Guided mountain bike trips in B.C. break ground in adventure travel

Katrina Clarke| August 25, 2017 | Toronto Star


Me in the Chilcotins. Photo by Reuben Krabbe.

SQUAMISH, B.C.—I’m flying down a loopy, “bermy” trail and putting my complete concentration on the path in front of me. My brain’s fear switch turns off, and I finally feel it — mountain biking is a release.

Some context: I have a long-standing love-hate relationship with mountain biking. As a teenager, I begged my parents for a bike but barely rode it. In my early 20s, I tried trail riding but was terrible. When my editor sent me an email this spring asking, “Do you bike? Could you go on an intermediate guided bike trip in B.C. on a mountain bike with MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op)?” I decided to give it one more try.

For seven days in July, I rode some of the world’s best trails, met bad-ass mountain bikers and took in jaw-dropping scenery on a trip easily described as once in a lifetime. It was the first of MEC’s mountain bike trips along B.C.’s Sea-to-Sky Corridor, part of the outdoor retailer co-op’s foray into adventure travel, and included stops in Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and the South Chilcotins.

Still, on day one, I didn’t know what I was in for.

I met the other riders at the North Vancouver MEC on a Sunday. My companions for the week were Alan Yeung, 53, a software development director from Ottawa, Dr. Don Ball, 62, a dentist from Ottawa, and Dr. Murray Cuff, 60, a retired military periodontist from Victoria. Ball and Cuff met in dentistry school at Western University and the two met Yeung through mountain biking in Ottawa. Each of them had decades of biking experience.

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Forest bathing: A practice with roots in Japan gains a foothold in Canada

Katrina Clarke | August 9, 2017 | CBC Life


Getty images

When you enter a forest with Ronda Murdock, you introduce yourself to plants, you imagine your feet planting roots and you just might make friends with a tree.

This is forest bathing. It’s a meditative-like practice which involves immersing oneself in nature, sometimes with a guide, like Murdock, and interacting with your surroundings using all five senses. It has origins in Japan, where it has links to ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices and was dubbed Shinrin-yoku, meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing,” by the government in 1982. There, it is now considered a cornerstone of preventative health initiatives after the government poured USD $4-million into intensive research on the benefits of forest bathing.

But what is it, really? Continue reading

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Everything you need to know about August’s eclipse of a lifetime

Katrina Clarke | July 28, 2017 | CBC Life


Photo credit: Getty images/iStock photo

On the morning of August 21, a dark shadow will cross over North America. The temperature will drop, people will see stars and a fiery halo will appear in the sky.

No, it’s not the apocalypse – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse.

“We happen to be at a very lucky place in the universe and a very lucky place in earth’s history and time to be able to see this complete blocking out of sun,” said Jesse Brydle, a science educator at Science World British Columbia. “It’s a very rare occurrence and it happens for a very brief moment.”

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We’ve got your summer adventure fix right here

Katrina Clarke | July 14 | CBC Life

Credit: Matt Plut

Camping…  in the snow… gave me a whole new appreciation for Canada’s beauty, and as you can imagine, for Mother Nature’s extremes. After a few beers on a warm Vancouver evening, I accepted the unusual invite from people I’d just met to hike B.C.’s Mount Garabaldi. “Expect some snow,” my new friends told me.

A few days later, after driving north for two hours north and hiking uphill for four hours, we reached our campsite. It was covered in waist-deep snow. The scenic, usually turquoise Garabaldi Lake was almost totally iced over. Continue reading

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Women’s orgasms are even more fascinating than we fathomed

Katrina Clarke | July 6 |CBC Life


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Some women tense up, others moan and some… sneeze?

The female orgasm is a complex physiological process that involves everything from muscle contractions to flushed skin to hormone release. And while most women’s bodies respond to orgasm in similar ways, some experience rare reactions, including sneezing and hallucinating, according to a recent paper published in the Sexual Medicine Reviews journal.

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Divorce selfies, conscious uncoupling and the rise of the amicable divorce

Katrina Clarke | July 5, 2017 | CBC Life


Bruce Willis and Demi Moore with their daughter (centre) and Willis’ wife, Emma Hemming (left). (Getty Images)

Corinne Krepel-Bernatt and her then-husband, Adam, were in their 40s, together for half their lives, parents to two young kids, when they realized they were great friends but not in love.

They split up in 2013, but that didn’t stop them from remaining friends or devoted parents – a hard-fought outcome she encourages all parents to work toward.

“I’m not going to say that it’s easy,” said Krepel-Bernatt. “I know that it is difficult but people have to put their children first. They have to put the childishness, the pettiness, revenge, jealousy, obsession with material things – it has to be pushed aside.”

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More millennial couples are opting to elope

Katrina Clarke | July 3, 2017 | CBC Life


Karen and Ryan Allan eloped in secret in Niagara.

Kyle and Sara Locke said “I do” 16,000 kilometres from home on a beach in Bali, surrounded by zero family or friends.

It was exactly what they wanted.

As millennial brides and grooms seek to keep wedding costs low, minimize wedding-related drama and have intimate, personalized events rather than cookie-cutter blowouts, they are increasingly turning to elopements to solve their wedding woes, wedding experts say.

“It’s an easy way to take off that stress and that pressure,” said Crystal Adair-Benning, owner of Distinct Occasions wedding planning in Toronto. “An elopement is really about you as a couple. It’s not about anyone else.”

Adair-Benning said her elopement client numbers have quadrupled over the past decade, with elopements now making up a third of her business. These clients are typically young professionals in their late 20s to early 40s whose reasons for eloping run the gamut. Some want small weddings to keep the day affordable while others want to sidestep family drama, such as relatives who don’t get along. Around 90 per cent of her clients keep the wedding a secret until they return home, she said.

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Could these trends in period products mark the demise of tampons and pads?

Katrina Clarke | June 29, 2017 | CBC Life


Photo courtesy Knixwear

You know the scene: You’re going about your day, oblivious to what’s going on inside your uterus, and – bam. You got your period.

Easing the woes of women on their periods – woes including stained underwear, stress over leaks and general discomfort – has long been the goal of the period product producers. But even in recent decades, women were limited to choices of bulky pads or disposable tampons. The need for change was long coming and, in recent years, new products have revolutionized the menstruation industry from both environmental and consumer choice perspectives.

“Part of being a woman is menstruating,” said Joanna Griffiths, CEO of Knixwear, the Toronto-based company that makes leak-proof underwear for adults and teens. “(Periods are) not going anywhere. The more you can turn it into a non-issue the better.”

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Refugee causes face marketing challenges here in Canada, too, say experts

Katrina Clarke | June 20, 2017 | CBC Life


Photo credit: Getty Images

Refugee crises are unfolding across the world, but chances are good that you’re not donating to help victims anywhere. The question is… why?

The answer is a complex one; it involves bad marketing, donor fatigue and the limitations of human empathy, say marketing experts. And it’s a problem specific to refugee crises, considering people were three times less likely to donate to help Syrian refugees than they were to victims of the Nepal earthquake or the Japanese tsunami, according to GlobalGiving relief organization as reported recently in the New York Times. It seems refugee causes don’t hit the same generosity triggers.

“Promoting any kind of a charity these days is extremely difficult,” said Ken Wong, Marketing Professor at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business. “The causes are all equally good… it does end up coming down to the quality of the appeal that’s made. It is, to be crass, a merchandizing issue.”

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Bike raves: BC’s phenomenal dance parties that take place on neon-lit wheels

Katrina Clarke | June 13, 2017 | CBC Life

Photo credit: Flickr/Chris Bruntlett

It’s late at night in a sleepy Vancouver neighbourhood when, in the distance, I see neon lights rolling toward me.

“Bike rave!” someone shouts out as he cycles past, music blaring from a boombox hitched to his bike, followed by some 40 cyclists decked out in neon clothes, bright lights twisting around their bike frames.

While still a relatively underground phenomenon, Vancouver bike raves have been rising in popularity over the past decade. The events are typically free, come-one-come-all street parties, where participants dress up in costume, decorate bikes with neon lights and tote around sound systems to play music. Ravers gather at a set point at a set time, usually dusk, and head off along a pre-planned route, pausing at pit stops for high-energy dance parties. It’s a party on wheels that lasts a few hours and sometimes involves drinking and drug use, according to past attendees. They’re happening in cities around the world, including Melbourne and Auckland, but Vancouver is the rumoured birthplace of the bike rave.

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