Using that stoke from the Banff film fest

Skiers cross a frozen Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park a few years ago on their way to spend a couple nights out and enjoy some backcountry skiing in the Tetons. (Jerry Painter photo)

I sometimes get teased for getting so excited about watching the films at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

The festival came to town last week and featured several adventure, adrenaline and mountain culture films from around the world.

I spoke with Debra Hornsby, the festival’s “road warrior” who brought the films to Idaho Falls this year from Banff, Alberta, about the effect the movies have on people. She said some people take off on their own adventures after seeing the films. The inspiration is real.

That’s the way it happened with me, I told her.

It was 20 years ago that I attended my first Banff Mountain Film Festival in Idaho Falls. One film in particular stood out — a film by some Utah State University students called “True Fans.” A group of basketball nuts rode their bikes from California to Massachusetts to the The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. They had lots of nutty adventures along the way and it opened my eyes to possibilities of different kinds of fun. Adventures outside the box.

The following year, my wife and I saved up enough cash to buy tickets to Paris, and rode bikes for a couple of weeks through France. Since that time, I have ridden my bike for a week or two at a time on different routes in the U.S. and Canada.

This past summer, I was doing a morning ride south of Idaho Falls when I heard some gulls calling to each other in the foggy, chilly air. Perhaps it was the speed, the temperature or air pressure, but the conditions reminded me of riding my bike down the coast of Northern California on my way to San Francisco a few years earlier. For a few moments, I was transported back in time and I was on my bike looking at the coastline and seeing gulls circling over the beach.

“I could do that ride again,” I told myself. “What a great adventure.”

I met a retired man in his late 60s on the southern Oregon coast who was doing the ride for the 12th time.

“I just never get tired of it,” he said. “Sometimes I go all the way to San Diego, sometimes just as far as San Francisco.”

At other times and on other outings, such as hikes in the Tetons, the sun hits just right, the smells, the breeze, the wildflowers, a rock or tree, seem to duplicate conditions of a past outing, and it triggers memories and feelings of previous journeys. Images I’d long since forgotten pop back fresh and for a moment I relive them anew. As my kids would say, “It’s just dang cool!”

So I have the Banff film festival to thank in part for injecting me with a dose of wanderlust. I hope it does the same thing for other people who saw the films.

I’d love to hear from readers who’ve had similar experiences or been inspired in the same way.

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Local cyclist Ken Simpson will be one of the speakers at the upcoming TEDx Idaho Falls event on March 10. His subject is titled “The Trans Am Bike Race – Experiencing a Parallel Universe.” Last year, Simpson participated in the Trans Am Bike Race riding from the east to west across the country.

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Two fat bike races will be held in the region Saturday. The CBI Bikes Fat Bike Fest starts at 8 a.m. at Harriman State Park. There will be a 5-mile noncompetitive ride and a 20-mile race. For more information, go to

Also on Saturday is the Sweaty Yeti Fat Bike Race & Festival near Ogden, Utah. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the South Gate of North Fork Park in Liberty, Utah. There are several categories from beginner to pro. The terrain is promised to spectator friendly. For more information, go to Facebook and search for Sweaty Yeti Fat Bike Race.