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Dispatches : Adventure Lab

Expedition Watch: Snowboarding Antarctica

During expeditions to the world's most remote mountains, athletes often leave out the details about getting there. Not so with Xavier de Le Rue and the team from Mission Antarctic, who are on a month-long quest to snowboard new lines in Antarctica.

After flying from Santiago, Chile, to the Falkland Islands, the athletes set sail through the often turbulent Drake Passage to get to the White Continent. Unfortunately, their 64-foot, steel-hulled ship, The Golden Fleece, cut right into a storm, and many of them got seasick.

Glacier, Washington-based snowboarder Lucas Debari wrote a vivid enough post about sailing through the choppy waters:

It was only about a half hour or so before we emerged from the protection of the bay and were in the open ocean. Within 20 minutes of that our entire crew was lying down using every bit of mental focus to not vomit or fall out of our beds in the turbulent seas.

The next 72 hours were possibly the most miserable three days of my life. I think I left my little nest of a bed for a total of an hour during this time. I managed to put down a bowl of ramen on day two, and a few crackers here and there. Renan is in the bunk across from me, and keeps going on about how this is just like suffering on the big-wall portaledge during his epic expedition on Meru the year before.

Simple tasks like unscrewing a water bottle for a drink seemed to be just as difficult as they were for me at 17 thousand feet on Denali. Overall, I was completely over it at this point, the thought of snowboarding on this trip seemed unfathomable, and that wasn't just me. You should have seen Xavier during this time. He looked like a ghost, vomiting after every bite and barely able to open his eyes. I never saw him move once from his bed. The storm that had granted us an extra day in the Falklands was now pushing us to our very limits of sanity.

If you have a strong stomach, you can watch a video below of de Le Rue on the boat. It's not pretty, and involves retching.

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Protected Bike Lanes in Cities to Nearly Double in 2013

8265901844_073b12f188_hDowntown Chicago. Photo: Transitized/Flickr

Late at night on Friday November 30, Chicago's Department of Transportation began construction on the city's first protected two-way bike path with dedicated bike signals. They started on Dearborn Street in the heart of downtown, and not all motorists took kindly to the construction and loss of a lane for car traffic. Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn't budge after the complaints began. “I made a pledge that we were gonna do 25 miles of protected bike lanes throughout the city each year, so we could [reach] 100 miles by the time my term was done," the mayor said in the Chicago Sun Times. "And we’re on course to achieving that.”

Emanuel is adding the lanes in hopes that the city can attract more high-tech and start-up businesses. The Windy City isn't alone in making changes favorable to bike commuters. This past Saturday, the Green Lane Project released a preliminary report of protected bike lanes in the United States—they call them "green lanes." The organization said that U.S. cities had only 62 green lanes in 2011. By the end of 2012, they predict 102 green lanes will be completed in 32 U.S. cities. The Green Lane Project said more than 80 percent of the increase comes in eight cities: Austin, Texas, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. By the end of 2013, the organization predicts there will be 200 protected bike lanes in U.S. cities.

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A Video Ode to Bike Designer Alex Moulton

"One must always go back to the fundamentals. And get your face out of the computer."

So said Alex Moulton, an engineer and the designer of a handmade, small-wheeled steel bike with rubber suspension, who died this past Sunday. He was 92. The Brit first built a Moulton bike more than 50 years ago, designing a prototype that in 1959 Raleigh refused an offer to buy. They said the new bike wouldn't sell. So Moulton began his own factory. Eventually Raleigh made a similar frame and Moulton sold the company to them. Later, Moulton bought back his patents. Since then, cyclists have used Moultons to pedal to work in England, to ride across New Zealand, and to journey 6,000 miles through China.

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Inside the Mind of a Dirt Merchant

Jason Fenton owns Halter's Cycles in Monmouth, New Jersey, a bike shop that opened in 1987 and admittedly stocks way more rigs than they need to so that customers have plenty of options. Since 2004, Fenton has been building and maintaining the trails at Six Mile Run Reservoir so that he and others have a good place nearby to ride. For an hour or so a day, he chainsaws and digs and rakes to bring an extra second or two of improved riding to his region. The above video by Adam Nawrot tells his story.

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Adventure Video of the Week: Zack Giffin Skis Alaska

In the last week, Sweetgrass Productions has dropped two new videos. Yesterday, Nick Waggoner and crew released the teaser to their new ski movie Valhalla, a story about "one man's search to rediscover the freedom on his youth." The video is packed with the requisite ski porn and some other stuff you might not expect—funky colored lights, an old man with an impressive beard, and dancing naked people not afraid to show off their butts. Sweetgrass Productions' last movie, Solitaire, pushed the boundaries of what a ski flick could be, and this one looks like it will do the same.

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