Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete
Lauri Ann Stricker
Fulcrum Publishing, 2007, 248 pages.
Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete by Lauri Ann Stricker is a comprehensive book designed to help the outdoor enthusiast achieve better body symmetry and stay free from injury. Stricker breaks down each outdoor sport from rock climbing to kayaking and points to the muscles that often get overused and lists those that remain weak. The goal is to create uniform muscle balance, this in turn will relieve undue stress on the joints. Stricker outlines an exercise program designed to prevent unforeseen problems and create balance in the body.
Most of these Pilates exercises are classified into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced with two programs assigned for every sport. Detailed descriptions of the exercises and pictures help guide you through the programs. She points out several tips to avoid injury and specific muscles that need to be strengthened and stretched.
My biggest concern is that there are not a lot of modifications for each exercise. Since Stricker is specifically trying to target areas of weakness, caution should be advised. Weak muscles are just that, weak; and other muscle groups tend to take over. Most athletes have learned to work through pain so an understanding of exactly how each exercise is supposed to feel and what to watch for is important. The overall goal is to improve body symmetry and alignment, something that is not obtained in a few Pilates sessions but achieved over a greater period of time and commitment.
Overall Stricker adheres to the basic principals of Pilates which is breathing, centering, concentration, control, fluid motion and precision. A self-assessment quiz proposes some highly poignant questions to athletes about how they train and how they push themselves. This book serves as a guide to overcoming obstacles related to training and overuse injuries. Stricker does point out that private training and a proper evaluation from a trained Pilates instructor is going to get the best results.
Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
David R. Montgomery
University of California Press, 2007, 285 pages.
A new voice for the planet and its inhabitants has emerged. David Montgomery a geomorphologist (one who studies the formation and transformation of the earth’s geological features) and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Washington first gained recognition among the environmental science community through his popular science treatise on the demise of wild salmon in King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of Salmon.
Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the stabilizing impact of agriculture on human civilization; non-nomadic society demands agriculture to feed itself. Citing extensive research (the bibliography contains nearly 300 references) into past civilizations and their agriculture, Montgomery chronicles example after example of the rise and fall of agricultural societies over the last 10,000 years of human habitation on the planet. His central conclusion: while many factors contribute to the demise of human civil structures, “The history of dirt suggests that how people treat their soil can impose a lifespan on civilizations.”
Though a thorough examination of historic agricultural practices Montgomery discovered that transition from small -scale, labor -intensive agriculture increases soil erosion by a factor of ten. Conversely, the ancient Roman method of cultura promiscua (growing a multistory canopy of olives, grapes, cereals, and fodder crops on the same plot) reduces erosion and maintains soil fertility.
A proponent of small-scale agriculture, organic farming, and local farmers markets, Montgomery makes us wonder if this planet earth with its thin skin of soil can sustain the six billion people now inhabiting it. This will be a special challenge since in the past sustainable farming required about five acres per household; we in most of North America think five acres an acceptable lot size for single-family dwellings
Montgomery closes noting that, “Extending the lifetime of our civilization will require reshaping agriculture to respect the soil not as an input to an industrial process, but as the living foundation for material wealth.” We should all heed this plea.
Spokane Trail Guide #1 & #2
North Idaho Trail Guide #2
Rich Leon & The Upper Columbia River Group
Sierra Club, 2007 Revised Editions, 59,54, 63 pages.
True to the Sierra Club’s mission printed prominently on the inside cover-to explore, enjoy, and preserve the nation’s forests, waters, wildlife, and wilderness-the hikes in these three little booklets are a terrific resource for launching your own explorations of the Inland Northwest’s treasured wild places.
If you already own a copy or two of these guides, the Spokane Trail Guide #1 and #2 have been updated and revised along with the North Idaho Trail Guide, so it may be time to recycle your old, trail worn copies. These new beauties come with Rich Leon’s striking camera work displayed in full color on the cover of each. Don’t, however, expect a major overhaul of the classic Club guides that have been available around town for years. If you’re new to these guides and are looking for a comprehensive guidebook with maps and detailed mile-by-mile route descriptions, you’ll have to look elsewhere and expect to pay more. What you’ll get here is a rustic, grassrootsy introduction to both lesser-known and classic hikes the region has to offer for about the price of a freeze-dried backpacking meal ($7 each), which makes it well worth keeping copies of one or all three stashed in your glove box or day pack.
The Sierra Club trilogy of booklets range from hikes on the edge of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene to wilderness quality walks in the Selkirks, Kettle Range, Blue Mountains and the Eastern Washington scablands, some of which I have never seen in any other guidebooks for the region. The common thread that holds all of the hikes together is their tremendous value as wild sanctuaries for both people and wildlife as our region continues to confront rapid development and fragmentation of what once seemed like endless open space and wilderness here in Northeast Washington and North Idaho. Get out there and explore, enjoy and then help preserve these precious lands.
Book Reveiws, Magazine Article |
Visit any large city in North America in the last few years and you may have noticed a certain aesthetic, a look, to the cyclists on the urban streets. They often sport messenger bags, rolled-up jeans, tennis shoes, and large chains wrapped around their waists. Look closer and you’ll notice something peculiar about the bikes they are riding. Often, the bikes have only one cog on the rear wheel, and sometimes, they have no brakes.
These bikes are called “fixed” gear bikes. “Fixed” means the rear cog doesn’t coast: if the rear wheel is turning, the cranks are turning. To slow down or stop, you “back pedal.” Fixed gear bikes are descendants of the specialized bicycles used for track racing, which is an oblong track, or velodrome, with banked sides.
Online you can find lots of history about the migration of the track bike and its evolution into an urban fixed gear. One version of the history is that some Jamaican bike messengers in New York City rode fixed gear bikes and the fixed gear phenomenon spread through the messenger culture, then through the cycling cultures, and now into mainstream culture.
Fixed gear riding has spread into the mainstream for several reasons. For one, it was an underground cool thing. That time is gone now though. When you get middle-class white guys like me joining any kind of “thing”, it’s no longer hip. Plus, the fact that the big mega bike manufacturers (Specialized, Trek, Bianchi, Redline, etc.) are now selling and marketing non-track fixed gear bikes, you know the hip part is long gone.
I believe that the second reason fixed gear bikes have caught on to the more mainstream cyclists is that they make some sense for lots of folks.
First, a fixed gear bike makes you a more skilled rider. You must choose your gear wisely when you set up your fixed: too low a gear and you’ll spin out on descents. Too high a gear and you’ll blow out your knees trying to climb steep hills. Once you find that sweet spot, you will then learn to spin very fast without whipping the bike all over the road. You’ll learn how to pace yourself for long climbs. You’ll also learn how to climb out of the saddle without blowing a lot of energy on needlessly manhandling your bike. Riding single-track and other trails on a fixed gear builds skill around balance, slow turning, and picking your line, because you can’t control (as easily) where your pedal stroke will be when you encounter an obstacle.
Second, for folks that like to ride year-round, in the ice and snow, fixed gears make a ton of sense. Think of when you navigate a car down a steep snowy icy hill. To maintain control and slow down, you don’t slam on the brakes; instead, you downshift into a low gear to engage the transmission, which directly slows the rotation of the wheels. It’s the same concept with a fixed gear, which is a “direct drive” transmission. By back pedaling, or applying backward pressure against the pedals, you are applying force directly against the spinning of the wheel at the point of transmission. By putting studded knobby tires on a fixed gear bike, you can pedal year round in the city in any weather.
Third, if you’re a conditioning and fitness type, fixed gear is right up your alley. There is no better bike for early season conditioning. As I mentioned earlier, once you pick a gear, you’re stuck with it. If you go for a slightly aggressive gear and commit to it for 20 or so miles a day, the holiday pounds will melt away in no time.
Finally, riding fixed is just fun. It makes trail and traffic riding more challenging and interesting. It makes long flat stretches of the Centennial Trail more Zen. And it makes climbing the Doomsday hill faster.
If you are interested in trying out a fixed gear, you don’t have to break the bank. You can put one together out of a beater bike and try it out for well under $100. You’ll find gobs of information online about converting existing bicycles to fixed gears, but the definitive source is Sheldon Brown’s Web site.
Unfortunately, Spokane does not yet have a bike shop that pays attention to the needs of the fixed gear cyclist. So, if you need to buy a cog or a track hub, make a point to go to a local bike shop and ask them why they don’t stock them. Then order one from them.
John Speare grew up in Spokane and bikes everywhere. Don’t miss his blog: http://cyclingspokane.blogspot.com.
If you want to build or buy a fixed-gear bike, please visit Sheldon Brown’s website: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed.
Everyday Cyclist, Magazine Article |
For Devon Barker, a world-class surf and whitewater kayaker from McCall, Idaho, you could say that kayaking is in her blood. She is, after all, the progeny of the founders of Barker River Trips, a rafting company based in Lewiston. Barker always loved being on the river, but she didn’t start kayaking until her sophomore year of high school, when her older brothers handed down some used gear. “I fell in love with it immediately,” she says. “I love the ease of it-you can just go.”
Barker was a full-time school teacher in Nez Perce, ID, until she met some traveling members of the U.S. Kayak team at one of her local playboat spots, where kayakers congregate to paddle repeat rides on a single feature or group of features, rather than running the whole river. She joined up with another female amateur, took a leave of absence from her teaching job, and gave herself a year to make the national team. Seven years, two national championships, one world championship, and a handful of assorted accolades later, she’s traveling the world as a champion kayaker and youth mentor.
Kayak: Jackson Kayak’s Star model. “It’s pink, to make sure people know I’m a girl while I’m out there.” It’s the first kayak made specifically for shorter women paddlers, designed by Mr. Jackson himself for his daughter. “I like that I get to look girly out there because I hope it gives other girls, who might have been intimidated by all the guys in a competition, the chance to say, ‘if she’s out there doing it, maybe I can, too.’”
Paddle: Warner Carbon Kevlar Double Diamond paddle. “I used to have a lot of aches and pains from using a paddle with too large a shaft diameter,” she says, but Warner’s small shaft paddle has alleviated the problem.
Helmet: “A glitter helmet from Grateful Heads. It’s called the Edge, and they make them custom for us in any color we want,” Barker says. Hers is sparkly blue.
In colder weather, she also uses the Mystery Helmet Liner from Northwest River Supply. “It’s like a swim cap but made of the special NRS mystery material so it’s incredibly warm.”
Clothing: “The very best piece of gear I have is my dry top,” she says. “It’s the first one I’ve had where the arms are the right length and the torso fits.” She wears the Flux by Northwest River Supply. “It’s designed really well, in addition to the fact that it keeps you completely dry.” Northwest River Supply makes most of Barker’s paddling attire. “They were huge supporters of me from the beginning and they continue to be huge supporters as well,” she says. A Moscow, Idaho company, NRS saw potential in Barker even before she’d entered a single competition. Now, she gives them feedback on how to improve their gear, and the women’s kayak outfitting market in general. “We’re working on getting women-specific skirts,” says Barker. Included in her NRS wardrobe are several pieces from the Wavelite line, the Hydro Silk Rash Guard, a dry suit, and splash pants.
Gloves: Mambos for cold weather. They look like mittens but they attach to the paddle so as to allow skin to shaft contact while keeping the hands warm. “It’s amazing how far gear has come-you can paddle all the time and be warm, even in the dead of winter,” she says.
Life jacket: In competitions, Barker had been wearing the Lola life jacket by Patagonia, but for her recent trips to the Nile, the Quebec River, and the swollen local Idaho rivers, she donned the P. Vest, which has more float to it.
Sunglasses: Smith Optics. “They make quite a few models that fit under my helmet, which is really key in a sport where you have so much glare from the water.” Barker prefers the Sequel model for paddling, and the Method model for lounging around the river.
Gadgets: Her Sony 3chip video camera. “I record up to an hour a day for video analysis.”
The one thing she hates kayaking without? Nose and ear plugs. “You definitely don’t have to have them, but they’re so helpful for your overall health.”
Magazine Article, What's Your Gear? |
Who says there are no longer any visionary architects left? In response to Seattle’s need to replace their aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle architect, John Kennedy, came up with the idea of a Veloduct-an elevated bicycle freeway that will help Seattle lower its gas emissions and protect the environment.
“This is one of the big moves we can make to devote to climate change-the time of the An Inconvenient Truth is looming,” says Kennedy.
Built in 1953, the Alaskan Viaduct, an elevated section of Washington State Route 99 runs along Elliott Bay in downtown Seattle. Since the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake, the Viaduct has suffered regular settlement damage and Washington State Department of Engineers estimate that the entire Viaduct would need to be shut down permanently in the event of another earthquake.
Like other Seattlites, Kennedy was frustrated with the two options presented to voters in March of this year-to either replace the elevated highway or build a tunnel. Both options failed at the polls with 55% voting against replacing the highway and 70% voting against the tunnel.
Kennedy’s proposed Veloduct runs from downtown Seattle and heads north across the Aurora Bridge until it reaches Green Lake. Kennedy argues that construction of the Veloduct would be significantly cheaper than the other options currently being presented and would promote a more active, healthier lifestyle among Seattlites.
He anticipates that if the Veloduct is built, at least 10,000 people will ride it. “The veloduct is above traffic and it protects riders from the wind and rain and it will be fun to ride, as riders are 90 feet above the water suspended from the Aurora Bridge,” says Kennedy.
Kennedy’s proposal includes economic incentives for riders as well. The city would encourage use by paying riders $1 each time they ride it while drivers on an alternate road would pay $1.
The Veloduct design incorporates elements of green design through wind and rain screens that consist of vacuum solar tube panels that generate hot water. The water produced by the panels would provide nearby neighborhoods with heat and energy. Adjacent businesses could also feed their waste heat into this system and collected rainwater would be fed into shared rain gardens.
Although Kennedy still needs to pitch the idea of the Veloduct to the City of Seattle, which has five years to make a decision, he is hopeful it will be well-received in light of issues such as global warming and scarcity of resources. “Let’s enter our ‘period of consequence’ with the full force of creativity and imagination,” says Kennedy.
For more information please visit: http://www.kennedyarchitects.com.
Magazine Article |
Sandpoint, Idaho resident Brandyn Roark Gray is one of the top-ranked female amateur competitors on the XTERRA off-road triathlon series. We asked her about the XTERRA series and pumped her for tips on being a better triathlete.
The distances in Xterra are shorter, does that mean it’s easier than a IronMan Triathlon?
I don’t think I can compare anything to an IronMan! I just finished my first half-IronMan distance and that was intense. The intensity of XTERRA is much different than road triathlons, especially an IronMan. In the IronMan you would race at a lower heart rate for nine to eleven hours, in an XTERRA you would be red-lining for about 2.5 to four hours depending on the course. XTERRA courses are all different distances. There are some more “sprint” distances and some more Olympic-type distance off-road courses. All of the Regional/National and World Championships are all about the same distance as an Olympic Triathlon, (1.5k swim, 30-35 km bike, 10k run), but due to the bike portion being off-road, they take longer to complete.
There is always that question of “which is harder” and many triathletes and racers love to balk at one another on which is harder. My husband is a roadie and races in road triathlons; we both have great respect for each other’s sport. He races XTERRA with me and I enter the races he travels to so we can be a part of each others interests. For someone with a mountain biking background, the XTERRA series would be more up their alley and though I train a lot on my road bike, I am much more comfortable and challenged when on my mountain bike.
But that is not to say road triathlons are not hard, they actually are more difficult for me because to be honest, I get bored on my road bike, it’s just spin, spin, spin and not a lot of technical obstacles. When you race XTERRA there is no “down time” to space out, you are constantly ripping around corners, dropping off ledges or cranking up a crazy mountain climb! I don’t think anything can be compared to an IronMan.
What made you decide to focus on the off-road tri circuit instead of a traditional road triathlon?
I grew up with a big brother, I was a tom-boy-from-hell. I wouldn’t let my mom curl my hair, wouldn’t wear skirts or dresses and all I wanted to do was get in the dirt and play just as hard as my big brother. My parents bought me my first mountain bike when I was about 13 and I was hooked. I remember my brother yelling at me to keep up, and in the end it just made me love that feeling of not being able to breathe, with cuts on my legs, and mud and dirt all over me and my precious bike. I loved the feeling of the earth whipping and twisting below me, the knowledge that at any minute I could fly right over the handle bars and land in a heap of laughter and fright. When my husband and I retired from competitive swimming we were bored and looking for the next adventure. He got involved in triathlon and the next year I tried my hand at it too. I enjoyed the challenge but felt I wasn’t being challenged in the way I love to be challenged. I was looking up races on the internet and read about XTERRA. The fact that the bike section was on my mountain bike and running on trails instead of road grabbed my attention. My husband and I traveled to my first XTERRA in LaGrande, Oregon and when I finished I was bloody, muddy and grinning from ear to ear.
It was the hardest thing I had ever done and all I wanted was more.
Does course difficulty in Xterra vary more race to race than a traditional tri?
Oh yes, there are so many different courses on the XTERRA circuit and that is one of the greatest aspects of the sport. Every new city/town you go to, you get something new. Which brings up the importance of pre-riding each course. There are races all over the U.S. as well as the world, so you can imagine how many different types of terrain there are.
If someone has done regular triathlons what would be the most difficult adjustment in doing an Xterra?
Probably the mountain biking. Most people can run on a trail, but when you have to run straight up a mountain on a trail that can get difficult too. The mountain biking aspect would be difficult for someone who has never rode off-road before. But, the courses are made so they are challenging for a top pro as well as being “do-able” for a beginning amateur. I remember my first year at World Champs at the infamous Maui course, a girl in my age group would blow by me on the fire road hills and then I would catch her and pass her on every downhill through the lava. She was all over the place, falling and ripping her legs up pretty bad. I actually started to coach her when I would pass her. “Let go of your front break and you won’t fall!” She was one of the top road triathletes in the nation and said that the mountain biking was really challenging for her. But she loved the comradery and energy of the XTERRA circuit.
How do you find time train with a job?
That is one that I think we all struggle with. I love listening to different racers’ stories of how they do it all. Last year at nationals, the top pro said he took out a loan from the bank just to race that year, that’s what made his win so special, he got to pay back the loan with his winnings.
All the training, racing, working, eating, sleeping etc. gets to be a routine and I tend to crave it when it is missing, but that is not to say it isn’t a struggle. On top of that, it’s not just one of us training and racing… my husband does just as much as me.
I am blessed with an amazing job and amazingly supportive supervisors. I help manage a mental health agency as well as do counseling for special needs and emotionally disturbed children. I make my own schedule and my bosses support me being gone all the time. I train, work, train at lunch, work, train after work and then go to my second job. They are all so supportive of my schedule and encourage me when I leave every week for some race.
Financially it’s another story which many of us know! I am fortunate to have some sponsors for gear and bikes, but traveling and racing greatly affects the credit card bills! When people ask how we do it… I shrug my shoulders and just say, “Thank goodness for credit cards.” Which in reality is really stressing, but my husband had cancer five years ago which gives you perspective on life, and we never want to look back on life and say “we should have” when we had the chance.
So, training is more simple (than financial issues) to get in with juggling two jobs (I am also a personal trainer). But that means long days and getting home for dinner usually around 9 PM every night. I get to do some work from home but work around 35-40 hours a week which with 15-20 hours of training… makes you tired.
Has your training changed much in the last few years?
Yes, at first I had no idea what I was doing. I came from a highly competitive swimming background but had no idea how to train for running or biking. But found that through asking other athletes and looking into coaches, I could start to train myself. I am currently looking for a coach to help me. XTERRA is so specific and very different from road tri’s, I would really like to find a coach who understands those differences.
Is a heart rate monitor essential for someone training for a triathlon? Oh yes, I do most of my training based on HR zones. There is such a science to training and racing and no two people are the same. It’s taken me about three years to finally understand my body and what it demands and needs to be successful. Every year I learn so much. I can’t wait until I “peak” in my mid 30′s…I should know so much my then.
Do you alter your diet during the XTERRA season?
The body doesn’t like change so I try not to make drastic changes. I probably limit my intake of sugar and saturated fats somewhat closer than usual, but overall I have always eaten really well. We eat an all organic diet. I grow most of our own veggies in the summer, and we really try and stay away from sugars and saturated fats. (Except for my daily intake of extra dark chocolate!) One major change has been in my racing and training nutrition, I started using Hammer Nutrition products, and it was an amazing difference in my ability to be long and strong. I am still experimenting in my racing with certain amounts of nutrition, but overall I have found a product that really works for me.
What are some common mistakes novice competitors make?
Over-training and not understanding the importance of sleep and proper nutrition. My husband and I believe nutrition is the key element to racing and training, if you can get that down correctly, you will have a serious advantage on your competitors. When you get into the pro and upper elite amateur racing scene it’s easier to find people with proper nutrition because perhaps they have more resources and coaching in that area. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone start or finish their workout with a Big Mac or a candy bar. The human body is an incredible machine it needs proper fuel to perform at it’s optimum potential…this takes time and effort to research and understand.
I think a lot of competitors also over train; they push, push, push and then get five hours of sleep and have no time to recover. Add to that cruddy nutrition and you have someone who may be getting away with it in their early 20s, but come later 30s and 40s and their joints are falling apart and they feel horrible. My husband and I believe in optimum health, not only for racing, but in our everyday lives. That means no chemicals, no drugs, no toxic cleaners, we spend the extra time and money now so we don’t pay later in a hospital bed. We want to race into our 80s.
One kind of random mistake I see a lot too is people buying bikes that don’t fit them. They are way too big or small for them and they end up straining their backs or not getting enough power output out of their cycling position. I am fortunate to be sponsored by Mountain View Cyclery in Hayden and Post Falls, and John and Shane really set me up on my bikes and make sure it’s a good fit. This can make a huge difference in your riding.
What’s your goal for the coming season?
I would like to be Regional Champion again, that would make four years in a row. Also, I would like to be top three in all my races this year. National and World Champion are my highest goals. Last year at Worlds I was having a great race, in the lead by quite a few minutes, then I got a flat tire, then another, then another. Let’s just say that after four flat tires I had a pretty crumby run too. I would really like to race well in Maui, the heat kills me and I’d like to figure out my nutrition so I can finish strong.
I also Adventure race and I would like to get top three with my team from Canada in the Solomon Raid Race.
I’d also really like to start racing globally, for that I would need to secure some sponsorship help to get me across the globe. So, that’s a goal as well, to see if any companies would be interested in sponsoring me.
Apart from racing specifically, I am an Ambassador for XTERRA and am trying to work on setting up a program for special needs kids as well as kids from lower socio-economic areas in North Idaho to get them bikes! We have a sports festival weekend here in Sandpoint in August and I’d like to get kids bikes so they can compete in the kids triathlon.
Did you ever figure out a solution to help avoid so many flat tires?
I was pretty stupid when getting ready for World Champs last year. I was obsessed with going as super light as I could. So, I got the super light tires, unfortunately there is crazy lava rock and huge thorns on the course and you really don’t want to ride with super lights! DUH for me! I always ride with tubeless as well, this time I will bring at least one tube with me in case I get a flat…last time a couple racers stopped and helped me with their flat stuff! That’s one thing about XTERRA, we all help each other out!
Magazine Article |
As you read this the rail ties are coming up on an amazing 28-mile stretch of train tracks in Ferry County, WA. This soon-to-be-trail traces a scenic route from Republic to the Canadian border and passes Curlew Lake, rivers, tunnels, forests and train trestles along the way. Over the last year a local coalition, Ferry County Rail Trail, has worked to rally support of rail banking the trail in order to create a recreation jewel, that not only would benefit local residents, but promises to draw hikers, cyclist, skiers, snowshoers and equestrian users from all over.
But a funny thing happened on the way to creating a rails to trails paradise. This spring one of Ferry County’s three commissioners voiced his support for making the trail multi-use. The term “multi-use” seems innocuous, but what it really means is motorized vehicles allowed. Goodbye serene hiking, biking and skiing. Good luck finding a horseback rider who’d want to share the trail with an ATV.
Can you blame the 200-plus landowners that abut the trail, some with houses within 40 feet of it, for feeling a bit duped after supporting a trail thinking it would be non-motorized, and now hearing they might be waking up to scent of two-stroke engine oil?
“The vast majority of rails to trails projects are non-motorized,” says Ben Gettleman at the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Gettleman feels the Ferry County situation is very interesting because it appears that the majority of residences favor the non-motorized trail. Some folks are scratching their heads about why anyone would want a motorized trail on the rail bed. The qualities that make it great for non-motorized use-being straight and flat-would also seem to make it utterly boring for ATVs and trail bikes.
“We are eager to work on this thing,” says Ferry County Rail Trail president Bob Whitaker. He is not just excited about the tourism possibilities, he also envisions seeking multiple funding sources from programs like Safe Routes to Schools if the trail stays non-motorized. But for now it’s all wait-and-see, as, apparently, the Ferry County Commissioners feel they can make a decision on motorization without public vote.
No one is giving up on the non-motorized trail yet. “If it comes to fruition it will be so beautiful,” says Whitaker.
Check out: http://www.ferrycountyrailtrail.com http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/tdo/accidentbicycle.htm
Editorial, Magazine Article |
Dangerbird Records is home to a slew of bands that create music outside the confines of average. Average ain’t even on their radar. The result is albums that catch you off guard, that surprise you by their off-kilter originality. This mentality has spawned bands like Silversun Pickups, Sea Wolf, The One AM Radio (see further), and now Dappled Cities. These Aussies have created an album that jumps about, but is consistent in its spark. It’s less pop than you’d expect it to be judging by their cutie-pie faces, but that’s not a bad thing, in this case it’s a thing that leaves you wanting more of their accent-tinged melodies.
World War (Aviation)
There’s not been a Seattle band this exciting in quite awhile. In their previous life as Stabmasterarson, they were of note, plugging away in a scene full of like-minded bands, drawing well and doin’ just fine. After the switch to Das Llamas, things got better, WAY better, and with this latest release, they set out to prove their talent layer by layer, unearthing a band with some heftily enviable musical chops. Think the most classic of the ’80s pop-punkers, bring it into the mix of the post-punk revivalists, add to it originality, talent, and frontman Kerry Zettel’s arresting vocals, and you’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of just how f-ing good this is. Das Llamas should be headed to Spokane in June, so keep an eye out to see when and where. You won’t want to miss being a part of this.
THE ELECTRIC SOFT PARADE
No Need to be Downhearted (Better Looking)
At the first few seconds this sounds like Robbers on High Street. Eee eee, Ooh ooh. But, it shifts quickly and calls its own bluff. Hardly do I call somebody out on weak vocals, but amidst the mostly catchy musical backdrop behind them, these vocals are oddly out of place. So much so that when the beat jumps and goes a little dancier, I can’t quite take it anymore. Kudos, though, for some of the cutest disc art I’ve seen in a long time (but you’d have to buy it to see it, and that wouldn’t be worth it).
Isenheart EP (self-released) LOCAL
BOBfest has long served as the breeding ground for Spokane’s budding talent. With bands like Isenheart on the bill, this year will be no exception. Isenheart captures the innocence that we all crave from younger bands; they are pure, full of fresh perspective, TALENTED, and easily loved. Keep an eye out, and check out BOBfest for this and more from our city’s youngest crop of musicians.
Yours Truly, Angry Mob (Universal)
It’d be easy to jump into this sophomore release thinking it’d be nowhere near as good as the band’s Employment of 2005. That release, after all, gave us our ’05 anthems, “I Predict a Riot,” “Na Na Na Na Naa,” “Everyday I Love You Less and Less.” Yours Truly is a tough nut to crack: it wants and wants, but doesn’t necessarily get. It’s more refined, therefore less Kaiser Chiefs-y. It’s developed, not quite all the way there. We’ll see where the KCs head next, because regardless of the strength of this release, we do know they have some damn fine tunes in ‘em.
Myths of the Near Future (Geffen)
We can agree that hype is mostly boring. We can probably agree that Klaxons are supa-hyped (right?). But what I’m quite divided over is whether a) hype has destroyed Klaxons’ real potential, and b) if the hype was ever justified in the first place. My instinct is that Klaxons are a group grabbed up like Arctic Monkeys (will see if that’ll hold completely true in the near future), moderately likeable from the git-go, but talked up to such an extent that you’re considered scum if you’re not a fan. (For the record, I am not an Arctic Monkeys fan and though they’ve sold and toured remarkably well, their success is completely unremarkable for its deservedness, or lack thereof.) We’ll see what happens to Klaxons, but really I’ll probably just continue to ignore them.
Songbird (Lost Highway)
Let’s talk for a minute about how cool Willie Nelson is. We could talk about his recent collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, Last of the Breed, but of more note to our (much) younger ears, is this album of Willie solo. How hip of Willie to set up shop with Ryan Adams producing. How hip of Willie to have Adams’ band, The Cardinals, serve as back up. It is, of course, though, Nelson’s iconic voice that takes you through the album. You won’t even find yourself missing Willie’s classics, because there are highlights all about, including title track “Songbird,” featuring our new favorite lyric: “I wish you all the love in the world, but most of all, I wish it for myself.” Hit up Willie’s Fourth of July picnic (out of the state of Texas for the first time in 33 years!) at the Gorge this summer!
THE ONE AM RADIO
This Too Will Pass (Dangerbird)
It’s been awhile since some soft, lilting music gave me chills. In fact, this may be the first time. But there is something so perfect, so gorgeous about this music, that it’s chill inducing. It’s sitting-under-a-blanket-with-someone-special chill inducing. It’s perfect. The One AM Radio, also known as LA-based musician Hrishikesh Hirway, is delicate and affecting, while subtle. It’s gloomy, while uplifting. It’s perfect.
In Your Time (Kemado Records)
There’s nothing inherently heavy about the clergy, or our feathered friends, or for that matter cellos, but Priestbird’s got all these things. In some sort of off-beat alternative universe kind of way Priestbird manages to suck you in with their pleasantly orchestrated rock. In the same way that the Earthlings, Masters of Reality, and Dinosaur Jr. make listeners really think about what they’re listening to, Priestbird’s serious musician-ship should not be taken lightly. Priestbird is shoe-gazing while wearing combat boots with steel shank in ‘em.
Snakes and Ladders (Atlantic/WEA)
Well you’ll be hard-pressed to find any self-aware Rush fan cop to purchasing a single Rush album since 1984, AKA Grace Under Pressure. There are a few out there-mostly relegated to RushCon, the biggest convention in North America of fans of the rock band Rush (…I’m not making this up). But they’re out there. As far as I can tell the days of By-Tor and the Snowdog are past us, as Rush are now opting for more concrete notions like war and societal ills. That said, musically, Rush still have some serious chops. The first single, “Far Cry”, isn’t “Working Man”, but it’s not half bad. What the hell do I know; I stopped listening to Rush after Moving Pictures.
SCISSORS FOR LEFTY
Underhanded Romance (Eenie Meanie)
This is the release I have been waiting months for. San Francisco’s Scissors for Lefty is one remarkable band. Whimsical and soulful, quirky and charming, these boys have it all, and their sophomore full-length is not only the best material they’ve put out to date, it’s also some of the best material you are going to hear all summer. This is the soundtrack to your perfect summer. Listen to it at home, listen to it in the car, listen to it jogging. Mostly, just listen to it. It’ll win you over instantaneously, and you’ll still be a-spin-spin-spinnin’ this disc as we creep into fall.
SEE ME RIVER
See Me River (Aviation)
Das Llamas isn’t the only fabulous project brought to you by Kerry Zettel. For a mellower set, check out See Me River. Zettel’s vocals soar to new heights on this project, on greater display, and equally strong.
Magazine Article, Music Reviews |