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A caving expedition in Belize

Descending into the Mayan Underworld

We’d been underground for five hours, as deep as 600 feet below the surface of the jungle in a cave the Belizeans call the Mountain Cow Cave. The cavern has been rebranded for tourists as the more picturesque-sounding Crystal Cave, though few tourists make it here. Unlike the more famous and accessible Actun Tunichil Muchnal cave, which sees thousands of visitors per year, Crystal Cave only sees a few hundred, most only peeking into its impressive foyer. I could see why. It was not for the faint of heart.

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An Offshore Account

Photo Essay: Diving and Decompressing in Belize

After a long and fairly uneventful dive on an unnamed reef out in South Water Caye, I clambered aboard Splash Belize’s dive boat, shed tanks and weights and stripped off my wetsuit. The big diesels rumbled to life and Captain Malcolm steered toward a small island in the distance. As we drew closer, I could make out a few small panga boats and some activity on the beach. Then came a distinctive smell: barbecue.

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Neighbors a World Away

Photo Essay: Haiti, Three Years After the Quake

On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps “shook” is an understatement. The quake destroyed 250,000 Haitian residences and 30,000 commercial buildings and claimed (depending on who you ask) between 100,000 and 300,000 lives. In the days that followed the quake, foreign aid poured into Haiti, along with monetary pledges from nations all across the world. But numbers never quite capture a country’s conditions, culture or people, as GP staffer K.B. Gould discovered during a recent visit.

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The Iditarod, by Bicycle.

Photo Essay: Iditarod Trail Invitational

The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is the world’s longest winter ultramarathon by mountain bike, foot and ski. It follows the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, AK, over the Alaska Range to McGrath and on to Nome. If you like to run and ride in severe winter conditions and sleep outside in the frozen tundra, then this is the race for you.

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Ice cold Red Bull

Photo Essay: Red Bull Crashed Ice

While all eyes were on Sochi as the Olympics wrapped up, another exciting winter sports event was happening this past weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota: the Red Bull Crashed Ice championships. Crashed Ice is Red Bull’s (generally apt) name for the up-and-coming sport of ice cross. And though it may be a made-up sport invented to sell energy drinks, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see it in the Olympics one day.

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Iconography

Talk Shop: Icon Motorsports

Catering to a group of riders that had historically ignored protective gear completely, Icon Motorsports created its own market and developed one hell of a loyal base by literally saving their customers’ skin. Thirteen years after their inception, the Portland-based company is still kicking ass, pumping out both no-compromise protective gear and some tire-shredding bikes.

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An awesome two-wheeled show, despite the snow

Photo Essay: The One Motorcycle Show

Twenty-eight hours before the doors officially opened at The One Motorcycle Show, in Portland, Oregon, things started looking messy. #TheOneSnow was already trending, and many builders were stuck in whiteout conditions, struggling to make it at all. Those who had arrived, bikes in tow, wondered if anyone would be crazy enough to attend. But motorcyclists are a passionate bunch — even the ride scheduled the following day continued as planned.

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A trip to (what we thought was) the ragged edge of control

Track Day: At the Fringe with Porsche & Pirelli

Most drivers, including Porsche owners, spend little time at the ragged fringe of control. Daydreams of record-time morning commutes are one thing, but precise, high-speed driving is rarified air for most. Porsche has a solution: driving school. At Porsche Sport Driving School you won’t come away with points off your license or a lower insurance rate. Instead, you get a crash-course in precise driving at high speeds.

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Searching for enlightenment at Drag Racing's Garden of Eden

Photo Essay: Crushing Numbers at NHRA Winternationals

Drag racing at its core isn’t a complicated sport. Two cars line up. Their drivers hit the pedal on the right. A thousand or so feet later someone wins. It stands to reason that there must be something more to this sport, something visceral that has kept people interested in pure, unadulterated speed for so long. With that in mind we headed to the first race of professional drag racing’s pro circuit, The NHRA Winternationals at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

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A Collection of Vintage Straight Razors

Photo Essay: Respect for the Blade

For many, shaving is a daily nuisance. Not so for everyone, we recently learned when GP writer Mike Henson shared his love of the straight razor shave. We asked him to catalogue his antique collection and got more than we bargained for in passion, history, and a set of beautiful tools.

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Building Watches the Old-Fashioned Way

Photo Essay: A Visit to Villeret

We left Geneva early, before sunrise, our destination the tiny Alpine hamlet of Villeret. This was the home of the historic Minerva watch manufacture, now part of Montblanc, a brand more often associated with writing instruments than those that keep time. Stepping into the building was like stepping back in time to an era when small factories in these isolated mountain towns made a few watches a year.

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Killer Pow, Bro

Photo Essay: Skis from a Bygone Era

Skis have become impossibly technical — not with complicated gadgets and moving parts, but other things that engineers geek out over like ski geometry, core materials and physics. In this photo essay we recall a bygone era of skis when color schemes were impossibly neon, patterns were questionable and bindings were more like door hinges.

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From Geneva with Love

Live From Geneva: SIHH 2014

This time of year, the horological universe revolves around the Palexpo center in Geneva. It’s SIHH — the Salon International Haute Horlogerie, where the watch brands under the Richemont Luxury Group umbrella (and a couple of outlying independents) convene to display their wares in elaborate and opulent “booths” that defy that pedestrian name. Journalists and retailers from around the world descend on Geneva to jostle for first looks at the latest and greatest creations from legendary maisons like Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Sohne and Audemars Piguet. Follow our man on the ground, Jason Heaton, as he sends in the latest horological news every half hour.

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Wreaking Havoc In A Winter Wonderland

Photo Essay: Red Bull Frozen Rush

We recently traveled to snowy and frigid Newry, Maine, where the Sunday River Ski Resort hosted the first-ever Red Bull Frozen Rush truck race. Pro 4 off-road racing trucks hit the slopes, racing up and down in a wild, aggressive, violent scramble over ice and snow, aided in no small part by spiked BF Goodrich tires. We rode along in a truck, watched drivers fly their trucks through the air like madmen daredevils and froze our tushes off all in the name of watching racing history unfold. Check it out yourself here.

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Lewis Hine Visits Lancaster, Pennsylvania circa 1936

Photo Essay: Inside the Hamilton Watch Factory, 1936

Today, the once great Hamilton Watch Company factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an apartment complex. But these photos from Depression-era photographer Lewis Hine show the halcyon days at Hamilton, when even during our nation’s lowest days, American watchmaking kept people working and a country on time.

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No parks? No problem

Deep Cuts: Riding and Rappelling in the American Southwest

Our trip with Gerard is an audible. A group of journalists organized by mountain bike tour operator Sacred Rides, we came for a taste of the company’s newest offering: a tour of the Southwest’s outdoor adventure gems, from singletrack bike trails to world-famous slot canyons. But with Zion National Park closed by the federal government shutdown, we’ve changed tack and hired him to help us navigate nearby Yankee Doodle Canyon — a technical descent that promises to mimic Zion’s architecture. The road to Yankee Doodle, usually deserted, is littered with dawdling sightseers who walk the road in place of a trail. The shoulder has become a makeshift parking lot full of cars with out-of-state plates.

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Alien Chess

Red Bull Battle Grounds and the Rise of eSports

We visit Red Bull Battle Grounds, a two-day tournament in which eight of the world’s best Starcraft II players send angry virtual military units across a digital landscape to destroy their enemy’s virtual bases. Does this event (and the many others like it) signal a shift in gaming’s social legitimacy? Read on for an exploration and a photo essay of the event.

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Part II of III in The Mountain Series

At the Foot of the King: A Short Hike in the Swiss Alps

For alpinists everywhere, including those confined to armchairs, the name, “Eiger” conjures up excitement, fear and dread. Considered the most daunting climb in the Alps, the mountain’s north face, the “Nordwand”, is a 6,000-foot sheer wall of crumbling, often ice-coated, rock that is continually scoured by rockfalls and avalanches. First climbed in 1938, it has been the scene of countless adventures, tragedies and one Clint Eastwood movie. The name and the image of the Eiger were etched in my brain for years, and I read everything I could about the mountain. So to see it there, across the valley from the sundeck of the Berggasthaus First, seemed like a dream; I could hardly take my eyes off it.

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Incredible Design for a Notable Charity

Photo Essay: Jony Ive & Marc Newson (RED) Auction Preview

Collaborating with Bono and Bobby Shriver for the (RED) charity, Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson have personally curated a collection that celebrates the best in design and innovation. If you appreciate design, engineering, space, music or style and are itching to liquidate your family’s trust fund, then ready your paddle. On a kind invitation from the folks at Sotheby’s, we made our way to a private viewing of the collection before its auction.

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4Dads

Photo Essay: 4Moms Headquarters

Robotics engineers and industrial designers, rapid prototyping and 3D printing, adroit methodology and open workflow — sounds like a Silicon Valley tech startup, right? But things aren’t always as they seem. In the case of Pittsburgh-based company 4Moms, this business model is being applied to baby products that leave the status quo in the dust. We went to their headquarters to get a behind-the-scenes look at a few products poised to change things up in the baby world once again.

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Carving a Winner

The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

The Thanksgiving turkey is the one dish each year that’s make or break, and it’s all yours. Get the turkey right and you’ll be giving warm handshakes and sipping bourbon all night; dry it out and you’ve brought a dark cloud over the extended family. The good news is, roasting the big bird is easier than running the fumblerooski against the in-laws — and that works every year. To find the most direct route to turkey perfection, we consulted with chef Harold Moore for his foolproof recipe.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Climb, Splash, Repeat

Photo Essay: Psicobloc Masters Series

Imagine cranking your way up an unforgiving rock face, no ropes or safety protection, just your fingers and wits pitted against every crimpy, stretched out, exposed move. At the hardest moment your grip finally gives out and you plunge more than thirty feet — to a splash landing in the Olympic Training Pool in Park City, Utah. For some, this kind of climbing, called deep water soloing, is the stuff of nightmares. For the few dozen professional climbers and thousands of spectators at the recent Psicobloc Masters Series, it’s a progression of the sport unparalleled in its difficulty and exhilaration. We captured the action from the pool deck.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Two marathons in the mountains

Photo Essay: Vermont 50 Ultramarathon

It was around around mile 23 of the Vermont 50 that I thought about the duck. I’d read in On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee that the common green-headed mallard stores as much as a third of its carcass weight in fat for fuel and insulation so it can fly continuously for hundreds of miles. As I sipped from the sports nutrition mix in my bottle, I thought of what could have been if only I had taken to heart the experience of migratory birds. I had eaten but one slice of apple pie after dinner the night before.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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2013 USA Pro Challenge Proves We're On The Way Up

Photo Essay: Act Two of American Cycling

It seemed in the summer of 2012 that American cycling had passed its nadir. Lance Armstrong and scores of other prominent American cyclists of the last decade had admitted to doping and all news coverage of the sport revolved around illicit drugs. The future looked grim.

But in the same 2012 when all hell seemed to break loose for cycling’s old guard, there was a renaissance of new talent. We witnessed evidence of this rebirth firsthand at the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day, seven-stage epic that wound its way through 573 miles of Colorado.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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Flying on water

Timekeeping: The America’s Cup with TAG Heuer

Back in June, we went out to San Francisco for a glimpse inside preparations for the 34th America’s Cup from the perspective of challenger Emirates Team New Zealand and its timekeeping partner, OMEGA. We were out in the city by the bay again recently, this time as a guest of TAG Heuer, a sponsor of the reigning America’s Cup Defender, Team Oracle USA. Finally, the focus was on the sailing

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King of the Underworld

Photo Essay: Rolex Explorer II

If the Rolex Submariner was the original sports watch, then the Explorer II was the original extreme sports watch. Introduced in 1971 as a timepiece for cave and polar exploration, the Explorer II remains a favorite of ours thanks to its purpose-built design, intended use and legendary Rolex build quality. Singular in purpose and entirely uncompromising, the Explorer II was a pure tool. We got our hands on a new Explorer II and an ancestor, a rare, straight-handed reference 1655 from 1972.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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Ketch of the Day

Photo Essay: Sailing with Officine Panerai

The nautical lifestyle, with its mix of refinement, adventure and expensive equipment, makes a natural fit for luxury timepieces. Officine Panerai does things a little differently than other brands. Rather than go for the cutting-edge carbon fiber multi-hull racing scene, the storied Italian watchmaker takes a more nostalgic view on sailing by sponsoring a series of classic yacht regattas up and down New England. We were invited to the first of the three American regattas, the Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta, in the charming maritime port town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. It was a proper mix of flapping Dacron, wooden-hulled 12-meter yachts and cocktails at no less than three proper blue-blood yacht clubs. Oh, and there were a few cool watches, too. Read on for the full photo essay.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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Two wheels to greatness

Photo Essay: MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas

Though the riders participating in MotoGP races are the best in the world, it’s taken a while for this style of racing to gain traction in the United States. After having the chance to see the MotoGP World Championship at The Circuit of the Americas thanks to Ducati, we easily count ourselves among its growing fan base. Read on to see our photo essay of the insane speed on two wheels.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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Celebrating Adventure Sports in Vail, CO

Photo Essay: GoPro Mountain Games

Somewhere between my third (or possibly fourth) spill off my paddle board into Gore Creek and my first lung-busting lap up the mountain bike course, it finally sunk in that the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO was so much more than just the suffering I was subjecting myself to. Featuring adventure and mountain sports like freestyle kayaking, bouldering (think rock climbing 25-foot walls with no rope), mountain biking, a dock dogs competition, and slacklining, the Games has a competition for just about everyone. That’s not to mention the carnival of fun one-offs: the gear expo, open air concerts, a mountain film festival and demos of new bikes and boards. See everything the Games had to offer in this photo essay.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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A Complicated Beauty

Photo Essay: A. Lange & Söhne Double Split

We’ll never own a watch like the A. Lange & Söhne Double Split, the world’s only mechanical split seconds and split minutes chronograph. Not many people will. But just wearing it for a month was a privilege, like taking a lap in a vintage Aston Martin DBR or sipping a dram of 1962 Macallan. To try to distill down its essence to a mere hands-on review seems almost blasphemous. So we won’t. This is a watch to be gazed on and lingered over. Enjoy the photos.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.