The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jun 2011

Videos: Slippery When Wet, plus Surfing Geese

Here are two water videos to kick off what looks to be a hot weekend across much of the U.S.. The first is from Shasta Boyz productions. It's the seventh of seven trailers leading up to their new film, Slippery When Wet. This time the featured athlete is the filmmaker: Shon Bollock. The footage was shot in California and during Bollock's recent paddling and humanitarian aid trip to Japan.

Slippery When Wet: Shon Bollock from Shon Bollock on Vimeo.

The second: A few weeks ago, the Colorado River at Glenwood Springs hit a high flow of 25,000-plus cubic feet of water per second and, sorry for this, surfers came out in flocks. Check out these geese surfing the Glenwood Play Park. 


--Kyle Dickman

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From The Lean-To: Documerica

Documerica for Outside

I've spent too much time in front of the computer, sitting at the minituare aqua-green cafe table that overlooks my block, cold beer in hand, gazing at the Documerica photos that grace the National Archives' Flickr pages. The bright reds and oranges of the desert rocks, the old Appalachian Trail signs, the midnight campfires, that, for no reason other than being lit sometime in the mid 70's, just seem cooler than any fire I've ever lit.

And sure, if the lighting is right and the shorts are short enough, a Saturday on the Appalachian Trail can seem like an old Paul Petzold movie. But if it's about enjoying the fine art of getting lost in the internet's photos, imaging how much better the peanut butter sandwiches were back then, how much heavier the packs felt (I'm sure the extra weight made you a better hiker, right?) and how much more abundant the wildlife was, then head to Documerica.

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Hydrate or Cry: Make Your Own All-Natural Sports Drink

Chuck Wagner via Shutterstock

We’ve all heard the stories of how backcountry endurance wonks concocted the first molar-crushing energy bars in their kitchen or garage, and went on to hit the big time, spawning a sport-snack empire and changing the way we eat on the go. Buh-bye, trail mix. 

Mass-market sports drinks aren’t so different: They started niche, designed for athletes who needed to replace vital electrolytes before, during, and after training. But as the industry grew, the message became more generic: Anybody who so much as moves his/her body or breaks a sweat must re-hydrate with a special drink in neon hues that don’t exist in the natural world. Now sports drinks are so ubiquitous, they take up half an aisle at the grocery store. 

But just because the labels say “sport,” doesn’t mean these drinks are good for you—a fact that even health-conscious athletes and parents tend to overlook. (Guilty.) “Most bottled sports drinks are full of chemicals and fake coloring like yellow #5 and caramel #1 to make them appealing to consumers,” says Jennifer Keirstead, a registered holistic nutritionist in the badass mountain burg of Nelson. B.C., whose clients include skiers, mountain bikers, climbers, and kids. “Some even contain vegetable oil—and you can be sure it’s the poorest quality.”

Hmmm…you don’t want your little ripper depleted and dehydrated after tearing it up on the local mountain bike course, but you don’t want him sucking down 16 ounces of turquoise sugar water, either. So what to do? Make your own!

“It’s cheaper and much more healthful,” says Kierstead, whose recipe is so easy it only has 4 ingredients: organic lemon juice to replenish vitamin C, as well as key minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron; raw honey to act as carbohydrate and supply muscles with quick energy; sea salt to replace lost minerals, and filtered water to replace fluids you’ve sweated out.

Simple, with a few teensy caveats. “You want to use raw or unpasteurized honey,” explains Kierstead. “The live enzymes help with digestion and keep your intestinal track healthy.” Sea salt is better than table salt because it’s unprocessed. Pay attention to where your salt is harvested, too: Kierstead’s partial to Himalayan, Icelandic, or Atlantic sea salt. “After Fukushima, I worry about the poor Pacific Ocean,” she says. Make a batch and keep a pitcher in the 'fridge all summer.

Homemade “Electrolade”

1 quart filtered water

2 tablespoons unpasteurized or raw honey *

big pinch of unrefined sea salt

¼ cup juice from fresh, organic lemons

Mix 4 ingredients with a wooden spoon and chill; Kierstead prefers glass pitchers whenever possible, to avoid chemicals leaching from plastic jugs. For an icier yum the little rascals will love, pour into popsicle molds and freeze. 

 * The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against feeding honey to babies younger than 12 months  to prevent the risk of infant botulism. 

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Does Getting Pregnant Make You Faster?

(Photo by Stewart Dawson/Wikimedia)

On Monday, the New York Times ran an article on elite track athletes who have had kids mid career. Anecdotally, the Times story presented a mixed picture: Kara Goucher is running well after giving birth in September, and high jumper Chaunte Lowe is struggling.

I've always assumed that the question of whether to postpone childbirth was a tradeoff between a very legitimate concern for a runner's performance and a very legimate desire to have a child at a reasonable age.

But it occured to me that I know almost nothing about how pregnancy affects elite distance runners. Does the tradeoff exist as I imagined it? Do women who have children end up slower?

I had guessed yes, to both questions: After all, women are less able to train and compete in the later stages of pregnancy and for several weeks following childbirth. That means a forced absence from competitive racing at the height of both their speed and earning power. (The tradeoff is striking in the business world, where women's earnings begin to fall behind men's around age 31. Not coincidentally, that's also the median age for childbirth among college-educated women in the United States.)

On the other hand, physiologists have noted that hormonal changes following pregnancy may allow some women to train harder. It's also possible that extended rest allows a type-A runner time to heal and recover.

The real question, though, is whether women who give birth mid-career ever again return to their pre-pregnancy levels of competition. My gut reaction was "no."

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The Gear Junkie: Teva Zilch Sandal

By Stephen Regenold

Designed to be one of the most minimal sport sandals ever made, the Zilch from Teva is flexible enough to fold in half. A thin sole, a footbed, and Velcro straps are the totality of the design, which is new this summer and made for travelers and backpackers looking to shave weight.

The sandals come in men's and women's models and are built for all-around outdoors use. Light hiking, water activities, or wear-around-camp applications are all candidate for the strap-on sandal. 
For travelers, its small size saves space. Backpackers or campers can stow away a pair for a trip into the woods and almost forget they are there.
Teva zilch sandal copy
I tested the Zilch model this month and was mostly happy with the sandal on my foot. With the adjustable straps and a cradling footbed, the sandals' fit is solid enough for casual activity. 

The sole is thin and so flexible that it arches when you step on a stick. There is almost no shock absorption or cushioning, a minimalist feel that you might either love or hate. 

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