Tonight, Patagonia and eBay announced a new partnership, the Common Threads Initiative. Together, they asked owners of fleece and Gore-Tex everywhere to pledge to reduce consumption, reuse old gear, recycle, repair what's broken, and reimagine a world where people don't stress the earth with purchases.
Yes, you read correctly. Patagonia is asking us not to buy their stuff, or any stuff, unless we really need it. And then they're asking us to buy used stuff when we can. And they're asking us to sell those still warm puffys and barely frayed packs gathering dust in the back of our closets on eBay, to a troller who will buy an old jacket instead of buying a new one.
Earlier this summer in Deer Valley, Utah, 30-some bike industry manufacturers rolled out their 2012 product lines for a select group of journalists. We showed you some of the new bikes in Episode 1. But there were plenty of electronic gadgets, hard goods, and apparel that looked interesting, too. Presenting a round-up of some of the small bike goods that are certain to make a splash next year. --Aaron Gulley www.aarongulley.com
CycleOps PowerCal ($200) The advantages of training with power are well established, but the $1,000-and-up price tags put the technology out of reach for many. PowerCal, which looks like a standard heart rate strap and extrapolates power from your heart rate using a series of algorithms, should change that: it costs only $200. And though the chest system, which will be available in November, won’t be as accurate as a hub-based meter—CycleOps estimates accuracy within 5 to 10 percent for the PowerCal versus 1.5 percent for a PowerTap—I’m excited that somebody is finally offering power technology that’s both economical and easy to use.
The Salt Lake City trade show isn't a venue for the big bicycle manufacturers, but if you know where to look there's plenty of new swag for the two-wheel crowd. Here are a few of the most exciting bike bits and parts announced at OR. --Aaron Gulley www.aarongulley.com
IceBreaker GT150 Short-Sleeve Team Jersey ($130) I've been riding in IceBreaker's first gen of cycling gear for almost a year now, and it definitely lives up to the company's reputation for some of the finest merino on the market, with trim tailoring, well-executed details like sculpted rear pockets and zipper garages at the neck lines, and sharp styling. My only complaint was that, while perfect for fall and spring riding, the 200-weight wool was just a touch heavy for hot summer days. For spring 2012, the company is adding super fine 150-weight merino to the line, with a range of jerseys, meaning that I can now enjoy the soft hand, cool feel, and stink-resisting properties of this top-shelf wool year round.
(Noa Ginella on his way to 1st place in the SUP cross.)
Last week I went to the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, to standup paddleboard in whitewater rapids. It’s hard to explain why whitewater SUPing is so much fun, but it is a really good time. Just like surfing, mountain biking, sailing, good sex, or any other dynamic way to play, a lot of the joy comes from interacting with an ever-changing environment. In whitewater you’re always moving, even when you fall.
On my first run I spent more time in the water pinging off rocks than on my board paddling. My second run down the same four-mile course was better. I only fell once, and by the end of the week I was taking other people on their first runs, including kayaking gurus Kyle and Turin Dickman, from Outside magazine. As much as I'd like to believe my progression was due to some natural ability, it was really largely because of the incredible advice and support received from other paddlers, especially the crew from Colorado Kayak Supply and C4 Waterman.
If you have the right equipment and gain some basic river knowledge, it’s easy to learn how to SUP in whitewater. For most people, it takes a bit longer than learning how to SUP on flat water, but it is much easier than learning how to SUP in the surf. Once you get the hang of it, you sometimes feel like a fighter pilot flying through a twisting canyon, watching the riverbanks on each side whiz by as you dodge rocks and obstacles. You gotta read the patterns of turbulence and contours on the surface of the water to find the fastest current and to avoid the rocks, drops, strainers, or other obstructions waiting to take you out.
At the Teva games the SUP crew was a unique mix of kayakers and surfers. Even to the untrained eye it was easy to tell them apart. Everyone wore PFDs and helmets, but surfers also wore wetsuits and surfing booties while the kayakers tended to wear as much gear as possible: boardshorts over their wetsuits, paddle jackets, knives, boots, shoes, knee pads, shin guards—you name it. Kayakers definitely dig their gear. In retrospect I wouldn’t have minded wearing shin guards…
But that’s one of the cool things about whitewater SUPing: it brings kayakers, surfers, and new paddlers together into a tight-knit mix of diverse cultures and style. Experienced kayakers say they enjoy whitewater SUPing because it lets them experience familiar stretches of rapids from an entirely new perspective—it makes otherwise easy stretches challenging and fun again. Surfers like it because it’s a fun, new, challenging way to ride. The camaraderie among paddlers is legendary. Aloha is aloha whether the water is salty or not.
A gaunt Refsnider at the finish of the 2009 Tour Divide in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
If you think the Tour de France is the hardest bike race on earth, consider the Tour Divide. On this annual race from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, racers roughly follow the Continental Divide for 2,780 miles. Mileage and terrain are only part of the challenge, as participants must follow a strict code of self support by carrying everything they need and accepting no outside aid except for what they can purchase along the route. At 9 a.m. this Friday (June 10), 74 cyclists will take up the challenge. Because of record snowpack, the pervasive threat of wildfires, and the largest field in the race's history, 15 riders will set off northbound at the same start time from Antelope Wells, and another 14 riders will try the course as a time trial throughout the summer.
In the southbound pack is Kurt Refsnider, a Boulder, Colorado, based geologist who has to be considered one of the favorites to win. In his first attempt at the Tour Divide in 2009, Refsnider finished less than 12 hours behind ultra-racing legend Matthew Lee to take second place overall (and top rookie finish). Since then, the 32-year-old has gained precious ultra experience and racked up some impressive wins, including two formidable records on the Arizona Trail Race in 2010. The day before he set out for Banff, we talked to Refsnider about his goals, his rig, and the unpredictable challenges (think large nocturnal rodents) of racing the Tour Divide.