What happens when everything in mountain biking has already been done?
Rather than swapping their 29" bikes for mullets or testing the limits of handlebar widths, sibling teammates Ryan and Becky Gardner decide to give up racing altogether to become high alpine extreme tubers. However, pioneering a sport is never easy; Becky and Ryan have faced many hurdles and endless judgment along the way.
Becoming the best and first competitors of H.A.E.T. (High Alpine Extreme Tubing) is no joke. It takes practice, dedication and isn't for every aspiring rider with two wheels and a pool noodle. The motivation must be pure and your gear must be dialed. A lot can happen in pursuit of the perfect alpine float. Poor line choice, whether on the trail or in the water, could have catastrophic consequences. Forgetting your patch kit could mean more than going home with a flat tire. You may end up kicking rocks on the shore while your competition floats off into the sunset.
Like all other top athletes, the Gardners are driven by their goals. First on the to-do list was snag the first decent of the most challenging high alpine tubing route in North America, Blue Lake. With its gnarly climbs and even harder downhills, this tubing route could establish Becky and Ryan as the best of this new sport. To accomplish the Blue Lake Route, the team had to be in peak physical and mental condition.
Will Becky and Ryan bag Blue Lake? Will they progress the sport of H.A.E.T. or will the demands and pressure of evolving a sport crumble their hopes and dreams? Oh...and who is Hans Libermann!?
Blue Lake may only be the beginning. The Gardners will float on, with one shared goal: snagging first tubing descents in previously tubeless high alpine lakes.
Video by Aurelie Slegers
Photos by Ben Eng