The Outside Blog

Dispatches : May 2012

Three Big Walls in One Day

Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold grabbed the first major achievement of Yosemite's spring climbing season this weekend when they made the first free ascent of the Triple Crown, a linkup that combines three of Yosemite's biggest walls, in a single day. In 21 hours and 15 minutes, Honnold and Caldwell raced up El Capitan's Freerider, Half Dome's Regular Northwest Face, and Mt. Watkins' South Face. All in all, they ascended nearly 7,000 vertical feet of sheer rock, covering sections as difficult as 5.13a.

The partners began their linkup on Friday at 4:45 p.m. and climbed through the night, finishing at 2 p.m. the next day. While Caldwell took three tumbles on the way up Freerider, Honnold didn't fall once. Besides the 77 pitches of climbing, the linkup includes several hours of hiking just to approach and descend from the routes.

Caldwell at the crux of Mt. Watkins South Face, from his first attempt at the route.

"This one was a long time coming," Caldwell wrote on Facebook. "El Cap, Half Dome and Mount Watkins all free in under 24 hours. It was amazing to team up with such a solid and inspiring partner."

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Lolo Jones' Last Chance for Gold

When you're 29 and single and live alone in a house with your dog, you surf Twitter, hoping to find someone worth talking to. Maybe even hoping to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. You know this. You do it—or your brothers and sisters do it, your friends from college do it, your sons and daughters do it. What you might not know is that you do it even if you're Lori "Lolo" Jones, American track and field star with several titles to her name. She's tried every online dating service, she tells former professional tennis player Mary Carillo in the embedded clip from HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, but none of them have worked.

The clip is part of a package on Jones that will air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. EST. (Other segments from the hour-long episode will focus on South Korean female golfers, who make up 145 of the top 500 ranked professionals; Ironman triathlete Matt Long, who was given a one percent chance to recover and live after a bus literally ran him over; and Ray Greenhalge, who has a unique passion for boxing that he picked up from godfather and uncle Micky Ward.)

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What Happens to an Icebreaker Wool T-Shirt When You Wear It for Two Weeks Straight?


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There are a lot of claims about merino, particularly around its anti-stink properties. Companies like Icebreaker are constantly claiming that you can wear their woolies day after day and they won't smell.

A few weeks ago, because it was a rainy week and we weren't out riding our mountain bikes every free second, we had some time to dream up a little experiment: to see if the anti-stink claims were true. We recruited a subject for our experiment, Dana Allen, 31, writer, photographer and grad student at the University of Vermont's College of Plant and Soil Sciences, studying ecological landscape design. We asked Dana to wear an Icebreaker Men's Tech Tee Lite for two weeks, and to journal about how the shirt smelled. We recommended that maybe the second week of the test he should make sure that his finacée was out of town.

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The Top 10 'Outside' Bike Towns

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Photo: thebezz/Shutterstock.

Last week, the League of American Bicyclists updated its list of the most bike-friendly communities in the United States and Walk Score, an organization that rates rental properties based on the walkability of the surrounding neighborhood, charted new territory with Bike Score, a list of the top 10 bikeable cities. Both of these groups use things like biking infrastructure and amenities, such as connecting bike lanes with public transit, to put together their rankings.

But from an Outside perspective, good cycling means more than bike lanes and flat routes for commuting to work. We want interesting topography, and sometimes that means a lung-burning ascent or two (or three) on scenic roads. We want sweet singletrack and solitude, but we also want great places to gather for a post-ride drink.

Herewith, the top 10 Outside bike towns. The list is based on the magazine's Best Towns ranking tool, with road biking and mountain biking turned all the way up to 11. We then adjusted the list to boost the ranking of towns that also appear on the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) top spots and Bike Score's top 10.

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The Six-Month Test: BMC Speedfox SF29 SLX

A solid value from the Swiss manufacturer that presages good things to come

SpeedFox SLX Side View

The European market has been slow to adopt the 29er trend. Just last summer, on a mountain bike press launch in Austria, after all 30 journalists (85 percent of whom were Europeans) took part in the two rides on new 26-inch platforms, the only riders to turn up for the 29er demo were the handful of Americans on the trip. Interest in big wheels has been slow on the Continent, which is why we were so happy to see lots of European manufacturers rolling out 29ers at Interbike last fall. Among them was the Speedfox SF29 from Swiss company BMC.

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