The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Oct 2012

A Compact Headlamp Bright Enough to Bike or Ski With

Solite250 on Climbing Helmet Lighthead Closeup

Whether you’re night riding, hiking, skiing, cooking or just rummaging around your tent, a bright and long-lasting lamp can make a big difference between loving the great outdoors and cursing it.

Light and Motion’s new USB-rechargeable Solite 250 will help you choose the former. The light uses the same battery as your iPhone, which helps keep it working at about 1.7 lumen’s per gram. And, it’s designed to be versatile—use it as a headlamp, flashlight, picnic table light, or bike light. No other light that we’ve tried here at the Gear Shed does such a good job at so many things. In fact, we recently used it during the Lunar Quarry 12, a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. bike race in southern Vermont. It lit up the night and helped our team pedal to victory.

Because the Solite is regulated, the beam of light is bright and consistent across the entire life of the battery. Most lights don’t stay consistently bright through their charge—their brightness degrades rapidly as the battery drains. And riders barely noticed they were wearing it during the Lunar Quarry 12. The next brightest contender had a massive battery to deal with. 

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Will Gadd Climbs Spray Ice

At points in the video This Way: Episode 4, it looks like ice climber Will Gadd is fighting his way across the frozen belly of a large white poodle. He's almost perpendicular to the ground and swinging his pick at thick white overhanging strands called "spray ice," protrusions that form when condensation and spray from a nearby waterfall hit a wall and freeze.

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Lance Armstrong Stripped of 7 Tour de France Titles, Banned for Life by UCI

3838029136_ed07de60a9_bLance Armstrong. Photo: Oddne Rasmussenn/Flickr

The International Cycling Union has accepted the findings in the USADA report on Lance Armstrong and agreed to strip the cyclist of all of his victories since August 1, 1998, and ban him for life. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," UCI president Pat McQuaid said, according to the BBC. "He deserves to be forgotten."

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Powering Public Lands: Government Puts Solar Energy in the Spotlight

Maps_combo_sezLeft: BLM land open to solar development before 2011; right: BLM's current 17 solar energy zone. Maps: NRDC

Wind, solar, geothermal and other so-called green energy sources might not spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but they're far from benign.

Ask any bird conservationist what she or he thinks of wind farms and you might get a less-than-glowing response. Back in 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency put migratory bird mortality due to wind turbines somewhere around 440,000 each year. And solar power developers made no friends among the conservation world when the Ivanpah solar project in Southern California and adjacent to the Mojave Desert Preserve butted up against the endangered desert tortoise. The project was stalled as many hundreds of the reptiles were relocated.

"For a couple of years I was basically in cardiac arrest," says Ileene Andrerson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Because of the amount of land to be developed [for renewable energy] and the piecemeal approach."

Anderson is referring to the years following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, during which companies filed hundreds of project applications for mostly solar but also wind projects on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which had $350 million in ARRA funds with which it was mandated to "restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs."

That looks great on paper, but environmental groups quickly raised red flags over where the renewable energy developments would be sited and what oversight (or lack thereof) would be placed on them. This effectively pitted greens against greens in what looked like a counterproductive, senseless battle. But Bobby McEnaney, land policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, contends that the efforts the NRDC and similar groups have made to ensure renewable energy is developed with minimal negative impacts on wildlife, recreation access and cultural resources were rooted in lessons learned from decades of oil and gas development on public lands.

"Solar and wind energy developers would probably prefer the laissez-faire approach, which is what oil and gas developers have had on BLM land," McEnaney says. "But two wrongs don’t make a right."

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The Levi Effect

Still can't wrap your head around all the doping escapades detailed in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision? Tonight's nationwide debut of The Levi Effect, a documentary about American cyclist Levi Leipheimer, should lend more insight.

Leipheimer's testimony about his own and Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs, along with similar testimonies of 10 other riders, lay at the heart of USADA's October 10 report. Leipheimer was issued a reduced six-month suspension in exchange for his testimony, a sentence that could see him racing again by March 2013. However, his Omega Pharma Quickstep team subsequently sacked him, leaving Leipheimer in search of a new team if he hopes to continue racing. "I don't want to stop like this," he said.

Armstrong continues to deny all allegations, though the UCI yesterday upheld USADA's decision to strip him of all victories since 1998 and serve him a lifetime ban.

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