MP3 Players – Let the music control your mind.

My MPIO DMG MP3 Player in hand!MP3 players are popular. A few years ago I picked up an MPIO 128 meg DMG MP3 player. This was around the same time that the original iPod was released. I originally got the player just for mountain biking, but have used it extensively. It ended up being my best friend on campus when I went back to finish college.I didn’t just go out and pick up any old player. I did a lot of research and, at the time, the DMG was the best value for the dollar. Before they started branding their own products, MPIO designed and manufactured lots of OEM units distrobuted by some of the biggest names in electronics. The DMG player has solid state memory instead of a spinning hard drive (like the iPod). This means it can store less (a lot less), but because there are no moving parts it uses far less electricity to operate. This makes for a nice long battery life. Additionally, hard drives are sensitive to being bumped and I didn’t want a wipe out on my bike to damage my MP3 player.All in all, I’ve been very happy with my DMG… HOWEVER, there are many new products available on the market today worth checking out. Even though it’s not a solid state device, the iPod is very popular among snowboarders. It’s even more tempting now that Apple’s released the iPod mini. Alternatively, Dell recently joined the MP3 player market with a product that directly competes with the iPod (Dell is also competing with iTunes music store). Also, while you’re checking out big name players, Creative Labs has been in the MP3 player market for a while. Yet another popular player, that used to belong to Diamon Multimedia, is the Rio player. But the biggest names aren’t always the best products. Do your research!

I was nervous when I first brought my MP3 player to the mountain. I wipe out a lot… I get snow everywhere… and when snow melts, it turns into a substance that’s deadly to electronics – water! But, I’ve taken it on most of my snowboarding trips and have never had anything remotely close to an accident. I keep it in an inside pocket in my coat. It’s not a water tight pocket. In fact, it’s made of net material. A lot of newer coats and bags have special pouches designed for your mp3 player. Having had no trouble, I thought these were somewhat gimmicky. But, Burton has something on the market that really seems like a damn good idea. While my player is safe in my pocket, sometimes I have to take it out when I want to adjust the volume, change songs, or just turn my player on or off. This means I have to remove my gloves, unzip my coat, reach into my pocket, etc. The Burton Amp Pack solves this by wiring the controls onto the shoulder strap. Note: I also found a bit info on a Burton iPod jacket with the controls on the arm.

If you’re wondering if having music on the mountain is worth the trouble, my answer would be – “YES, it is!”

P.S. Navigating Burton’s flash centric Web site on dial up sucks!

I Need a New Board

Learning to Jump in Angel Fire's Snowpark Last year, I organized a spring break snowboarding trip. Lots of folks were new and asking questions, and thus began my research into equipment. While researching, I found that my snowboard was actually somewhat small for me. This basically means I have more control (turning, jumping around) but less stability and speed. Since then, I’ve wanted to get a new board, but I have yet to put the cash down on one.I’ve found acceptable equipment for most of the crew. We found less expensive brands such as Rage on clearance for 75% off at Academy sporting goods. One of my friends walked away with a board, bindings, boots, helmet, wrist guards, a leash, and a multi tool for about $80. I wish I would have picked up an extra board at the time, but I was beyond poor. For a beginner, I would highly recommend shopping around for a deal like this. The boards rode fine, and for the same amount they would have spent renting boards, they owned them.But deals like that aren’t common. I need… well, want… a new board, and as long as I’m putting down the cash I’ve decided I want to try to get a higher quality board. Thus, I have continued to research snowboards. I’ll tell you some of what I’ve learned.

There are two main types of boards, freestyle and freeride. Freestyle boards are more centered (front to back) and are designed for the parks. Freeride boards set the rider back and are designed for all-mountain riding and are good in powder. Beyond these two overall categories, there are many other design aspects to consider. The length of the board should match the distance from your feet to your nose (mine reaches my chin). The width of your board should be proportional to the size of your feet. The Camber (the amount of arch), spring, and flex affects the amount of “pop” your board will have. The sidecut of the board will affect how well the board turns.

While reading up on all of these will give you a better idea of what to choose, it seems like the best course of action is to just start riding different variations. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to ride several of my friends boards and get a feel for each. Since I like to ride in different places, my conclusion is that I need to buy two more boards. One average sized freestyle board with lots of pop for my jumps (and eventually rails) and one extra long freeride board for hauling ass down the mountain.

There are literally hundreds of brands of boards, and it seems that there’s actually a high percentage of good boards available. Soon I’ll post an overview of some of the most popular brands I’ve come across in stores, magazine reviews, and via word of mouth.

I will leave you with one last tip, don’t be afraid to play with the settings of your board. Foot placement and angle can greatly impact the feel of the board. I current ride at about 5/-5 degrees – my feet are almost parallel. This helps me ride switch – aka goofy foot (backwards). The only way you’ll know what feels right for you is by experimenting. (there’s a line you can use as often as you want).

Link O’ Roma

The bunny slope at Angelfire MountainI’ve collected a handful of links to general snowboarding Web sites. These are mostly portal/community/zine style sites. I bring them to you in no particular order, enjoy! :
This is the largest/most active snowboarding community site I’ve found. I have to give the site credit for providing great community features such as an active forum, email accounts, member photo galleries, and other goodies. The site also has tons of content including resort specific information, tips on tricks, art and humor. On the flip side, the site does bog down with a lot of ads including pop-ups. You can get a paid membership to remove the pop-ups, or you can just download mozilla/firebird and use the build-in pop-up blocker. My only other complaint about the site is the community itself. After spending a little time on the message board, I didn’t feel like there was much to be gained from hanging around. :
This site is designed in a template style, the other sites fitting this template can be found at and include surfing, wake boarding, and skateboarding. The site does offer a forum with a mildly active community, but that’s not the focus of this site. Here you’ll find place to buy gear and movies, information on upcoming events, and well written articles and how-to’s. :
In addition to snowboarding, covers mt. biking, hiking, climbing, and more. The snowboarding section keeps tabs on the latest happenings in the sport and keeps track of some of the best riders around the world. They also have a lot of Xterra ads… which I totally accept because I drive an Xterra and love it! :
(aka I only recently found this site. I should have explored this site a little more before I offered it up, but it seems like a nice comprehensive site. One note, the initial load time on dial-up sucks! (Hence why I haven’t explored it more, I can’t wait to get back on broadband.) Anyway, the site offers content for both the industry (biz side) and the sport (fun side). Community features include both chat and message boards as well as as a classifieds section. :
My first reaction was “what? 2? dude, can’t you come up with a better URL?” Raising the 2 up to superscript in the logo as if it’s “squared” seemed to ease the mental trauma it initially caused me. Anyway, about the site, it fits the classic community model much like the phpNuke scene. The site has a company directory, snow cams, videos, chat, forum, etc. The forum seems to stay active and the site looks to stay well updated.

And now, a proper introduction.

Angelfire New Mexico This is, perhaps, to be the most personal entry for this Web site… as it’s all about me. I’ll start with some quick stats. I’m an average looking 27 year old guy. I have an average build at 5’10” and 165lbs. My work revolves around computers and many of my jobs have been in the gaming industry.That aside, let me tell you about my snowboarding history, not to be confused with THE history of snowboarding: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7So lets go back, way back, to the mid-to-late 1990’s. At that time, I considered snow sports to be something that “other” people did. Not that I wasn’t interested, just that I never seriously considered trying them. That was, until my girlfriend’s father organized a ski trip to New Mexico. I found that I liked snow skiing, and continued to go on many trips with her family, even after the two of us stopped dating each other.

We went skiing almost every year, and I’d worked my way up to skiing black diamond slopes. On our 2001 trip, my brother bought a Kemper snowboard, boots and bindings. It turned out that he didn’t like snowboarding, and lucky for me we wear the same sized shoe. I spent a full day on the bunny slopes learning to ride a snowboard the hard way – without instructions. Lesson #1: Don’t start off going straight down the mountain. Lesson #2: Put your weight DOWNHILL. Lesson #3: BUY wrist guards!

My most spectacular crash flung me forward into a handspring that landed me square on my back. This drew the attention of many pre-teen boarders who quickly became my mentors. I’ll never forget their first words, “hey man, are you alright?” That night I found myself soaking in the hot tub washing down vicodin with beer. Still, I ended up buying that snowboard off of my brother and have ridden it ever since. And while I’ve continue to hit the slopes every year, I haven’t worn ski’s since that 2001 trip.

I’ve tried many of the sports that fit into this genre now popularized by the X Games: bmx & mountain bike, skateboarding & roller blading, water sports (ski/wake/knee), etc. But snowboarding has, by far, been my favorite. While snowboarding has a rather difficult initial learning curve (unlike skiing), it has a rather steady flow of achievement beyond the curve. Once you learn how to carve the snow, many doors suddenly open. It’s a great feeling of exploration.

There are many amazing riders out there, and every time I go I see more and more sick tricks. I don’t have the skills to ever be a sponsored boarder. Due to cost and geography, I only get to ride, at most, a few times a year. Still, every trip is marked with a new achievement which keeps me thinking about the next trip all year long. This season brought me my first 180, and it was good. Maybe this Web site will keep me occupied until the next trip.

That’s my story. As I’m currently in the market for my next snowboard, I’ll soon post the results of some of my recent research.

It’s snowing, and I’m at work.

Tyrol Ski and Snowboard Area in WisconsinI’m in Wisconsin, tomorrow is $10 Tuesdays at Tyrol Basin, and there’s fresh snow falling right now… But I’m at the office right now and I have to be at work tomorrow. Gee, look at all that fresh snow… that I’m not going to ride in.This is the first entry for my new Web site dedicated to a sport I’m slowly falling in love with, snowboarding. This site will evolve as time passes. It will begin as a cross between a news page and a personal journal. I will be posting snowboarding related information as I find and learn it. I will also be tossing in a lot of personal stories and perspectives. Much of this information will likely be flawed, or better yet, useless. However, after I begin to reach a critical mass of good content, I will begin breaking that content down into appropriate sections for the site.

But this site isn’t for you so much as it is for me. I am new to snowboarding, but I’m not new to Web work. This site is my chance to record and grow my knowledge of snowboarding in a medium I’m very familiar with. Additionally, I’m using the development of this new site as an opportunity to explore and improve on some techniques that I have neglected in the past few years, such as XHTML and CSS2.

In an effort to keep my posts short and frequent, I will wait until later to follow up with a little more information about me, my snowboarding history, and some of the things I’ve learned up until now.

Edit on 10/29/09: I’ve merged my “iRide” snowboarding blog into my main blog on