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Inside Alex Honnold’s Tricked-Out New Adventure Van

Back in 2014, pro climber Alex Honnold gave us a tour of the 2002 Ford Econoline E150 he used as his mobile base camp. That van served him...

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A summers day in good ole Texas

A summers day in good ole Texas submitted by /u/Ashleyketchum91
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Nice mirror off the water

Nice mirror off the water submitted by /u/apollosghost
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Trekking in Dolpo Region Nepal

Trekking in Dolpo Region Nepal submitted by /u/vivaanadventure
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Flying makes her frisky. My wife runs off the hill overlooking Bucaramanga Colombia.

Flying makes her frisky. My wife runs off the hill overlooking Bucaramanga Colombia. submitted by /u/titus1776
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Third Tunnel at the Elroy-Sparta trail in Wisconsin

Third Tunnel at the Elroy-Sparta trail in Wisconsin submitted by /u/Mayor-Michael
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Swan Creek

Swan Creek submitted by /u/ecrosetis
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Twin lakes, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Rockie Mt, UT [OC]. It's worth the hike;)

Twin lakes, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Rockie Mt, UT [OC]. It's worth the hike;) submitted by /u/EditorsNotes
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View of South Ridge on the top of Mt. Superior in Utah. Absolutely amazing short but intense hike/long but easy climb

View of South Ridge on the top of Mt. Superior in Utah. Absolutely amazing short but intense hike/long but easy climb submitted by /u/PossiblyArab
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Snowboard With Wheels: Watch ‘Mountainboard’ Documentary

A ragtag team in the U.K. has been jerry-rigging flat boards with all-terrain wheels for years. This video highlights the fascinating culture of mountainboarding.

Watch and learn where the sport started, how the boards are made, and what’s next. This documentary, “Mountainboard – ‘Like Snowboarding But With Wheels,'” was created by Amon Shaw.

The post Snowboard With Wheels: Watch ‘Mountainboard’ Documentary appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Lifestyle Outdoor: 5 Stylish Releases From OR Show

Technical puffy jackets and ice axes may get you to the top of the mountain, but sometimes you just want to look good. This is Outdoors In Style, GearJunkie’s own weekly outdoor lifestyle column.

Mammut Delta X Urbaneering urban

Outdoor Retailer is where brands showcase next year’s gear. Some debut bold, out-of-the-blue releases while others stay true to their roots.

GearJunkie was on site in Denver scouring the trade show for technical and core gear. (You can read about that in our “Best In Show” article.)

But we also kept our ears and eyes open for trends in the ever-emerging lifestyle space. Brands collaborated, used flashy colors, and blasted house music from the tops of hotels in downtown Denver.

Most releases from Outdoor Retailer will hit the shelves in 2019. But beyond the availability of the products, the items showcase trends from big outdoor brands.

Delta X: Mammut Launches Urban Streetwear

A group of 12 models stood frozen in an open circle from the rooftop of Le Meridian in downtown Denver. Onlookers stood eager, totally unaware of what would come next.

Mammut Delta X Urbaneering urban

Electronic house music started pumping out of the speakers. With a beat drop, the models came to life and started to dance. Each wore Mammut’s new Delta X “Urbaneering” Collection.

Mammut, a 156-year-old core mountaineering brand from Switzerland, made a splash at Outdoor Retailer with the release of this technical urban collection.

“For Mammut, the urban environment is far more than simply a new playground,” said Adrian Margelist, chief creative officer of Mammut. “Delta X marks an evolution of our brand DNA and design language from the mountains to the city — from mountaineering to urbaneering.”

Delta X includes technical rain shells, jackets, T-shirts, button-downs, and lacy tank tops. In the garments are waterproof laminates, bonded seams, laser cut fabrics, and Mammut’s Georganic 3D technology.

The Mammut Delta X line is available in summer 2019.

Recycled Denim Cardigan: Toad&Co

Toad&Co is giving your ripped jeans a second life. The Recycled Denim Cardi is made with a blend of 75 percent recycled “mom-jean” denim and 25 percent recycled polyester.

Toad & Co Recycled Denim

GearJunkie felt the Cardigan at Outdoor Retailer, and it feels nothing like denim. The Cardi is soft to the touch and has a nice indigo color.

To make the yarn, Toad&Co shreds discarded denim and then spins and blends it with recycled polyester. The process uses no water or dye in a 100-percent mechanical process powered exclusively by solar energy.

The Recycled Denim Cardi is available in spring 2019 for $110.

Hydro Flask Shave Ice Collection

The sheer number of water bottle brands out there is staggering. At this point, you can get a water bottle in just about any size, shape, color, coating, and insulation.

Hydro Flask Shaved Ice

For fans of all things tropical, Hydro Flask released its eye-catching Shave Ice Collection. The line comes in three flavors — I mean, colors: Mai Tai, Blue Hawaii, and Hawaiian Rainbow.

Hydro Flask used a unique three-color ombre application for the release — a first for the brand.

As with other Hydro Flask products, the bottles are BPA free, crafted from stainless steel, and insulated via double-wall vacuum. The Shave Ice Collection launches in 2019 for $20-23.

Mountain Hardwear Selvedge Climbing Denim

Climbing jeans are all the rage these days, granting wearers super-stretchy comfort and good looks. Black Diamond released jeans at the show, and major Kickstarters from Boulder Denim and Meridian Line Denim clearly show the trend.

Mountain Hardwear Selvedge Denim

But one brand, Mountain Hardwear, has taken a different approach to climbing jeans. Whereas most brands maximize stretchiness, Mountain Hardwear maximizes durability.

At Outdoor Retailer, Mountain Hardwear released the Selvedge Denim Climb Pant. It’s constructed with Japanese Selvedge Denim (read: no stretch) and 1 percent elastane for a bit of give.

Mountain Hardwear Selvedge Denim

Climbing requires freedom of movement, and the Selvedge Pant offers a more relaxed fit so your legs can move within the jeans. And best of all, the jeans have a deep blue hue and will break in with time, so each pair is unique to the user.

Mountain Hardwear designed the jeans to be harness compatible, and you better believe these jeans are durable. The jeans cost $200 and are available in spring 2019.

Tracksmith Strata Tee

On the surface, the Strata Tee is a minimal T-shirt with comfortable fabric and a simple band design across the chest. But under the hood, this T-shirt boasts some of the most cutting-edge fabric out there.


Schoeller coldblack technology keeps you protected from the sun’s rays while minimizing heat absorption. Tracksmith knitted the Strata for breathability, with a closer knit where you need structure and an open knit for improved airflow where you don’t. And best of all, the Strata tee resists odors due to its silver anti-microbial finish.

Tracksmith designed the Strata for running, but it looks good while jetting around town or the track.

The post Lifestyle Outdoor: 5 Stylish Releases From OR Show appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Opinions needed from outdoor recreation lovers!


I am currently operating a glamping tent--it's a big bell tent with a real mattress and more-- in my yard on airbnb. It is located in a big city so I thought it'd be a good idea to attract people who like outdoor activities yet still want to explore the city. I also thought it'd be a good experience for locals to have some sort of camping experience nearby.

Many of my guests have told me that they are very outdoorsy and there have been many road trippers or local people who wanted to have a special experience for the night have come. This has gotten me to think of another idea and made me wonder if those people who love outdoor recreations like you would choose to stay at places like this over a regular short rental room like those on airbnb, if there were more tents or yurts in backyards available like this.

Please share your opinions on it! Thank you :)

submitted by /u/allmyfavsrtaken
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Your Daily Wisconsin Outdoor News Update – July 31, 2018

A little R&R [OC]

A little R&R [OC] submitted by /u/maddy00002
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Red sky at night..

Red sky at night.. submitted by /u/urfand
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Sunset over a fishing lake

Sunset over a fishing lake submitted by /u/urfand
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Scandal on Everest: Fake Permits Issued to Climbers

I think I heard something get killed last night.

I think I heard something get killed last night. submitted by /u/mobile_simon
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Your Daily Minnesota Outdoor News Update – July 31, 2018

One-Bike Rack: Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo Reviewed

Is one really the loneliest number? We tested Rocky Mount’s new MonoRail Solo hitch rack to find out.

Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo Review

A one-bike rack seems strange until you notice the number of cars shuttling about town with a single bike on board. I’m of that ilk. Given my busy schedule and preference for solitary rides, I don’t often fill my rack. There haven’t been many rack options for lone wolf riders until now. For 2018, we’re spoiled for choice with three new racks on the market, including the Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo.

The Solo is essentially the popular two-bike MonoRail — cut it in half. But the Rocky Mounts team added as much as they took away.

Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo Review

Like most tray-style racks, the Solo fits everything from 20-inch BMX bikes to 5-inch fatbikes. For those of us prone to get a little fussy if something scratches our bikes, the clamp arm doesn’t touch the frame and only contacts the front tire. Most importantly, it holds a bike securely.

At 25 pounds, it’s light and easy to schlepp around when not mounted to a vehicle. Some racks tip 60 pounds, and wrestling them into a corner of the garage can feel like a CrossFit workout. The compact size is perfect for apartment dwellers.

MonoRail Solo Review: Mount and Go

Installation of the Solo is easy but not tool-free. A threaded hitch pin secures the rack to a 1.25- or 2-inch receiver and reduces side-to-side wobble. A locking cap keeps the rack from thieving hands. With a little practice, installation takes less than 60 seconds.

Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo review

Mounting a bike to the Solo requires far less time. Just rest the front wheel in the forward brace and slide the ratcheting clamp against the tire. A strap secures the rear wheel. Start to finish, I can install the rack and mount a bike in less than two minutes.

Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo: Pivots and Add-Ons

At the risk of sounding like I’ve lost my marbles, my complaint with other single-bike racks is that they … only carry one bike. Although 90 percent of my rack time is solo, I occasionally need to portage a second bike. The MonoRail Solo accepts an add-on mount with a basic two-bolt attachment. That feature alone gives it a leg up over the competition.

Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo

Like Rocky Mounts’ other hitch racks, the Solo’s main pivot stows the rack in an upright position when not in use. It’s fairly short in its one-bike configuration, and tilting it vertically to stow it doesn’t gain much clearance.

However, tilting does help when the add-on tray is attached. The same is true for the downward position, which gives easy access to a rear hatch or gate.

Other features carried over from the two-bike MonoRail include side-to-side adjustment of the trays to help mitigate interference between bikes. The front wheel brace folds for storage, and the rack ships with a security cable and two lock cores.

MonoRail Solo: No Faults, Only Compromises

The two things I found lacking are more like concessions than missteps. As much as I would prefer a tool-free installation, I realize it comes at the expense of added weight and complexity. But I know how to work a wrench, so I give that a pass.

The cable lock, while long enough to fit around wheels, forks, and frame tubes, is a little awkward to use. An extended pin on the main pivot secures the cable ends with a small locking block. A block I’m bound to lose by next Thursday.

Overall, I think Rocky Mounts did a great job with its flexible bike hauler. Unlike the new Thule T1, which only pivots in the upright angle, the Solo tilts up or down. And at $279, the Solo is only $20 more than the new Yakima SingleSpeed but offers twice as many features.

The potential to add a second bike is the best reason to buy the MonoRail Solo. Everybody gets lonely eventually.

Christophe Noel is a freelance journalist, photographer, and general vagabond. A seeker of stories untold, he can often be found with a map in hand, lost, in the most remote corners of the globe. The founder of Clean Drink Adventures, he believes in the power of the traveler and doing good as you go.

The post One-Bike Rack: Rocky Mounts MonoRail Solo Reviewed appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Blackfish tournament highlights the diversity of modern bass-fishing techniques

Dumb (maybe) question about boots

Hi guys! So I've done my fair share of hiking and camping but always seem to end up with blisters on my heels. I've tried different pairs of boots, different socks, different ways of lacing my boot up, but nothing really seems to solve the issue.

I was out buying shoes a few days ago, and when my feet got measured I noticed that one (my right) is between a 10 and 10.5, while the other (the left) is between 10.5 and 11. For reference, I currently own a size 11 boot. If we were to break sizes down further, I would say my right is like 10.2 where my left is 10.7.

I was thinking about this more and I'm fairly certain I always end up getting blisters on my right heel, which may be a result of wearing a boot half a size too big. Usually a 10.5 feels fine on my right foot, but my left foot doesn't fit, so I end up with an 11. Am I just going to have to buy two pairs of differently sized boots to solve this issue? Does anyone have any experience with this?

submitted by /u/jbuelz
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Exploring Elafonisi Island : Crete, Greece

Exploring Elafonisi Island : Crete, Greece submitted by /u/Thewandertheory
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The Gruesome Realities of Overheating (and How to Prevent Them)

Windsurfing or Kiteboarding?

I have been kayaking for a few years now and I've seen a few people at the lake doing windsurfing and kiteboarding and they both seem super fun. What should I know when trying to decide which hobby to get into, seems like they both will take $1500-2000 to get a decent start up, which is what I did with my kayak.

I live in DFW area so I will mainly be doing water sports in the lakes around that.

submitted by /u/Zanlak
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7 Life Lessons From Winning the Race Across America

It’s not simply a matter of what it takes to win a 3,000-mile bike race. It’s about what winning the Race Across America grants you in ‘real life.’

Race Across America winner

Just as France has the Tour, the United States has the Race Across America (RAAM). While both events pose grueling 3,000-mile courses and demand extraordinary conditioning, RAAM is an entirely different animal.

Unlike the Tour de France, the annual RAAM is no stage race. Instead, individuals and teams pedal round the clock to cross the country, riding from southern California to the East Coast.

And this year Fat Chance, America’s four-person, mixed-gender team won its category, officially finishing the 3,029.8-mile trek in 6 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes. How on Earth do you pedal across the U.S. in less than a week?! Fat Chance team member Patrick Sweeney told GearJunkie what he learned on his epic ride.

Race Across America lessons

Race Across America: 7 Life Lessons Learned

A self-proclaimed “Fear Guru,” Sweeney is an author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He’s made a career of adventure and storytelling.

According to him, he and team Fat Chance conquered “every challenging meteorological and vehicular phenomenon imaginable!” And along the way, he found seven lessons that helped him and his teammates excel — both on and off the race course.

1. Find More Fear and Cultivate It

Anxiety, stress, and fear are ever present in an adventure like RAAM. So you’ll need to acquaint yourself early.

Fear peaks at the start or on 60-mph descents, when your front wheel suddenly develops the speed wobbles. Yet, every day when my shift came around, the butterflies awoke in my belly. I was afraid of the heat, the 18-wheelers blasting by my shoulder, the greasy, pitch-black roads with water running God knows how deep, and the flat I got speeding 46 mph downhill.

Riding the Race Across America

Each day I needed a second trip to the toilet just before I took off, as the butterflies came on in full force. The tummy-talking and bowel-bowling were sure signs my amygdala was actively sending me into a fight, flight, or freeze response.

When I felt my body change, I knew my central nervous system was refining a high-octane energy reserve we normally don’t access. I love that feeling because the fear is fuel — I wrangled and tamed the butterflies into flying in the same direction and got pumped up.

After a few days, the fear’s sharpness began to dull. But I brought it back to the razor’s edge near the end of the race. I felt a renewed intensity on day six when I saw another team gaining on us. Despite deep-rooted fatigue and a foggy mind, the fear kicked in like a turbocharger; it cleared my head and powered my pulls.

I suddenly pushed several 24- to 25-mph stints over the last 30 minutes of an 11-hour shift — the latest in six grueling days. That fear — of losing, failure, and letting down my teammates — became my performance-enhancing drug.

2. Commit

Driving full force into a mission eliminates doubt, questioning, and decision fatigue. When it was pitch-dark, lashing rain and shivering blurred my vision. I knew as soon as my partner’s light came into view for the handoff I would open the van’s door and get back on the bike — even though my mind and body screamed at me not to.

Race Across America

I didn’t waste any energy thinking, “I could do this later; maybe I could skip this leg; if I wait it might clear up; it’s not my job,” etc. I committed to doing my part no matter what.

When our crew was on the brink of falling asleep standing up and the crew chief wasn’t giving clear direction, they took initiative because they were dedicated to the team. Even with a leadership void, if everyone else has commitment and dedication, people will take action for the team.

The more you show an unquestioning commitment to your job, the more trust it builds among your team, and the more you count on each other and create a safe environment where you know everyone is going to give their best.

3. Appreciate the Little Things

Part of this means not letting bad things set you back or consume your energy. Even at the height of suffering, pausing to notice a haunting crescent moon, laugh at a recalled moment, or marvel at the beauty of the scenery can give you a change of heart. That can positively affect your performance and mindset.

Race Across America Fat Chance

So can good samaritans. A woman standing alone under an umbrella at midnight, furiously ringing her cowbell as I navigated swiftly running water in a construction zone in Athens, Ohio, made me laugh for a good five minutes. I mean, really: How altruistic can you be?!

Murphy’s Law applies to anything in life, so expect it and know that when things go haywire, it happens to everyone. How quickly and efficiently you deal with unforeseen issues will set the tone for your next stage of success.

4. Prioritize the Mission, Not a Position

An epic adventure is like a startup: Having a clear objective, a handful of prioritized metrics, and a defined mission will guide you to success. Step one is assigning crucial roles to specific people.

This ensures no one says, “Someone needs to pump up the tires.” Everyone knows who checks the tires, but if someone misses their responsibility, the rest of the team is dedicated to the mission and can jump in to do other tasks. Anyone more concerned with protecting their ego is cancer to a team.

5. Desire and Practice Always Trump Talent

I was 210 pounds when we started the race. Even with a rower’s body and the biggest bike frame I could find, I look like a gorilla riding a tricycle in a circus. As a former world-class rower, I’m sure I was never made for any athletic events longer than seven minutes. But here I was as part of a winning team that raced for more than six straight days.

Shawn, a retired financial planner who wanted to be part of a great adventure, signed on to the only open spot … as a cook. He had never been in a kitchen but did whatever he was asked with a smile on his face. The lesson: Don’t let others — or yourself — put a limit on your accomplishments because you are not a “born talent.”

6. Stay Ahead of the Bike

Being prepared ahead of time for any eventuality is critical for dealing with the unforeseen. The eight-man team that set the course record this year had over 500 rider-exchanges in just over five days.

The team knew that 15 minutes after they dropped someone off for a sprint, they had to find the next suitable spot on the side of the road, get a rider out, check the lights on the bike, put it in the right gear, squeeze the tire pressure, and communicate the next turns to the rider for their quarter-hour sprint.

But they also had backup plans in place when things didn’t work. Being psychologically “ahead of the bike” gives ample room for quick decision making and contingency planning when old Mr. Murphy rears his head.

7. Embrace Multiple Perspectives, Then Adjust on the Fly

The other three riders and I suffered to get an extra half-minute every time we sat on the bike. The level of pain we endured for those few seconds was extreme, so it was infuriating when we committed a preventable mistake that cost precious minutes. The person causing the delay wasn’t thinking of our pain and often wasn’t ahead of the bike (see the previous point).

The crew’s point of view was entirely different than the individual’s because they were on 18-hour shifts every day. Some were even falling asleep for a few seconds while driving. The crew chief assigned 18-hour shifts for logistical convenience, but that was a mistake.

If we had put ourselves in the other team members’ shoes and seen how hard this was on the crew, three eight-hour shifts would have been an easy and apparent solution to adapt on the fly.

Patrick Sweeney is the Fear Guru. His book ‘Fear as Fuel’ is coming out in 2019. Sweeney is a full-time adventurer, entrepreneur, and angel investor, and the first person to attempt to ride a bike up and down the Seven Summits — the highest peak on each continent. He has also started and sold three technology companies, is the Chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Entertainment Network, and sits on several corporate and university boards.

The post 7 Life Lessons From Winning the Race Across America appeared first on GearJunkie.

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Exploring the island of Elafonisi in Crete, Greece

Exploring the island of Elafonisi in Crete, Greece submitted by /u/Thewandertheory
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Burn Calories, Power Lights: Sustainable Goals Revive ‘Eco-Gym’ Concept

Outdoor Retailer Environmental Friendly Product Award Winners

Outdoor Retailer Environmental Friendly Product Award Winners submitted by /u/tetonpassboarder
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First visit to Punderson doesn’t disappoint

Have bike, will travel to hunting spots

Top 10 Backwoods Camping Equipment You Can Get On For $25 Or Less

Top 10 Backwoods Camping Equipment You Can Get On For $25 Or Less submitted by /u/MrGruntsworthy
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ATV Kauai

ATV Kauai submitted by /u/infogurrrle
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‘Projections in the Forest’

Peloton Is Going Big—or About to Bust

“What’s up, hustlers! I’m Robin, this is DJ John Michael, and welcome to this 45-minute live DJ ride!”

Robin Arzon is already pumping her legs on the stationary bike, facing the class dead-on while John Michael bobs in place next to her, queuing up music. “We are gonna bring you so many good vibes, and if you are joining us for the first time, wow-wow, welcome.” Arzon looks and sounds thrilled that you’re here, talking fast and beaming while she launches into rapid-fire instruction. She runs you through the three most important metrics of the spin class—cadence, resistance, and output—never losing breath or rhythm.

Her class, however, is happening on a screen, and the participants are strapped in and ready to ride in their own living rooms. This is Peloton, a six-year-old company valued at $1.25 billion that provides virtual cycling classes and has developed a cultlike following, seemingly able to get just about anyone on board after their first ride. Its customer base covers a huge range of ages and athletic levels, and nearly all reviews, ratings, articles, and anecdotes about the experience are overwhelmingly positive.

Arzon’s class is one of more than 8,500 videos available through the program. Peloton streams about a dozen live classes every day and stores previous classes in an on-demand library for anyone who missed them. To access the classes, though, you have to be a member of this exclusive community, meaning you own the brand’s proprietary $1,995 aluminum and carbon steel stationary bike and pay a $40 monthly subscription fee. The bike is sturdy and sleek and souped up with a 22-inch HD touchscreen. Today, there are roughly 113,000 bikes (a number that’s steadily growing) in homes across the United States alone, and each live class brings in an audience of as many as 1,500 riders (out of Peloton’s 1 million–person user base).

“The first time I got on the bike, I felt instant camaraderie,” says rider Brooke Bower. “You feel like you have a relationship with the instructor and the other people in the class and then feel some accountability to try harder.”

The company unveiled its first bike in 2013, promising to bring the intensity and devoted following of cycling classes like SoulCycle and Flywheel into the home. Founder John Foley, a former e-commerce executive at Barnes and Noble, created a Kickstarter video that helped him raise just over $300,000 and began generating industry attention. The next year, the company had to scale up its fundraising to create a bike that could be tested by real people and sold to consumers. At the end of that fundraising, Peloton had a few more bikes and its first brick-and-mortar studio, but it was taking way too long to get the bikes into peoples’ homes, significantly limiting growth. It wasn’t until 2015 that things started to take off. Over the course of that year, the company received almost $100 million in total investments, allowing it to speed up bike production and delivery, hire more instructors, expand its software team, create the monthly subscription model, and increase the number of streamed classes available. Today, Peloton claims to sell a bike in every state every day and has opened nearly 30 brick-and-mortar showrooms across the country. The company even livestreamed classes from Pyeongchang during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Part of Peloton’s popularity stems from its role as a social network. Just like your Facebook or Strava account, you create a username and upload a profile picture. That name is then used to rank you on a leaderboard while you ride, allowing you to compete in real time against everyone else taking the class, no matter their location. The networking doesn’t end there: Many people follow individuals they regularly identify in their classes and strike up friendships independently through another forum, namely Facebook or Instagram. Although there’s no formal relationship with Peloton, the two social media platforms have become de facto headquarters for users to socialize and talk shop. Peloton diehards point to this social network creation as proof that you don’t lose out by spinning in your home rather than at a studio or gym.

Bower and her husband, Drew, are two converts in Fort Worth, Texas, and are representative of the sort of evangelical fervor the classes can inspire. The Bowers estimate that they’re personally responsible for at least a dozen friends buying bikes. “We’ve had our bike for two years, we’ve done over 1,400 rides on it, and we just can’t get enough, ” Drew says.

What exactly riders can’t get enough of is another question. Despite many conversations with home riders, I was never able to get a single narrative on what makes Peloton so compelling—there’s the camaraderie, the cross-country friendships, the competition, the drive to edge out other riders, the personal improvement, the sense of focus, the customization, the convenience. Nicole Steele, a home rider in Pittsburgh, picked up cycling after reconstructive surgery on her knee and started Peloton as a way to stay active after hearing from a friends who had picked it up as an alternative to running. Steele liked that she could choose from a variety of levels, intensities, and types of classes, from 60-minute cardio rides to ten-minute technique tutorials.

In spite of all the evangelism, there are some serious drawbacks. As Bryan Jarrett, the group fitness director at the massive Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex in New York, points out, it’s hard to know if you’re doing something improperly without an instructor giving you live feedback. “We train our instructors to not give basic cues like ‘butt back, shoulders relaxed,’ that kind of stuff,” he says. “We’re focusing on specific people.”

For Becky Cerroni, the owner of the studio JoyRide Texas, the simulated group setting isn’t a substitute for a real crowd. “Having a person next to you, you can’t replace that with a leaderboard.”

Still, the company reports a 96 percent retention rate. Though the initial cost is high (again, the bike runs $1,995, while most at-home stationary bikes are nestled securely in triple digits), you pay just $40 each month for unlimited classes. By comparison, a single SoulCycle class is $34 (or, at best, $28 per class if you buy a 30-pack), and a Flywheel class starts at $30 (or $27 if you buy 20 classes). What’s more, in June 2018, the company released Peloton Digital, which gives users access to content without the hardware.

To maintain quality control, Peloton does almost everything in-house. Using a team of more than 70 engineers, the company has produced its own bikes and screens, as well as the Android-based software. The company has its own delivery mechanism, in many markets delivering bikes in Peloton-branded vans and dispatching employees to set up the bikes and help new customers find the right classes and instructors that suit their tastes. Eliminating middlemen allows Peloton to deliver parts or assistance immediately, contributing to a heralded culture of customer service.

The company pays that same level of attention to what Blodgett calls “beautiful brand experiences,” largely because Peloton considers itself a lifestyle and content company, not a fitness company. It has created a number of products and events around helping you take Peloton with you off the bike: an online store that sells standard fitness gear like clip-in shoes and heart rate monitors alongside branded swag like tank tops and necklaces; rider events at the New York headquarters; instructor meet and greets at showrooms across the country; and active outreach to users who haven’t been to a class in a while.

Now Peloton’s gearing up to grow even bigger. At last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, it unveiled Tread, a $4,000 treadmill that will stream group classes for running, hiking, and bootcamp-style workouts. Blodgett compares it to Orange Theory or Barry’s Bootcamp, saying, “When we thought about launching a treadmill-like product, we were pretty specific about not launching a treadmill.” That’s because treadmills have a bad rap, and most people who buy one end up not using it. Since Peloton is so dependent on subscriptions, the company had to steer clear of the dreadmill model and emulate the HIIT studio workouts that have started to incorporate running.

Why all this success? Walt Thompson, president of the American College of Sports Medicine who oversees an annual survey of fitness trends, blames the economy, often a driving force behind health and wellness trends. According to the ACSM survey, group training in particular has been surging in popularity. “Even if I just go back three years in our survey, you didn’t see group training,” Thompson says. Maybe it’s a stroke of luck, but Peloton happens to be where it is at the perfect time, as group exercise, wearable tech (and, by extension, obsessing over your personal metrics), and working with credentialed professionals all enjoy unprecedented popularity.

For all the praise, though, there’s still something about the whole thing that sounds at least mildly dystopian. You can get all the rewards of going outside and training with others, all without ever actually having to put up with the hassle of making it happen or dealing with other people.

So do we lose something when we find one more reason to stay home, even though we’re digitally right next to hundreds of other people all pedaling to the same Britney Spears song? I asked Mark Eys, a sports psychologist specializing in group dynamics, and to my surprise, the question was more theoretical to him than anything else, pointing out that the biggest hurdle people have for exercising is the perception, real or not, that they don’t have enough time for it.

“Would it be better if they’re out in nature and doing all those things with other people? Sure,” Eys said. “From what I see with physical activity rates and the lack of activity across the population, if it works and gets people active on an ongoing basis, then that’s great.”

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Why Dive Watches Can Go Deeper than Nuclear Submarines

In 1953, Swiss brand Blancpain released the first purpose-built diving watch. Built to specifications laid out by the French Navy’s combat swimmer unit, it was dubbed the Fifty Fathoms, a reference to the depth thought to be the deepest a diver could safely go using scuba gear, around 300 feet. A few years ago, Blancpain, still in the business, released a new version, the 500 Fathoms, rated for an abyssal depth of—you guessed it—3,000 feet.

This is roughly three times farther below the surface of the sea than the deepest scuba dive on record. And Blancpain is hardly an outlier: every other notable maker of dive watches now pushes models capable of tolerating water pressure that no human will ever be able to tolerate without a submarine. Why? The full answer invites a look back at the origins of diving itself.

In the early years of underwater exploration, divers wore bronze helmets, surviving on air that was pumped down to them from the surface through a gurgling hose. With the invention of the aqua-lung, the world’s first scuba system, in the 1940s, divers were free to swim untethered, but also had to keep track of how long they were breathing compressed air to avoid the bends. Initially, dive watches were simple tools—sturdy steel timepieces with big dials and rotating rings. Their water resistance was owed to multiple rubber gaskets, thick glass, and screw-down crowns. They were tested to 100 meters (just over 328 feet) of depth, though that was soon doubled for a healthy measure of safety, despite the fact that no one dared drop below 100 feet.

The 200-meter depth ratings remained the industry standard through the early 1960s, with almost every major brand from Switzerland and Japan releasing a dive watch. Bulova boasted slightly more capability, cagily rating its dive watches to 666 feet (203 meters) and giving them the nickname “Devil Divers”. But by the middle of the decade, a new breed of military and commercial adventurers were heading down to several hundred feet and brands responded with watches rated to 600 meters. In 1968, the Swiss brand, Jenny, introduced the first 1000-meter watch, calling it the “Caribbean”. Its thick, oversized case, domed glass, and decompression scale bezel presented a bold look that defied its breezy name. This was the heyday of scuba—The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was on television and recreational diving was booming. Chunky watches had become symbols of derring-do and wearing one in daily life that could go down, down, down said something about your character, even if only a tiny percentage of elite professionals ever went below 100 feet.

This attitude persists today, spurring luxury brands to develop watches like Blancpain‘s 500 Fathoms, the 3,000-meter rated Breitling Avenger Seawolf, and the king of the deep, Rolex’s Deepsea Sea-Dweller, with its 3,900-meter rating. Never mind that new scuba divers are certified to a depth of 60 feet, most advanced divers max out at 130 feet, and the deepest dive on record is 332 meters. We apparently need watches that exceed the crush depths of modern nuclear submarines, which implode below 400 meters. On James Cameron’s 2012 trip to the deepest point on Earth, the 35,000-foot Marianas Trench, a prototype Rolex watch was strapped to the outside of his submersible. Seiko works with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology to test its dive watches on remotely operated vehicles, proudly announcing their functioning at almost double their rated depth before the glass is deformed enough to press on the watch hands.

The truth is, a 100-meter rating is still perfectly adequate for a dive watch, just as it was more than 60 years ago. This is why it’s the international standard.

So why do watch brands keep developing extreme models? And why do we keep buying them? Marketing and bragging rights. It’s the same reasons SUVs are popular in the suburbs and Arctic-ready parkas are abundant on the streets of Manhattan. They’re symbols of capability and readiness, providing a sense of security and ruggedness in an era of so much planned obsolescence. Even if you’ll never go deeper than a reef snorkel, it’s nice to know your watch could, just in case.

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Actually, the Classic Wristwatch Will Always Be Popular

Half a mile offshore and 80 feet deep in the Gulf of California, I hover transfixed by a seven-foot bull shark that circles in and out of the murky near distance. My dive buddy and I had intended to explore a steep rock pinnacle here, but the toothy predator has held our attention since we dropped in 30 minutes earlier. A glance at my pressure gauge tells me I have plenty of air in my scuba tank. But at this depth my time is limited unless I want to pause for decompression stops on my return to the surface, and the thought of hanging out above an active bull shark isn’t appealing. I check my wrist dive computer to see how long I have until I need to start ascending. The LCD screen is blank.

A failing dive computer is both an annoyance and a reminder of the merits of the mechanical wristwatch, the triumph of springs and gears over silicon circuit boards and lithium batteries. Despite the many features offered by smart watches—activity tracking, notifications, heart rate, GPS navigation—the hard truth is that batteries fail, electronics don’t like cold, and screens can go dark at the worst-possible moments. An analog dive watch won’t suddenly quit on you while you’re gawking at a shark. And yet, if you believe the hype, traditional wristwatches, despite their many practical advantages, are a fading relic, made obsolete by the connected devices that now seem to rule our lives.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been told classic timepieces are facing extinction. In the early 1970s, the established watch industry, dominated by the Swiss, came under attack by a new technology—the quartz wristwatch. Coming from Asia, these inexpensive, highly accurate, battery-powered tickers were all the rage. Even James Bond swapped his Rolex for a Seiko that spit out messages from headquarters. The onslaught did in fact come close to driving the Swiss brands into oblivion. But by the 1990s, the pendulum was swinging back, thanks largely to the popularity of Swatch. The Swiss industry re-invented itself by pivoting to simpler watches, many incorporating plastics in the watch cases.

Today, despite our increasingly digital world, mechanical watches are not just enduring, they are thriving. In May, sales of Swiss watch exports were up 5.3 percent to $1.8 billion, which made it the 13th consecutive month of increased exports. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Human are largely analog creatures. We have an intuitive preference for reading time or velocity on circular displays with moving hands. This is why so many of today’s top-selling smart watches offer analog faces and why even Tesla dashboards present speed and RPMs with digital renderings of old-school gauges. A blur of lit-up numerals just isn’t the same as watching the needle move. It’s the same pleasure you get turning a Nest thermostat or using an analog stopwatch to time race splits, especially a mechanical one that jumps to life with a satisfying “click”.

Then there’s the fact that digital tools are, almost by definition, built for obsolescence. Circuit boards have a lifespan, batteries leak, LCD screens burn out. The next version is always the better version. No one ever repairs them; they’re simply replaced. A well-made mechanical watch, however, will last for generations, and many can readily endure conditions that would destroy high-tech tools. Sir Edmund Hillary, Jacque Cousteau, and Amelia Earhart summited peaks, discovered shipwrecks, and flew across oceans with mechanical watches on their wrists.

To wear a proper watch, especially while adventuring, ties you to that long lineage of derring-do. Strapping on a trusty field watch to scale a 14er can add to the experience and provide a tangible memento. When you’re back at your desk Monday morning, there’s something gratifying about looking down at your wrist and seeing the same piece that was with you on the summit. You just don’t get the same satisfaction from downloading your elevation profile to an app.

Back in the Gulf of California, with my dive computer kaput, I signal to my dive buddy that we need to head for the surface. On my right wrist, an old Navy surplus analog depth gauge tracks my ascent—80, 75, 70 feet—on up to 15 feet, where I pause for a standard three-minute safety stop. On my left wrist is the Rolex Submariner my wife gave me for my 40th birthday. I watch the steady sweep of its seconds hand, while the minute hand tracks elapsed time on the rotating outer ring. Stripped of the passive reliance on a computer to tell me what to do and when, I am a more active participant in the moment, highly aware of the passage of time.

Today, three years later, I’ve replaced the faulty dive computer but am still wearing the same Rolex on my wrist now as a I type. It’s a collector of my past adventures and an inspiration for more to come. And that might just be its most important function of all.

from Outside Magazine: All

What You Should and Shouldn't Eat Before a Run

Whether you’re a neighborhood jogger or an ultramarathoner, fueling right will help you get the most out of every mile. Eating well before you run can prevent sudden fatigue mid-workout (aka hypoglycemia, or bonking) and can have a direct impact on your performance. “What you eat will help you through the run by either building your glycogen stores for a workout later or boosting blood sugar for a workout in the short term,” says nutritionist Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. As you start to increase your mileage, your body requires extra fuel—and eating right gets even more important.

Foods to Avoid Before a Run

Foods high in fat, fiber, and protein are best avoided right before you hit the pavement or trail. “Too much fat or protein before a run can cause cramping or tiredness, as your body will be spending energy on digestion instead of running,” Shapiro explains. High-fiber foods can also lead to GI distress and cramping because they are hard to fully digest, so they move through your system rapidly. Some runners swear by a caffeine boost, but be careful not to overdo it on coffee or tea for all the same reasons you wouldn’t want to overdo it at the office—elevated heart rate, stomachaches, and frequent bathroom trips. These foods could be rough for digestion before a run:

  • Legumes
  • Broccoli, artichokes, or other high-fiber veggies
  • Apples, pears, or other high-fiber fruits
  • Cheese, red meat, bacon, or other high-fiber foods
  • Caffeine (in large amounts)
  • Spicy foods

Foods to Eat Before a Run

The ideal pre-run snack is easy to digest and provides instant fuel, Shapiro says. Foods higher in carbohydrate content are best, because carbs break down into glucose, the body’s main source of energy during a run. Glucose circulates in the bloodstream, where it can be used for immediate energy, or it gets stored as readily accessible glycogen in the muscles and liver. A little bit of protein and fat can provide some staying power, but the majority of your pre-run fuel should be carbs. Shapiro encourages opting for real foods when possible, rather than sticking to bars and energy gels. Her go-to snacks:

  • Banana and almond butter
  • Turkey and cheese on whole-wheat bread
  • Oatmeal and berries
  • Cheese stick and carrots
  • Toast with 1/4 avocado or one to two tablespoons of nut butter

When to Eat

The ideal pre-run meal is generally 300 to 400 calories, consumed around two hours before you hit the road, Shapiro says. Even if you’re going long, you’re better off fueling mid-run than loading up too much beforehand. If you’ve eaten a larger meal, you may need to wait up to four hours before running to prevent stomach discomfort, although 30 minutes is usually enough after a light snack, she says.

Exactly how much you ought to consume varies slightly based on your body and your workout, of course. For an easy run of less than an hour, aim for 15 grams of carbs. “Most people can get through a three-mile run without food beforehand,” Shapiro says. “But it might be easier to get through the three miles if you have a small carbohydrate snack, such as a piece of fruit.” If you’re doing a longer or more intense workout, go for 30 grams of carbs. Before a marathon, you’re looking at something between 50 and 75 grams. For runs longer than 75 minutes, you’ll also need to think about bringing along some mid-run fuel, because your glycogen stores will be depleted. Shapiro advises 30 to 60 grams of carbs for every additional hour you’ll be out, as well as added electrolytes and extra fluids.

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Dating in Mountain Towns Is the Ultimate Crapshoot

When I moved from Los Angeles to Montana in my mid-twenties, I became well acquainted with the clichés of mountain-town dating, went through a period of swinging singledom, and then met the man I thought I might marry. Years later, we became each other’s greatest heartbreak. I emerged in my thirties to the same small-town dating scene of my twenties and found it no longer fit what I was looking for.

Unlike much of the ski-town crowd, I don’t live in a van or a tiny home (although I’ve been known to live out of the back of my truck for weeklong stints). I’m a classic weekend warrior, generally working full-time as a freelance writer and marketer. I like to have money in my bank account and an adult home, and I tend to choose a nice bottle of wine over a night at the bar these days. I chase winter, but I put down roots where I land instead of blowing through in a hedonistic storm. I want a mountain man who’s similarly mature, adventurous, and self-sufficient (did I mention employed?).

I’d like to think depth in a relationship and the mountain lifestyle aren’t mutually exclusive. But when the pool of single men is notoriously overcrowded with Peter Pans and 40-year-old ski bums, the search for a mature, healthy relationship starts to resemble a quest for the holy grail.

And so I set out on my quest in ski towns across the world in search of real romance. These are my dating dispatches from a year traveling through three different mountain locales.

The Hazardous Ski Lift Meet-Cute

Missoula, Montana

What It’s Known For: More nonprofits per capita than literally anywhere else; A River Runs Through It; and Snowbowl, the local ski hill with unpredictable southern exposure and the best Bloody Mary around.

The Scene: I’d spent the fall of 2015 in Missoula without meeting anyone of note, and I was ready to give up. Enter winter and Snowbowl’s aging two-person ski lift, which has been sneakily matchmaking the locals for years with its interminable rides and frequent breakdowns.

One day in December, I yelled, “Single!” and hopped on the lift with another single dude. We were well into acquainting ourselves on the slow ascent when the lift lurched and stopped abruptly. As we hung there for 45 minutes, waiting for our death-defying rappel rescue by the ski patrol, we talked about work, passions, and life goals.

Before we’d even been lowered to the ground, I decided I would ask him out. He beat me to it.

The Outcome: Bachelor #1 and I dated for several months. Over the course of this relationship, I became deeply familiar with the iconic commitment-phobia of lifelong ski bums. This category of man can typically be found on the ski hill or in the backcountry for as many days as there’s snow. He doesn’t work in winter, holding down summer seasonal jobs long past his twenties to fund his powder habit. While Bachelor #1 bucked many of the common stereotypes, he was unable to fit anything (or anyone) into the ski bachelor lifestyle he’d been living for so long. I ended it in favor of finding someone for whom I would be a priority (and in favor of chasing winter).

The Swiping Experiment

Wanaka, New Zealand

What It’s Known For: Mellow vibe, Treble Cone’s big lines, and badass Kiwis.

The Scene: I left Missoula in the spring of 2016 to chase winter in New Zealand and landed in the paradise that is Wanaka. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to try dating apps for the first time. I quickly encountered all the classic hazards of small-town Tindering, including repeated awkward encounters in our only grocery store with that dude I accidentally Superliked and running into all three of my most recent matches in the lift line.

I met Bachelor #2 when I commented on the speed-flying photo in his profile. He offered to take me out, and I was booked for my first full-day outdoor Tinder date.

We drove to the Old Man Range and sledded around in search of an appropriate learning slope. He gave me a quick safety talk on how to operate the wing, and I took off on my first attempt—promptly crashing after about 45 seconds in the air. I hit the snow laughing, lucky not to have injured myself spectacularly. The wing wasn’t so lucky: I’d grazed the only rock on the entire slope during the crash, tearing a hole in Bachelor #2’s $2,000 piece of gear and effectively closing the door on a second attempt (and a second date).

After that, I decided to expand my Tinder search into neighboring Queenstown. I matched with Bachelor #3, whose beat-up truck was a little too beat up to make it over the icy pass. He hitchhiked over to Wanaka for our first date, wearing a costume tiger onesie in the hopes that it would facilitate being picked up on the side of the road. I gave him points for guts.

The Outcome: We drove my slightly more-functional station wagon to the shores of Lake Wanaka and made dinner over a fire. We dated for the rest of my stint in New Zealand, making time for ski missions between his 50-hour-a-week startup gig and my budding freelance career. Only my expired visa interfered with what could have been an endgame romance.

The Too-Friendly Town

Revelstoke, Canada

What It’s Known For: Drool-worthy big-mountain terrain on Rogers Pass, a legendary snowpack, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s extreme vert.

The Scene: Revelstoke is renowned as a seasonal ski destination, its population of almost 7,000 swelling by as much as 2,000 people in winter. When I arrived there for the winter of 2017, I was in the market for a lasting relationship, but little did I know I’d be viewed as a nomadic ski bum myself.

I met Bachelor #4 at the resort. He was smart, funny, a badass skier—and a local. We went on one of those dates that evolves from skiing to beers to dinner. In this case, it evolved into dinner with his best friends, the ski-town equivalent of meeting the parents right off the bat. However, Bachelor #4 was the male version of me: mid-thirties and looking for a lasting relationship. Ultimately, I couldn’t prove to him that I’d still be there when the snow melted, and that was that.

Shortly after, I broke my ankle in a high-speed ski crash, effectively ending my run on the Revelstoke dating scene. After all, being laid up with a broken bone is not an ideal way to meet men in a ski town. That is, until I crossed paths with Bachelor #5, one of #4’s best friends whom I’d met on that fateful dinner date.

Bachelor #5 was a recovering ski bum just trying out the professional life, and he offered to take my broken self out on his snowmobile for a sunset sled after work. Having suffered a season-ending injury of his own the previous winter, he understood my craving to get into the mountains—whether I could take turns or not. I brought Montanan IPA to share, he brought local red wine, and we had an unexpectedly awesome happy hour on the cat track.

The Outcome: The next morning, I snuck out of his house and ran smack into Bachelor #4, who was picking up #5 for a morning ski mission. I decided that while this overlap is part and parcel of mountain-town dating, it was more than I could handle—a decision that also, unfortunately, precluded me from dating about 82 percent of Revelstoke’s male population.

My quest for the holy grail of meaningful relationships is ongoing, but I refuse to let all the clichés of mountain-town dating win. Somewhere out there, among the 40-year-old ski bums and seasonal liftees, there’s a unicorn in ski pants looking for a dawn-patrol partner before we both head to our full-time jobs. It’s only a matter of time before we run into each other on the mountain.

from Outside Magazine: All

The Official 2018 Outside Tour de France Awards

The lead-out to this year’s Tour de France was dark, with 2017 champion and prohibitive favorite Chris Froome caught up in a protracted doping investigation over his use of an asthma medication. But despite the cloud of scandal, plus a few favorites crashing out early and none of the high-horsepower sprinters making it over the mountains, the 2018 Tour de France was the most hotly contested and thrilling edition in years. Until the final time trial—which was decided by a single second—three riders were within two minutes and 37 seconds of the Yellow Jersey with the final two spots on the podium still up for grabs. There was “grinta” galore, lunatic descending, reckless attacking, and, ultimately, a new champion, Welshman Geraint Thomas, a rider who wasn’t even on most people’s dark horse list. Here are our picks for the best and worst of July’s chase for yellow.

Best Medieval Torture Device: Cobblestones

With an eye toward upping the drama of non-mountain stages, organizers packed more brutal cobblestone into Stage 9 than any in history—15 “sectors” of dusty rocks as smooth as baby heads. Each time the road pinched it was game on, as the entire field fought to close gaps. If it rained it would have been total carnage. As it was, the dust on granite was like ice in spots. Somehow, the remaining favorites survived the day—proving themselves as hard men. Romain Bardet was heroic as he repeatedly fought back to the front. It was even possible to feel empathy for Chris Froome whose Sky squad foolishly drove the pace from the front of the field and ultimately put its own riders at risk on the dusty corners.

Best New Development: The Mountain Crit

Criteriums are urban bike races that follow a circuit and pretty much go full tilt from the gun. That’s what Tour organizers envisioned in the Stage 17, except here the route would climb over three Pyrenean mountain passes in only 65 kilometers—the shortest non-time-trial stage in more than 30 years. Despite a bold move by Movistar that set up Nairo Quintana for the stage win, the fireworks didn’t happen until the final climb, which saw Chris Froome crack and his teammate Geraint Thomas secure yellow. If more cobbles and short mountain stages were designed to enliven the Tour, they certainly did so.

Best Rule Enforcement: A Future of Strict Time Cut-Offs

Field sprints in the Tour have been a joke since the 1980s. The big powerhouse sprinters can’t really hang in the mountains so, historically, the organizers have looked the other way when the burly boys would grab team cars for tows. Worse, race officials would also pardon sprinters en masse when the “grupetto” (the soft pedaling herd behind the race) would miss the time cutoff. It’s seems that the Tour is done with the accommodations. A few hard Alpine stages (notably Stage 11 which was only 108-kilometers long and therefore had a shorter cutoff window) early in the race sent most of the lummoxes—Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Dylan Groenewegen, and Fernando Gaviria—packing along with aging phenom Mark Cavendish. By placing short steep mountain stages earlier in the race, the tour seemed to willingly shed bigger riders. It’s been theorized that the intention is to recruit more fast and powerful athletes that can actually ride over mountains—like Peter Sagan—to contest for field sprints in the future. We like that idea.

Best Trend: Rise of the Strong Men

Most Americans don’t know it, but the greatest bike racing on the pro tour happens in the spring, when tough and versatile racers—think of less waif-like George Hincapie and Fabian Cancellara types—battle it out in a series of one-day races on rough, cobbled, muddy, cold roads. They’re called the Spring Classics. Possibly because of the cobble stage, many of the spring stars showed up at this year’s Tour. John Degenkolb won the Roubaix stage. And a crew of strong, well rounded racers animated this year’s Tour: Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Julian Alaphilippe, Sonny Colbrelli, and of course (see previous entry) Peter Sagan, who can do anything on a bike.    

Best Daily Coverage: The Move

Lance Armstrong started his Tour podcast last year, with support from Outside. It continued as The Move this July, and we once again hosted it on our website. So yeah, full disclosure, we’re slightly biased, etc. But the real reason his podcast made this list? Because he’s a pariah, Lance is beholden to nobody. That allows the disgraced seven-time champion to call the racing and cycling culture as he sees it. He rips organizers, team directors, and hypocritical former dopers ruthlessly. An example: “Marc Madiot the manager of Team FDJ, says cycling and the Tour de France has a credibility problem. And this coming from a guy who during his career admitted to taking amphetamines and cortisone and no telling what else. As far as I’ve known him, he was a guy that would take everything but the kitchen sink. How can Madiot say that with his history?” What’s more, it would appear that the Tour boosters at NBC took notice. On the whole, their 2018 coverage was a lot less pollyanna-ish than in the past. Bob “Bobke” Roll even called into Lance’s show this year.

Lance to Bobke: “We’ll get you on The Move and you can drop the F-bomb.”

Bobke: “That sounds fun.”

MVP: Peter “Makes Party” Sagan

He contests for every sprint, but he also throws down in long-range breakaways that, on paper, dosen’t suit him, and when the mood strikes, he guts out climbs faster than half the field. He’s also the most charismatic guy in the peloton, in an Andy Kaufman meets John Travolta-in-Slovakia way. And nobody is more quotable in a post-stage interview.  

Best Use of the Tour de France as Recovery Ride: Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin

Winning the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same season has been called impossible in the modern era, but Froome won the Giro in May and stood on the third step of the Tour podium in Paris. He was just behind Tom Dumoulin in France, whereas Dumoulin was second in the Giro. They came into the Tour playing possum, claiming low expectations, but if not for an unfortunate puncture (Dumoulin) and one bad day (Froome) either one could have won the whole shebang. We’re cool with this trend that pays homage to the grand tour riders of yesteryear.  

Best French Lesson: This Song that NBC Kept Playing...

Now we know how to pronounce Champs d'Elysees—and we have a catchy jingle to annoy our children with. “Oh Champs d'Elysees, Champs d'Elysees…”

Best Show of Philippe Gilbert’s Grit   

He was a breakaway machine and a selfless teammate throughout the race. He also shattered his kneecap as he chased a stage win and tumbled over a stonewall. Except “Phil Gil” got back on the bike and rode another 60 kilometers to finish the stage. Can you blame him for abandoning the Tour after his left leg did this?

Best PR Makeover: Team Sky

It’s hard not to hate on Team Sky: Wiggins and that mysterious package. Froome and that bizarre asthma medicine finding. How they race based off of power meters rather than instinct and heart. How skinny and unlike you and me they are. The budget that pays even super domestiques like Mikal Kwiatkoski $1 million. The way they’re just so damn good. But then there’s Geraint Thomas, who headed into the Tour as a former domestique and possible pinch hitter in case Froome got punted by the UCI in July. His unexpected emergence in the maillot jaune not only prevented a tainted Chris Froome victory, it gave Sky a rare feel-good story. Cheers to Thomas for putting Wales on the map—and for giving the Tour, for now at least, the appearance of a clean champion.

Honorable Mentions

  • Dan Martin for his ill advised but lionhearted attacks that earned him the combativity prize for the Tour’s most aggressive rider.

  • Teams Lotto-Jumbo and Movistar for finally challenging the Sky juggernaut.

  • A taste of steep gravel. Steep dirt is old school for the Tour. But it’s also all the rage in recreational cycling. Hopefully Stage 10 was a sign of future gravel routes in the Tour.

  • And a shout-out to the Aussie TV feed for introducing us to idioms like (and these are best read aloud in Crocodile Dundee voice): “He’s got the bit in his teeth and he likes the taste.” And: “Bringing a dog to a bike race is like bringing a shark to a pool party.”

And Now for a Few Dishonorable Mentions

  • The stupid grid start on Stage 17 that did nothing for the race. A senseless gimmick that should be abandoned henceforth.

  • The stupid and dangerous supertuck (ass on top tube) that resulted in Philippe Gilbert’s crash and that likely will result in many more overcooked corners in the coming years.

  • The stupid Euro fans that crashed out Vincenzo Nibali.

  • The stupid gendarme (plural) that teargassed the peloton.

  • And the stupid gendarme (singular) that tackled Froome. 

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