• Muscles Not Motors turns 1 year old
     | April 10,2013

    MONTPELIER — Anyone who has crossed the threshold of Montpelier’s Onion River Sports knows the store’s slogan, “Muscles Not Motors.” But the words, which are emblazoned on everything from T-shirts to tote bags, are more than just an encouragement to get up and move: They also unite an online community of outdoor enthusiasts that celebrated its first anniversary Sunday.

    “I’m not sure when the slogan first came into being,” said Andrew Brewer, owner of the city’s hub for all things two-wheeled. “Warren Kitzmiller (Onion River Sports founder) isn’t sure either. I think it’s just always been there. But now we’re really using the words to encourage community.”

    Musclesnotmotors.com is set up like a bike itself, with hubs representing areas of interest and spokes the folks who blog about them. Brewer stressed that while there are some serious pros taking part, the site is full of the exploits of everyday people who just want to share their love of a bike trail, ski run, or family outdoor activity.

    “We’re not selling a product here,” he said. “We’re really trying to grow organically based on people’s different interests.”

    After all, there aren’t too many places where you can get the first-person low-down on extreme sledding. In a late March post, Nathan Belz celebrated the exploits of the “Sledheads,” a group of friends who in this case bombed down Lincoln Gap. There’s no need to leave the couch to catch his enthusiasm.

    “There are seven of us standing next to two very prominently placed signs: ‘Road Closed’ and ‘Road Not Maintained in Winter.’ Among us there’s a postman, a health promotion researcher, an outreach professional, and two dental technicians, all trudging up a two-mile long ascent, sustained grades reaching 20 to 24%, with plastic sleds in tow. Some of us are regulars, free sledding fanatics. For others, this is their first time. Unlike the luxury we had as kids, we’re (no) longer in earshot of anyone’s mother to call us in for hot chocolate and cookies.”

    In addition to hosting bloggers on all things outdoors, Muscles Not Motors sponsors some individual exploits and group adventures. For the next five months the site will be featuring the adventures of local hiker and fledgling documentary filmmaker Colin Arisman, who plans to travel the entire 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to British Columbia. His first blog post is already up.

    “We do about 40 events a year,” said Brewer. “Movies, races, all kinds of things.” But not every Onion River Sports event is a Muscles Not Motors event, he added.

    Muscles Not Motors encourages everyone to do the best they can with what they’ve got, and the ethos is that everybody can participate.

    “These are people who are passionate and interested,” said Carrie Baker Stahler, who has been instrumental in the Muscles Not Motors community and who blogged about staying fit during pregnancy. “They share our values. They’re role models on a real scale.”

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