The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Jun 2012

Riding a Wave in a Kayak on Fire

Ben2Ben Marr. Photo: Forge Motion Pictures

For the latest video in the series Of Souls and Water, Forge Motion Pictures followed kayaker Ben Marr to Canada. The 25-year-old surfed a handful of big waves, from a rapid named Coliseum in the Ottawa River to a series on the Mistassibi River near the town of Saint-Stanislas, Quebec. He also spent some time paddling at night. We asked Skip Armstrong at Forge Motion Pictures why it looks like Marr's boat is on fire while he flips and turns.

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The Boat That Folds Into a Backpack

Ar Vag. Photo: Be Open

Thibault Penven, a student at the University of Art and Design Lausanne, created a fold-out dinghy that works as a shuttle between the shore and a ship. In just a few minutes, a flat contraption that can be carried like a backpack can be converted into a plastic boat. You can see in the video below that it works, and least for holding one really skinny European.

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The Six-Month Test: BMC TeamMachine SLR01

BMC TeamMachine SLR01
Since Cadel Evans won the 2011 Tour de France, BMC has unveiled a pair of pro-level bikes, including the classics-oriented GrandFondo GF01 and a yet-to-be-publicized TMR01 aero bike. And while those bikes—in addition to the TT-oriented TimeMachine TM01—may factor in his title defense this Saturday, the Aussie will rely primarily on the same bike he won with last year, the TeamMachine SLR01. You might wonder why one of the best racers in the world doesn’t have a new bike model for the most important race of the season. Having spent the last half-year testing the SLR01, we have the answer: This bike is just that good.

The SLR01 is not BMC’s most expensive road frame. That honor goes to the Impec, a bicycle that took over five years and $40 million (in the form of a dedicated new factory) for the company to create. So why would Evans choose the SLR01 over this super bike? “Cadel prefers the compliance of the SLR01,” Markus Eggiman, BMC’s marketing manager told me. Put another way, the SLR01 is more comfortable than the Impec, and comfort is at the heart of the story of this bike.

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What Happens to Olympic Host Cities After the Games?

-8Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), Athens. Photo: Courtesy of The Olympic City

As London prepares to host the 2012 Olympics, there's been no shortage of stories on the condition of the buildings erected for the 2004 Games in Athens. The Olympic sports complex is rotting and rusting, the man-made lake set up to provide water to the slalom course is dry, and the stadiums built for table tennis and gymnastics are empty. The situation is easy to amplify in a negative way given the economic situation in Greece. Many blame the country's debt, or at least part of it, on a rush to build extravagant facilities for the Olympics. While some have pointed out that Greece's travel infrastructure was significantly upgraded because of the 2004 Games, Athens has mostly been cast in a negative light. Is that fair? How have other former Olympic stadiums fared? What exactly happens to host cities after the Olympics?

-6Faliro Olympic Complex, Athens. Photo: Courtesy of The Olympic City

Photographers Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit have set out to answer that last question. So far they have picked seven former host cities to visit so they can interview people and photograph anything and everything related to the Olympics. Their answer will take the form of a 200-page photo book, The Olympic City, due out in March 2013. The duo started a Kickstarter project so they can raise money to travel to seven more cities and finish the project. Those people that donate will get to help pick the last two cities that Pack and Hustwit visit. We emailed Pack to see what they've discovered so far.

-1Art Devlin's Olympic Motor Inn, Lake Placid, New York. Photo: Courtesy of The Olympic City

In the Kickstarter video, you mention that seeing the money spent on the Beijing Olympics in 2008 inquired you to wonder what happens to these cities. Why did you decide to turn that question into a huge project?
 Well, I wasn’t sure at first if it would turn into a project at all. To be honest, I never had much interest in the Olympics. My wife, on the other hand, is a big fan and has been since she was little. She has really happy memories of writing to invite Brian Boitano to dinner in a fan letter when she was 11. (He never responded.) So leading up to the 2008 Olympics, I found myself paying more attention than I had to Games in the past. I was intrigued that so much of the coverage was about the money being spent and the venues being constructed for an event that would only last a few weeks. I kept wondering what would become of these buildings after the Games, so I went on a bit of a fact-finding mission and did some research. Then I rented a car and kept it local, mostly because of money and time constraints, and drove up to Lake Placid and Montreal.

In Lake Placid, I stayed at Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn, a hotel opened by a former Olympic ski jumper. The hotel lobby was jam-packed with his trophies and awards. A handful of dusty shops on the village’s main street are filled with all sorts of memorabilia from the 1980 Games—the shops appear to be closed most of the time, but handwritten signs let interested folks know how to get ahold of the owners. The former Olympic Village where the athletes were housed is now a prison—well, it was a prison first, then a place to house the athletes, and then a prison again.  Not only that, but the prisoners helped build the ski jumps used in the Games. So that trip really invigorated me, and definitely made me feel like this could be a project worth exploring.

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City Limitless: Urban Camping, Coast to Coast

Angel_island_JJTSan Francisco views at Angel Island State Park. Photo: John Trippe/

If you're all about eating locally-produced food and being active in your community, consider staking claim to some nearby dirt or sand, too. Here's a quick (and coastal-centric) list of camping options. Pack your gear, grab your Metro card/cab fare/bike, and hit the wilder(ish)ness.

If you think you have to escape the Beltway to pitch a tent, you're wrong. Greenbelt Park is about 12 miles from the National Mall and offers much less trampled grass. There are around 175 campsites. You read that correctly. Don't expect seclusion in the summer, but if the noise gets to you there's always a three-mile hike out to the College Park Metro station. Then, try again in the fall or even winter. The $16/night campground is open year-round.

Los Angeles Area
L.A., beast of a city that it is, offers a multitude of sea-side camping options, both north and south. They're not nearly as close to the city center as the others on this list, but they're accessible and, at the very least, outside the fray. SoCal is filled with great state parks, and they need your patronage now more than ever. Near Malibu, Leo Carillo State Park comes recommended and has a good network of trails should you tire of the water. Sandwiched between Long Beach and Huntington Beach sits Bolsa Chica State Park. Off the water, check out Topanga Canyon State Park.

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