, respectively the brand manager and product manager for Gary Fisher mountain bikes, did a whale of a job. As did the brand and product managers from the Trek side of the house: Michael Browne and John Riley. Durango local and Trek guy Travis Brown helped lead rides. Thanks to these guys and their entire staff for keeping things smooth. Jarred Connell and Nick DeLauder from Fox Racing Shox also stepped up huge, making sure our bike’s suspensions were dialed in for maximum pleasure.

Beyond the Gary Fisher, Trek and Fox guys, there was a small army of support personnel that contributed to making this camp feel more like vacation than work. Matt McFee and Nate Whitman, owners of Hermosa Tours, had the unenviable task of herding 20+ journalistic cats onto shuttles and leading us on guided rides. Matty and Nate (and all of the Hermosa Tour guides) handled everything that was thrown at them, with smiles on their faces. That’s hard work, and they deserve kudos for their performance. In addition to Durango, the Hermosa boys also run tours in southwest Utah and southern California, depending on the season. Check out for more info.

There was plenty of hard work to go around. Our photographers Sterling Lorence and Geoff Waugh worked their tails off—riding along with massive backpacks full of camera gear and setting up on-trail to get action shots. When I post my final report on this press camp, I promise to share plenty of their photoggery (an inside joke from camp) via the Dirt Rag Gallery.

karl logpileA Texas-sized “thank you” goes to Odis Wilson, caretaker of the Sliver Mountain Guest Ranch, located a few miles outside of downtown Durnago. Gary Fisher set us up in Sliver Mountain’s kick-ass cabins, and we press campers had the entire ranch to ourselves for two fantastic days. Sweet trails are accessible from the ranch, and Odis, a newbie mountain biker himself, busted his rump making sure we had everything we needed. Happy campers all around. If your travel plans include Durango, you owe it to yourself to check out what Sliver Mountain Guest Ranch has to offer. Say howdy to Odis for me.

If you’d rather stay in town, then the Strater Hotel—our home for the Trek portion of the camp—is your ticket. This charming old gal is right on main street, the rooms are comfy, and the staff will do whatever it takes to make your stay enjoyable. Great vibe.

At the end of the day, mountain biking is about great trails, and Durango has got great trails galore. A lot of the credit goes to Trails 2000, Durango’s advocacy group. Riding Durango’s trails, I could “feel” the tender loving care that went into designing them, cutting them, and keeping them well maintained. No small task, but a labor of love, I’m certain. If you visit Durango, I’d recommend purchasing a membership or otherwise making a donation to Trails 2000, as a sort of “karmic payback” for the sweet riding in the area. Trek generously purchased a membership for each of the journalists at the camp, and I plan on stepping up and renewing my membership, just to help this fine organization maintain the great riding in Durango. Kumbuyah, indeed.