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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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A recap of popular stories this week, September 23-29, 2018.
Overnight blizzard? Zip on your studs. Going from suburbs to singletrack? Zip on your trail treads. The reTyre presents one of the craziest bike tire designs we’ve seen in a while.
This monster Franken-truck will cost more than most homes — and only 24 will be built.
After a summer of exclusive testing, GearJunkie got a sneak peek at a wild new clipless pedal design for road bikes.
Thule launches the Helium Platform: A hitch-mounted bike carrier that holds bikes in place without any contact with the frame.
Ride your bike light a fighter pilot! These sunglasses use augmented reality (AR) to show riders all their key stats from inside the lenses! Naturally, we had to test them.
There was no major international championship during the 2018 outdoor track and field season, but there was still a doozy of a story: a 17-year-old Norwegian was making all the old guys look, well, old. In August, Jakob Ingebrigtsen won both the 1,500 and 5,000-meter events at the European Championships. That’s two European titles for a guy who isn’t old enough to drive in his home country.
Just in case you’re tempted to think that the Nordic wunderkind might only be good by European standards: Ingebrigtsen’s personal best in the 1,500 is 3:31:18. The NCAA men’s record for the same event is 3:35:01. In other words, despite being younger than most incoming college freshmen, Ingebrigtsen has already run almost four seconds faster than the fastest time ever run in the world’s most competitive collegiate sports league. How does one account for such meteoric talent?
At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s no doubt that Ingebrigtsen is blessed with that elusive “sports gene.” Jakob has two older brothers, Henrik (27) and Filip (25), both of whom are world class-level runners and former European champions. But neither of the elder Ingebrigtsens were as freakishly precocious as their younger brother. Last year, at age 16, Jakob became the youngest-ever sub four-minute miler. Two years earlier, he set a world record for 14-year-olds in the 1,500-meters.
In an interview at Euros, Ingebrigtsen provided some insight into his early success: “I’ve been a professional runner since I was eight, nine, ten years old,” Ingebrigtsen told the IAAF. “I’ve been training, dedicated and following a good structure—the same as my brothers—from an early age.”
You read that right. By his own account, Jakob Ingebrigtsen has already been a “professional” runner for about a decade. It seems to be paying off.
“Jakob has been training at a serious level since he was age nine, which isn’t any different than someone like Michael Phelps,” says Tom “Tinman” Schwartz, a running coach with a history of developing young talent. (Schwartz’s most recent protégé was Drew Hunter, who holds the national high school record for the indoor mile). Schwartz suggested that Ingebrigtsen’s most unique asset was having two pro runners as older siblings. All three Ingebrigtsen brothers are coached by their father, Gjert Ingebrigtsen, who had no background in track and field (either as an athlete or a coach) when his sons took an interest in the sport, but had accrued plenty of coaching practice by the time he got to Jakob.
“The father has fine-tuned his methods, so when the third one comes along he has a much better methodology for that unique set of circumstances, i.e. their genetics and the culture at home,” Schwartz says.
As luck would have it, we have a fascinating window into that “culture at home,” thanks to a Norwegian reality TV show called Team Ingebrigtsen. That’s not a joke. The brothers are big-time celebrities in Norway. Imagine a Scandinavian take on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, except the drama unfolds on the west coast of Norway instead of Los Angeles County. I’m totally hooked. The first episode opens with the three brothers standing shirtless in a tight circle as the camera rotates from face to face and voiceover narration kicks in: “Maybe you have heard of them? Henrik, Filip, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Running brothers who set unbelievable records and directly reject Nordic egalitarianism by stating openly: ‘We will be the best!’” (If given the chance, the Kardashians would presumably reject Nordic egalitarianism as well.)
Initial episodes of Team Ingebrigtsen go back to the 2013 track and field season, when Jakob is approaching his thirteenth birthday. He is on the cusp of competing in senior level athletics and joining his brothers in their hardcore training regimen. The driving force behind Team Ingebrigtsen is father Gjert, whom the show portrays as an authoritarian hard-ass who discourages his sons from doing anything that could sidetrack their athletic ambitions, e.g. dating, motorcycle-riding, drinking soda. Pro runners get to have all the fun.
In the wake of his recent rise to prominence, I have to admit that there’s something unsettling about seeing a preadolescent Jakob being groomed for running stardom from day one. We are meant to understand it was entirely Jakob’s decision to commit to the life of an elite athlete (and he hasn’t said anything to suggest otherwise), but after watching Team Ingebrigtsen one starts to wonder. The first episode includes old footage of the boys doing a predawn workout on skates.
“I think I was eight or nine years old,” Filip says. “When I woke up before school I had to roller-ski in the parking garage at the square. Of course, I knew that wasn’t normal.”
No kidding. It may be tempting to judge Gjert for his bizarre obsession with rearing a clan of running superstars, but there’s little doubt that his methods have yielded impressive results. The brothers are 1-2-3 on Norway’s all-time list for 1,500-meter times and appear well-adjusted in interviews. For his part, Jakob, who turned eighteen last week, doesn’t strike me as someone who mourns for a lost childhood.
Does Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s example imply that getting into running as an eight-year-old is a way increase the likelihood of future success? This would square with the (somewhat romanticized) origin stories of many of the great East African runners; e.g. a recent Times profile of newly-minted marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge claimed that “as a child, Kipchoge jogged solely as a form of transport” and “had no idea that all those miles were forming the foundation for an eventual career.” On the other hand, it’s unlikely that any pediatrician would think a high-mileage training routine—and the attendant risk of overuse injuries—is recommendable for children. There’s a reason, after all, why both the NYC and Boston Marathon’s have a minimum age limit of 18.
Dr. Lyle Micheli, who is the director of the sports medicine division at Boston Children’s Hospital, cautions that we really don’t know the long-term effects of intense training at an early age. (A scientific study of the issue would probably necessitate a time frame of several decades.) For better or worse, Micheli has observed a general trend of many young American athletes narrowing their athletic focus early on. “The tendency toward early specialization in the summer sports like lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and running, is growing. And it’s an area of active debate whether this potentially means there’s an increased risk of injury, but, also, looking at those kids long term, whether specialization has interfered with their ability to perform at a high level in a pre-selected sport,” Micheli says.
So perhaps doing morning parking lot intervals as a kindergartener isn’t a prerequisite for aspiring star athletes after all. Indeed, there are a number of world-class runners who came to the sport much later and still competed at the top. Dennis Kimetto, who was the marathon record holder until earlier this month, apparently only took up serious running in his mid-20s. Galen Rupp, who is a two-time Olympic medalist and holds the U.S. 10,000-meter record, was a soccer player when he started high school. At 14, an age when Ingebrigtsen ran a world-record time of 3:48 in the 1,500, Rupp was just getting his feet wet. He still made out okay.
Are you a winter commuter? It's the perfect time to stock up on Chrome Industries clothing. Everything is 15 percent off including rain jackets, cycling knickers, merino wool base layers, and button-down work shirts.
We've been longtime lovers of the Union shorts and our writer called them "the one pair of shorts I’d never give up because I can wear them on the bike, to the bar, in the pool, and, in a pinch, even to bed."
National Geographic released footage of Alex Honnold free soloing El Cap. While it isn’t the documentary film, the angle allows you to scroll or ‘climb’ alongside him up one of the most daunting big walls in climbing.
‘Free Solo’ released this past week in theaters. As a teaser, this seven-minute video certainly stokes the climbing flame and gets viewers incredibly close to Honnold’s accomplishment!
Read our review of Free Solo here, where we interview directors Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi. And then get out and see the documentary for yourself!
The post Watch: ‘Free Solo’ with Alex Honnold in 360-Degree Video appeared first on GearJunkie.
Helmets may be the most controversial piece of biking equipment. Some say they make riding safer; others that they don’t make cycling safe enough; still others that we should focus on safe driving, rather than safe cycling. For many, the decision about whether to wear one simply comes down to looks. Helmets mess up your hair and look dorky with street clothes, and, for many people, that’s reason enough to ditch the lid for their morning commute. A Brooklyn startup called Park and Diamond wants to help solve this problem—and in the process help reduce commuter-cyclist fatalities and injuries—with a new collapsible bike helmet ($160) that looks more like a hat than a piece of safety gear. Launched on Indiegogo earlier this month, the Park and Diamond Collapsible Helmet has already garnered 573 percent of its fundraising goal, with $286,621 and a month left to go in the campaign.
The soft-sided lid is made of polycarbonate, with EVA foam and a proprietary, patented composite material the company says absorbs and disperses three times as much energy as typical bike helmets. But unlike traditional models, the Park and Diamond helmet is thin, pliable, and breathable, and it folds up to roughly the size of a water bottle. A brimmed fabric layer slides over the polycarbonate shell to make the whole thing look like a baseball cap. (Park and Diamond says people will eventually be able to choose among different styles of outer layers. One promo video shows the helmet with a beanie-style piece on top.)
While the design is far less sporty-looking than a typical helmet, I’m not convinced it completely escapes dorkdom: as a cap it’s round and lumpy, and it’s a bit out of place paired with a chinstrap. But the ability to roll the whole thing up and shove it in your bag—rather than clip it to your bike, where it could get stolen, or to your backpack, where it’ll flop around—could make bike commuting safer and more approachable.
In August, Madison Jane Lyden, a 23-year-old tourist visiting the U.S. from Australia, was cycling along Central Park West. At around West 67th Street, a car-service driver pulled into her bike lane, forcing her into traffic. The driver of a private sanitation truck then struck and killed her.
Felipe Chairez, the driver of the truck, was charged with driving while intoxicated. (Police found three empty beer cans in the truck, though his attorney claims the alcohol was neutralized by a chicken sandwich.) However, the driver of the car service was charged with nothing, even though it was his action that put Madison Jane Lyden in harm’s way in the first place.
I'm not surprised that 50 percent of the team responsible for Madison Jane Lyden’s death will walk. The truth is that it’s very difficult to get in any serious trouble for hurting or killing someone with your car—unless, of course, you’ve been drinking. This is because drunk driving is pretty much our only motor-vehicular taboo. Menacing other road users in a grossly overpowered vehicle? No biggie. In fact, menacing behavior is so acceptable that we use it to sell cars. As long as booze isn’t involved, potentially fatal recklessness is basically just a form of self-expression.
DWI’s rarefied status as our one and only driving no-no is in no small part due to the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the grassroots advocacy group started by Candace Lightner in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. In the ensuing years, that group's efforts have resulted in numerous laws designed to discourage drunk driving, including the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Even more significantly, they’ve influenced social norms by reframing drunken driving crashes as acts of criminal negligence as opposed to mere “accidents.” The effect of this has been profound, and overall drunk driving deaths have declined by 50 percent since the organization was founded.
The fact that we now take drinking and driving seriously is obviously a good thing, and nobody’s suggesting we should be more tolerant of it or repeal laws against it. (Well, almost nobody.) At the same time, the very seriousness with which we take DWI can be frustrating sometimes, inasmuch as it underscores how little we seem to give a shit about the full suite of irresponsible motorist behavior. Hence, Madison Jane Lyden’s killer gets the book thrown at him, while the driver who initiated the sequence of events that culminated in her death doesn’t even have so much as a pamphlet waggled at him admonishingly.
In a country that cherishes the mutually exclusive values of freedom and car dependence as much as America does, it’s pretty remarkable that we've agreed to legislate and demonize drunk driving to the extent that we have. So how did MADD pull it off? The tempting answer is that MADD was a reaction to tragedies involving children, and that we’ll do anything to keep our kids safe—but the reality is we’re quite adept at ignoring that sort of thing when it suits us.
No, the real reason we’re willing to be so tough on DWI is that it represents an attractive bargain: by investing all our efforts in fighting this one infraction, the rest of us get to feel good about ourselves no matter how irresponsible we are. Better still, we’re allowed to be irresponsible. Legally speaking in most jurisdictions, you’re way better off killing a cyclist or a pedestrian while sober than you are getting caught behind the wheel after you’ve had a tipple, even if you haven’t hurt anybody. It may not make much ethical sense, but it’s mindlessly simple in the way orders from a parent who can’t be bothered are simple: “I don’t care what the hell you do, just leave the goddamn booze alone!” Sure, whatever you say, I’ll just go back to lighting fires in the backyard.Not only that, but by focussing so relentlessly on DWI we make it much easier to blame the victim—and Americans love blaming the victim. See, the way we figure it is, once you rule out alcohol it naturally follows that whatever happened is the fault of the person to which it happened. Driver was sober? Driver stuck around? Oh well, the cyclist must have “veered” or “come out of nowhere” or pulled off one of those other Siegfried and Roy-worthy illusions that drivers are always attributing to cyclists. Come to think of it, what was the cyclist even doing on the road in the first place? Probably had it coming—especially if the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Despite our acquired contempt for DWI, motor vehicle deaths in America remain quite robust at around 40,000 per year. What we should be doing is building on what MADD accomplished by working to change the social norms around other forms of reckless driving. Instead, we’re trying to graft the MADD approach onto pedestrians by trying to make “drunk walking” a thing. (Looking for something to blame for increasing pedestrian deaths? Blame giant SUVs.)
In the 1970s, children in the Netherlands were dying as the country became overrun with automobiles. This led to protests and a movement called Stop de Kindermoord, or Stop the Child Murder. Cities took back their streets and now Dutch kids are the happiest in the world.
Taking on drinking and driving was a good start. Now let’s work on murdering and driving. It may seem like a hard bargain, but it’ll pay off in the long run.
Camping brand Kammok is adding a new insulated blanket to its line. The Bobcat Down trail quilt ($200), filled with down and rated to 45 degrees, launched on Kickstarter on Tuesday (shipping in December). Two days in, it’s already more than doubled its $50,000 fundraising goal.
The Bobcat is the lighter, less insulated, and more durable sibling to the Firebelly ($280) the 30-degree puffy blanket Kammok introduced in 2014. While the Firebelly features 15-denier fabric and 750-fill down, and weighs 24 ounces, the Bobcat is made from 20-denier fabric, filled with 600-fill down, and weighs just 19 ounces. Kammok advertises the Bobcat as the more casual of its two quilts, ideal for moderate temperatures, single-night camping trips, or cozying up on long flights and car rides.
The quilt includes straps for attaching it to your sleeping pad and adjustable cords with clips for rigging it onto the underside of your camping hammock for added insulation. The Bobcat also has cinches at each end that create a foot box or draw the blanket around your shoulders when tightened, and snaps along both long edges for connecting it to Kammok’s Roo hammock as a top quilt. It all stuffs into a roll-top sack, roughly the size of a loaf of bread. It’s realistically a bit larger than what you’d want to bring in your carry on for airplane travel (a cinch mechanism would help) and it’s not quite warm enough to double as an ultralight sleeping-bag alternative for long trips with variable temps. But meaningful features and miniscule weight lend the Bobcat a versatility and user-friendliness that sets it apart from other basic lifestyle puffy blankets.
Since 1930, a total of 31 people have died on Yosemite’s majestic Half Dome, thanks to improperly secured harnesses, lost anchors, avalanches, lightning strikes, tangled chutes, and one case of “slip and fall on mossy rock.” These deaths, tallied in a study published in this month’s Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, often make headlines in newspapers and on websites like this one. For some reason (and I’m not judging), deaths under extreme circumstances exert a powerful fascination.
But these headlines represent only a tiny fraction of the overall picture of climbing accidents. Another study in the same journal issue, from a research team led by Joseph Forrester of Stanford University, zooms out to explore just how many climbers end up in the emergency department each year, how they get there, and what happens to them. The findings offer a reminder that climbing’s ongoing boom in popularity comes with a cost—and may convince you to freshen up your safety check routine next time you head out.
The study involved combing through a database called the National Emergency Department Sample, which is a huge collection of records from about 1,000 representative hospitals of all types across the country. Records for any patients older than 16 whose diagnosis code corresponded to mountaineering, rock climbing, or wall climbing between 2010 and 2014 were extracted and analyzed. From this sample, they were able to estimate that there were roughly 3,023 climbers who presented to an emergency department in the U.S. each year during that period. Notably, that’s a 34 percent increase since a study that ended in 2007.
The climbers showing up in emergency had an average age of 33, and were 62 percent male. They were pretty well off, with 38 percent reporting an income in the top quartile relative to their zip code, and mostly (63 percent) in the West census region. The majority of the patients (60 percent) came in with injuries to multiple body regions, while 32 percent had isolated extremity injuries to the arms or legs, and just five percent had head or neck injuries. Taking care of all these patients isn’t cheap: the total billing cost of these hospital visits was just over $20 million a year, and that doesn’t include subsequent rehab and medical appointments.
One interesting detail: during the entire four-year sample period, only 2 of the 3,275 patients in the sample died. As the Half Dome stats make clear, that doesn’t mean climbers weren’t dying during this period. It just means that those who died were almost always dead before they made it to the hospital. There’s an important lesson here for rescuers, the researchers suggest: “Although rapid transport of survivors to definitive care is important, this should not occur at the cost of rescuer safety.”
So how common are these injuries? Well, the Outdoor Industry Association’s estimate is that there were more than 6 million indoor and outdoor climbers in the U.S. in 2016, which suggests that you have a 1-in-2,000 chance of ending up in the emergency department in any given year. Some contexts and climbing styles are more risky than others, of course. In fact, it’s possible that a few wild climbers are having accidents once a month and being counted multiple times in the database, skewing the numbers. Still, that seems like a reasonable baseline estimate.
In practice, the more common medical issues encountered by climbers are chronic overuse injuries. I come from the running world, where there’s lots of handwringing over the fact that pretty much everyone gets injured eventually, no matter what supposedly magical shoe (or lack thereof) you use. The stats in climbing don’t look much better. In a survey-based study of more than 700 climbers published last year, the average number of reported injuries in the previous two years was 2.0—pretty grim odds. Moreover, more than half the subjects reported returning to climbing before their injury was fully healed, and 45 percent of them reported developing chronic problems related to the injury. Ugh.
One of the motivators for the Half Dome study was the fact that overcrowding has led to a permit system for the cable handrails for hikers that lead up the back of Half Dome. In fact, only one of the deaths turned out to have any possible link to overcrowding or bumbling hikers; instead, the main source of deaths was accidents befalling skilled climbers. There’s no way to turn climbing into a zero-risk activity, and it seems reasonable to assume that plenty of people wouldn’t want it that way anyway. But the stats suggest that many of the injuries we currently see, both acute and chronic, are preventable. Take an occasional day off, and check your harness—twice.
My new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell, is now available. For more, join me on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for the Sweat Science email newsletter.