Italian Bike Hotel

In what would have to be the most lavish accommodation ever conceived on behalf of the mountain biking community, architect firm Philip Modest Schambelan and Anton Fromm have put forth a proposal for a bike centric hotel perched on the cliffs above Lake Garda in northern Italy. Connected to the many single track trails that circle the lake, the hotel would be a destination for two wheel travelers. Each level of the structure could be accessed by crisscrossing ramps, built at a 12 degree incline so cyclists would never need to dismount.

Architecturally the concept looks phenomenal, but from a business stand point the whole thing sounds a little out there. Mountain bikers, like mountain goats, are rugged and often solitary creatures who spend their days roaming the hills in a state of pastoral tranquility. They’re not accustomed to the refined accommodations of a large designer hotel – at least not out in their element. While I’m doubtful about this particular location, the concept could potentially appeal to another type of “outdoor enthusiast”: golfers. Keep the design the same, widen the ramps for golf carts, and put in a 5 star restaurant.  Nobody understands over-developed luxury like golfers!

[ via Design Boom]

Snow Guardians

Every year, dozens of people are killed across the US in avalanche related accidents. While even the most prepared back country enthusiast can find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, many incidents are the result of lack or training, negligence, or, at times, a brazen disregard for the conditions.

However, like most problems, an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure, and one way to do that is to raise awareness and educate people about the risks involved with back country skiing. Joining that effort are the filmmakers from F9 Photo, who are currently finishing up their feature documentary Snow Guardians. The film immerses the viewer in the life and work of  Ski Patrol at several Rocky Mountain Ski Resorts. They hope to capture the hard work and passion of Ski Patrol and snow science experts as they endeavor to save lives  in challenging, dangerous, yet beautiful locations.

The team just recently finished up a successful round of funding on Kickstarter that should help them finish up post-production. Look for Snow Guardians to be release sometime these year.


GEAR | Mission Workshop Vandal

The newest addition to our increasingly eclectic Gear section is the Vandal expandable backpack from SF urban cycling outfit Mission Workshop.  Unlike their smaller more compact VX Rucksack, the Vandal has a carrying capacity comparable to the back trunk of a Buick Le Sabre.  As the above video demonstrates, this pack was designed for grocery runs, laundry day, and moving apartments.  Features include a weatherproof main compartment which can be used in either “roll-top” mode or in a traditional “flap-down” configuration. When you’re not transporting bricks or undertaking an art heist, its expandable sides can be zipped down to make it a normal, socially accepted sized pack.

Check out the Vandal backpack from Mission Workshops now under Aether Gear.

The Winter’s Edge

While most of us living in North America have had little to complain about in terms of winter riding conditions, there are those living much closer to the Arctic Circle for whom biting cold and brown slush have made up a sizable portion of this year.  A Helsinki native, Jukka Ainesmaa is all too familiar with the hardships of a long harsh winter, but unlike most cyclists who stow their bike away until the warmth of summer returns, he elects to ride out and embrace it.

To capture both the agony and ecstasy of winter riding, Jukka went out with a friend and filmed his typical commute to work. Weaving through cars, charging over snow banks, and forging across slush puddles, Jukka presses forwards with unwavering determination.  The lyrical spoken words were provided by his brother Samu Ainesmaa, whose nearly winded delivery evokes the feeling of pedaling fast down snow covered streets.  It’s not an experience for everyone, but for those brave enough to ride out into a cold grey winter’s morning, there is a exhilarating satisfaction that is uniquely their own.

[via Bike Minimalism]

Concrete Le Corbusier Chair

Not exactly your typical patio furniture, the Le Corbusier Concrete Chair was designed by architect Stefan Zwicky in the style of the legendary Charles-Édouard Jeanneret – widely considered to be the father of the Modern architecture movement. Constructed out of concrete “cushions” with a metal rebar frame, the chair looks like is was pulled from the austere lobby of a Soviet government building. “Have a seat Comrade. It will just be a moment.”

Despite their harsh appearance, in many ways these chairs are the perfect solution for outdoor public seating. Stylish, weather resistant, little chance of being carried off by vandals, just uncomfortable enough to discourage vagrants from napping. Plus they’re made from some of the most inexpensive construction material out there! Although when you factor in shipping costs, each chair comes out to around $25,000.




Suit Days at Home – Alex Pastor

Kite surfing, the high adrenaline summer time activity turned pro extreme sport, usually flies south for the winter, but Spanish born Alex Pastor decided to stick around his home surf to take advantage of the unseasonably mild weather. As massive cargo ships pass him by, Alex takes to the waters of a small town on the Straits of Gibraltar called Tarifa.

After getting some none-too-subtle product placement out of  way by everyone’s favorite street-legal Go-Kart, the video gets going with some of Alex’s high-flying aerobatics. Unlike freestyle snowboarding that leads itself towards more pronounced movements, kite surfing tricks have more of a wild frantic look to them. Having significantly less air-time to work with, kite-surfers seem intent to jam as many moves in as possible before crashing back to the water.

Technically difficult: certainly.
Graceful: not particularly.
Fun: You bet.


OSSA Monocasco Electric Bike

With a throw-back aesthetic and a forward-thinking electric motor, the Barcelona based design firm Arc-Tic has revived the OSSA brand (of 1960′s Grand Prix racing fame) with an all-electric cafe racer concept.

The bike draws its inspiration from the iconic OSSA monocasco 250cc that Spanish racing phenom Santiago Herrero rode to multiple Grand Prix wins until his life was brutally cut short by a crash during the Isle of Man TT. The revolutionary monocasco design used a lightweight exoskeleton instead of a traditional internal frame. While its two-stroke rotary valve engine only produced a modest 30 horse power, the reduced weight allowed Santiago to throw the bike into tighter corners and come out of them with lighting fast acceleration. Other racing teams were confounded by the level of performance the monocasco was getting, and in 1969 Santiago rode it to three Grand Prix wins. However after his fatal crash in 1970, the OSSA team was so devastated that they withdrew from motorcycle racing all together.

The new all-electric monocasco pays tribute to the innovative design of the original and is intended to be a stylish around-town cafe-racer.  It’s still just a concept, and like most concepts, it stands a good chance of vanishing without a trace.  However, if something as brazenly homely as the Boxx scooter is getting produced, then this gorgeous monocasco should get the green light for sure.

GEAR | DIY Furniture

For all those who have walked into a designer furniture store, looked at the price tags, and scoffed, “I could make that!”, only to drift back home again without giving the matter any further thought, then DIY Furniture by Christopher Stuart is the book for you. Featuring 30 projects by leading designers from around the world, DIY Furniture shows you how to use simple techniques to make stunning furniture from scratch.

Along with designs for seating and storage, the book also features projects for making your own bed, wardrobe, lighting and garden furniture. Each project is accompanied by hand-drawn diagrams with short, easy-to-follow instructions on how to build the piece.

All the projects can be easily assembled using common materials found at most local hardware stores, allowing the reader to create unique designer pieces at a fraction of the cost. The book also introduces unique construction processes that will get people thinking about new approaches to old materials. More of a launch pad than a finite list, the book opens up a world of unique variations and creative spin-offs.

DIY Furniture is now available in the Aether Shop under GEAR.

Tilt-Shift Kiev

As the frozen block of winter starts to break apart and warm spring weather begins to fill in the cracks, people find themselves anxious to get outside and enjoy the open air.  To energize this seasonal anticipation, photographers Efim Graboy and Daria Turetski have released this delightful tilt-shift of their home town of Kiev.

Over the course of five days, two nights and 25,000 stills, the creative pair adroitly capture the picturesque city as it blossoms under the warming rays of the sun. Featuring shots of the Khreshchatyk, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, and the Dnieper River, the film showcases both the historic and modern sides of the 16 century old city.

Shot and edited by Efim Graboy & Daria Turetski
Music: Adam Burns / Jez Burns – May Flowers

Zoncolan Mountain Race by Top Gear Italy

With enough eccentric racing flair to befit the Top Gear name, (although this comes via Top Gear Magazine Italia), six-time Italian rally champion Paolo Andreucci and his co-pilot Anna Andreussi battle head-to-head in a downhill race between skier and car.

Sporting some serious snow tires on their Peugeot 207, the duo charge their way up the mountain. Aside from being shot out of a cannon, this has definitely got to be the fastest way to get to the top of the slopes. Once at the top, Anna exits with a pair of skis, and the downhill race ensues. Despite some clever Top Gear-perfected editing, it immediately becomes clear that the car is going to crush this one. They show a couple turns where the skier edges out the car but it’s mostly for effect. However, within the limitations of their respective methods of transport, they’re both hauling some serious ass.

So long as you don’t approach this as an actual race, but more of a James Bond chase scene, then your expectations will be well met. So strap yourself in a for a high-speed, snow drifting rally race through the Italian Alps.