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Skiing and Snowboarding : Biking

Weekend Racing Wrap: Vuelta and MTB Worlds

Contador On The Way to Winning the 2012 VueltaContador wasn't as dominant as ever, but it was still enough to win his second Vuelta. Photo: BrakeThrough Media

It's tough to be a cycling fan in this country. Case in point: Over the weekend, the Vuelta a España finished with a bang and the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships showcased cross country racing as exciting as the Olympic Games—and there was zero option for watching any of it on TV.

I groused about this omission at a bar on Sunday night where everyone was rapt by the Bronco/Steelers game, and one guy took the opportunity to inform me that cycling gets no coverage because, "They're all dopers anyway." (Nevermind those "all natural" 300-pound footballers who can move almost as fast as Usain Bolt.) Of course, there are places to watch cycling online, and if you took time to tune in over the weekend you were treated to some of the most exciting racing of the season. In case you missed it, here's the wrap:

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A Chat With Mountain Bike Bronze Medalist Georgia Gould

Georgia Gould racing the World Cup in South AfricaGould at the 2012 World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Photo: Colin Meagher

When Georgia Gould, 32, won bronze in mountain biking at the London Olympics last month, many Americans scratched their heads and said, "Who?" That has more to do with public ignorance of women's cycling than it does with Gould, who has been a mainstay on the race circuit since she began competing in 2005. She is a four-time national cross country champion, has finished on the national championship podium every year since 2006, and has had some very close calls on the World Cup. Gould's no slouch on a cross bike either, with three U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross titles to her name.

This year, though, has been a breakout season for the Luna Chix racer as she's chalked up the biggest wins of her career, including two second places in the World Cup and, of course, third at the Olympics. She's hoping to put that good form to use this weekend at the World Championship cross-country race in Saalfelden, Austria. She took a few minutes out of her pre-race schedule in Europe to speak with us about her successful year, the state of women's cycling, and her chances on Saturday.

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Organic Agritourism: Good for Your Health?

Farm_shot_egan_snowPhoto: Egan Snow/Flickr

As summer wanes and garden harvests start to dwindle, this news lands with a thud: a recent study performed at Stanford University indicated that eating organic produce doesn’t necessarily mean eating more nutritious produce.

If you figured this would raise the ire of organic food advocates, you were right. Much of the debate that arose from this research and the breathless headlines it generated, however, focuses on what the study did not consider. There is no question that food raised "conventionally"—that is to say, with the aid of any number of synthetic pesticides—does harm to those who grow and produce the food, and to the surrounding ecosystem.

The takeaway is that while an organic tomato might not make you healthier than a conventional one, a conventional tomato may well do more harm to its producer. So buying organic is one way to vote for better agricultural working conditions. It’s one way to vote for fewer fertilizers and chemicals entering the environment. (Suggested reading for more on this is "Eat Organic: It’s Good for Other People’s Health" over at Earth Island Journal.)

But there’s another element to organically-raised food that we should consider: it is a conduit for connecting people and landscapes. Without organic farms, adventure travel would suffer.

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The Commuter Bike Helmet That Lights Your Ride

Torch1

Kickstarter has been the source of many outdoor gadgets and gizmos. We've written about several here on The Gear Shed, from seatpost bottle openers to sidecountry ski carriers to 360-degree video cameras and cases that convert your iPhone into a helmet cam.

Torch is one of the latest Kickstarter-funded projects to cross our desks. It's first product, the T1, is a bicycle helmet with integrated front and rear safety lights. The brainchild of 32-year-old industrial designer and avid urban cyclist Nathan Wills, the company saw 641 investors give $68,000, which far surpassed the original goal of the campaign.

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USA Pro Challenge, a European Perspective

Damiano Caruso on Stage 7 of the USAPCFinishing 12th overall, Damiano Caruso was Liquigas-Cannondale's top finisher. Photo: Liquigas

A quick look at the final standings of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge reveal a race that was largely dominated by American racers. Though half of the 16 teams in the race were UCI Pro Tour or other international teams, six of seven stages and seven of the 10 GC spots went to U.S. riders. Those skewed results partly reflect Americans' motivation to win on home turf, though that's not the whole story since teams with U.S. sponsors, such as Radioshack and Liquigas-Cannondale, underperformed in spite of the same incentives. Seeing Cadel Evans off the back on the mountainous Stage 3 and past Tour hopefuls like Roman Kreuziger and Ivan Basso well down the final standings (33rd and 76th, respectively), I wondered why Europeans hadn't done better and what they thought of the race.

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