SylvanSport Joins Backpacker Magazine’s 2014 Get Out More Tour

One of the best parts of the outdoor industry is collaboration between various companies, media organizations, and individuals to put together some really fun events. That’s why we’re so excited to be a part of the 14th annual Backpacker Magazine Get Out More Tour 2014, an interactive mobile media and education outreach program designed to inspire readers and encourage participation in active outdoor pursuits.

The Get Out More Tour collaborates with specialty outdoor retailers who share the same education and outreach ethic with their customers. Traveling to over 60 locations across the United States, the Get Out More Tour brings BACKPACKER‘s skills, gear and trip advice to life for our audience of outdoor enthusiasts. At each retail stop, the pages of Backpacker Magazine come to life with a 75-minute seminar on trip planning, choosing the right outdoor gear and apparel, safety in the outdoors, and more.

 The 2014 sponsor line-up includes: A3 Bar, Big Agnes, DeLorme, Ecco Sport, Eddie Bauer®, Fits™ Socks Co., Goal Zero®, GSI Outdoors, Helinox, Osprey, Sawyer Products®, Subaru®, SylvanSport, and Zeal Optics.

We’re psyched to be part of this great program and hope to see a lot of you out there on the road. For details and event listings, check out event listings on the Backpacker Get Out More site.

Festival & Events 2014: SylvanSport hits the road with the GO and the all new GO Easy.

Spring is here and the thing that gets us excited as much as playing in the woods and on the water is festival season! Our calendar is quickly filling up with music festivals, outdoor events, races, and a variety of outdoor gear shows and expos. We’re just unpacking from a great weekend at the Jersey Paddler’s Paddlesport Show and already getting ready for our next adventure.

Getting the GO and GO Easy ready at Paddlesport 2014.

For the last few years, we’ve been traveling with our award-winning GO adventure camper trailer. In that time, we’ve developed partnerships with other outdoor gear manufacturers and added some really cool accessories to make the GO as customizable as possible. What makes 2014 really exciting for us (and hopefully for you too) is the introduction of a whole new trailer, the GO Easy (you can read more about it in last week’s blog). While the new GO Easy will not be at every event, we’re trying to get it to as many as possible so you can experience it live and in person. Feel free to contact us to find out at which events you can see the GO Easy.

FloydFest 2013

Check out our calendar and if there is an event in your area where you would like to see us (that is not on the list), let us know. We are always looking for cool, fun events to be a part of. The list is continually being updated, so be sure to check back often.

SylvanSport Calendar of Events

We look forward to seeing you out there! The outdoors are a great are a great place to be, whether listening to music, nature, or good company…GO have some fun!

Outdoor Gear Builders Village to showcase at Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville, NC!

Western North Carolina is home to a national park, several national forests and wilderness areas, and even more state parks. It only makes sense that outdoor gear manufacturers, like SylvanSport, would start their operations here or in other cases, relocate here. Not only is this area a perfect place to test gear, it provides employees (and owners) a fantastic quality of life, and is conveniently located to reach a large percentage of our country’s population. So, we did a headcount to see how many of us were actually out there making cool gear and clothing for people to get outside. There are over 30 companies in the western part of North Carolina researching, developing, testing, and manufacturing gear and clothing for the outdoor market. That’s pretty awesome!

So, to try and harness all this creative and physical energy, a group, Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, has been formed to share knowledge and information and provide support for one another. With this, the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC is excited to announce the first annual Outdoor Gear Builders Village at the 2013 Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville, NC. This will be a great opportunity for folks to check out and demo some world-class gear and clothing from locally-based manufacturers. As many of you may know, the Mountain Sports Festival is an absolute blast. It’s a 3 day festival, May 24-26, 2013, that has a little (or a lot) for everyone. Great music line-up, races, events, kids activities, and now, the OGB Village.

Looking at the list of other manufacturers in the area lets us know that we’re in really good company here. It also helps us to keep raising the bar on what we do and how we do it. We’re really excited to part of the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina and hope that in the end, the real benefits will be felt by all of you.

Definitely check out the Mountain Sports Festival next month in Asheville and make sure you stop by the Outdoor Gear Builders Village to see some of the best gear that Western NC has to offer.

Stay tuned…we have an exciting post coming your way on a cool collaboration with Prestige Subaru!

SylvanSport takes on the Assault on the Carolinas!

Last Saturday, on April 13, 1000 riders ascended upon our hometown of Brevard, NC for the 14th Annual Assault on the Carolinas. This road ride consists of 3 options: 40K, 60k, and 100k. The 40k goes through the scenic river valleys of Transylvania County and features some rolling hills and great scenery, while the 60k riders get to test their climbing abilities on Walnut Hollow, which is a local favorite. Walnut hollow is a steep challenging climb that is sure to get everyone’s heart pumping. The climb is 1.1 mile with grades reaching 15%. After climbing Walnut Hollow riders will enjoy a nice rolling ride home through the French Broad River Valley. Finally, the 800 or so rider that chose the 100k option experience it all from flats, rolling hills to the Walnut Hollow climb, fast descents, and a grueling 6-mile climb up Caesars Head near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. This ride will take you through the river valleys of Transylvania County, up Walnut Hollow, and up and over Highway 178. Hwy 178 offers some amazing descents, with miles of curves, that will be enjoyed by all. Once riders cross Hwy 11 in South Carolina they will stretch out their legs on some rolling hills and flat sections. Then riders reach the bottom of Caesars Head they begin a challenging 6 mile climb to the top. Once over Caesars head it’s @ 15 miles back to Brevard with more descents, flats, and a ride back through the river valley. With almost 6,000 ft of climbing in 65 miles, it’s a great ride through some incredibly scenic roads. To top of such a beautiful ride, the Pisgah Rotary keeps everyone fed and hydrated with incredibly well-stock rest stops and police support at all the major intersections. It really is a great to be a part of.

Tom ready to GO!

So, being in our hometown, we here at SylvanSport have a hard time passing up an event like this. In addition to being one of the sponsors, we brought out a GO lightweight trailer for the event, where friends and families of riders were able to check it out in all it’s glory while they ate some tasty food, listened to good music, and par-took in refreshments courtesy of Oskar Blues Brewery. But we’re not ones to just sit back on a beautiful Saturday and drink beer all day (well, at least not on this particular Saturday). Along with our fearless leader, Tom Dempsy, Clayton and your’s truly, set out to on the 100k. We all survived and had a great day talking bikes, talking GOs, and feeling good.

Tom & Clayton finishing the 100k together. Oh wait, look at that awesome camper trailer in the background!

If you like cycling, this is a “must do” ride. Doesn’t matter where you live…we met folks from all over the United States and a couple of groups from Canada. Mark your calendars, next year is already set for April 12, 2014. Oh, while your in town, swing by the SylvanSport facility to say “hi”…we’re less than a mile from the start line!

Explorer and Adventurer, Dale Stewart, visits SylvanSport!

Over the summer, SylvanSport had the opportunity to partner with world explorer and adventurer, Dale Stewart. Dale has traveled all over the world and has spent time in remote areas learning about the cultures and history of the area’s indigenous peoples. This past summer, Dale decided to keep his travels a little closer to home, but maintained the his theme of exploration and learning throughout his trip. We were proud to have our GO pop up camper accompany him along the way.

Dale Stewart

While many folks are familiar with “The Trail of Tears“, the removal of Native Americans from the east to the reservations of the mid-west along 4 different footpaths, there was also a lesser known water route that followed the rivers, which was the premise of Dale’s expedition. Although the various sections of the water route have been traveled, Dale’s journey is the first known expedition with the purpose of exploring and learning about how the Native Americans traveled along the rivers and what they had encountered.

Trail of Tears Water Route

Last week, all of us at SylvanSport were treated to a talk and Q&A session with Dale about his trip and how his GO pop up camper helped him out. Also joining us was Brevard College professor, Michael Oliphant, who is connected to their Voice of the Rivers program.

Dale Stewart @ SylvanSport

Dale gets into his paddling stories.

Tom Dempsey and Dale Stewart

Michael Oliphant and Dale Stewart sharing thoughts.

It was a real treat to get to hear about Dale and his expedition along the Trail of Tears Water Route. Since then, he is already working on a book, television documentary, giving talks all over the country, and his kayak is headed for DC to be put on exhibit. It’s amazing how much we still have to learn about where we live and it’s exciting to be able to be part of expeditions like Dale’s, where it’s not just physical exploration, but historical as well.

You can check out more about Dale and his trip at www.expeditionunbound.com.

2012 Christmas Parade in Brevard, NC!

Every year, our hometown of Brevard, NC, holds a Twilight Tour festival. What makes this festival unique over the several others held throughout the year, is that this one is considered to be the “local’s festival”. Instead of streets filled with vendors and crafts, there are games, activities, people catching up from last year, and stores are open late, serving hot drinks and snacks. It actually has more of a gathering feel than a festival. Like any good party, everything gets kicked off with a parade. Local businesses, high school marching bands, non-profit groups, and a couple of just random folks all start one end of town at Brevard High School and travel 2 miles, right through downtown, and finish at Brevard College.

It’s been a couple of years, but SylvanSport was there this year with a full train of 3 GO pop up camper, pulled by a Subaru Outback (on loan from Prestige Subaru). It was an impressive sight for sure. The first GO was a kayak trailer, carrying 2 kayaks and a trailer full of gear boxes. The second acted as an ATV camper, complete with a Kawasaki 4-wheeler. Finally we had a fully set-up pop up travel trailer decked out with 4 bikes on top. It was pretty freakin’ awesome.

Here’s a glimpse of our moment in Brevard’s limelight:

The SylvanSport GO train ready to roll out.

Merry Christmas from SylvanSport!

All wrapped up and everywhere to GO!

4 Wheeler ready to GO!

Coolest. Camper. Ever.

Stockings were hung on the bike racks with care...

Who needs Santa when you have the Hulk?

The Hulk seems to have brought an elf helper.

Kids piling in for candy....soooooo much candy....

The sole survivor in the candy wars. Too freakin' cute.

The GO train coming into downtown Brevard.

Our fearless leader, Tom, drivin' that train.

GO family and friends waving to the crowds and handing out candy along the way.

We live in a great town and things like the Christmas Parade and Twilight Tour are just a couple of reasons why we love calling Brevard, “home” (10 minutes to Pisgah National Forest doesn’t hurt either). Happy holidays everyone and remember, treat everyday like a parade…it just makes things more interesting!

2012 Sycamore Cycles Swank 65 Mountain Bike Race

Last Sunday (November 11, 2012), on a nice chilly fall morning, organizers, support staff, and riders were getting ready for the 14th Annual Sycamore Cycles Swank 65 mountain bike race. This is the unofficial season closer that runs 38 miles through some classic rooty and rocky Pisgah terrain with plenty of climbing…about 5,800 feet worth. Since it’s always held in the first couple of weeks of November, riders have seen 60 degree sunny days, cold rain, sub-freezing winter mixes, and everything in between. You just don’t know what you’re going to get until you get there. Regardless, Todd Branham and his crew at Blue Ridge Adventures, sells out the 200 rider field about 4 months in advance and pulls in folks from as far away as Costa Rica and California. Needless to say, it’s a tough race, put on by great folks, and lots of good company to share the pain.

We rolled into Cove Creek Campground to check-in and get ready for the 10am start. The sun hadn’t quite broken the ridgeline yet and temps hovered in the mid to upper 30s. The day was looking good though with blue skies and forecast high of low 60s. As riders checked-in, zip tied number plates to their handlebars, and loaded up packs with shots, blocks, and bars, the sun started to creep over the ridge and in an instant, it started feeling good. It was a great day for a ride.

2012 Sycamore Cycles Swank 65 Course Map

Before we get too far into it, I should probably give you an idea of what the course is like. Over 38 miles, you really do get a little bit of everything. 200 riders line up for a Le Mans start and run across the campground field to their awaiting bikes. After a short stretch of gravel road (complete with creek crossing), starts the first climb of the day. Cove Creek trail is a single track-ish filled with roots, creeks, and log bridges (not the good kind). Although it’s only a few miles long, with 200 riders, bottlenecks are not only likely, but should be expected…especially at the bridges. The nice part is that you know you’ll be flying down this same climb to finish the race. Cove Creek puts out onto Forest Service road 475B and onto a grassy road connector to Daniel’s Ridge. For some reason, this section always seems longer than looks on the map. The grassy road is a fairly gently climb to the top of Daniels Ridge, but always seems to go on just a little longer than I want it to. Like most things though, your work is rewarded. A sweet, and always too short, descent down the clockwise side of Daniels Ridge dumps you out onto the gravel Forest Service road, 475. Here’s where you just sit back, get comfortable, and grind it out for a few miles until you hit Gloucester Gap. After the left hand turn onto Cathy’s Creek Rd, there is still a little more climbing before you hit the long and fast gravel road descent to the base of Butter Gap. Another old, grassy service road climb takes you to the top of Butter Gap. This is a classic Pisgah descent. In about 2 1/2 miles, you get mud (almost always), rocks, roots, creeks, flow, and beautiful terrain taboot, all in one section of trail. It’s good stuff. After this momentary sense of bliss, you take a left turn and climb up Long Branch. Outside of this race, I don’t know if I ever go up Long Branch…so much better coming down. There are definitely some steep sections and some parts are rutted out pretty bad, but it’s all part of the fun. This brings you back to FS road 475, but just below Gloucester Gap.

2012 Sycamore Cycles Swank 65 Elevation Profile

From the gap, it’s a right hand turn this time and the push up Pilot Mountain. This gravel road climb is a bear. 4 miles and 2000 ft of climbing. There are a couple of very short “flats” to give you that false sense of recovery, but then it’s back on. When your fresh, it doesn’t seem TOO bad….after 20 miles of racing though, it’s just cruel. The best part about it though is from the top, the rest of the race is downhill or flat, minus a moderate gravel road climb at the end. That said, by no means does it get easy. The next section is the famed, or infamous, Farlow Gap. It’s not just rocky, it’s REALLY rocky. Baby heads big enough to stop you pretty much immediately. Throw about 2-3 ft of leaves on top and you can see almost nothing. To make things even more fun, they move. Hit one hard enough and it’ll roll…somewhere. Some you don’t even have to hit that hard. Then, it’s not just steep, it’s REALLY steep. The rock garden to the first creek crossing is just under a mile, drops almost 1000 ft, and comes in around a -20% grade. Hell yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! At the bottom lies the first creek crossing and the beginning of, for most of us anyways, the hike-a-bike sections. After a few more creek crossings, climbing over a random tree here or there, and riding through what I think is some of the most beautiful scenery in Pisgah, you roll into the counter-clockwise descent of Daniel’s Ridge. Continuing the theme of rocky and rooty from Farlow Gap, Daniel’s Ridge eases up a bit, but still keeps you in check.

A taste of Farlow Gap

Back to FS road 475, we head downhill (left) this time and connect up with Davidson River Trail. A short (1.5 mile), low grade, flowy trail that rides high above the river “gorge”, it’s a nice break from the rocks and roots. From here, the last 3.5 mile gravel road climb brings you back to the top of Cove Creek trail. The 3 mile climb that started the race brings you back home, just a little bit faster.

Le Mans Start

Out of 200 starters, 155 riders finished the race. Our hometown of Brevard, NC and local title sponsor, Sycamore Cycles, had a great showing. Six out of the top 10 and 3 on the podium were sporting Sycamore Cycles jerseys. It turned out to be a great day for a ride and Todd pulled together some great sponsors for the event. Wild Indigo Catering was on hand grilling mammoth-sized, locally raised hamburgers, New Belgium Brewery provided the refreshments, Industry Nine raffled off a sweet wheelset, and if you forgot a change of clothes, Sycamore Cycles was there selling shirts and hoodies. Next November, remember to put this one on your calendar. It’s worth the trip out here…plus, you can stop off at the SylvanSport office and check out the GO trailer manufacturing facility in person!

After Party

Click here for complete results.

Click here for videos highlights by cyclingdirt.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

SylvanSport heads to the New River Gorge for Bridge Day.

Tucked into Fayetteville, WV, lies the New River Gorge, the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachian Mountains. Home to countless miles of hiking & biking, seemingly endless climbing opportunities (they even have an area called Endless Wall), and some of the best whitewater in the country, the New River Gorge has enough outdoor activities to keep you busy for as long as you want to stay.

Amidst the outdoor playground and the surrounding beauty is the longest steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere and the second highest bridge in he United States. Spanning 1,700′, with an overall length of 3,030′, and sitting 876′ high, the New River Gorge Bridge is an impressive piece of engineering that, for those that are so inclined, is begging to be jumped off of (with a parachute of course). Thereby giving rise to what is now known as Bridge Day. Officially opening in 1977, the first bridge day was held in 1980 with 2 B.A.S.E jumpers. Fast forward to 2012 and you have over 200 jumpers and 100,000+ spectators gathering for 6 hours of non-stop, legal jumping.

Here’s a quick YouTube video that gives you a good idea on what Bridge Day is all about:

SylvanSport was psyched to be part of the energy and excitement with our lightweight camper set-up. The GO pop up camper was huge hit and folks from all over stopped by to have a closer look. At one point, the GO tent trailer was like Justin Bieber going into a shopping mall (well, sort of). Here’s a glimpse of our weekend.

Here we are...

We're ready

The crowd, the bridge, & the GO

Re-packing chutes

Jumper

photo: Vertical Visions

Heading Home

 

GO road trips to Moab, UT for the Land Rover Rally.

Last week (Oct. 2-6), Land Rovers (and their drivers) from all over the country gathered in beautiful Moab, UT for the annual Land Rover National Rally. Always excited to jump in on an adventure, we hooked up South Carolina photographer, John Powell, with a GO trailer and set him loose in the wild, wild west.

Land Rover National Rally (photo: Nathan Hindman)

I know there is some debate about the use of motorized vehicles in natural areas, but Land Rover seems to be committed to traveling off-road responsibly and with minimal impact. They’ve worked with Tread Lightly for over 20 years trying to educate folks on low impact recreation of all types, as well as commitments to lowering CO2 emissions and dozens of other initiatives. So, this isn’t a new green bandwagon they’re jumping on…they’ve known for decades that if people don’t use the outdoors responsibly, there will be nothing left for any of us or all the other critters, plants, etc. But I digress.

Truthfully, there is something about Land Rovers that bring out the kid in me. I don’t own one nor do I do any kind of off-roading. When I see one though, it conjures up memories of being a kid and playing with toy cars in the yard or setting up miniature obstacles in the living room to navigate through. I can’t help it. I think part of it is that they are truly designed to travel off-road. They aren’t jacked up and modified pick up trucks or over-blown SUVs. They aren’t made to crush cars or tractor pull. They’re made to travel the safaris of Africa, the jungles of Asia, the volcanoes of South America, or in the case of last week, the rocky slabs of Moab. They do what you made them do when you were a kid. So out of their entire line-up of trucks, if I had to pick just one to play with, which one would it be??? Hands down, it would be the Land Rover Defender 110. I mean, come on…it has a snorkel. What’s not to like?

Land Rover 110 (photo: www.vehiclepdf.com)

All that said, John Powell had the chance to travel out to Moab, GO in tow, and experience a little Land Rover fanaticism for himself. Here are some pretty incredible pics of his journey:

Foggy camping in Kansas. (photo: John Powell / Blue Collar Studio)

Camping at Alta Lakes in Telluride, CO. (photo: John Powell / Blue Collar Studio)

Traveling the Lost Dollar Rd in Telluride, CO. (photo: John Powell / Blue Collar Studio)

Camping along the Lost Dollar Rd looking at the peaks above Telluride, CO. (photo: John Powell / Blue Collar Studio)

So, get out and GO! Remember to play responsibly, tread lightly, be nice to others, don’t litter, make sure your dog has plenty of water, and most importantly…have fun!