Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.
At 5 a.m. I felt the slight buzz of my UP band. Go time. Well, actually it was time to fill 10 water bottles with Skratch Labs hydration, get my cooler ready and find a decent cup of coffee in the mountains of North Georgia. After a short chat with a couple of young police officers at Dunkin Donuts about why I would ride 100 miles on a mountain bike, I was off for the Montaluce Winery. It was pitch black on the winding roads leading up to the parking lot, so I followed the stream of cars with bikes on the roof. Race director Eddie O’Dea welcomed us at the entrance, where I parked the car and unloaded my gear for the Fool’s Gold 100.
Tubeless, aero, go
As the English proverb ran in the 16th century, “A man can not have his cake and eat his cake,” meaning that one cannot both possess cake and eat cake, simultaneously. The cake paradox may be a source of chagrin across the pond, but here in America we’re able purchase cake, eat cake, and often have abundant leftovers to tuck away in the freezer and unpack for a marathon of The West Wing. This all becomes quite obvious with a ride on the Bontrager Aura 5 TLR wheelset.
Two-time overall UCI World Cup downhill champion
While his contemporaries were putting on puppet shows and learning to play catch, Aaron Gwin was racing BMX in national competitions. He was eight. Today, Gwin is a two-time overall UCI World Cup downhill champion and the first American to win the Downhill World Cup Overall. We caught up with the “Fastest Man in Downhill” to talk ice cream, God and America’s best trails.
Connect to your bike
If you’re riding a bike for exercise or hobby, chances are you’re clipping in and experiencing the pleasure of an efficient ride with optimal power transfer. Though we have three contact points with the bike — pedals, saddle, bars — the connection to the pedals via the shoes is the only one that’s mechanical, so it’s essential that the shoe fits properly. There’s no single good choice — there are a lot of them, at different budgets, with different materials and closures. We’ve picked out 10 road bike shoes that cover the spectrum, letting you become one with the bike. Namaste.
Taming the wake
For me, the reality of waterskiing has always been carving the lakes of Maine on my Dad’s late ’80s LaPoint O’Brien “professional” slalom ski. Then I got the chance to test the Connelly Prophecy ($1,300+), the most advanced ski in Connelly’s tournament series line, and learned just how far waterskiing equipment has advanced since my dad bought his ski.
Flying on water
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
Choosing a surfboard is no simple matter. There are lots of factors to consider, like the shape of the board, the size, rocker and rails, tails and fins. There are eggs and fish — and we’re not talking about breakfast options. The ideal board for beginners is long, wide and thick since it’s stable for both paddling and for taking off on a wave. Here are five that fit that description to a T.
A Gear Patrol Film
When we catch a glimpse of the surfing community, we always slap our heads collectively and wonder why we didn’t pursue a life of beaches, sun, and drinks with little umbrellas. We had one such moment this summer. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to reflect on our life decisions while enjoying the beaches, sun and drinks with little umbrellas in Bali, Indonesia, where we covered the Oakley Pro Bali, the fifth stop of the year on the pro surfing tour.
For the last six months my dietary goal has been fairly simple: use more fat and less glycogen (stored carbs) for fuel during long rides. You’re probably wondering why I’d do that when I could just carbo-load the night before and suck down a few gels to get through the day. A new school of thought is emerging, though, that debunks the myth that a diet rich in starchy carbohydrates is the best way to fuel during training and racing. As I prepare for the Fool’s Gold 100 this weekend, I’m hoping to see this dietary tactic pay dividends.
A look beyond the usual suspects
Once you’ve got your bike, which you should by now, the next step is to pick up the appropriate accessories. For commuters, second only to a helmet is a suitable bag that holds the necessities and, beyond that, meets specific, personal work- or looks-related criteria. The next thing to consider is the style of bag — backpack, messenger or something else entirely? We’ve got all of the above, with a preference toward backpacks.
Personalize Your Ride
If you’ve ever spent time in a local bike shop, you’ve heard the salesmen, repair techs and riders talk about getting the perfect “fit”; talk to a cycling or triathlon coach and they can wax all day and night about optimal hip and knee angles. But what does that mean for you? What exactly is a bike fit? We’ve broken down five of the most popular fit systems and algorithms you might run across in your search for the perfect bike.
Slopes? We'll take our water flat, thanks
Sprinkler, fire hydrant, beach or pool: they’re all great ways to cool off when the mercury spikes. Then there’s waterskiing. Often overshadowed by its alpine brother, waterskiing is a heck of a lot of fun and doesn’t require donning a neck warmer. There’s nothing like carving a perfect turn and throwing up a 15-foot wall of spray behind you, all under sunny skies and, preferably, with some bikini-clad babes close by. Here’s the gear you need to get there.
Gentlemen, we can build it
For a long time our options for buying a bike were limited to what was at the local shop, which was a roll of the dice in terms of selection and service. But with e-commerce consumers have limitless information available at a mouse click. What does this mean as a bike buyer? You have options.
With the experience of working in a bike shop under my belt and a good idea of what type of bike I wanted, I decided to try the “internet bike build” myself. With a budget of $2,000 I set out to best some of the similarly priced complete bikes for sale at the local shop.
Crank it out
Relatively few upgrades have as lasting an effect as changing your bike’s contact points — saddle, handlebars, and pedals. Pedals in particular are often overlooked in our quest to go faster, but a good pair makes you forget that your feet have been locked into your bike for a few hours as you power through the toughest parts of a ride. We’ve got the best road bike pedals for every budget and type of rider so you can turn heads while you turn the cranks.
Read up, ride on
Imagine a crisp fall day where the trails are hooking up so nicely it feels like you’re riding on rails. It’s so sweet you decide to skip the parking lot and continue on. After a few more miles you’ve peaked with adrenaline and start to put more power down to get up a small, steep climb — and your chain snaps. When “F***!” is the first thing that comes to mind, instead of, “Sweet, I finally get to use my new multitool!”, well, that’s when you phone home to say you’ll be late for dinner.
This scenario can be a moment to shine rather than a disaster — and in many other instances, a wealth of knowledge and the right tools can save you hundreds of dollars over the lifespan of your bike. All it takes is an understanding of a few basic repairs. We’ve picked out our favorite bike repair books so you can back to the car in time for steaks.
Addiction, sacrifice and withdrawal
If you watched Trainspotting, the Indie film that follows a group of Scottish youths as they sink deep into a life of addiction, you would certainly remember the scene where Marc Renton (played by Ewan McGregor) sits alone in his room wrestling with withdrawal as the somber track of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” plays in the background. You’d be right to wonder what that has to do with endurance mountain bike racing. Find out in The Road to La Ruta, Part 4.
One step closer to the open road
It’s a perfect day. You’re pedaling along between La Rochepot and Baubigny in France’s Côte de Beaune region, a wheel of epoisses and a baguette ancienne tucked in the front basket. A little tight on good wine. Sun warm on a crisp day. Your girlfriend rides alongside and looks at you affectionately. You do that thing where you reach out and touch fingertips. Then you hit a little bump in the dirt road: You don’t even know how to ride a bike, and now there’s spittle on your Macbook Pro trackpad. Fortunately, that’s all about to change, because you’re about to buy your first bike.
Nurturing Cycling in an Unlikely Place
Jonathan “Jock” Boyer was the first American to ride in the Tour de France and later left the the U.S. to create a cycling program in war-torn Rwanda. What he found there was a group of young men with incredible pasts and immense talent. Rising From Ashes follows the formation and growth of Team Rwanda all the way from an idea to a continental powerhouse.
Ketch of the Day
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.
Diving’s Identity Crisis
There’s a popular saying among nostalgic dive bums that reads, “Remember when sex was safe and diving was dangerous?” Times have changed, and while I won’t comment on the hazards of promiscuity and the risks of STDs, I will say that diving has gotten too safe. Or at least that’s the perception — and one that, ironically, is keeping people from diving. What diving needs is a re-branding campaign.
You’ve got to hand it to Adidas: while the leading edge of innovation for most running companies is minimalist footwear with the occasional proprietary shank to keep things moving forward, in the Adidas Springblade ($180) the company has made a running shoe that artfully combines the looks and swiftness of a Ferrari with… I don’t know, a viperfish? Steven Seagal in Glimmer Man? Charlemagne’s Joyeuse? We got to try the cool-looking things out.
Run Like You Mean It
Summer heat waves are on the edge of winding down, and that’s good news: you can run without your shoes melting to the road. If you’ve been stuck all summer plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or running in the predawn hours to avoid scorchers, now is a great time to reassess your aging kicks and consider an update. We could go on about minimal vs. conventional, the merits of cushioning and drop angles and tread patterns, or we could just find the best shoes of the year to help you with one thing: working on your fast. Our search for the best running shoes of the year yielded more than a few contenders, and unless you plan on leaving them in your closet to collect dust, there’s not a single shoe here that won’t help you get to the front of the pack.
Pack it in
From easy day hikes to multi-day treks, a good pack on your back can make carrying a load a joy (relatively speaking), especially if you draw the short straw and have to carry the extra beer on a five day expedition through Zion National Park. The perfect pack is a simple one: it carries everything you need and nothing you don’t. In practice, this is much harder than it seems and involves careful planning and design. Beware of the old trap. If you have the space, you’ll try to fill it with something. Whether you’re throwing gear together for a short hike to your favorite fly fishing spot or taking a month-long stroll down the Continental Divide, less is more. With that in mind, we’ve picked the best backpacks to put a few miles on this season. Features like load distributing-straps, rainflys and easy access to hydration all made the cut. Heavy materials, unneeded space, and dead weight? Not so much.
They'll never believe you otherwise
Thanks to the introduction of action cameras, pretty much anyone with a thing for the outdoors — novice mountain climbers, intermediate cyclists, veteran X-Games athletes and the lot — is utilizing these point-of-view shooters for hi-def footage of mesmerizing scenery and insane stunts. Fortunately for you, we’ve managed to narrow down the top offerings based on performance, suitability, features and price. Take a break from planning that next base-jumping adventure and get a closer at the five best action cameras available now.
Finding inspiration to do things I never imagined possible rarely comes from professional athletes. What inspires, rather, is meeting someone who seems like an ordinary guy — and suddenly realizing five minutes in that he’s anything but. These are the people who make me say to myself, “I can do that”. Joe Berg isn’t ordinary. I sat down with him to chat about his ultra endurance racing experience, opera and some tips for me as I prepare for La Ruta.
63 miles and 11,000 feet of NC single track
The Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell is a 63-mile epic mountain bike race in western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. Really, the day itself was epic, starting with the beautiful drive out of Asheville where thick fog filled the Smoky Mountains as the sun started to rise. The key word here is sun. The weather in the southeast has been extremely rainy of late, and I was fully prepared to race all day on a muddy course. But mother nature had something else planned, at least for the first five hours of this mid-season race en route to La Ruta.
Celebrating Adventure Sports in Vail, CO
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.
Attacking the mountain in style
The Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the GoPro Summer Mountain Games is one of the most unique multi-sport events in the world. You’ll navigate white water, race up and down the ski slopes of Vail Mountain Resort on your mountain bike and in your running shoes, and finish with a grueling road bike time trial up to 9,500 feet in Vail Pass. Of course, it’s also the perfect excuse to update aging gear and even splurge on a great bike or even a paddle board. Here’s a look at the gear that got us through the race.
A stand-up guy, a stand-up board
After spending my morning commute passing the Stand-up Paddling Yoga group (yes, it’s a thing) at the local pond, I got curious and found the perfect venue to explore this blossoming sport: the Vail Summer Mountain Games. The only disconnect between registering for the SUP river sprint at the Summer Mountain Games and actually racing? I’d never been on a paddle board. But first times are a charm, so I settled on the ten-foot six-inch Boardworks Surf Badfish Board ($1,429) and made for the water.