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Dispatches

Polartec Alpha: Insulation for Active Pursuits

Polartec1_fe

Down is the warmest insulation. In fact, when you’re hiking or skinning, it can be too warm. Same with Primaloft. It’s fantastic when you reach the summit, when you’re belaying your partner, or riding a lift, but get your heart rate up, and you’ll probably start to get sweaty.

That’s why Polartec invented Alpha.

Unlike down and existing synthetic insulation batting, Polartec Alpha is a highly stable layer of synthetic fibers that lets manufacturers use more open and breathable fabrics on the outer and inner layers of puffy garments. Classic puffies require down-proof fabrics inside and out so feathers don’t poke through, or they need high-density woven layers. Both create a vapor barrier, trapping moisture inside the garment during activity.

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USA Pro Challenge V3: Yawn

Christian Vande Velde wins the 2012 USAPCChristian Vande Velde atop the USAPC podium. Photo: Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda

In a recent press conference at Aspen's Little Nell Hotel, organizers of the USA Pro Challenge announced the host cities and overall race course for the 2013 edition of the tour of Colorado. And though routing specifics are still forthcoming, with a few notable exceptions the third edition of the race looks like a step or two backward from this year's parcours.

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Adventure Video of the Week: Fishing for Sharks From a Blimp

This week on Adventure Lab, we've featured dispatches on shark attacks, shark science, and shark conservation. Attitudes toward the marine predators have come a long way since 1934, when filmmakers recorded a shark being caught by a Goodyear Tires blimp near Fisher Island, Florida. The animal was dragged over the surface of the water at high speeds before being lifted high into the air and then hung up on land next to a man in a suit and tie who presumably "reeled" it in. Smithsonian grabbed the clip from the archives at Critical Past, and this week announced it was the most popular video on their site in 2012.

For a look at how our treatment of, and knowledge about, sharks has changed since 1934, read the following dispatches: 
Part 1: Surviving a Great White Shark Attack
Part 2: George Burgess on the Science of Shark Attacks
Part 3: George Burgess on Shark Finning and Conservation
Part 4: How You Can Track a Great White Shark on Your Phone
Part 5: What We've Learned About Tiger Sharks in Hawaii

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What We've Learned About Tiger Sharks in Hawaii

Tiger2Working on a tiger shark. Photo: Carl Meyer

For 19 years, University of Hawaii scientist Carl Meyer has caught sharks up and down the Hawaiian archipelago, a 1,500-mile-long chain that runs from the Big Island northwest to Kure Atoll. He’s fished up sandbar sharks, tiger sharks, and Galapagos sharks and tagged them with tracking devices in the gin-clear shallows of remote atolls, in the dark blue depths around a fish farm cage off the Big Island, over rainbow reefs where outfitters take North Shore tourists shark diving, and in turquoise waters just offshore from any number of the state’s white sand beaches.  

In 1993, he arrived at the University of Hawaii green, at least as far as big tropical sharks were concerned. In 1991, a tiger shark had attacked and killed a 41-year-old woman, and the state responded—as it had numerous times before—by culling the predators. Meyer began tagging and following the animals with his mentor, Kim Holland. What they found led the Hawaiian government to change their response to fatal shark attacks. We’ll let him tell that story below, as well as several other stories related to his studies that have changed our understanding of how humans and sharks interact in the aloha state.

When did you see your first shark?
I had seen sharks while fishing as a kid, albeit small ones found coastally in Europe. I didn’t see a tiger shark for the first time until 1993, when I came to Hawaii.

What was the context of that?
In Hawaii, over time, there had always been a low number of shark attacks, but back in the late 1950s there was a fatal attack on a guy named Billy Weaver. As a result, the local government decided that they should instigate a shark-culling program. That program was predicated on the concept that tiger sharks were highly residential. In fact, they used the word territorial, which has additional meaning to a biologist, implying active defense of space. The untested assumption was that these sharks hang out in one area, and you could have a program that would take out the problem animals and make the water safe. They had a number of shark control programs in the '60s and '70s, and they killed thousands of sharks, including 554 tiger sharks from 1959 to 1976.

It was the standard MO for the state of Hawaii in those days, built on the belief that they could make the water safer. Eventually, the programs were stopped for more than 10 years. Then, in 1991, there was a fatal shark attack on the island of Maui. Unusually in that case, when the emergency services showed up, the shark was still on site. It was a large tiger shark. This particular event prompted renewed calls for the culling of sharks. In 1993, I had just started as a graduate student with Kim Holland, together with Chris Lowe and Brad Wetherbee, who are now professors on the mainland. We said: “Well, hold on a second. Nobody’s ever tested the assumption that tiger sharks are territorial or highly residential, and this whole culling concept is built on that cornerstone.”

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11 Holiday Gifts for Cyclists

Haven't done your holiday shopping yet? (Shame on you.) Picky cyclist in your life whom you're never sure what to get? (Aren't we all?) Relax. You still have some time, and we've got you covered. Presenting 11 gifts that any reasonable cyclist would love to receive, from inexpensive stocking-stuffers to big-ticket items for the rider who has it all. To get it there in time, though, you may need to summon the speed of Mark Cavendish. Allez!

Rapha Travel Set 

1. RAPHA TRAVEL SET ($45)
This gift pack includes shaving cream, aftershave lotion, and chamois cream (which, incidentally, is among my favorites). These products are loaded with the essences of lavendar, juniper berries, cypress, lemon, and more, which is what makes them feel great, though they might not be quite right if your guy's not into smelling good. For the non-roadie, consider the Winter Skincare Bundle ($60), which nixes the aftershave for soap and cold-weather embrocation.

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