The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Aug 2011

Roll Over America, the Germans Are Coming

VelomobileA view you might catch this summer (Courtesy of Josef Janning)

Watch your rearviews this summer, from July 28 to August 26th, in hopes that you might spy a group of Europeans pedaling their velomobiles from Portland, Oregon to Washington D.C.. According to their Web site,, we are told this is the first time such a crossing in the U.S. has taken place.

Such a bold claim may lead to the question, what is a velomobile? It's the fastest road bike for everyday use, according to the pod-encased pack that touts its speed. The eco-gang of Germans and Danes hope that by riding their contraptions across the country they will inspire Americans to buy a pod and start commuting.

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Hiker Dies on Half Dome

A hiker died on Monday after falling 600 feet while descending an iconic section of rock on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Haley LaFlamme, 26, slipped on wet granite while climbing down a route secured by fixed-line cables near Half Dome's summit. The death is Yosemite's 14th this year, making 2011 the deadliest year in recent history. “We’ve had more deaths for this time of year than what’s typical,” said Yosemite spokesperson Kari Cobb, adding that 15 people died in 2010, and that a total of 5 to 6 by the end of July is typical. Three hikers remain missing after falling into the Merced River and tumbling over a waterfall in July. “A lot of people who visit Yosemite aren't necessarily familiar with nature,” Cobb told the Associated Press. “They are really out of their element and may not understand the force of nature and what they may encounter in nature.” The park warns hikers to avoid Half Dome in wet weather as moisture leaves the granite rock face especially slippery. In 2009 a man died on Half Dome in similarly wet conditions.

Read more at Reuters

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TdF Top Three Will Race in Colorado

The top three finishers from the 2011 Tour de France will compete in the first-ever USA Pro Cycling Challenge later this month in Colorado. Tour winner Cadel Evans and brothers Andy and Franck Schleck,  who finished second and third, will skip the Vuelta a España, the third of cycling's three grand tours, in what is a major coup for the American race organizers. "I've heard good things about the race in Colorado and I know it won't be easy. But I'm up for one more challenge," Evans said in a press release. Evans reportedly decided to skip the Vuelta so he could finish his season and return to Australia early. Race organizers had initially announced that the Schleck brothers would compete in March, but had recently backed down from guaranteeing their participation. Last month, Evans and the Schlecks each finished among the top five in the Tour de France's ranking of climbers, which could help them on the hilly Colorado course. Other riders competing include Tom Danielson, the top American in this year's tour, and Ivan Basso, the two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia.

Read more at Real Aspen

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The Gear Shed Outdoor Retailer Preview

Twice a year, all the companies that make camping, climbing, hiking, paddling gear, clothes, shoes, and gadgets get together in one cement bunker in Salt Lake City to hock their wares. It's called the Outdoor Retailer Show, and it's the biggest gearapalooza in the land. Mostly the show allows shop owners to preview everybody's new lines of gear and apparel, most of which won't be available to consumers until later this fall or 2012.

Of course, A few of us magazine types sneak in as well to preview the latest and greatest. We won't get to actually see next year's crop of goods until later this week—the show officially kicks off on Wednesday, with an in-the-field demo day—but here's the short list of shiny objects we'll be tracking down.


1.  Exotac Nanostryker: There are a million ferrocerium firestarters, but the Nanostryker, from the engineers at Georgia-based Exotac, is supposedly the smallest on the market.  Made for BMW driving boyscouts, this key chain bauble is a flint you'll have on hand at all times. It's collapsible, it's self contained, it works when wet, and it comes in stanless steel and titanium. If you consider yourself too sophisticated for rubbing two sticks together or for blocky flints you might have to say, keep in your glove box, this little firestarter will let you be the keeper of the flame anywhere in a pinch. Available now, $27 ($75 for titanium),

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Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic Poach Falls Creek

Ben Stookesbury and Chris Korbulic Falls Creek

We just got word that kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic poached the first descent of Falls Creek, into Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The reservoir, which provides drinking water to San Francisco, is off limits. Should they have done it?

Tell us what you think on our Facebook page.

--Joe Spring

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