The wonky tech talk can get pretty heavy around here. Personally, I can go on for hours about air permeability, fabric denier, and how the number of lumens in a headlamp isn't the whole story. But it's not just me. There's so much geeking out in the halls of our Santa Fe headquarters that Buyer's Guide art director Edie Dillman thought it would be amusing to illustrate some of the more colorful remarks [see print edition].
But we walk the walk, too. Recently Aaron Gulley, who oversees Outside's bike coverage, asked me if I could recommend a daypack in the 20- to 30-liter range with beefy suspension. It was an odd request—most packs that size don't have much structure—until he explained what he intended to use it for. He was assembling his kit for the AZTR: a 700-mile self-supported mountain-bike tour that bisects the state of Arizona. Right around mile 620, you run into a slight hiccup called the Grand Canyon. Because it's a national park, there's no mountain biking allowed. So like the handful of other crazy mofos participating in this year's AZTR sufferfest, Gulley will have to complete a 20-plus-mike rim-to-rim hike with a bike strapped to his back. After several shakedown sessions in the hills around town, Gulley decided on Osprey's Stratos 24—just in case you've got a daylong bike portage in your future.
Calling all connoisseurs of fine foods. Just because you're camping, hiking, skiing, riding or otherwise adventuring doesn't mean you have to suffer terrible treats. Leave the Slim Jims behind on your next outing and snack on one of these tasty boutique jerkies instead.
Slantshack Jerky, which scored high on the charts for tastiness, texture and for using Vermont-raised grass fed beef, has numerous delicious, hot and smoky flavors. And the company allows you to make your own treats online using Slantshack's jerky customization program. Use the program to choose your base, your seasoning, your rub, and your glaze. "Delicious and surprisingly tender, with just the right amount of spice," reported testers. Gluten-free jerky is also available. Available now, $13.50 for a 4 oz. bag, $43 for a 12-ounce sampler pack with three flavors. slantshackjerky.com/.
Inskeep couldn’t find a map that covered his route, so he pasted two together. Photo: Nick Fountain/NPR
When Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep started planning a 2,000-mile-long drive from Tunis, Tunisia, to Cairo, Egypt, he couldn’t find a map detailed enough to set his course. So he bought two and started cutting. There will be a lot more innovation from Inskeep on his three-week-long expedition to document change in North Africa. "We did a lot of planning on this trip, but a lot of a trip like this is being able to improvise," he said. "Make it up as you go along and be willing to follow what you discover to its logical end."
The 43-year-old reporter has covered the war in Afghanistan, the hunt for Al Qaeda in Pakistan, and the war in Iraq. Since he started at NPR in 1996, he’s taken home three Alfred I. duPont Silver Batons—the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. On June 4, he, producer Nishant Dahiya, and photographer John Poole will drive through Tunis and file their first report from the ruins of Carthage, the city destroyed by the Roman Empire in 146 B.C. Then they'll drive from town to town, filing story after story for a series called Revolutionary Road Trip. We called him shortly before they left.
Where did this idea come from? These are three of the most interesting countries on earth. They’re connected geographically and they’re connected as part of the same gigantic story. It just seems like one huge, almost once in a lifetime, opportunity to see a rapidly changing part of the world in a really, really wide angle.
Is there something that doing this as a road trip offers that jumping in at different points wouldn’t offer? Totally. We’ve done this before. We did a road trip across South Asia—several correspondents, producers, and me—along the Grand Trunk Road, from Calcutta, or Kolkata, to Peshawar, Pakistan.
It affects the kinds of stories you seek out, it affects the kind of people you look for, it causes you to think about the relationships between different places along the road, and often, there’s remarkable similarities, human similarities, between places that are very different and people that may even hate each other. You find out that they eat similar foods, or that they have very similar traditions in some places. It really affects your outlook.
Another thing is this, whenever I’m reporting and especially when I’m reporting overseas, it’s important to be open to the idea that the story that you discover could never have been pinpointed from a distance. Putting yourself on the road creates many opportunities to discover stories that you would never have thought to go look for.
Duggan becomes the national champion. Photo: Casey B. Gibson.
Liquigas-Cannondale racer Timmy Duggan didn't enter last week's U.S. National Championship road race as a heavy favorite, but he proved that the odds don't always matter. By wresting the win from an elite breakaway the hard-working American earned the right to don the stars and stripes for the coming year.
Duggan rode a gutsy and tactically savvy race. After making the early split then nearly getting caught out by the back-to-back attacks of Tejay Van Garderen and Tom Danielson on the final ascent of Paris Mountain, Duggan clawed his way back to the four-man break, slipped away during a lull, and powered to the finish solo. He crossed the line nearly half a minute up on the splintered field to take the biggest victory of his career. The achievement is all the more impressive when you consider that he and his Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Ted King were a two-man team up against powerful 11-man squads like Garmin-Barracuda.