This Week in Sports and Outdoors: an interview with Lance, bespoke baseball bats, self-driving minesweepers, and more.
From World Cup Ashes
The United States Men’s National Soccer Team (#USMNT) was knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium in the Round of 16, but you already know this. You watched it. More people streamed the U.S.’s third World Cup match versus Germany — which kicked off on a Wednesday afternoon — than this year’s Super Bowl. Their previous game versus Portugal was the most watched U.S. soccer game ever. Basically, if your television wasn’t showing footy, you were either kidnapped or not a sports fan.
But here’s the deal: the World Cup is an aberration. Soccer fans aren’t privileged to such an event every other month. It’s every fours years. After the final on July 13, players will travel back to their respective clubs (a “club” refers to a team and its organization), but what’ll we — the masses of newly converted football fans, spoiled by perpetual matches — do? Do we fall back under the veil of American ignorance, pretending it’s a second-tier sport? No. Watch the MLS? Not just yet. Instead, we’ll follow the world’s best players back to Europe. Here are the basics, and how to watch.
New Gear and Stories, Fresh from the Farm
This Week in Sports and Outdoors: a $20,000 bicycle, survival kits, nightlife after the Tour de France, and more.
Bounding and Booming
We put dozens of headphones through their paces on long runs, bike rides and bodyweight exercises to find the ten best sports headphones.
New Gear and Stories, Fresh from the Farm
This Week in Sports and Outdoors: A new bike helmet from Giro, a Slovenian ultra swimmer, the most refreshing drink on Earth, and more.
One Breath, One Dive
Most of the people who come to Bonaire are SCUBA divers, hauling heavy bags of gear — buoyancy vests and regulators. But on this visit, I decided to try something different: freediving. No tanks, just a breath of air. I wanted to experience the transcendent silence and freedom freedivers talk about. The best man to learn from is in Bonaire, and I was about to get a one-on-one lesson from him.
My Soccer Ball is Smarter Than Your Honor Student
Kick the Adidas miCoach Smart Ball and your phone will record its speed, spin, point of impact and trajectory. It’s amazingly fun, but is it worth $299? We tested it to find out.
New Gear and Stories, Fresh from the Farm
This Week in Sports and Outdoors: an adventure road bike from GT, electronic shifting from mountain bikes, beast-shaped kettlebells and more.
Shades of Tennis's Most Unique Tournament
The French have two Brits to thank for their beloved red playing surface, which today lives on in small training centers on the outskirts of Paris, tournaments for the rising stars of the sport, and one of professional tennis’s oldest events. We were on hand during the week of the French Open to capture all the nuance of the storied surface.
Bikes versus Bars
Most people will attempt their first triathlon on a road bike before investing in a triathlon-specific rig; it’s only at full Ironman races that the transition racks are filled with superbikes. But instead of a triathlon bike, riders can get some of the benefits they afford by outfitting their road bikes with clip-on aero bars. In this Want This, Get This, we look at the advantages of going whole hog with entry-level Cervélo triathlon bike versus spending less on the relatively new Switch Aero System by Redshift.
Stop Being an Asshole About Soccer
The FIFA World Cup begins tomorrow. Before you shrug off soccer as boring and then promptly nap in front of an MLB game, consider this: by FIFA’s own humble estimation, 909.6 million television viewers watched at least part of the 2010 World Cup Final. For perspective, America’s most-watched television event in history was this year’s Super Bowl, with 111.5 million viewers. And you don’t need to follow the MLS or Premier League to get your Cup on — everything you need to know is in this short primer. If you want to know more, we linked out to further reading at the bottom, including the nitty gritty of political turmoil, a breakdown of every team and the history behind the World Cup trophy. But for now, let’s get basic.
Blue Collar Biking
Not counting inflatable helmets and leather wine carriers, gravel grinders are the coolest new thing in cycling. These are 10 of the best in America.
Rides for the latest off-road discipline
In the last few years, bike makers have introduced gravel-specific models that have the toughness of a mountain bike, the geometry of a road bike and the clearance for big tires.
Be handy, man
In this how-to we review the basics of bike maintenance: how to fix a flat, how to adjust shifting and how to clean your bike chain.
Take the back road to paradise
Gravel racing has a spirit of adventure and the chip-on-the-shoulder toughness of a Leadville ultra. Here’s the specialized bike gear you’ll need to ride a gravel grinder.
Because It's the Cup
The final series in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight (June 4), and it’ll be a shame if it doesn’t result in a whole new crop of hockey fans. Here’s why you should be watching.
Whether you’re heading to the Mediterranean coast in real life or just your daydreams, this kit of casual clothes and accoutrements will keep you both cool and looking cool.
Our Favorite Hard Tops
The tricky thing about an aging helmet is you never know when it’s time to replace it, and you definitely don’t want to be too late. If you’re in the market, there are many good options this year, equipped with new materials, new technology and new innovations in aerodynamics. These are five of the best.
The Party Circuit for Cyclists
The best gran fondos recall 100 years of Italian cycling tradition with routes that trace the most famous mountain passes and historic races in cycling history. And then there’s the hallmark of each event: the post-ride celebration, with plentiful food and wine. These five from around the world are the most worthy of your bucket list.
bat dogs, biscuits, and $3 beers...sign us up
If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night this summer, put down the craft cocktails and go take in the American Pastime at its absolute best.
Laid Back Cycling
Century ride? How about a ride to the ice cream shop. One of these cruiser bikes is your summer chariot.
Have Fins, Will Travel
Swimming with Caribbean reef sharks in the Bahamas, exploring the Northern Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, or crossing the thermocline boundary to explore ghostly WWII wrecks in Papua New Guinea might sound daunting, but whether you have three days or two weeks, there’s time enough for one of these adventures.
Watching Pedalers and Panoramas from a support car
We took our espresso stateside this year, catching the Giro d’Italia on television and showing up in person for the 2014 Tour of California, where we shot this video while riding along in a support car.
Work Hard AND Smart
In sports and fitness, training plans and pounding the pavement can take you a long way. But sometimes it takes more than a blue collar work ethic: it helps to have bits of wisdom from seasoned vets, deep scientific insight and cleverly-designed products. Since kicking off Limits, we’ve scraped together knowledge about everything from the effect of caffeine on endurance to importance of VO2 max testing. We still fall down at stoplights occasionally, no amount of wisdom can prevent that. Here’s what we’ve learned.
A Beautiful Grind on Ancient Rocks
Going “Rim to Rim to Rim” is a double-crossing of the Grand Canyon, covering 42.4 miles and 22,000 feet of vertical, and it’s a rite of passage for ultra runners. GP contributor Ben Clark reports on his epic there-and-back-again run.
Flying Above a Grueling Swiss Ski Mountaineering Contest
Every two years, in the beginning of May, the Swiss hold an historic ski mountaineering race: the Patrouille des Glaciers, “the Glacier Patrol”. The race, a national treasure of sorts, attracts close to 5,000 participants of all ages and ability levels and tens of thousands of rowdy Swiss spectators who line the course.
Embrace your baggage
While the lifetime warrantee on your North Face pack from grammar school is meant to be honored, there’s something to be said for retiring before things unravel. Today’s daypacks will haul your climbing gear or your laptop over mountains and through airports. These are our favorites.
Chasing Sun in the Southwest
Mountaineer and ultra runner Ben Clark shares photos from his single-day run across Zion National Park, also known as the Zion Traverse.