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Skiing and Snowboarding : Biking

Active Cities: Austin

Austin’s location in the Hill Country has turned it into the outdoor sports capital of Texas.

Run

Town Lake: The city’s signature running loop—you could argue that it’s the best run in Texas—parallels the shoreline of downtown’s Town Lake. The route takes you on a shaded and crushed-gravel track on the south side (the north side is mostly paved concrete). Multiple bridge crossings allow runners to plan 5k, 10k, or 10-mile jaunts.

Swim

Barton Springs: This spring-fed, three-acre pool is an Austin institution and a welcome escape from the summer heat. For lap swimmers, head to the lanes on the other side of the Colorado River at Deep Eddy Pool, a bracing freshwater-spring swimming hole that’s also Texas’s oldest pool.

Float

Texas Rowing Center: Toward the west end of Lady Bird Lake, close to downtown, the Texas Rowing Center offers kayaks, SUPs, and canoes to rent. The boats are a great way to explore the tree-shaded shoreline. Experienced rowers can rent a scull and get in a workout on the same water used by the University of Texas crew team.

Explore

Barton Creek Greenbelt: Park at Barton Springs and tackle this seven-mile network of mountain biking and hiking trails. Stick to the main trail for an easy ride through the hills southwest of downtown. You’ll find highly technical trails with big drops just off the main trail. Mellow Johnny’s bike shop can provide details and full-suspension mountain-bike rentals for $50 per day.

Fuel Up

Whole Foods: The grocery chain’s flagship store, just west of downtown, has top-notch service and a dazzling array of food choices (it’s one of the biggest Whole Foods locations in the country). Employees will even deliver to your hotel for free. 

Gear Up

Texas Running Company: Located on the north side of Town Lake, just three blocks from the famed Lake Trail loop on N. Lamar, this massive shrine to all things running dominates the local running scene. Tuesday and Thursday night group runs attract runners of all abilities.  

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First Look: Ergon CF3 Pro Carbon

In recent years, bicycle manufacturers have sunk lots of money into the endurance road category. These are bikes that, while still fast and light, are more compliant and comfortable than the average race machine.

Geometry tweaks such as longer wheelbases for stability and taller head tubes for a less aggressive position are common. But there’s also often a mechanical means of dampening road vibration, including the elastomers of the Specialized Roubaix, a means of allowing the seat post to move more freely from the main frame like on the Trek Domane and the Volagi Viaje, and even special vibration-absorbing materials laid directly into the carbon as with the Wilier TK or the Bianchi Infinito CV.

Ergon now has its own after-market solution, the CF3 Pro Carbon seat post, which affords similar comfort and compliance as an endurance frame. The design is ingeniously simple: a pair of carbon fiber “blades” that work like springs to allow the seat to flex in a rearward arc. The springs effectively absorb the force of any bumps in the road so that your back doesn’t have to. Two sets of pivots at the head ensure that the saddle stays in its set horizontal position through the range of motion.

Bad seat post design is one of my biggest peeves as so many of the clamping mechanisms are convoluted and difficult to adjust. Not so the CF3, which allows for quick saddle installation and simple fine-tuning courtesy of two easy-to-reach allen bolts. Likewise, the post itself is elegant and doesn’t distract from the rest of the bike like some other cumbersome designs (Specialized!). And at 220 grams, the CF3 is feathery light—it’s just a few grams heavier than the standard EC90 Offset that it replaced. One limitation: the head only accepts round rails, so if you ride ovals it won’t work.

So far I’ve been extremely impressed with the CF3, which is simple, quiet, and significantly reduces the chatter of the rough roads around Santa Fe. It doesn’t afford all the same benefits as an endurance bike (think: geometry tweaks and additional damping like the elastomer embedded bars of the Domane). But at just $300, it’s a great way to add lots of comfort at a fraction of the cost of a new bicycle. 

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Active Cities: Seattle

Join Seattle’s active set for runs, rides, paddles, and more in one of North America’s most scenic cities. 

Trail Run

Discovery Park: Just ten minutes northwest from downtown, Discovery Park’s 534 acres make you feel like you’re tucked away in the mountains. The 11-mile trail system passes through pine forest, rainforest, and a grassy meadow overlooking Puget Sound and Seattle itself.

Run

Washington Park Arboretum: For runs of a few miles, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the Arboretum, with its mix of paved and dirt paths that wind from E Madison to Foster Island in Lake Washington. Need more mileage? Head across the Montlake Cut and hook up with the Burke Gilman Trail, a 27-mile paved bike and pedestrian trail that runs west, along Lake Union and the Shipping Canal, or north, toward Kenmore. 

Road Bike

Mercer Island Loop: This classic ride for downtown cyclists begins by pedaling about three miles out to Mercer Island on the I-90 Trail bike path. Once you reach the end, turn left or right to follow the smooth, rolling road that circumnavigates the island for roughly 13.5 miles.

Kayak or SUP

Lake Union: Bordered by Gas Works Park on the north, downtown Seattle on the south, and large steel bridges to the west and east, Lake Union is the city’s protected watersports pool. Rent paddleboards or kayaks by the hour at Moss Bay, on the south end of Lake Union (it’s closest to downtown). If you want to fuel up on one of the best breakfast burritos in town, rent from Agua Verde Paddle Club and Café, near the University of Washington.

Explore

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park: It’s only a 20-minute drive east of downtown, but this 3,100-acre park, which tops out at 1,595 feet, offers sweeping views of Seattle to the west, and of the Cascade Mountains to the east. It also offers more than 38 miles of trails leading to creeks, waterfalls, mountaintops, and marshes.

Work Out

Seattle Athletic Club: This downtown gym doesn’t go in for the most cutting-edge equipment and expensive decor. It just aims to give you what you need for a solid session on the machines or some serious laps in the pool. Day passes can be had for as little as $15.

Gear Up

REI: The company’s flagship store, just north of downtown Seattle, is where the outdoor industry giant got its start. This is a tourist attraction in its own right as well. If you’re using the city as a launching point for adventures throughout the northwest, you’ll find what you need here. And don’t forget to visit REI’s basement level for killer deals on gently used merchandise.

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Active Cities: New York City

It's a concrete jungle, but sneaking in a workout is easier than you think. Here's an athlete's guide to the Big Apple. 

Trail Run

Central Park: Yes, it's cliché. But the 1.5-mile cinder track around the reservoir is arguably the greatest urban run in the world, with majestic skyscraper views at every step.

Road Run

Hudson River Greenway: The five-mile stretch of smooth asphalt from Battery Park to 59th Street offers incredible people watching and a light breeze off the water to keep you cool.

Swim

The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers: The 25-yard pool has a wall of windows that look out on the World Trade Center. $50 per day for pool and gym access; chelseapiers.com

Road Ride

Palisades Parkway: Starting just south of the George Washington Bridge, the 36-mile out-and-back through Fort Lee Historic Park up to the artsy suburb of Nyack is a rolling, tree-lined ride that climbs 1,400 feet.

Explore

Governors Island: Run or bike the 2.2-mile waterfront around the 172-acre former military base and take in views of New York Harbor. Bike rentals from $15; bikenewyorkcity.com

Stay

Element Times Square by Westin: Take advantage of discounted parking for hybrid and electric vehicles at this modern hotel. Once settled, you can head out on one of the hotel's free loaner bikes. From $134; elementtimessquare.com

Work Out

Circuit of Change: This catchall fitness studio near Union Square starts its workouts with yoga, then transitions into a full-body cardio circuit, abdominal exercises, and kickboxing. From $20 per session.

Gear Up

Paragon Sports: Whether you want to scale a mountain, train for an Ironman, or find a surfboard, this is the one place that has everything—and has for decades.

Citi Bike: With 332 stations and more than 6,000 bikes spread across Manhattan and Brooklyn, the city's bike-share program is the largest and most convenient in the country. $10 per day, $25 per week; citibikenyc.com

What the Locals Have to Say

Local Pros: Rebeccah and Laurel Wassner, triathletes, Manhattan

"In the summer, we head to the Red Hook pool in Brooklyn—a ten-minute taxi ride from the financial district. It's a huge 40-meter outdoor pool with lane lines, a rarity in the city. For long runs, we'll start at city hall and link the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges. As a nine-plus-mile out-and-back, it's a killer."

Local Joe: Rufus Lusk, film producer and director, Brooklyn 

"I literally moved to be closer to Brooklyn Boulders climbing gym. At night there are really good climbers, and it's fun to work on hard routes. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the gym opens at seven, and there's hardly anyone there."

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Active Cities: Denver

As you’d expect from one of the fittest states in the nation, Colorado’s capital has everything you need to get—and stay—in shape for any adventure.

Run

Washington Park: “Wash Park” is metropolitan Denver’s outdoor gym. The 2.25-mile road that circumnavigates the park is closed to cars (with the exception of two short sections) throughout the year, which makes its undulating terrain ideal for speed work. The 2.75-mile shaded gravel track around the perimeter attracts hundreds of runners a day. Use one of the city’s B-Cycle bike share rigs to ride to the park and back: there are stations on both the north and south sides of the park.

Road Bike

Cherry Creek Trail: Where else can you hop on a bike downtown and go for a near-30-mile out-and-back ride without dealing with any cars, stoplights, or stop signs? That’s the beauty of this route. It ends at Cherry Creek State Park, where a pleasant 9.5-mile loop around the reservoir exposes you only to two stoplights and roads with 25-mile-an-hour speed limits.

Kayak

Clear Creek White Water Park: Smack-dab in the middle of Golden, there’s a quarter-mile of drops, surf waves, and fast eddies that make up this urban kayaking park. Leave your car at the put-in at Lions Park, or downstream at the takeout near Vanover Park. Rent a kayak, paddle, and all your other gear at Golden River Sports, located three blocks north of the whitewater area.

Explore

Red Rocks Amphitheater: One of America’s most scenic concert venues is also one of Denver’s top escapes for killer workouts or for beautiful trail runs, hikes, and mountain-bike rides. On weekend mornings, you might rub elbows with a local pro athlete—and several dozen other supremely fit individuals—jumping up (and back down) all 69 rows of the amphitheater.

Work Out

Pura Vida: Call it the city gym that looks and feels like a high-end destination spa. This is where Denver’s beautiful people go to get, well, beautiful. Located in the heart of the Cherry Creek shopping district, Pura Vida has classes for fitness junkies of every stripe, from the mellow program called Thai Chi to the superintense all-around strength and conditioning classes held in the Underground. Each visit costs $20.

Gear Up

REI: The gear nirvana’s gigantic downtown-Denver store sits at the junction of three choice running and biking escapes—the Cherry Creek Trail, the South Platte River Trail, and West 23rd Avenue. This makes REI a popular meeting place for recreational athletes of every kind. Find all you need—including a canoe to float the adjacent South Platte River in proper style—within the retailer’s walls. Its proximity to hip restaurants in the Highlands area is another big plus.

 

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