Celebrate snow and cowhand culture
See elaborate snow sculptures, enjoy fat bike trails and curling rinks, and watch teams of horses and riders skijor through Banff during the Canadian town’s free SnowDays event, Jan. 18-29. Artists will turn 30-cubic-meter blocks of snow into sculptures with winter and mountain-culture themes — see those sculptures on display along Banff Avenue. Head to Play Zone at Banff High School Wednesdays through Sundays during SnowDays where you’ll find three sledding hills, a fat bike track, and inflatable curling rinks. Also, don’t miss the skijoring on Jan. 28, when 16 teams of riders (on skis or snowboards) and their horses dash along a straight track in downtown Banff — at up to 30 miles per hour — competing for top honors in Roman riding, trick riding, and stunt skiing/boarding. www.banfflakelouise.com/events/snowdays.
New hands-on culinary tours
If you love travel and food, check out EF Go Ahead Tours’ new food and wine education-based trips to Spain and Portugal. The company, known for immersive trips with a strong cultural bent, has expanded on its partnership with America’s Test Kitchen to offer more hands-on, culinary-based travel experiences. It will offer a new series of tours that take travelers into the kitchens of locals in Portugal (from the rolling vineyards of the Douro Valley to Lisbon) and Spain (from the Catalan and Basque regions in northern Spain to Barcelona). The 12-day Portugal trip includes four cooking classes, a cheesemaking class, four wine tastings, and six food tastings — plus a chance to go grape stomping. On the 12-day Spain trip, find out why San Sebastian has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, take cooking classes amid Gaudi’s world-famous architecture, and enjoy shopping for ingredients in local markets. Spain trip departs April 21 (rates start at $4,249); Portugal tour departs Sept. 14 (starting at $4,219). Prices based on double occupancy; flights not included. www.goaheadtours.com.
A multi-purpose backcountry tool
When you head out on your next snowmobile adventure, pack along Backcountry Access’s new Dozer 2H-S shovel, which comes with a built-in saw that’s perfect for clearing away branches or downed trees in your path. The Dozer 2H-S has a mid-size blade for scooping snow and can convert from a traditional to hoe-style shovel for versatility. It also has a telescoping shaft with concave sides that make the shaft lighter and stronger, and a comfortable T-shaped handle. A 14.6-inch wood saw with a 9-inch stainless-steel blade stows inside the shaft; pull out the saw, flip it around, and attach it to the bottom of the shaft (once the shovel’s blade is removed), giving you a bayonet-style saw with a long handle that provides more leverage when cutting through tree limbs. This durable, multiuse shovel also works great on snowshoe, backcountry ski, and winter camping adventures, and meets the requirements to serve as an avalanche shovel for rescues. $99.95. backcountryaccess.com.
Protective gear for winter biking
Keep the spray from slushy, mucky roads at bay with Portland Design Works’ (PDW) front and rear Origami Fenders. Each fender, made of flexible polypropylene, attaches to its respective mount with just four snaps — quick and easy — and then packs up flat when you’re not using it. The rear fender mount secures to your seat post with a clamp and an adjustable strap, while the front mount attaches to your bike’s down tube with two adjustable rubber straps. These clever fenders provide good wet-weather coverage for wheels up to 2.5 inches (or larger, though with less effective coverage). During the winter months, keep grit and rain out of your frame with PDW’s Zit Bitz, decorative bolts that screw into unused holes for racks and water bottle cages. Choose from bolts with emoji faces, hand signals, and other fun designs. $16/$21 front/rear fender; $15 package of four frame bolts. ridepdw.com.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at [email protected].