An atypical teenager

June 11, 2005

Hood River resident Taylor Bentz looks like a typical 13 year old seventh grader. He's a little wiry, energetic, and fairly modest—with a friendly smile. He

enjoys the outdoors, his dog, and hanging out with his friends… typical.

Ten feet in the air, however, sailing smooth over a deep trench at high speeds, with his hands off the bars, Taylor looks far from a typical teenager. Riding down a 6 inch wide stretch of wood—suspended 8 feet in the air—ending with a drop twice as high as he is tall, Taylor looks like an X-Games athlete, not a Hood River Middle School seventh grader.

The Hood River News caught up with Taylor this week for a freerider photo shoot and interview:

HR News: How and why did you get into the sport of freeride biking?

Bentz: I started biking when I was about four years old and something just clicked for me. I moved to Hood River about five years ago, and some new friends told us about some trails close by. My dad and I went out to find them and when we got to the trail head of Post Canyon we were amazed at the intensity of the trails. We went back every weekend after that and eventually found our way up the whole cluster of trails. From then on I got a new Hard Tail Bike and it soon started to wear down to my newfound love, freeriding. I worked all summer and earned enough money to upgrade to an official full suspension Freeride bike.

HR News: Have you ever been hurt freeriding?

Bentz: I have never gotten hurt badly in my whole life, something I'm very proud of. But the worst injury I have ever gotten just made me want to get back up and do the stunt over again and conquer it: a shin that looked like hamburger.

HR News: What is your favorite part about the sport?

Bentz: I really don't know why I love the sport, for some reason I'm drawn by it. It might be because I love biking, and I love to be in the air.

HR News: How do you apply your passion for the sport to your life off the trails?

Bentz: Well pretty much all my friends were created by meeting people on the trail. I also spend half of my life hanging out at Discover Bicycles in downtown Hood River. I also have something to work toward besides college during the summer, so I don't sit around playing games on computers the whole time.

HR News: Where is your favorite place in the area to ride?

Bentz: I would choose the Post Canyon trails because the trails and stunts are so well designed that everything up there just 'feels like butta'.

HR News: Do you feel fortunate to live in HR?

Bentz: I would choose to live in Hood River over anywhere in the world, the people are cool, the trails are some of the best in the northwest. You're also so close to so many different sports you don't know what to do some days.

HR News: How does your family feel about your extreme activities?

Bentz: My dad used to think freeriding was a waste of time and money, but then he saw that we weren't just some crazy weirdos trying to kill our selves. We're just weirdos. My mom supports my activities fully and both parents help with the financial part of the sport. As for my sister Sierra, she would like to get into freeriding and trail riding.

HR News: What are your plans for the future, with the sport?

Bentz: I fully intend to mountain bike for the rest of my life and freeride for as long as possible. I think a lot of good comes out of biking as well as trail and stunt building.

HR News: List three reasons why county officials should allow bikers to continue building freeride obstacles at Post Canyon.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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