Culture

Common Sense, the better part of Valor

G-Force and Terror On an Air Racing Ride Along

Already strapped in, with a stranger tightening my parachute, it becomes jarringly clear Red Bull race planes don’t have ejection seats. “In the event of an emergency, the canopy flies open, and I’ll be yelling ‘Bail! Bail! Bail!’” instructs François Le Vot, my French aerobatic pilot.

Elevation: 49 Feet, Speed: 230 MPH

Racing in the Sky

Twenty-five minutes outside the Strip, set in Nevada's stark desert, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway lacks its city's famed opulence -- but today, not its verve. A fresh energy runs throughout the massive 131,000-seat complex, though no NASCAR racers throttle up around the 1.5-mile asphalt track. Instead of staring down, everyone in the grandstands looks to the sky. The loudspeaker booms: Number 9 Lamb. You’re cleared to enter the track. Smoke on. As the plane swoops down from the sky, the crowd descends into a provocative hush. "Smoke on" is the green flag of air racing.

The Original Barrel Aged Beer

Tasting the Full 2014 Bourbon County Stout Line

If you heard Goose Island Beer Co. was coming into town with their upcoming Black Friday release of their Bourbon County Stout lineup, which features some of the most coveted beers brewed in the US, you’d expect a little fanfare. But when Mike Siegel, innovations manager for Goose Island, carried the lineup in for tasting, it was at room temperature and accompanied by little plastic cups, the sort any corner store would carry.

Less Ralph Lauren, More Murderball

Photo Essay: Bike Polo in Seattle

Bike messengers are a rough lot. So it’s not surprising that they were the early adopters of hardcourt bike polo, a tougher take on cycle polo. We paid a visit to the Seattle Bike Polo club at Cal Anderson park in Capitol Hill for some body-checking camaraderie.

Steel frames, gravel roads and good wine? Per favore.

Photo Essay: Classic Bikes and Tuscan Vistas at L’Eroica

The scenery is just one of the things that’s made L’Eroica one of the greatest organized rides in the world since Giancarlo Brocci founded it 30 years ago to help preserve the strada bianche, or white sand and gravel roads of Tuscany.

Vintage gear for old Italian roads

The Handsome, Throwback Magic of Italy’s L’Eroica Bike Race

In 2014 bike parlance, L’Eroica is the ultimate gravel grinder, a 38-204 kilometer ride along the strade bianche (“white roads”) of Tuscany, Italy, with ascents steep as 23 percent grade and sketchy, sandy downhills as a reward for the hard work. Unlike the Dirty Kanza, though, you won’t find riders toeing the line in Gaiole in Chianti with carbon bikes, electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. L'Eroica's done old school.

Reflection and Extreme Discomfort

Inside the Temazcal, Traditional Mayan Sweat Bath

Temazcal is a traditional Mesoamerican sweat lodge used for physical and spiritual cleansing. GP contributor Will McGough has suffered through it twice, at the Grand Playa Resort in Cabo and Live Aqua Resort in Cancun.

Millionaire Cottages and Adirondack Chairs

72 Hours in Muskoka

Muskoka is considered the "Hamptons of Toronto". Here's a guide to making the most of the cottage-dotted vacation spot.

Careful What You Wish For

Decrypted: HBO and CBS Go Over the Top

With HBO and CBS's recently announced streaming-only packages, many have speculated that the days of the pay-TV cable bundle is finally crumbling; but now that we’ve got what we want, will it really save us money?

Wet trousers and world-class scallops

Postcard: Lunch at The Three Chimneys Kitchen Table

1:00 p.m. BST | Colbost, Isle of Skye, UK -- We parked the truck somewhere in the north of Skye and picked up our rental Lapierre road bikes. It was very cold and raining hard, the aftereffects of Hurricane Gonzalo on the other side of the Atlantic, but we wanted to get a ride in and figured: let's just bike to lunch. Lunch was at The Three Chimneys, the Isle of Skye's best restaurant with a newly minted Michelin star.

An Ontario Staple Is Highway 11's Best Stop

At Webers Burgers, It’s Not Just About the Burgers

Mike McParland, now 67, has been working at Webers Burgers since he was 16. An estimated 300,000 visitors stop into the grill on their way up and down Ontario's Highway 11 -- but it's not because of the burgers.

Read Them and Eat

The 25 Best Restaurants in America

This year, like last year, we did our fair share of dining. We hunted for barbecue in Texas, ate all the burgers in L.A. and went inside the new American supper club. We found that, like television, restaurants are in the best form they’ve ever been. These are 25 of our favorite restaurants in America, chosen by our editors and writers across the country for their newness, their hospitality and the quality of their food — though not always in that order.

Terrifying Road Rules in Beautiful Skye

Postcard: Yield Please, Yield

9:00 a.m. BST | Isle of Skye, UK -- Driving a broad car on the wrong side of the road, from the passenger's seat, is an upsetting experiment in bizarro world physics.

Visiting Brooklyn's Di Fara

A 50 Year Tradition in Pizza

One Wednesday afternoon, a couple of us decided to trek over to one of New York City’s favorite eateries across the river in Midwood, Brooklyn: Di Fara Pizza.

It's Time for a Mischief Night in Craft Beer

The Pumpkin Beer Problem

Back in 2011 The Atlantic reported on "The Divisive Pumpkin Ale", alleging that the style had become synonymous with increasingly stale and overdone flavors. This is still the (very subjective) argument for people who loathe the stuff. But more and more brewers and beer enthusiasts argue beyond taste: they say that some pumpkin beer practices are bad for consumers and craft beer in general.

Learning the way of the climb

Postcard: Learning to Climb in the Gunks

2:00 p.m. EDT | New Paltz, NY -- I've never met a more playful group of people than rock climbers. The experienced ones seem to have the best sense of humor when they're standing on the edge of a cliff.

Valhalla, I Am Coming

Unrelenting Weather and Endless Beauty in Iceland

Iceland exists as if out of the mind of a science fiction writer -- not in the futuristic sense, but as some timeless place, where the elements that created the earth meet the people who harness its power. It is perhaps the most exotic place on Earth. And it’s only a five-hour flight from Manhattan.

The Everest of Sailing

The Boats, Crew and Route of the Around-the-World Volvo Ocean Race

In the past decade, the Volvo Ocean Race has seen boats dismasted and sunk, sailors break bones and lose teeth -- and in one tragedy, a Dutch crew member washed overboard and was killed. It’s no wonder the race is called the “Everest of sailing”. Here's a primer on the latest edition Volvo Ocean Race, beginning October 11, 2014.

Instead of Gatorade and Gu, Chianti and Lardo

Postcard: Roadside Assistance, Italian Style

1:00 p.m. CEST | Gaiole in Chianti, Italy -- Actually, we're something like 30 miles outside Gaiole in Chianti. Jeff's seat tube keeps falling, which makes sense because we're riding pre-1987 road racing bikes as L'Eroica requires, and the mechanic had reamed his tube (the bike's) something serious to get the seat post into it yesterday.

Exploring an Unwelcoming Gem

Exploring the Harsh Beauty of the Cascades

The North Cascades aren't exactly user friendly. There are no drive-up views for the minivan crowd. Plush lodges and charming hamlets are few and far between. Rangers usually spend a lot of time telling you what a miserable time you’ll have if you put yourself at the mercy of the park’s capricious and violent weather. But with some grit and serious sweat, adventurers who press through those barriers reap major rewards. Photographer Chris Burkard covered our own recent trip.

Social Times at a Unique Resort in the Chilean Andes

At Portillo, Ski Season Begins in June

Snow was the last thing on anyone’s mind back home, but there I was in mid-August in Portillo, Chile, adjusting my goggles and cranking down my boot buckles.

Don't Leave Home Without It

10 Flasks for Every Type of Sipper

Use a flask wisely and you'll have a great hint of lawless confidence; the look of wonder in your buddies' eyes as you swig your just-so-uncouth booze will be all the sweeter. (Smokier, if it's Balvenie 18.) These ones deserve a place in your coat pocket.

A City That's More Than a Mile High

72 Hours in Denver

Denver isn't just good breakfast and a gateway to good pow -- or America's favorite city with legalized marijuana. It's also a hotbed of killer dining, host to a booming culture scene, and a new destination for startups and venture capital. 300 days of sunshine a year, green space around every turn (parks, that is), and proximity to said slopes doesn't hurt either. Our local expert weighs in with the latest installment of 72 Hours.

What to pack for the adventure of a lifetime

Essentials for a South African Winter Safari

Traveling too much of Africa is intimidating. Years of headlines, let alone the complications of getting there, are foreboding enough. But South Africa has come to establish itself as a gateway to the larger continent for travelers around the world. When packing for a South African safari, versatility is key; here's everything you'll need.

The lesser-known safari destination that's not to be missed

Photo Essay: Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

Witnessing a million wildebeest migrating from the southern Serengeti to Kenya's Masa Mara reserve looks just as incredible in the flesh as it does in HD on Planet Earth. But to assume it's the only real way to take in the circle of life on the great African continent is a rookie mistake -- as four days spent on safari in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa made viciously clear.

Break Boat

Surviving the Rolex Big Boat Series

The Rolex Big Boat Series is known by participants as the “Break Boat Series” for the toll it takes on boats and crews over four days of racing. GP's Jason Heaton braved San Francisco Bay's gusty winds and waves for a firsthand account.

Your last iced coffee of the season

What We’re Drinking: Espresso and Tonic

The objective of most post-Starbucks coffee shops has been an almost authoritarian pursuit of purity. But it seems we're turning a corner. This summer the Kaffe Tonic, a mixture of espresso and Fever Tree tonic served over ice at Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco, caught on.

Update your food pyramid

Cream of the Crop: The Best American Fruit Beers

Fruit beers have long been the redheaded stepchildren of the beer world. But now American brewers are using more complex bases -- stouts, brown ales, rye ales and barleywines among others -- and taking cues from the Belgians, those oldest of fruit beer brewers, to harness the nation’s harvest, from pumpkins to pluots. These are the best fruit beers of their labor.

Mystery in the Deep Jungle

Road Notes: Tikal National Park, Guatemala

Nearly 200 miles north of Guatemala City, in the rainforest, lie the remains of the ancient city Tikal, the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Maya civilization. GP contributor Will McGough headed south for a visit.

Levi Leipheimer's 10 Favorite Routes

Cycling California Wine Country with a Local Pro

Levi Leipheimer is a diviner of pain and suffering par excellence -- a bike race organizer. We asked him to cull his dark arts and assemble 10 rides in the scenic, relaxing and overall pleasant area that is Northern California's wine country. Enjoy responsibly.

A Visual Guide to Spiciness and Flavor

A Cautious Man’s Guide to Hot Peppers

Some chili peppers are more sweet than spicy, better suited to date night than a chest-beating contest with the boys. To learn more about the tamer varieties, we took a walk to the Chelsea Fruit Market. These are ones that interest us and our admittedly fragile tastebuds.

Craft Hot Sauces Come Into Their Own

Five Best Hot Sauces from the Pacific Northwest

The stateside culture of craft hot sauce has had a slow-burn response to veteran heavyweights like Tabasco and Texas Pete, which sacrifice flavor for heat. Enthusiasts today are gazing toward the Pacific Northwest, where artisans are using the quality and abundance of fresh, local ingredients to produce wildly diverse newcomers to our country’s cabinet of hot sauces. We tried five of the best.