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The Joy of Cycling: Now Available for Everyone

In 2007, Boston was ranked the worst biking city in the U.S. by Bicycling magazine—for the third time. There were plenty of reasons: lack of lanes, poor road conditions, boorish drivers. Today, Boston is on its way to becoming one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities, and it’s the first to create a public bike program targeting low-income communities. The main reason for the one-eighty: former Olympian Nicole Freedman.

Freedman grew up in the Boston suburbs, rode professionally for 12 years (she won the national road-racing trial in 2000), and holds a degree in urban planning from Stanford University. In 2007, when Freedman was tasked with heading up the city’s newly launched Boston Bikes program, the city had zero bike lanes and a dismal safety record. In 2006, there were 36 bike accidents in one intersection alone.

Freedman, 42, was undaunted. She created 14 miles of bike lanes in her first two years on the job and hasn’t slowed down since. The city is now rated 16th by Bicycling. And Freedman recently secured a $15 million grant to build protected lanes, including a four-mile ring around downtown. “Cities need plans,” says Martha Roskowski, VP of the national advocacy group People for Bikes. “But they really need people like Nicole who can turn them into action.”

As Americans have finally begun to embrace the idea of bikes as transportation, other cities have made turnarounds of their own. Washington, D.C., now has six miles of protected lanes, and Chicago’s bike-share program is on pace to have 475 stations by the end of the year. What sets Boston apart is the progressive bent of its efforts. “It was really important to make sure that we reached residents with low incomes,” says Freedman. “They’re the ones most impacted by transportation costs.” Hubway, the city’s bike-share system, recently began subsidizing memberships for those making less than $20,000 a year. In March, Freedman launched Prescribe-A-Bike, which offers low-income residents a reduced $5 annual Hubway membership if a doctor recommends riding for health reasons. (Nearly 2,500 people have since signed up.) And, finally, Boston Bikes has donated more than 1,000 bicycles to in-need locals. “Cycling is universally appealing,” says Freedman. “We just have to make it accessible.”

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The Triple Threat Who Can't Be Stopped

When 21-year-old Lukas Verzbicas turned pro as a triathlete, he got death threats. As a teenager, he’d been billed as the next great hope in American running, becoming only the fifth high school star to break the four-minute barrier in the mile. As some runners saw it, he’d betrayed their sport. But according to Verzbicas, triathlon, something he’d pursued since he was 11 years old, was always his true passion. In 2011, he graduated early from high school and set his sights on competing in the sport at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

THE CRASH: Verzbicas had already picked up two Olympic-distance wins on the World Cup circuit when, during a workout in July 2012, he lost control of his bike and slammed into a guardrail. He punctured a lung, broke two vertebrae, and partially severed his spinal cord.

THE DAMAGE: Doctors screwed his clavicle back together and implanted 
a titanium rod along his spine. But there was nothing they could do for his paralyzed right leg other than hope it would regain movement as his spinal cord mended. “I had to become a new person after that,” he says, “new tissue, new muscle, and new nerves.”

THE REBIRTH: Three months later, when he started relearning how to walk, his muscles had atrophied. Instead of giving up, Verzbicas used it as an opportunity to remake himself. Now he lifts weights four or five times a week, and he’s stronger than ever. “I can’t be the same as I once was,” he says, “but I can be better.”

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Miraculously, two years after the accident, he’s again near the top of the pro ranks. In races this spring, he scored two top-ten finishes.

UP NEXT: In August, he’ll test himself at the under-23 world championships in Edmonton, Alberta. The race will be one more step along what he has come to call his long road to Rio. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid,” says Verzbicas, “and it’s stronger than ever.”

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The Best Beer to Ever Air on Reality TV

This Tuesday, the History Channel launches its newest reality show, "Dark Horse Nation."

The channel already has a lineup full of shows like "Mountain Men," "Ice Road Truckers," and "Biker Battlegrounds. "Dark Horse Nation" is kind of like those, except the characters are brewers—albeit heavily-bearded ones.

The show follows Dark Horse Brewing Co. founder Aaron Morse and his merry cohort of friends around their Marshall, Michigan brewery. There's "Wacky" (Aaron's dad) who, the show's website says, "bosses everyone around;" there's "Chappy," Aaron's childhood friend; "Cabe," the brewery's mechanic/builder/handyman; and Bryan, who apparently doesn't merit a nickname. 

The show, like a lot in the reality genre, looks to be focused on inter-personal shenanigans, but anyone familiar with the brewery knows that the real star of Dark Horse is the beer. Crooked Tree IPA and the more flavorful Double Crooked Tree IPA are widely considered two of the finest IPAs on the market.

But where Aaron really excels is in pushing the boundaries of brewing with strange ingredients. These are a few of our favorites. 

Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th Imperial Stout

Released each fall, this bourbon-aged stout stands apart for one reason: a secret root that goes into the mix. It's hard to tell what the root is, exactly, but this is one of the finer imperial stouts we've ever tasted (and is the only one on the list that you can still purchase). ABV: 11 percent

Louie's Long Polymer John Donut Ale

How do you make a donut ale? You add 250 donuts from Louie's Bakery, just a half mile from Dark Horse HQ. The result was a sweet, almost maple-like ale made for the Michigan Brewer's Guild Winter Festival in 2010. ABV: 7 percent

Uber Boober

In 2011, Aaron had an idea: make a beer out of baby formula. It was a limited release, brewed specifically for the 2011 Extreme Beer Festival in 2011. ABV: 4.2 percent.

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SPL’s GoPro Water Housing

Ever wonder how surf photographers get that cool half-in-half-out-of-the-water shot as the surfer rides by? The answer: an underwater housing with a dome port—essentially a big glass bubble on the end of a lens that widens the camera’s point of view.

While these setups can cost much more than $2,000 for large cameras and DSLRs, there is a more affordable option for your GoPro thanks to SPL Water Housings

Fitted to a small handle, the company's housing is made from an ultra-light aluminum mold that holds the GoPro Hero3 in place. On the front, you can attach either a standard flat cover or choose between a 5-inch and 8-inch dome port. Once the camera is in the housing, you can control the shutter with a thumb trigger or with the WiFi remote—if you're not underwater yourself.

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Note: This isn't a dive housing, which means it’s not rated to go deep underwater. But it is splash-rated, making it perfect for other water sports such as kayaking, fishing, and surfing.


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