July 17, 2014

Lance still has some supporters among his fellow Tour de France riders—though they may back him more for the sake of the race's history.     Photo: Eliel Johnson/Flickr

Former Tour Champs Back Lance

Say his titles should be reinstated

Lance Armstrong is under increasing legal pressure (and increasing risk of bankruptcy), but the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf provides him one bright spot today. The paper surveyed the 25 other living Tour de France champions, and 12 of them said they believe Armstrong should have his seven Tour titles reinstated.

Take that with a grain of salt. As we've discussed many, many, many times, a significant chunk of past Tour de France champs have likely doped as well. In the midst of Armstrong's fiasco, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement that from 1999 to 2005, doping applied to all but one of the 21 TdF podium finishers. Irish cyclist Stephen Roche directly acknowledged this when he said, "Doping has been part of sport, not only for cycling, for decades." Roche—himself the subject of a handful of doping allegations—thinks it would be wrong to leave seven years of a 100-year history blank.

Other cyclists felt the same about preserving the history books, including more recent winner Andy Schleck. But overwhelmingly, Armstrong's supporters veer toward older generations. Recent champs such as Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins say those seven years should serve as a lesson for other riders. "Those seven empty places symbolize an era," Froome said. (We see the irony too.)

Armstrong's own reaction to the survey? He told De Telegraaf, "I'll keep it to myself for now."

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They don't call it the Wild West for nothing.     Photo: Wikimedia/Google CC

Hiker Survives on Moths, Melted Ice

Spends 144 hours alone in the Sierra Nevada

Gregg Hein, 33, was on a solo hike in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks when a loose boulder caused him to lose his footing and fall 150 feet. The 33-year-old broke his right leg in three places, with bones protruding from the skin and his foot "dangling," according to USA Today.

Hein quickly evaluated his situation and knew that a tourniquet would ultimately result in amputation, so he stabilized his leg with a cord, his belt, and hiking poles and found refuge after scooting himself near a glacier, where he was able to melt enough ice to drink and find enough bugs to eat. On day four, Hein crawled nearly a mile so he would be more visible to possible rescue parties.

When helicopter crews spotted him on July 10, Hein was immediately transported to a hospital, where he underwent two surgeries to pin his leg bones back into place. It is expected that he will need two more surgeries and that a full recovery will take months.

"As soon as I can get back to trail running and hiking, I'll be out there," he told USA Today. As Hein has already proved, for an adventurous spirit, where there's a will, there's a way.

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Throughout this year's Tour de France, Andrew Talansky showed courage that anyone can respect.     Photo: Wikimedia/Google CC

Andrew Talansky Quits Tour

Gritty GC favorite battled crashes and illness

The Tour Hotties just aren't doing so hot.

Chris Froome and Alberto Contador abandoned the Tour de France earlier this month, and now another star rider has called it quits. This time, it's American Andrew Talansky.

His team, Garmin-Sharp, announced in a statement Thursday morning that Talansky would not start Stage 12. Doctors diagnosed Talansky with acute sacroilitis, an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which connects the pelvis to the spine.

The decision comes on the heels of Talansky's rough completion of Stage 11, in which he endured pain from two hard crashes in previous stages, a back so stiff that he could not remove his jersey without a team staff member's help, and an upper respiratory infection. He finished the stage with five minutes to spare before the disqualification time cutoff.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken to leave the Tour de France. I had hoped the rest day would allow some time to recover from my crashes," Talansky said in the team statement. "But it proved to be too much."

Although he is dismissing himself from the biggest race of the year, Talanksy still had an impressive 2014 season, winning the Criterium du Dauphine in June and solidifying his place in cycling.

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Life could get a little easier for these guys if this project comes to fruition.     Photo: William Bain/Flickr

The Salmon Cannon

Forget fish ladders—pressurized tube-transport systems are the newest way to bypass a dam

It's no secret that prodigious dam construction in the United States has been a boon for hydroelectric power but hasn't been so fantastic for our native salmon populations, which, in addition to natural predators, have for decades had to contend with man-made obstacles blocking the path to their natural spawning waters.

Many dams have fish ladders to help these migratory swimmers on their (not-so) merry way, but many do not. And as studies have shown, fish ladders have proven to be only moderately effective at best.

Which is why a team of scientists in central Washington has been dabbling with the concept of a pressurized tube transport for fish populations, a method that recalls the pneumatic pipelines in offices of yore. Instead of business memos, however, this pressurized system hopes to help salmon and steelhead trout reach the promised land by shooting them over particularly impenetrable areas.

The concept originated in 2009 with Whooshh Industries, a Washington-based company that initially specialized in fruit transportation. It's still in early phases, but the idea sounds promising and, believe it or not, "less stressful" for the fish, as they would be subjected to minimal human contact.

For more information on dam construction and its effect on fisheries, check out the trailer for DamNation, a new film available on iTunes.

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What it would be like to view your new digs from the top of Blencathra.     Photo: Lewy/Flickr

Buy This Mountain, Become a Lord

It costs only $3 million, but there's a catch

Pedigreeless laymen are claiming land and kingdoms left and right, and if you too harbor royal dreams, a progressive British earl has a deal for you. For a paltry $3 million, you could help Hugh Clayton Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale and retired long-distance trucker, chip away at a $15 million inheritance tax on his estate by taking the popular rambling mountain called Blencathra, 2,677 acres of land, and the lofty title of Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld off his hands.

Blencathra, clocking in at 2,848 feet, is hardly the most impressive peak, but it's prime hiking terrain held near to the hearts of a legion of British outdoorsmen—some of whom are eager to put the sloping, bald mountain in the public domain. But before Friends of Blencathra could attract the required funds, it was reported this month that an anonymous high-roller won the bidding war by offering more than the asking price.

Luckily for lord hopefuls and conservationists alike, the mountain had already been declared a public asset, meaning the sale can't go through for another six months. But if you think those six months will go by without turmoil, think again—in the interim, Friends of Blencathra report getting a large dose of death threats despite the fact that they're "trying to do nothing but good," one told the Telegraph.

The real mystery is why bidding is so heated for a property carrying so many caveats. Blencathra might be "a jewel in the lakeland's crown," per the agency handling the bidding, but whoever buys the jewel won't be able to do much with it. The property is regulated by National Park zoning restrictions, and anyone can ramble through or graze their flocks there.

"I could understand if you wanted to buy an island to invite your friends to," Friends chairwoman Debbie Cosgrove told the New York Times regarding the property's potential. "But you can't put a fence up" around the mountain.

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