As you all know, Campmor is a leading retailer of outdoor adventure gear. What you may not know is that Campmor sponsors three athletic teams, a trail running team, mountain bike team and a co-sponsor for the NYC-based blue-ribbon road cycling team. Recently, Ellen White, team captain of Campmor’s mountain biking squad, helped to shed light on the team’s background and explain why they ride and perform volunteer trail work.
Ellen has twenty-one years mountain bike racing experience and when asked why she rides, she said it was to keep physically fit and to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Being out in nature and in the woods was soothing, but the challenge of riding, especially racing, allows one to strive for something more and push for the limits, as well as a social benefit in meeting new people. Ellen explained further that she was racing for another team before being asked to join Campmor’s. She was excited to join a neighborhood, outdoor retailer that’s now been in business for over 35 years.
To become a member, there’s significant training and commitment and each member is required to do a minimum of five races a year, but most members participate in anywhere from 5-20. Like Ellen, others joined to be part of a team for the support, camaraderie, and team training rides, in addition to the nice perk in having entry fees exchanged for a Campmor gift certificate if one puts in 25 or more hours of volunteer trail maintenance and trail building.
Moreover, Ellen said it was imperative to have a supportive bike shop, like Campmor’s, which has a wide selection of bikes and a bike repair shop at the retail store located in Paramus, NJ. Ellen emphasized that such a shop not only helps to repair bikes, but is a great venue for networking and educating the public on the merits of racing. For example, the team provides clinics at the retail store, covering such topics as riding safety, and bike maintenance and repair.
Ellen was proud to mention that the Campmor team just captured two prestigious National Championship titles. Nationals occur once a year, with this year’s event taking place on July 17-19th in Macungie, Pennsylvania. In fact, these were team Campmor’s seventh Nationals title overall. With many different age categories competing, this year’s Campmor winners included Marianne Santangelo and Ellen in their respective age groups. Marianne, Ellen proclaimed, was minutes ahead of everyone. Previous winners for Campmor include, Ellen, Tara Walhart, and Darlene Phillips.
As to the type of terrain and competition, Ellen said the course is on a ski mountain and described it as extremely rocky, punctuated with roots and logs (as Appalachian Trail thru-hikers can attest when hiking the AT in Pennsylvania). Each lap is five miles long with a total of 10-15 miles for the race. People from as far as California participated, and always a great turn-out, Ellen said. Both she and Marianne used the Pivot 429C race bike, saying it handled the terrain and the course really well.
The Campmor squad is a community-related team, performing extensive trail maintenance throughout the New York/New Jersey region. Each member is required to engage in five hours of trail work each year, anything from clearing up old paths to blazing new trails. Older trails need to be brought up to more sustainable standards to prevent erosion. In fact, Campmor has gained recognition at the Hudson to Highlands Mountain Bike Race Series annual awards dinner for coming in first and second place respectively for the most hours worked on trail. It is a sort of give-back team award for Campmor’s efforts.
Finally, Ellen, and her husband and team member, Arthur White, are currently in charge of a trail program in Ringwood State Park, NJ, a popular site for off-road biking, receiving permission from the park management to build 3 miles of new trail. They work as part of the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association, which works at various trail sites throughout New Jersey. Because of the efforts of team Campmor, and for individuals like Ellen and Arthur, trail users have designated safe places to enjoy their activities for recreational or competitive purposes.