The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2011

Outsource Their Training

You can find good local programs by asking around at outdoor-gear stores, bike shops, and ski hills. For top national courses, here are the best.

ACTION/SNOW SPORTS Windells Academy (, near Mount Hood, Oregon, is where Shaun White first learned to do a cork 540. It now offers skateboarding, BMX, and freestyle snowboarding and skiing programs. Dave Murray's Summer Ski and Snowboard Camps ( have alpine racing programs in addition to freestyle camps.

WHITEWATER Northern California's Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School ( offers a NQGU (not quite grown ups) Kayak Camp in the last two weeks of July for 10- to 14-year-olds. In North Carolina, Nantahala Outdoor Center ( has been churning out Junior Team, U.S. National Team, and Olympic paddlers for nearly 40 years. There are programs for kids as young as nine.

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The Cycle Life: Cyclist dies at the Giro d'Italia

4599240736_c267f50139_zWeylandt winning Stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia, May 10, 2010 viaFlickr

Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died on Monday following a crash on a technical descent during stage three of the Giro d'Italia.

Weylandt, 27, fell heavily at the back of the peloton as the group raced down the lower flanks of the third-category Passo del Bocco, 12.4 miles from the finish. Though it's unclear what caused the crash, speeds were high as the racers ramped up for the closing miles and several racers later commented on the tricky descent, noting the steep pitches and constant turns. Television cameras captured footage of the Leopard Trek cyclist lying immobile on the roadside, as race doctors, who arrived just minutes after the crash, removed Weylandt's helmet and administered CPR. After 40 minutes of trying to resuscitate the cyclist, officials transported the body to hospital, where Weylandt was confirmed dead.

Because the severity of the crash wasn't immediately known, the stage continued to the finish in Rapallo and riders didn't learn of Weylandt's death until they crossed the line. Angel Vicioso (Androni Giocatolli) won the stage and David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) assumed the race lead, but Giro organizers cancelled the podium ceremonies in light of the tragedy.

Team Leopard Trek released the following statement: "Today, our teammate and friend Wouter Weylandt passed away after a crash on the third stage of the Giro d’Italia. The team is left in a state of shock and sadness and we send all our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wouter. This is a difficult day for cycling and for our team, and we should all seek support and strength in the people close to us.” There was no immediate announcement about whether or not the team would continue in the Giro d'Italia.

Weylandt was a promising young rider with many wins to his name. He won the Under-23 Tour of Flanders in 2004 before turning professional with Quickstep in 2005. His biggest achievements included third place at the 2008 edition of the Gent-Wevelgem spring classic and first place at stage 17 of the Vuelta a España in 2008. His death comes one year to the day after he won stage three of the 2010 Giro d'Italia.

Deaths in the pro peloton are rare but not unheard of. Italian Thomas Casaratto died last September after crashing into a car at the Giro del Friuli, and Andrei Kivilev passed away from his injuries after a crash in the 2003 Paris-Nice left him in a coma. Kivilev's death was the impetus for the UCI to implement a mandatory helmet rule in all of its races. The last time a racer died in a grand tour was in the 1995 Tour de France, when Italian Fabio Casartelli, who was riding alongside Lance Armstrong at Motorola, crashed while descending the Col de Portet d'Aspet and struck his head on a concrete block.

Outside sends its sincere condolences to Weylandt’s family, friends, and teammates.

 --Aaron Gulley 

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Ursula Grobler

She's brash, powerful, and not afraid to rock the boat. But Ursula Grobler had never even touched an oar when she moved from South Africa to the United States in 2003, at age 23. A top junior triathlete back home, she learned to row on Seattle's Green Lake. Eight years later, Grobler is a U.S. citizen, one of the country's top rowers, and an indoor world-record holder. She's so good, in fact, that she was set to qualify for the 2010 world champion­ships in three events when an uproar ensued. Rowing traditionalists begged her not to enter all three so that other American athletes could have a chance. She relented, entering two and winning silver, along with three boatmates, in the 2,000-meter quad. The author caught up with her in May as she prepared for the National Selection Regatta, which could send her back to the August world champion­ships in Slovenia.

OUTSIDE: How does rowing compare with competing as a triathlete?
GROBLER: In tris, I usually came in last in the swim, but I got away with it by making up time in the biking and running parts. In rowing, the technical side—handling the oars and the boat—became a greater challenge. I couldn't just hammer down the course like I do in tris.

What was your reaction to the controversy at last year's world championships?
I wasn't surprised, knowing that I was taking spots away from other people. But my feeling is that this is the world champion­ships. If I can get a medal and the other person is just getting experience, I feel like I should go and get the medal.

What did you learn from the process?
That patience—of which I have none—is a virtue.

What do you need to do to become the world champ?
Avoid mental baggage. Olympian Dan Walsh, one of the guys on the team, put it nicely. He said, "How much do you weigh before you race?" I said, "One-thirty." He said, "Well, make sure that when you get in the boat you're not 150, carrying around so much extra shit."

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Dhani Jones

"It's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it... I wish you could change that somehow. My mom's trying to get me to get away from the expletives.

—Jones, an NFL linebacker, on trying out various exotic sports during his travel around the world for his new book, The Sportsman (Rodale, $26)

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