The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jul 2010

Video: Rider Relief in Stage 4

Stage 4 of the Tour de France was relatively easy compared to the cobblestone attack of yesterday. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador stayed close to the front of the peloton. Alessandro Petacchi took first place in the stage, and Fabian Cancellara retains the yellow jersey.

For more videos check out For race analysis check out The Spoke Word.

--Aileen Torres

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Video: Fabian Cancellara Update

Fabian Cancellara, who holds onto the yellow jersey after Stage 4, talks about what he likes to do when he's not in the peloton and about Frank Schleck being out of the game after a collarbone injury on the rough cobblestone streets of Stage 3.

For more videos check out For race analysis check out The Spoke Word.

--Aileen Torres

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Field Tested: The Best Summer Hydration Packs

A few weeks ago, my friend Aileen and I made a rookie mistake, despite being inveterate outdoorsy types. We hiked 12 miles through Santa Fe National Forest equipped with only an 18-oz water bottle between the both of us. Not the smartest move, especially in high desert. Luckily, just when our mouths felt like drywall and the conversation had turned to Will Ferrell's latest hydration technique, we reached the safety of my car. But not before I'd learned a critical lesson: Don't ever leave home without enough water.

Dehydration, simply put, is having too little water in the body, and when untreated can lead to headaches, dry mouth, lethargy, sunken eyes--and brain damage! With summer heating up, it's more important than ever for athletes to stay hydrated. But achieving the right balance of keeping quenched and staying mobile is trickier than it sounds. Fortunately, there are all kinds of hydration systems out there to choose from, some better than others. Depending on the sport, there is an art to wearing water. Here are my top pack picks:

Nathan10_intensityThe Nathan Intensity: One of the main drawbacks to running with a hydration system is sounding like a high-powered washing machine. But this past weekend I ran a half marathon wearing the Intensity, and I barely noticed any water sloshing at all. The straps, made from a breathable, incredibly soft wall mesh were ultra comfortable, leading to a snug, secure fit that didn't restrict movement. Plus, with a two-liter bladder, I had no need to slow down for aid stations. A smart addition to any runner's arsenal. ($85;

Osprey Osprey Raptor 6: The Osprey Raptor 6 just looks badass, and let's admit it, that's half the fun. Streamlined, and more durable than the rest of the systems I tested, the Raptor 6 boasts a clever magnetic clip to keep the 180-degree bite valve in place, as well as sleeves for bike tools and room for a shell. While I found the Raptor 6 a bit sturdy for trail running, it was perfect for hiking and tearing up the singletrack on a mountain bike. Brownie Points: I left the Raptor 6 in a hot car for 24 hours and was surprised to find the two-liter reservoir had kept my water as ice cold as when I had filled it. ($79;

CamelbakCamelBak 2010 Octane 18x: The Octane 18x feels like a favorite blanket--with a two-liter water system and straps. Made from ultra-light materials, I was surprised by how comfortable the Octane 18x was. Boasting the most intuitive design of all the systems I tested (it felt like a regular backpack), it was also the most roomy. I fit a jacket, a phone, a digital camera, a map, and a sandwich inside and that was without unzipping the expandable pocket. With large mesh zippered pockets on the waist belt to keep keys, cameras, and cell phones safe, I was quickly using this pack off the trail, too. A perfect pack for hiking and daytripping. ($90;

--Shauna Sweeney

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The 10 Most Underrated Health Foods

Photo courtesy of Fir0002

We are what we eat, and that’s why we need to pay more attention to our diets. Some foods are healthier than others because they’re more densely packed with nutrients, natural and whole, and others are perceived as unhealthy even though they’re good for you. So if you want to gain the benefit of good health, you need to be armed with the right information about the right things to eat. To that end, here’s a list of the top ten underrated health foods:

10. Oats: Probably the best breakfast you can have is one that combines oats with juice and some toast; oats are rich in fiber and also help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They’re also good sources of energy and provide you with enough fuel to get through the day.

9. Shrimp: While most of us know that fish is good for us because of its high Omega 3 fatty acid content, we don’t realize that shrimp is a health food, too. Yes, it does have a high level of cholesterol, but its fat content is low, and it is high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12, which boosts heart health and prevents cardiovascular illness.

8. Cashew nuts: They’re not only delicious, but also healthy--a handful of cashews every day is enough to keep heart disease away and boost energy. Just remember not to fry or salt them, or eat too much of them as that could lead to weight gain and nullify all the positive effects.

7. Potato: If you’re wondering why the potato has found a place on this list even though it’s been blacklisted in the form of fries and chips, it’s because by itself and without all the oil, butter, and cream we add to the dishes we prepare using this vegetable, the potato is a good source of not just essential vitamins and elements like manganese, it’s also rich in phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties and keep cancer and other diseases at bay. Just eat the potato baked and without the fatty stuff to reap its benefits.

6. Bananas: This fruit is available around the world, throughout the year, and in many different varieties. It is one of the richest natural sources of potassium, and the high fiber and vitamin content make it very nutritious. Besides this, it is a good source of energy for sports people and those who train with high intensity.

5. Yogurt: If it’s not sweetened, yoghurt offers various health benefits that other dairy products don’t. It has high levels of calcium, potassium, Vitamins B6 and B12, and is also a good source of protein. If you don’t like it plain, you could use a fruit of your choice to make frozen yogurt, a healthy and delicious dessert option.

4. Watermelon: This large fruit is rich in Vitamins A and C and is also a good source of lycopene, the antioxidant that we normally associate with tomatoes. Besides, its thick skin protects the fleshy fruit inside from the effects of pesticides and other chemicals, thus making it one of the safest non-organic fruits to eat.

3. Green vegetables: It’s not the easiest thing in the world to swallow the green things on your plate, but if you knew how healthy green, leafy vegetables were, you wouldn’t dismiss them without a second thought. Greens are great sources of antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and every other nutrient in the book. If you’re not too fond of some of them, eat the ones that you do like in recipes that make them delicious and more palatable.

2. Tomatoes: They’re not only pretty to look at, they make good sources of lycopene, the antioxidant that prevents cancer and damage of cells due to oxidation. The benefits are highest when eaten cooked or in the form of a sauce.

1. Eggs: They’ve been slammed as being too rich in cholesterol, but what we don’t often realize is that eggs are great sources of protein, choline (the chemical that’s crucial to brain development, memory, and learning), and various other vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health. The best way to eat eggs is to go natural and avoid the condiments and toppings that make it an exotic food at times, and if you’re worried about the cholesterol, skip the yellow and make an omelet of the white.

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills. She writes on the topic of physical therapy assistance at She welcomes your comments at:

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Usain Bolt's 200 Meters Season in Possible Jeopardy

Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt said Wednesday that he might miss the remainder of his 200 meters season with a strained Achilles tendon, according to Reuters.

The Jamaican sprinter, who holds the world record in the 100 and 200 meters, developed tightness in his Achilles in late may running a 300-meter race and has not run since.  He began speed work last week, which aggravated the tendon.

Bolt said his doctor did not want him to run around the bend on the track, which is part of the 200-meter race, as turning can put more stress on the Achilles.  Bolt is expected to heal in about four weeks.  In the meantime, Bolt will continue to run the 100 meters.

Just how fast is Bolt?  Check our June Wild File to see him (hypothetically) pitted against a sprint cyclist.

--Michael Webster

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