Archive for April, 2014

Partners of mountain bikers, this trip’s for you

April 29, 2014

This is one of those “why didn’t people think of this before?” ideas.

Sacred Rides, a Canadian-based outfitter known for its serious singletrack mountain bike tours for experienced riders, has launched a line of Bring-Your-Partner Rides that mountain bikers and their non-biking companions can enjoy together.

 If I were with a mountain-biking partner, I’d love this. The destinations are great and I like outdoors activities and road riding, so I think I’d like to come along, thank you!

The new partner trips include hiking, yoga, hot springs, spa time and introductory mountain bike lessons for the companion, while the mountain biker will enjoy single-track cross-country riding on moderate to challenging terrain in Fernie, at Nipika Mountain Resort and Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. Activities for couples to do together include hikes, yoga (pictured here) and paddling on the Kootenay River. More locations are expected to be added to the partner program, in North America and beyond.

Personally, I‘ll skip the mountain-bike lessons. Been there, bruised that. I’m sticking to the asphalt, because nothing bad can happen there. (Kidding!)

Sacred Rides owner Mike Brcic told me, when I first contacted him for my little New York Times item, that idea for the trips came from conversations with more than 100 clients, the majority of them male.

“Most of them are longtime mountain bikers with high incomes, but who have partners that don’t mountain bike,” he said. “With limited vacation time, it’s hard for them to get away on the mountain bike trips they dream of doing. So being able to bring their non-mountain-biking partner along is a win-win for everyone.”

Makes sense to me, Mike. All in all, though, I’m just grateful that my partner and I love doing the same things. Makes life easier!

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Dutch to celebrate first King’s Day in style

April 21, 2014
The Prinsengracht canal is jam-packed with boats, most blaring dance music

The Prinsengracht canal is jam-packed with boats, most blaring dance music

It’s a big week in the Netherlands, where the country celebrates its first King’s Day (Koningsdag), after a long run of Queen’s Days — since 1890. I wrote this little ditty about it for the New York Times. The change came after Queen Beatrix abdicated her post to her son Willem-Alexander, who now heads the House of Orange. He changed the holiday to his birthdate, April 27, but because that falls on a Sunday this year, the debut party was moved up to April 26. Willem-Alexander, btw, is Europe’s youngest monarch — he turns 47 on Sunday.

Friends entertain the crowd at Vondelpark

Friends entertain the crowd at Vondelpark

Not much will change for the visitor. In Amsterdam, you’ll still see hundreds of thousands of Dutchies covered in orange, sidewalk sales, open-air music and dance, and family activities (go to Vondelpark for those). The craziest site is the canals, so clogged with revelers on boats that sometimes you can’t even see the water.

The second-largest King’s Day celebration is historically in Eindhoven, to the south. So if you’re looking for a smaller sea of orange, but  still with plenty of activities, consider checking out the action there.

Diane celebrates Queen's Day in Amsterdam in 2010

Diane celebrates Queen’s Day in Amsterdam in 2010

Lina and I joined the Amsterdam fray in 2010 and it was one of the most joyous occasions I’ve witnessed. The key is to leave before the rowdies come out early evening, unless you’re of ‘em. Then have at it! If you’re coming from afar, make sure to visit a bargain store for some orange-colored clothing, like I did. Lina got the inflatable crown for me — someone was handing them out on the street.  Quite fetching, don’t you think?