Being a Brand Ambassador

For those of you who know me, you are aware that I get excited about things. My friends always laugh and say, ” Really Pat, is this the best?” I say, ” this is absolutely the BEST!” They chuckle and laugh at my enthusiasm for a wide variety of products. Recently, I went camping with a friend and used an instant coffee called Alpine Start out of Boulder, Colorado. Now I am a bit of a coffee snob but cranking up my Jet Boil, I got the water nice and hot and used the packet of Alpine Start which is a convenient instant coffee for the outdoors crowd. I was pleasantly surprised and so was my friend when we sipped the absolutely delicious coffee each morning. When I tell you it is the best, believe me, it is. I can hear my friends, but try some Alpine Start.   info@alpinestartfoods.com

As part of my enthusiastic nature, I usually contact a company and tell them how much I like their product. In some instances, like with Alpine Start, they made me a “brand ambassador.” I am not on the payroll, I just get some courtesies for promoting the product and a nice SWAG box full of goodies. It is their way of saying” thank you” and hoping that I talk it up with my friends. So what makes me a candidate to be a “brand ambassador” for anything? Well, lets go to another example from my friend Niall who is in the bicycle industry. He asks me from time to time to post something on my blog about new lines that he carries. For that courtesy, he makes me a “brand ambassador” and I get more SWAG and some courtesies from his companies that he represents. I don’t do it unless I believe in the product, but Niall says that I cover a wide swath of outdoor people with whom I interact and that makes me, in his eyes, a good brand ambassador. I am not a pro athlete, I am not on the payroll, the companies just see me as an enthusiastic guy who might exert some influence on my friends in the outdoor world to try a particular product.

When I became certified as a ski instructor back in the day, it opened up another similar opportunity to take advantage of “pro deals” which gives me deep discounts on ski equipment and clothing. For this courtesy, these companies rely on us to use the product when skiing and generate some conversations on the chair lifts which may result in a sale of the product to the public. Again, not on the payroll, just promoting the products in exchange for some nice discounts on products which I would normally use anyhow.

Taking this a step further, being a brand ambassador can be applied to recommending a shop with whom I am comfortable. I like Dirty Harry’s Bike Shop in Verona, Pa. and recommend their products and services. Barry and the boys are always nice to me down there when I buy something or get my bike repaired. I appreciate their friendship and great service and recommend them mostly because they are my friends. I am not on the payroll, just promoting them because of their friendly expertise.

Taking this a final step, our marketing department for the company where I am employed recently had a lunch and learn where they said that we all are “brand ambassadors” for the company when we interface with customers, carriers, and suppliers. When you think of it, if you are employed, you are representing your company every day. In exchange for a good job, benefits,culture, and the occasional SWAG, you should promote your company like I do with Armada. We do a great job for our clients like McDonald’s, and they appreciate the hard work and ethic that we have in servicing their supply chain needs.

So again, you don’t have to be a pro athlete to be a brand ambassador. I do it as an employee of my company. I also do it for companies like Alpine Start where I believe in their product. I promote my local bike and ski shop. I also promote product which I believe is superior in the outdoors industry such as Stockli Skis, Lange boots, and Patagonia clothing. Yes I get a pro/bro deal, and it helps my financial bottom line, but I would not do it if I did not believe in the product. You have to be true to yourself, otherwise, you are just a deal monger and your influence and recommendations are nothing short of shallow. So, think about it. You can be a brand ambassador. If you are enthusiastic about a product, email the company and tell them. You never know, they might come back to you and ask about your sphere of influence and make you a “brand ambassador.” I doesn’t cost you anything other than the specified guidelines for promotion and your good word. Thanks for reading.

Adventure Fest 2017

The outdoor camping weekend was touted as ” the greatest salty meat, campfire cooking, big fartin, Jesus praising weekend ever.” I accepted the invitation of my good friend Mark ” the Shark” Sauers to attend this event and Greg Nass, the organizer, is an old friend from my mountain biking days with the Dirt Rag Magazine crew.

Now I have been to a lot of church outings in my life but this one was intriguing because of the camping aspect( I love sleeping under the stars in my dome tent), and also the chance to ride mountain bikes at the nationally famous Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, Pa. But little did I know the impact of this weekend on me courtesy of a bunch of axe throwing, Harley riding, arrow shooting, hiking, biking, sinners from all over the tri-state area. Pulling in Friday night, the Shark and I set up our campsite on a wooded part of the 350 acre Agape Farm and Retreat Center. Once I had my Jet Boil fired up and cooking some freeze dried cuisine courtesy of the REI camping department on the South Side of Pittsburgh, we made our way down to perhaps the largest bonfire that I had ever seen in my life. Testosterone was high as the men sat in their camp chairs taking in the fire and listening to the opening remarks from Greg Nass.

After the intros were given, we were asked to welcome the first speaker of the weekend, Pastor Jerry Conley, who came roaring into the site in his Harley, floppy hat, goggles, and pipes blazing. His group the Midnight Riders accompanied him and as he began to tell his story, the group was gripped with his testimony relating to his life before he came to be a believer in the redemptive story of Jesus. One of the misconceptions of Christians these days is that they are condescending and look down on people thinking they are better than the next guy, preachy, pointing fingers. But nothing could be further from the truth with these guys who all recognize their faults and the need to have a Savior in their lives. The Christian message is really a wonderfully freeing message and this seemed to be the theme of the weekend. Pastor Tom Rees spoke on relationships and also gave a great visual of sharing the Gospel in the proper manner. I asked the Shark how he spreads the good news of the Gospel without offending anyone. He said he treats it like he is sharing the good news of a good restaurant in a town where a friend will be visiting. They don’t have to eat there and he doesn’t brow beat them into eating there. He just shares with them the message because he cares for them. He said, “Paddy- don’t I care for you? Wouldn’t I want to share news of a great pair of skis with you?” I sat in amazement at the commitment and the caring spirit of the Shark which only got better as we made our way to Raystown Lake the next morning to ride the trails of Allegrippis.

We ended up riding with a good rider from West Virginia named Roger, and a pastor from Leechburg, Todd, and his friend Bill. Turns out Todd roasts his own coffee and is a good road and mountain bike rider and his friend Bill had a lot of experience riding as well. We were treated to dry, flowy trails with lots of interesting transitions and scenic views of Raystown Lake. Halfway through the ride, The Shark pulls over and shares his testimony of his mission trip in the Amazon jungle. Todd, Bill, Roger and I sat in silence as we listened to the stories of anacondas, aggressive native tribes and the danger of sharing the Gospel. Looking to each side of us I noticed a guy that had stopped with his four kids and two other random guys listening to Shark’s story. We all remarked that those kids were wide eyed and you never know unless you put it out there, what impact you might have by sharing the message of Christian salvation. Believe in what He did for you. John 3:16. Again, I sat in silence and watched the Shark in action. An amazing person not afraid or embarrassed in the least. Good News shared. We treated ourselves to a great lunch at Smitty’s Eats and Treats. Perhaps the best pork bar-b-que sandwich I had ever eaten made with fresh pork from a local farm. The young lady working the counter was delightful and if you ride Raystown, stop in and see Smitty. Good guy with great food.

Saturday night, there was a midnight hike to a large wooden cross at the top of the mountain. As the inner city guys from Front Street Community Church and the Philadelphia Bible Fellowship hiked up that trail, lots of them had joyous hearts knowing that they had been saved from the brink of disaster. I realized that I lead a sheltered life when I heard the stories of drugs, violence, guns, and alcoholism. I saw tough looking inner city guys kneeling at that cross crying out of thankfulness and when the Pastor conducting the service asked all of us to pound a nail into that cross symbolizing that we are leaving all of our guilt and shame up on that cross on that mountain, the vision of those city tough guys was nothing short of amazing. Tattoos and tears!!!

Wrapping up Sunday with a great message by Pastor Robert Bennett of Jakes Run Assembly of God in West Virginia, I learned something that I had not known. When Joshua defeated the enemy at the Walls of Jericho, he screamed at the end of the battle……Tetelestai!!!!- it is finished. The same words uttered by Christ when He finished his mission on the cross. Tetelestai!!!!! It is Finished. You don’t do anything……He did it. All you do is believe.  Again- I sat in silence contemplating what I had seen that weekend.

I would recommend Adventure Fest to anyone who wants to hear the Good News in an incredibly beautiful setting. For more information, check out http://www.adventuremen.org These mountain biking, air gun shooting, Harley riding, RV driving, archery and camping guys are sure fun to hang with. Thanks for reading and thanks to the Shark for many things.

The Tribe

I am reading an interesting book by Dr. David J. Rothman called,” Living the Life- Tales from America’s Mountains and Ski Towns”. I thought it was going to be some fun stories about the ski life but it has turned out to be so much more in the description of the lifestyle of the sports that we are all passionate about. Dr. Rothman suggests that there was a certain “cause and effect” that took place when we realize that something that we were attracted to as an outdoor activity became a passion. The resulting experiences and stories are shared by a group of people that are communities in effect and we understand the stories that we tell about ourselves.

I remember coming back from Tuckerman Ravine2013-02-05-the-bowl one year and telling my folks about the steepness of the skiing and the ice block avalanches and the weather and the total experience of being in the mountains in it’s most raw state, and my mother’s response was, ” That’s nice dear- would you like some more potatoes.” Not my mom’s fault but she just didn’t get it or appreciate it. But the Tribe does. That is what Dr. Rothman so eloquently describes in his book and what I am about to describe here to you.

There are groups of people who I call fans. They are football fans, baseball fans and many of them have played the sport but most of them are fans of a sport in which others perform. In sports like skiing,mountain biking and snowboarding, there are groups that are formed and friendships made that last a lifetime. IMG_0803 These groups also merge into what I call ” The Tribe” which is a gathering of many groups celebrating the passions of these activities. The gathering of the Tribe can take place at a mountain bike festival, a race, or at the bottom of the slopes in the springtime for instance at a ski area where folks are celebrating the weather, the friendships, and the stories around a beer and a burger on a sun splashed deck.

If you are not involved in a group or a Tribe of people, chances are you will be lost in the conversations of the Tribe. ” Hey- did you see that endo that Joe did over the bars into the creek with all that splooge on his face?” ” Hey- did you see Mike ski down that couloir with rocks on every side?” ” I looked down that couloir and had to really think about that first turn.” ” How about that climb out of the canyon?” ” How about that rock strewn singletrack with the slimy root section- hairy wasn’t it?” These are the types of conversations that infuse the gathering of the Tribe at a festival, race, or ski area. IMG_0723

The disappointing thing about being with the Tribe of your peers, is that when you come back to work, or home and try to recreate the vibe of that weekend or time spent with the Tribe, you cannot adequately describe it. But the cause and effect and the passion that resulted in the decision to join a group and the several times a year gathering of the Tribe, is necessary because these are the people who are ” your people.” Nothing against your co-workers, family, friends who may not participate but there is nothing like the feeling of when the Tribe gathers and the stories begin at the end of the day around a campfire or an outdoor deck. IMG_0811

Recently the local mountain bike tribe gathered in the Laurel Highlands for a celebratory ride for a birthday of a friend. A whole cadre of folks came out representing many groups of riders all there to celebrate the big day of one of our own. Elaine Tierney, of Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Dirt Rag Magazine notoriety, said it best when she was amazed at the gathering of different age groups represented. Elaine remarked,” We have people riding here in their 20s, 30s, 40s 50s and 60s. All age groups riding together and enjoying all that the mountains and the friendships have to offer. Age means nothing when you are passionately involved in a sport like mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding. So, I always encourage older folks not to shy away from an activity because they think they are too old. There is a group for you and also a Tribe who will welcome you with a smile, a beer, and conversation that you can understand once you are a member. Thanks for reading. Be a follower of the blog

The End of the Trail

Two and a half years ago, my wife Janet said to me,” You have all these stories in your head, why don’t you write them down?” ” You should start a blog.” I thought that was a good idea and on January 1st, 2013, I started what became ” The Chronicles of McCloskey- the Zany Stories and Adventures of the 58 year old kid.”photo I wanted to chronicle my outdoor adventures over the years with skiing, cycling, hiking, and some other blended adventures. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from writing the blog. I learned not only the mechanics of writing and publishing the blog, but I learned about what was important to me in my past life. In fact,there is a company in Rochester, NY that publishes blogs into a nice coffee table book which I proudly have displayed in my living room. They did a great job and it is amazing to see 176 posts all collected – pictures and all, sitting on my coffee table. I wanted it for posterity and also hoping that my son Jack would read it someday. He is not really interested in the great outdoors and has not read much of the Chronicles, if at all. But someday, he might take a look and be entertained by the mishaps and adventures of his old man. I hope so.
But now, it is time to close the book on the Chronicles of McCloskey. After posting twice per week the first year and once per week in the remaining year and a half, I really have told most of my stories and collected most of my thoughts with regards to exercise and outdoor activities. Frankly, I am out of gas and anything posted beyond this point would be repetitive or perhaps sub standard in my own definition. These 176 posts will be out in cyber space forever and the hope is that some of them might inspire someone to try something new, continue with their current exercise program, or have a laugh at my expense. I enjoyed the writing, but my ulterior motive was that if I can do it, most people can also do it. I have not climbed Everest, kiteboarded in the Indian Ocean, ridden a motorcycle on most of the roads in Alaska, or anything like that. But I have had some interesting adventures and my main motive was to inspire someone to get off the couch and get into the great outdoors with some really great pastimes.
Finally, as the 60 year old kid continues on in life, I will still pursue my passions with a fire in my belly for powder turns, fast groomer turns, fun rides on great trails, and more adventures with my wonderful wife and son. My good friend Eric and our pals will be in on the mix, but the important thing to me is now that I have chronicled the past, I move on to the future. I am in the fourth quarter of life, but most games are won or lost in the fourth quarter. Age is irrelevant if you can avoid catastrophic illness and keep in shape and just continue to do what you love to do. I want to thank all of the 668 folks who so nicely followed my blog either on Facebook, email, or WordPress. I would also like to thank Word Press for their support over these last two and half years. Who knows, maybe I will write something else someday? But thank you all for indulging what has been a wonderful hobby and I wish you God’s continued blessings in your lives. 70019150-SLD-001-0028 Thanks for reading.

What to do with “old things”?

I was thinking the other day about my favorite pair of Topsiders that I had since high school. Now that is a long time ago and just for fun, I tried to keep those shoes functional as long as possible. I am a big believer in duct tape for all things and that is what kept those shoes together. They were great ” go out of the garage” shoes to get mail, the paper, take the garbage out, etc. But sadly, they disappeared several years ago. I lost track of them and all of a sudden they were gone.
I had some t-shirts that suffered the same fate. Favorite t shirts that all of a sudden were gone. Didn’t even make the duster bin. Gone. Interesting how old things can be a part of your life. Take my backpack from college.IMG_0139 I have used it ever since as a ski boot carrier. Now most people would ask why I have not purchased a new one for the ski boots, but really, there is nothing wrong with the pack. I just have used it and realized that it is 43 years old. Still functional. In ski season, I put it in the corner of the particular lodge where I am skiing and it patiently waits for me until the end of the day.
Look at my hiking boots. photo Vasque Hiker IIs from college. They have been everywhere. They still have the original Vibram soles. A testament to quality manufacturing and although I still use them on rugged hikes, they mostly serve as boots to mow my unusually steep hillside. I need the traction and the sturdiness to make the cutting easier.
This is my old road bike.IMG_0140 It served me for 25 years and logged miles all over the US, Europe, climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, battled in criteriums, road races, and time trials. It finally became a little dangerous to ride because of all the miles. I was afraid of the fork or the frame cracking so I retired it to a place of honor in the garage. Look at those original Look pedals and the downtube Shimano shifters. The 3Rensho- a classic frame and bike that will not be forgotten. I look at it every day when I exit the garage. My old Merlin mountain bike- lots of fun with the Greenlees crew back in the day in races in West Virginia and weekly rides. photo I finally retired that as well after 16 years of use. Went to new technology but fixed it up for my son to ride but he was not interested. It also hangs in the garage as a reminder of the old days. Retired, on the hook, in a place of honor in the garage. 🙂
How about my old North Face sleeping bag?IMG_0023 Many nights in the lean to shelters at Tuckerman Ravine in New Hampshire keeping me warm on those snowy, windy nights. It served me well in my tent on charity cycling events where I camped out. It even was my bed when I crammed into a hotel room with friends at the Ski Industries of America show in Las Vegas. I was the odd man out with no bed, but no problem. I slept in my trusty bag on the floor of the MGM Grand.
My ski poles are 30 years old. Taken out of Craig Morris’ locker and used ever since as ski and hiking poles. No reason to buy new ones. These are fine. I try to keep up with ski technology but as far as poles go, if they feel right – why not use them?
I have a lot of new technology in sporting equipment but I have a lot of old stuff too. Still works. But thinking about it reminds me of people who come into and out of your life. There are the faithful friends like the backpack. Always there for you for years without complaining. They are a little worn like the backpack but still are there when you need them. Always faithful, always friends. There are the folks like the retired bikes. Memories of all the fun years but maybe they are gone now from this earth. You think of them often when you look at pictures of them, or you put memories of them in a place of honor where you can always look at them and be reminded.
There are the people like the Topsiders and the t-shirts that disappear over the years. For some reason, you lose track of them and they are gone. Sometimes a sad thing, sometimes just a slip of friendship on both sides and POOF- they are gone. There are the hiking boot people who are abused and beaten but still are your friends. They know you. They love you and no matter how many times you put them in tough spots, they always support you and get you through. True friends those hiking boot people.
Old things. Sometimes things to be cherished, kept, sometimes lost, sometimes still a faithful part of your life. Do you have some old things that have the same circumstances? Think about them. Thanks for reading.