I am very happy to announce that Team Canada Red Bull X-Alps 2017 is going to be supported by Japanese outdoor gear and clothing company Montbell through the Montbell Challenge Support Program. This program supports people that are pursuing adventure and exploration by offering necessary gear and support. We are very happy with this new sponsor because we feel it is a good fit with our team. Montbell, originally created and based in Japan, now has shops all around the world including Switzerland and the U.S.
Yesterday was the perfect day to go check out the Montbell shop in Minami Aso City as it was pouring rain with strong winds. The Minami Aso Montbell shop is situated in a town that was devastated by the Kumamoto Earthquake on April 14th, 2016. At that time the Montbell provided tents and sleeping bags for the disaster hit areas with their own parking lot turning into a tent city overnight. Montbell's Minami Aso shop was instrumental in organizing relief and support to the people living in the area.
Since the earthquake, we had not been to Minami Aso, as the Great Aso Bridge had been wiped out during the disaster and access to the area had become difficult. Yesterday, despite the driving rain, the area looked beautiful and once again thriving with a lot of construction and newly rebuilt homes and roads.
We arrived at the shop in the early afternoon, and managed to stay until closing time. The Red Bull X-Alps race is such a multi faceted race that it is difficult to choose the ideal gear. Lightweight and minimal ended up being the main criterion for choosing the necessary items. For example, thermal underwear was available in silk, polyester and wool, and in thin, medium and heavy weights. These all had to be tried on in various sizes before final decisions were made.
Since we live on the Amakusa Islands and spend most of our free time in the mountains or on the sea, we usually buy all our gear online. Of course this is very convenient for us, but actually touching the fabric, trying it on, accessing the feeling of the clothing on your body and receiving valuable advice from experienced staff is so important! We would like to thank the shop manager Mr. Yamamoto and to our personal assistant deluxe, Mr. Murakami, who ran around the shop endlessly selecting different garments.
In the end we had to go through our treasures and once again re-access what we really needed and what we could do without. We chose a lightweight tent and sleeping bag, a warm lightweight down jacket, a windbreaker, a rain poncho, running shorts and t-shirts, wool long underwear, spandex leggings, goretex hiking shoes and various weights of synthetic socks. By the end of the day we were knackered but satisfied that our newest sponsor Montbell will help our team get to the goal in Monaco.