FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Robert Walton for Utility Dive:DTE Energy announced plans to retire eight coal-fired units at three Michigan locations, which combined to generate a quarter of the utility’s power last year.The company is shuttering its River Rouge, St. Clair and Trenton facilities, with the closures slated to take place in the next seven years.The new retirements, along with three others previously announced, will be replaced by wind, solar and natural gas. Closing the plants is a part of DTE’s “fundamental transformation” in how the it generates power, the company said.“The way DTE generates electricity will change as much in the next 10 years as any other period in our history,” DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson said in a statement. Over the past five years, DTE has bolstered its renewable energy production, which now accounts for 10% of the company’s total sales.The utility said it is working with the communities impacted by the plant retirements, and will transition employees working at these plants into new roles at other facilities.Shannon Fisk, Earthjustice managing attorney, said it is “critical” for the utility to not only ramp up clean energy investments, but also provide “a just economic transition for the employees and communities that have relied on the wages and taxes paid by these coal plants for the past more than forty years.”Full item: DTE to retire 8 Michigan coal units Michigan Utility, in Announcing Retirement of 8 Coal-Fired Plants, Cites ‘Fundamental Transition’ in Utility Industry
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:A new study commissioned by the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) concludes the largest city in the United States has a near-term opportunity to clean up its electric grid by replacing older steam generation units with batteries.The analysis, conducted by Strategen Consulting, finds that about 2,860 MW of older steam and combustion turbines, roughly 30% of New York City’s current fleet, will be past retirement age within the next five years. Replacing older combustion generation with energy storage could help the city meet environmental goals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75% from those units.Strategen’s report concludes New York City electricity customers spend more than $268 million annually to secure capacity from older plants that run for just a few hours each year. A 5% set-aside of that amount “could attract investment in more than 450 MW of new energy storage resources over the next five years with very little impact,” the firm concluded. Total price impact could be less than 1% to customers, Strategen found.More: Battery storage could help New York City’s ambitious energy, climate goals, report says Report: Battery Storage Emerges as ‘Near-Term’ Piece of NYC’s Evolving Electricity Grid
Xcel seeks to close two more coal plants, add renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press: Colorado’s largest electricity provider said Wednesday it wants to retire two coal-fired units a decade early and nearly double the share of power it gets from renewable sources.Xcel Energy said the changes would reduce its carbon pollution in the state by 60 percent and increase its share of renewable energy to almost 55 percent, up from about 28 percent now. Xcel said the plan would save consumers $215 million by 2054, citing the “historically low” cost of renewables.Colorado regulators would have to approve the proposals before they go into effect.The coal-fired units affected are at Xcel’s Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo. One would be retired in 2022, 11 years early, and the other in 2025, 10 years ahead of schedule. A third would remain in operation.Xcel’s plan calls for purchasing two existing gas-fired generating plants in Colorado and adding five solar farms and three wind farms. Xcel would also renew its contract to buy power from an existing solar farm. Three of the new solar farms would include battery storage.The company said building and buying the natural gas plants and solar and wind farms will cost $2.5 billion. The facilities would be located in Adams, Baca, Boulder, Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Morgan, Park, Pueblo and Weld counties. The plan calls for adding 1,100 megawatts of generating capacity to Xcel’s system from wind, 700 from solar, 380 from natural gas and 275 from batteries. More: Colorado utility plans to retire coal plants, add renewables
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The uphill battle confronting coal seems to be getting steeper.A new global analysis of 6,685 coal plants finds that its now cheaper to build new renewable generation than to run 35 percent of coal plants worldwide. By 2030, that percentage increases dramatically, with renewables beating out 96 percent of today’s existing and planned coal-fired generation. The 4 percent exception is in markets with extremely low fuel costs, where coal is cheap and plentiful, or with uncertain policies for renewables, like Russia.The study, conducted by pro-climate action financial think tank Carbon Tracker, covers about 95 percent of worldwide operating capacity and about 90 percent of under construction capacity.The report’s authors lay out three inflection points for the transition away from coal-fired power. They forecast the first for 2025, when renewables economically beat out new-build coal. According to the report, countries including Australia, China, and India are already there. But the second inflection point, when new renewables and gas beat existing coal, will mean “existential crisis” for the coal industry, according to authors. In many parts of the world, that reckoning has arrived.This year the Netherlands announced a coal ban. Countries including China, Hungary and Germany have also made moves to ditch coal, whether by reducing consumption or considering and instituting full-blown bans. And a November report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis forecasted that 2018 will bring a record number of U.S. coal retirements totaling 15.4 gigawatts (an S&P analysis from later in the month reported that 2018 will narrowly miss the record, retiring 14.3 gigawatts compared to the previous 2015 record of 14.7 gigawatts).According to Carbon Tracker, in China it’ll be more expensive to operate coal than to build new renewables by 2021. The European Union hits that point earlier, in 2019. In the U.S. it’s already arrived.More: Renewables may prove cheaper than 96% of coal plants worldwide by 2030 Report paints dire picture of coal generation economics worldwide
Saudi company to build 250MW of solar in Ethiopia for $25/MWh FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has signed 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) for two solar projects totaling 250 MW with Ethiopia’s state-owned electricity producer Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP).The price agreed in the PPAs is USD 0.02526 (EUR 0.02295)/kWh, the company said in a statement on Sunday.The two projects, each with a capacity of 125 MW, were awarded to ACWA Power in the first round of the country’s solar programme, organised by the Public-Private Partnerships Directorate General (PPP-DG). They mark the company’s first foray into Ethiopia.The first solar plant will be located in Dicheto, in the Afar region, and the other one in Gad, in the Somali region. Once operational, the two solar parks will produce enough electricity to power 750,000 homes and save 320,000 of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year, the director of the PPP DG, Tilahun Haile, said.[Aleksandra Dimitrova]More: ACWA Power signs PPAs for 250 MW of solar projects in Ethiopia
Bula Foot Print Beanie A hat is a hat, until you start looking at the materials that go into that hat. The Foot Print is constructed with a sustainable bamboo and wool blend and a comfy recycled microfleece liner. $25. Bulabula.com.Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 Don’t think of this as a four-season tent. Think of the Flying Diamond as your winter mountain home. It’s completely waterproof and windproof from top to bottom, with enough floor space to sleep eight and the headroom to accommodate Andre the Giant. Add the mesh gear loft to keep your packs and jackets organized and pop open the front vestibule for a shaded front porch. $599.95. bigagnes.com.MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes You only wear snowshoes for one reason: to save energy when hiking in deep snow. The Lightning Ascent maximizes the energy savings by offering an uber-light and stable platform that keeps your ankles out of the snow and your legs fresh for the trail ahead. The shoes are edged in light aluminum with “teeth” that grip the snow, while the rubber center provides the float you expect from a snowshoe. $259.95. msrgear.com.Western Mountaineering Antelope A five-degree bag may not keep you warm enough on your thru-hike of Antarctica, but it does the trick below the Mason Dixon most of the time. And the Antelope weighs under 2.5 lbs, making it the perfect partner for winter backpacking trips. With seven inches of natural down loft and a fully insulated collar and hood, this five-degree bag might keep you warmer than some zero-degree bags on the market. $435. Westernmountaineering.com. Mountain Hardwear Dragon A lightweight, wind and water-resistant soft shell, the Dragon is designed for intensely aerobic winter activities (think cross country skiing or ice climbing), which means it’s highly breathable with a full range of movement. But our wear-tester loved the details built into the Dragon, like the thumb loops, chamois lined collar, and convenient chest pocket perfect for an Ipod or map. $240. Mountainhardwear.com. 1 2 3
At the Parksville Lake Campground in the Ocoee Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest, there remains no trace of a crew of American folks who have united, from as far away as Alaska and as close as the Ocoee River’s nearby bank.Participants of an inaugural 2011 Wilderness Trails Stewardship Conference have intermittently packed up and parted ways for Memorial Day Weekend and will regroup on Tuesday afternoon at Big Creek Ranger Station, located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.This unique and memorable educational experience has been offered expense free to its first 25 registrants and made possible by Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (S.A.W.S.) and The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (A.T.C.). Camping is being provided free of charge by the U.S. Forest Service. Women and men eat together, work together and share close quarters while in the classroom, in the field and at base camp.Bill Hodge, S.A.W.S. director, explains, “We made sure that this conference was free. We don’t want to burden people who are willing to give up one or two weeks of their life to come out here just to pick up these skills. The Forest service played a big role in making this happen. I know we are all leaving here with certifications and some technical skills, but the people who are here are one of the highlights.”Group training has resumed with wilderness skills content that includes Trail Leadership, Leave No Trace and Incident Management training. A fun and unforgettable first week has included two days of Wilderness First Aid training and certification, a one-day session on Wilderness History and Legislation and two days of Cross-cut Saw training and certification.At the beginning of week two, conference attendees straggle into A.T.C. Base Camp, the headquarters of the Southern Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail (S.W.E.A.T.) Crew, which plays a vital role in managing trails of the A.T. and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.S.W.E.A.T. crew leaders, Jameson Demiglio and Mateo Romano prepare for a summer where they will lead eight consecutive crews, overseeing volunteers (including me) who will arrive from all over the country to maintain The Appalachian Trail corridor. The Wilderness Trail Stewardship Conference has been opened to S.W.E.A.T. Crew volunteers. Certifications and skill sets acquired here will play key roles in this summer’s A.T. maintenance.Early afternoon, everyone congregates around a couple of picnic tables. Class training starts with the vital component of trip planning and preparation. Andrew Downs, Appalachian Trail Resource Manager for Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee explains, “Our work is very physically demanding, perhaps some of the hardest labor you will ever perform. Being in good physical shape will certainly help you maintain a good attitude. You also need social skills that will enable you to get along with fellow volunteers in often trying times”. 1 2 3 4 5
It’s a fine time to be a Southerner. That’s a scientific fact and here’s the evidence: 1) Chicks dig bowties again 2) The craft distillery trend is in full swing below the Mason Dixon. Distilling laws are shifting in the South, and once again, hooch is flowing from the Appalachians. Take a trip into the hills and, with a little research, you’ll likely find an incorporated group of dudes and dudettes working up some fire water in copper stills. And there’s no hooch like Southern hooch. That’s another scientific fact. Yes sir, it’s a good time to be us.Take Smooth Ambler Spirits. I stumbled across this small, but ambitious craft distiller in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia on my way up to Snowshoe Mountain Resort. The distillery is only a few years old but is already making waves in the “Spirit World.” Its Old Scout bourbon won the gold last year for best Artisan Merchant Bottled Whiskey from the American Distilling Institute, and went on to get high praise from Wine Spectator as well. You can’t find the stuff on the shelves because it sells out so quickly.Smooth Ambler uses local mountain water, local grain, even local botanicals when crafting its bourbon, gin, and vodka. I like the “cut of their jib” so to speak, but I really like their Greenbrier Gin. If you’re a gin purist, you might find it a little too citrusy and fragrant for a straight martini, but it’s the bee’s knees in a gin and tonic, or even better in the Gin and Ginger that was recommended to me when I toured the distillery.Gin lovers should check out my Gin and Ginger recipe below. Whiskey lovers should look for Smooth Ambler’s Old Scout 10, their highly anticipated 10-year old bourbon, hitting the shelves soon. And if you’re a lover of both gin and whiskey, get your hands on their Barrel-Aged Gin, which is born after Greenbrier Gin sits in Old Scout barrels for three months. The result is the best of both worlds, particularly when you use it as the base of classic cocktails. Ask your local liquor store to pick up Smooth Ambler. Or just make a trip to the distillery. Like I said, Snowshoe Mountain Resort is right around the corner. Liquor+Lift Served Mountain Biking=A Great Weekend.Gin and Ginger2 oz Greenbrier Gin from Smooth Ambler4 oz Ginger ale (if you can find it, get small-batch Blenheim Ginger Ale, which is made in South Carolina, of course)Juice of half a lime
As a kid growing up in the city of Chicago, we all had bikes in some form of disrepair. We cruised sidewalks, dangerously swerved through streets with one kid perched on the handlebars and another dangling off the back of the banana seat, careening around parked car doors opened into our paths. We had a door stashed behind the manicured bushes and pulled it out for jumps, stacking old tires beneath one end.I found the bike faster than the bus once I was old enough to visit friends across the city. In summer we would ride to the beach in the Indiana Dunes, witnessing each other’s terrific crashes involving sand at high speed or maybe even toes “accidentally” stopping the front wheel in an immediate fashion, resulting in a bloody endo.Once I discovered mountain biking, the wrecks became a badge of honor due to a constant pushing of limits in situations with steep learning curves. “Chasing boys” is what I called it. It was simply a matter of keeping up and not realizing what I “couldn’t” yet do. I might not be able to clean that rock garden or land that drop today, but I never stopped believing that I could. My older sister, who had no idea what kind of rider I had evolved into and had explored beyond the city street said, “Yeah, you were never very good on a bike.”Getting back on the bike after an illness, a new job, or having babies taught me humility and compassion for myself. I had to fight down the regurgitated acid of what I “used to be able to do,” staring down at a soft belly and fumbling legs while my friends looked back, grinning.The first time I watched my boys pull away from me, begging for me not to let go, knowing that releasing the back of that saddle was going to be the beginning of a lifetime of letting go, tears choked my words of encouragement. “What’s wrong with you, mommy?”Each time I meet a new person who rides I’m amazed at what a bike can do for them. This machine, with a chain, is the most efficient of means, designed to work with you. The simplicity of being self-sufficient and exploring the edges. It’s inspiring. It’s freeing. It dulls the pain of a broken heart. It fills the soul with potential for the next beautiful thing. It’s a meditation.ED WHITINGAge: 79 / Hometown: Farragut, Tenn.Favorite ride: The one about 40 years ago when my wife convinced me to ride 200 miles across the middle of Illinois. I was so happy to get done. Although that was before I was a serious biker.I used to run, but when that hurt my feet, I dedicated myself back to the road bike. At 45, I retired from the Air Force. I’m so ancient that I flew B52s when they were brand new. I then worked in environmental research and development, always focusing on staying in shape. My wife, also in the Air Force, moved from bikes to yoga. I have no desire to twist my body up into those postures. I’ve been serious about keeping in shape. That’s the primary motivating factor to riding. I look forward to the bike, but have trained myself to “have to” do it. That’s part of it.Cycling vacations became a thing of the past, so now I do 30- to 60-mile loops from the house four times a week to keep fit. It takes me almost four hours to do 100 kilometers these days, but that’s what happens when you get old.I keep up with the Tour de France most years, but this year I seemed to have missed it. My wife forgot to remind me.It’s fun to be out in the fresh air and going around. On a bike, you get a lot of exercise in a hurry.DARBY WILCOXAge: 27 / Hometown: Greenville, S.C.Favorite ride: The huge hill on the back side of downtown Greenville that takes a bridge over the railroad tracks with a view of the city. But now that I’ve started mountain biking, I love Pisgah National Forest and DuPont.I commute to my sales job at the Great Escapes bike shop. My 6-year-old is not as willing to get stuffed in the trailer anymore, but my guitar doesn’t complain when I have a singing gig. I’m used to drivers giving me the stink-eye, but I chalk it up to jealousy as I enjoy the back roads and zipping past long lines of traffic.I like not needing a car, not dealing with parking, getting exercise, helping the environment, having fun getting to work, and the fact that it’s mind-clearing. Those first couple times were like a puke fest. It was horrible. But I’m stronger, and it’s getting easier. I like inspiring people to ride bikes.My boyfriend has helped me branch out beyond commuting, onto road rides, the woods, and my involvement with SORBA, which I love. I love the biking community – it’s awesome.I went on a three-day ride to Charleston in the Ride to Remember, raising awareness for Alzheimer’s. It was the camaraderie I appreciated most, and the powerful stories of those people’s experiences with the disease.MIKE SULEAge: 40 / Hometown: Asheville, N.C.Favorite ride: New Jersey to Quebec with three college friends. It rained absolutely every day. It was the most difficult and strenuous trip but the most fulfilling because of its challenges.I’m director and founder of Asheville on Bikes, which is a nonprofit focused on bike advocacy and education. I’ve always been an organizer of things, but more for fun and frolic. When I met legendary bike advocate Claudia Nix, she helped me understand there was a lot more to the cycling community. I didn’t think I would take the fun and frolic of Asheville and bring it to the advocacy that AOB has become, but I quit my job as an elementary school teacher to do this full-time.I simply love to ride and I have never been fond of urban car traffic. I’ve figured out how to incorporate what I love into the fabric of my everyday life. I haven’t had a car since 2005. Bike touring and commuting are what I do most.My first mountain bike in the sixth grade was a purple Coyote. We lived between a ski resort and a state park in the Pocono Mountains, so I learned the trail systems and was hooked. In college I couldn’t afford a car, so I rode.For years I’ve taken summer bike tours, Holland, Oregon-Washington, the Alleghenies, New Jersey to Quebec. A bike tour on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath sealed the deal with my now-wife, Emily. Bike touring is the best and worst of times so you really get a sense of your partner. A lot of success of being with someone is realizing where the comfort and misery meet—and how to read and communicate with your partner.ALLISON ARENSMANAge: 20 / Hometown: Valdese, N.C.Favorite ride: Highway 276 in Brevard up to the Blue Ridge Parkway where a gravel road spurs off for six miles. It never fails to amaze me to see what’s up there, and getting to come back down is even better.I was tricked into riding by my brother and dad. It looked like it hurt, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. Back then, riding 20 miles was just horrendous. I thought it was terrible. Cycling is a harsh sport without great rewards. You’re depending on the bike to work well too.This spring I stood at the top of the podium for the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in Richmond, Va., racing for Brevard College, where I study exercise science.In 2010, I caught the cyclocross bug. It was just fun. It’s just you, and the bike, in the mud. It’s like being a kid again. By the third cyclocross race, I was still trying to figure out which end was up. I kept crashing in the sand, but once I caught the girl in first going uphill I attacked and moved on. Next was the Olympic training center women’s cycling camp. I hope I get chosen for Europe.I like to explore and run errands commuter-style. It’s such a freeing thing—whether I’m training or riding easy. I feel like I can get away for a little while on the bike.BRUCE DICKMANAge: 45 / Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.Favorite Ride: The Millstone trails in Vermont with quarries, vast temperature variances, and technical features across 70 miles of single track.As a lad, I began on beach cruisers, evolving onto mountain bikes in 1994. I currently ride a carbon fiber hard tail and prefer the woods to road. I don’t wanna bounce on pavement. However, I did have a wreck in the woods which resulted in several back surgeries. Trees are troublesome. When you’re riding in good shape, and you know it, you ride really strong and you love getting out there. Struggling to get back in shape is an uphill battle and you know what you have to do to get there.The bike offers freedom, a chance to be in shape, not in shape, back in shape, repeat. My most memorable ride was from Atlanta to New York City with firefighters for the 10th anniversary for 9-11. It was 1,500 miles in 15 days, ending in a parting sea of applauding people. I hope to do that again one day.SUE HAYWOODAge: 42 / Hometown: Harrisonburg, Va.Favorite ride: Splash Dam trail in Davis, W.Va. It leaves from town, passes a cold spring, solid mile of technical rocks, and then winds along the banks of the Blackwater River, complete with mountain laurel, flame azalea, five varieties of ferns, and blueberries.I talked my dad into buying me a mountain bike in college for exploring and beer-drinking. I took that investment and went pro, not even knowing what that meant until I won the national championship while sponsored by Trek/VW and then got paid to race for the World Cup.Some of it is luck, some isn’t. Sometimes it’s easier for girls, because there are fewer, but we also didn’t get taken as seriously.My first rides involved chasing boys, crashing and figuring out where they went, only for them to take off as soon as I caught up. Now I race for fun. I love enduros, the technical long-distance rides. Now I teach clinics helping women tackle singletrack better.I’m a junkie for those flashes of adrenaline, like an electric pulse. I wouldn’t want it to be just fitness—or just scared all the time.My love of riding has evolved from getting faster, being just a job, fixing a broken leg, mending a broken heart, getting skinny, and now quality of life in the woods with friends. You can always get back to the bike. Although it hurts getting back, it will always take you back, and your friends are always there.REUBEN KLINEAge: 45 / Hometown: Frederick, Md.Favorite ride: Michaux State Forest, Pa., is my favorite racing circuit, but Spain and the Canary Islands aren’t bad.I grew up in the Pennsylvania Appalachians. Cycling has given me so much in life, including friends, an outlet, and mental and physical health. The energy that I’ve put into cycling has given back more than anything else I’ve done in life. Even a 20-mile ride you are ten miles away from any issues you have. You literally get to ride away from the stressful environment and let things go.I started mountain biking at 20 in Utah on a Giant Iguana before any kind of suspension. You felt like you were running a jackhammer. I’m now riding a Specialized S-Works Epic—the sweetest bike ever.I quit riding for a while until my close friends coerced me back on the bike at 30. It helped me through a lot of things. It’s a healthy addiction that fulfills. You go 100 miles and you’re in a completely different area and you see things differently from a bike.I started the Gran Fondo National Championship Series three years ago, to provide a cycling challenge for beginners as well as competitive types. It’s not necessarily a race. There are no start and end times, and riders are encouraged to stop at rest stations. The competitive types get their thrills in timed segments throughout the race. There are 30-, 60-, and 100-mile options. Everyone gets a finisher medal because it’s more like an accomplishment. How many people entering a marathon are about winning it? Same thing with Gran Fondo.CHAD PROSSERAge: 14 / Hometown: Youngstown, OhioFavorite ride: Daniel Dehrs Action Sports Complex, Holly Springs, N.C.I love to ride BMX bikes because it’s so fun, it’s different, and you have to push yourself. Nobody else can push you to do better.My parents always told me that they took my training wheels off when I was two years old, and I would ride around in my diaper. They support me, but my dad worries about me hurting myself. I broke my elbow during a jam when I was in the second grade. I cased on a quarter pipe, flipped over, and slammed my elbow. My dad was like, “I told you so,” and I was like, “whatever.”My 16-year-old neighbor took me around when I was 7 and taught me a lot of stuff. Once I knew where to go, my older sister and brothers would take me.My best tricks are a truck driver, where you kick it all the way around, and a tail whip, which is a 360 bar spin, where the bike spins around midair until you’re back on the pedals. I really want a flair—a 180 back flip. When you get a smooth take off, it feels like you’re soaring through the air, it’s amazing. But when you lift off and you already know it’s going bad, you get that face, and it’s scary, really scary. If I get mad or frustrated, I tell myself to have fun. Really that’s what it’s all about. I would like to compete on a professional level.FRED SCHULDTAge: 45 / Hometown: Asheville, N.C.Favorite trails: Coleman Boundary in Barnardsville, N.C.At 24, I got a Huffy from the Navy Exchange for transportation. Magazines indicated it was not a great bike to have. After a year, I tested an aluminum Trek mountain bike and was told to pay attention to the way it shifted, braked, and handled. I walked back bleeding down my face and bought it. I rode 4-5 times a week, obsessed. That’s how I am. My buddies always dropped me, but I dusted them on the climbs and started racing.After the Navy, I got a job at Hearn’s bike shop. I went to Bent Creek and threw my bike down in frustration because the climb never stopped. It just made me bitter and stronger. Mom took me to Turkey Pen, she on her horse. I loved being out that far in the woods. I couldn’t ride downhill and constantly got passed. It scared me, baffled me, I didn’t get it. So I got a downhill bike. Don’t get in the way of momentum is what I learned. Freeride happened after downhill. That was all about going bigger and figuring out how not to kill yourself. That weightlessness only lasts “that long,” so you wanna go bigger so it lasts longer. I opened Pro Bikes and after 8 years of running it, my avocation became a vocation. There’s not as much riding when you own a business.It’s pretty spiritual being connected to the earth through this mechanical, man-made thing. I liked sitting on Merrimon Avenue, looking at Mount Pisgah saying, I’m gonna ride there today—and then hours later, looking back at town.I’ve suffered a broken collar bone, a summer of sprained ankles learning to dirt jump, a ruptured spleen, a dislocated hip on a half-pipe, a smashed face when the head tube snapped, dropping me off a five-foot wall. If you don’t get injured once in a while, you’re not getting the full experience.MIKE THOMASAge: 28 / Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.Favorite trails: Beech Mountain and the Pisgah National forest in the Grandfather District. I’ve ridden all over the country. I’m always happy to be riding again in Pisgah with the creeks and the rhododendron.I got into mountain bikes when I was 16 as a way to train for motocross and then just kept doing it. Motorcycles are just not as convenient as mountain bikes. I started racing cross-country as a junior expert, and then as an adult expert, but now race downhill pro.I went to Appalachian State University, where I won two downhill national championships. For four years, I helped develop a bike park for visitors. I’ve had my own trail-building business, Terra Tek Trails, for two years. I now build trails for Beech Mountain and other places. I also do hiking trails and a lot for the US Forest Service. Downhill trails are the most fun to build.I love where I’m at right now. I’m super happy. Five years ago I would have never realized I could have a career like this. Riding bikes is just part of my life. I freak out if I don’t ride at least a couple times a week. I’m addicted to it. When you start getting better and faster, you go through a series of crashes, and I’ve had my share, including both collar bones in the same summer. But you’re also breaking through to the next level.ELIJAH FREESEAge: 11 / Hometown: Asheville, N.C.Favorite trail: Bent Creek, Upper ExplorerI like riding bikes because it’s healthy for your body and you get to know yourself better. I started riding a bike when I was 2. When I was 3, the Easter Bunny came and took my training wheels, so I learned to ride without them.When I was five, I did my first race on a velodrome and finished last. I thought I won because everybody was gone. When I was 8, I took second in the Carolina Mountain Bike League series.I’ve ridden in Utah, at Beech Mountain, and around town, but I love the woods best, in the middle of nowhere and all of the birds and animals I see. I especially like when it’s overcast and foggy, riding through dense evergreens. It’s cool—like a secret hideout. I like dirt jumps too, because you can get really big air. I do bike club at school. My mom takes us, so I get to ride with my friends. Otherwise mom takes me on trails she knows I can do. When I crash, she helps me do the section again to get better next time. My dad takes me on trails he does with his friends and says that I can do stuff that his friends can’t. Riding bikes makes me feel really happy, like I’ve accomplished something. I feel disappointed when I crash, but then I see what I could have done better.
“Why don’t we all start off with a little introduction,” says Jason, our Wilderness First Aid (WFA) instructor from Landmark Learning.It was 8am on a Saturday morning and for the first time in over a year, I was back in school. Literally.Last weekend, my alma mater, Emory & Henry College, served as host for a WFA course through Landmark Learning’s Wilderness Medicine Institute. I was back in my old stomping grounds, the college’s outdoor program building, the very place where I first tied a figure eight knot and learned about Leave No Trace.There was the same whiteboard in front of me, the same canoes cinched in the rafters above, the same wall stacked with boats and backpacks and climbing gear. I remember spending long nights at that building. It was our home away from home, the place we went to when we needed a quiet place to study but, more often than not, found ourselves distracted by the bouldering cave and the Sublime tunes we blasted over the speaker system. Ah, those were the days.The last time I took a WFA course, I was deep in the jungles of the Amazon on my NOLS semester abroad. At the time, it didn’t just seem appropriate that I was learning about wilderness first aid – it was downright necessary. That was back in 2011 though, and I’d since let my two-year certification expire, thinking, “I’m not going to be a guide or an instructor. I don’t need it.”But when my mentor and former outdoor program director Jim told me the college was hosting the course, I decided it would be worth my while to get a refresher. After all, I certainly hadn’t stopped recreating in the outdoors. In fact, my job required it. While I hadn’t needed to use any of my first aid skills in the past couple of years, it was only a matter of time. Ironically, that time came just two days prior to my WFA course. A few friends of mine in Asheville decided to show me around the singletrack at Bent Creek so I could christen my Violet on the local N.C. trails. As we were charging through one of the last downhill sections of our ride, one of my friends hit the front brake just a little too hard and sent herself OTB x 2.She landed, shoulder first, on a raised root system, shielding her face as the bike came crashing after her. It happened so fast, and her wipeout was so graceful, that at first I wasn’t sure if she would bounce right back up laughing or if she would continue to lay there in the fetal position, crumpled in a ball of hurt.Of course, it was the latter that ensued. My friends and I immediately sprung into action, asking about her head, her back, what hurt most, could she move at all, did anything feel broken? We kept her on her side while the initial shock of the wipeout wore off. We exposed her shoulder, assessing the already red and swollen lump and concluding that it likely wasn’t broken, but that she definitely was not riding out.Surprisingly, we all kicked into gear like a well-oiled machine. One of the guys hopped on his bike and rode the remaining few miles out to grab a truck while the rest of us split up other duties like carrying her pack, walking her bike, and helping her get comfortable enough to hike out. I fashioned a sling for her out of my Deuter day pack and we proceeded to walk in the fading daylight toward the gravel road. Fortunately, a kind couple picked her up shortly afterward and she’s on the mend as we speak.“My name’s Manda, and I’ve never done anything like this before, but I figure it’s a good thing to know,” says a woman off to my right.We’d finally made it through all of the introductions. From zoologists to Boy Scout troop leaders, swimming coaches, and search and rescue volunteers, it was amazing how different the 14 people in the room were. Educators, students, working professionals from every background, some who were seasoned outdoorsmen and others who openly admitted to being “lab rats.”“Now, imagine you are mountain biking in DuPont State Forest and your buddy has a really bad wreck,” Jason says, setting the stage for our first scenario post-introductions. “What do you do?”For the next two days, Jason answered that question. What do you do when you’re in the wilderness and you or someone else gets injured? He talked us through the basics of backcountry medicine, how to size up the scene of an accident, perform a comprehensive patient assessment, formulate a treatment and, if needed, an evacuation plan. We even learned how to execute basic short-term treatments for everything from hypothermia to dislocated shoulders and full thickness burns.Sure, there’s a pretty low likelihood of any of us on the East encountering someone suffering from altitude sickness or a life-threatening amputation, but knowing even the basics could be the difference between life and death. Sometimes I catch myself getting sucked into invincibility mode, that dangerous point where your skills and your adventures start to plateau and, after so many incident-free outings, you begin to get complacent. That’s never a good place to be and I’m always quick to be humbled, but especially after the Bent Creek incident and the WFA wake-up call, I realized just how quickly things can turn bad when you’re a few hours from hospitals and reliable cell reception.“The number one thing you can do to help yourself is prevention,” Jason says on our final day of training. “If you can prevent an accident from happening, you’ll never have to deal with the repercussions.”I couldn’t agree more, and I encourage everyone to get a little basic first aid training regardless of their level of outdoor activity. I’d say if it doesn’t personally make you feel better about going out in the woods alone, it’ll surely make your climbing partners and paddling buddies feel a little safer knowing someone in the group can lend a hand in a time of need.Have you had any close calls in the woods? Ever needed to call upon your first aid skills in the wilderness? Let’s hear some stories!