Max Gladwell

Entreprenurship and Adventure Sports

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Next Big Thing: Adventure Bike Racing

March 2nd, 2015 by admin· No Comments

The next big thing in endurance events is adventure bike racing

First came marathons, the ultimate runner’s test. Next there were century bike rides, the key milestone for a recreational cyclist. And more recently the Iron Man added swimming to become the ultimate test of one’s mettle. But there’s a new way to test your physical and mental fitness. They’re generally referred to as Adventure Bike Races or Endurance Bike Races, which range anywhere from 50 to 200 miles and include a healthy combination of pavement, gravel, and dirt roads.


According to the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride, which takes place in the San Diego area on April 26th, the route is “over 200 kms of suffering over sinuous, bone grinding roads fraught with arduous climbs, mud, chocking dust, leg-numbing sleet or heat, and winds.” It’s quite the endurance cocktail, to be sure.

The routes for these races, which can also be ridden recreationally, exist in a no-man’s-land between road cycling and mountain biking. The surfaces are too rough for skinny tires and not quite interesting enough for fat ones. As such, several bike manufacturers have responded with specific bike designs.

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Top 10 Skiing & Snowboarding Destinations in North America

December 22nd, 2014 by admin· No Comments

If you’re optimizing your 2015 ski or snowboarding vacation for powder days, these are the top 10 North American ski resorts to maximize those chances.

The list of top 10 ski resorts has been compiled many times before, but I’ve always found the criteria too general. When you consider too many factors or put it to a popular vote, the output is generic. In trying to appeal to everyone, it satisfies no one.

The following list is based on two things: powder days and steep terrain. Having been an editor for POWDER Magazine and written a book on the history of snowboarding, I have some experience with steepness and deepness. This is what I live for. So when a helicopter is not an option, these are the ski resorts I frequent for powder days.

#1 Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada: Whistler is the total package. A massive expanse of skiable terrain extends above the treeline and provides copious steep runs with top-to-bottom laps in excess of 5,000 vertical feet. Meanwhile, an idyllic ski village offers world-class accommodations, dining, and après skiing. And it’s all just a two-hour drive from Vancouver.

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Average Annual Snowfall: 462 inches
2013/2014 Snowfall: 356 inches
2013/2014 Powder days: 24
2014/2015 Snowfall to Date: 111 inches
Live Webcam Link

#2 Snowbird, Utah: A nipple-deep powder day at Snowbird is something every hardcore skier or snowboarder must experience at least once. This is what gives Utah’s claim to “the greatest snow on earth” complete credibility.

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Average Annual Snowfall: 500 inches
2013/2014 Snowfall: 432 inches
2013/2014 Powder days: 35
2014/2015 Snowfall to Date: 110 inches
Live Webcam Link

#3 Jackson Hole, Wyoming: While the on-mountain terrain is phenomenal, what sets Jackson apart is its exceptional out-of-bounds access. It also has the best start to the 2014/2015 season in terms of snowfall — more than 150 inches!

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Average Annual Snowfall: 459 inches
2013/2014 Snowfall: 500 inches
2013/2014 Powder days: Not Available
2014/2015 Snowfall to Date: 150 inches
Live Webcam Link

#4 Mammoth Mountain, California: Big storms rolling off the Pacific routinely drop four or five feet of snow on Mammoth at a time, and its high elevation makes the snow lighter than what you find in Tahoe. The California drought made for a tough season, but if the law of averages holds true, then this year could be big.

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Average Annual Snowfall: 400 inches
2013/2014 Snowfall: 238 inches
2013/2014 Powder days: Not Available
2014/2015 Snowfall to Date: 72 inches
Live Webcam Link

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The 10 Best Snowboarding Instagrams

October 6th, 2014 by admin· No Comments

Fill your Instagram feed with snowboarding #powdershots to get stoked for the 2014/2015 season

It’s just about this time of year when the new ski and snowboarding season feels within reach. In the old days, we’d transition to winter sports with print magazines and the annual release of new snowboarding films. Today, we have smartphones and Instagram to keep us stoked on a daily basis.

These are the 10 best Instagrams to follow for your daily #powdershots as we head into the new season (listed in alphabetical order):

1. Adam Moran: Peer through the lens of Burton Snowboards’ team photographer.

2. Black Ops Valdez: Alaska is the #1 heli-snowboarding destination, and Valdez is its epicenter. Which means no shortage of steep #powdershots to populate your feed.

3. Burton Snowboards: The premier brand in snowboarding offers a balanced mix of new product, team riders, big airs, and fluffy #powdershots.

4. Dean Blottogray: It makes sense in general to follow professional photographers on Instagram, and snowboarding is no different.

5. Frequency: The Snowboarder’s Journal offers a glossy magazine about the “voice of snowboard culture” on a quarterly basis…and the Instagram counterpart on a daily basis.

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Rediscovering a Love for Hardtail Mountain Bikes

September 29th, 2014 by Rob Reed· No Comments

Stitch together dirt roads, pavement, and smooth singletrack for some #epicrides with the Cannondale F29 Black Inc.

I previously reviewed the Cannondale SuperX cyclocross bike and noted it was a potential category killer. Which is to say it excels at commuting, road riding, and dirt. In fact, the latter is its one weakness. Yes, it can handle dirt roads. But anything close to rocky or steep terrain has you longing for some mountain bike handlebars and suspension. Enter Cannondale’s corresponding 29-inch hardtail, the F29.

Built primarily for racing, this bike is feather-light at 18 pounds. Yes, that’s what high-end road bikes weighed only a few years ago. This is accomplished through a carbon fiber frame, Shimano’s top-of-the-line drivetrain and brakes (XTR), and super-sexy carbon wheels from ENVE. The spare-no-expense Black Inc. retails for a post-IPO price tag of more than $11,000. But you can get in at the Series-A stage with the F-SI Carbon 2 for less than $5,000 (still not cheap, of course). But, again, this is a potential category killer for those who index toward the dirt.


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Specialized Turbo S: The Uber Electric Bike

September 2nd, 2014 by Max Gladwell· No Comments

Specialized turns transportation into recreation with this electric-assisted commuting masterpiece

New life experiences become less and less frequent as we get older. We may try new things, but completely new experiences are tough to come by. These could include sky diving or completing a marathon or having your first child. I’m here to tell you that pedaling an electric-hybrid bicycle is one of those experiences, and I’ve validated this by introducing countless friends and colleagues to the Specialized Turbo S.

The universal response to pedaling the Turbo for the first time is, “Whoa!” This is because its 250-watt electric motor kicks in automatically, surging the bike forward with almost no effort. If your butt cheeks had hands, they’d be gripping the saddle to hold on. And yet the power it produces feels quite natural — as natural as it might feel for Superman. Which is to say that you immediately adapt to this newfound power. There is no learning curve. It’s the type of assistance you’ve always wanted from a bike, and it’s nothing short of transformative. At the risk of complete hyperbole, the world would be an immeasurably better place if everyone had a human-electric hybrid bicycle because everyone would choose to ride instead of drive whenever given the choice. It’s that fun and that practical.

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Within this burgeoning new bicycle category, the Specialized Turbo S ($5,900 MSRP) is in a class of its own. It’s the Tesla of two-wheeled transportation, combining industry-leading performance, design, grace, and technology into the ultimate package. Indeed, it’s the type of bike that would show up in an episode of Silicon Valley. It’s over the top in terms of how geeky and fun it is to ride.

For the better part of a couple months, I’ve been riding the Turbo back and forth to work, about eight miles each way from the Pacific Palisades to Santa Monica on the beach path. The sense of superiority you feel on the bike path borders on a God complex, while it gives you much more confidence in handling traffic due to having power on demand. It truly turns transportation into recreation, as your commute becomes infused with adrenaline. You pass other cyclists as if they were standing still, and there is a constant temptation to keep pace with cars…going uphill. One of the benefits of commuting with electric power is that you can do so without sweating. The minimal effort you invest in pedaling is counter-balanced by the amount of wind produced, thus keeping you cool and dry. Unless, of course, you give into the temptation to race cars uphill.

The Turbo’s battery is seamlessly integrated to the downtube of the frame. You barely notice it’s a battery, and this is where you plug in the charger. Pedaling triggers the electric motor, which provides assisted power up to 28 mph. In other words, casual pedaling easily gets you to 20 mph regardless of whether you’re going uphill, downhill, or into a 15-knot headwind. The motor doesn’t care. It continues to add power in maintaining a consistent pace and only cuts off when you get to 28 mph, which is more than sufficient for urban environments.

There are three power modes to choose from: Turbo, Eco, and Regenerative. Turbo is full power. Eco cuts it down by 30%, which means you have to pedal harder (and get more exercise) to maintain the same speed. And Regenerative mode actually recharges the battery. This can be set if you want to manually charge the battery with your own output (trading calories for watts), and it is automatically triggered by applying the rear brake. So the rear brake is a cutoff switch for the motor as well as a way to seamlessly switch to Regenerative mode. I found that you can go approximately 25 miles in Turbo mode on a full charge.

The bike weighs a relatively hefty 50 pounds. This makes it tough to load onto a bike rack or carry up stairs. But it’s perfect if you have a garage.

Like any experience, though, it’s impossible to describe what it’s like to ride a human-electric hybrid in any meaningful way. At the very least, I recommend finding a local Specialized dealer, such as Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica, to take it for a test drive. I guarantee it will be a whoa-inducing experience.