August 21, 2014

A flow trail requires little pedaling and braking, according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Whitefish, Montana's new Kashmir Trail provides a great version of that experience.     Photo: stefanschurr/Thinkstock

It's a Good Time to Be a Mountain Biker

IMBA holds summit, praises excellent new resort trail

Mountain bikers have descended upon Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and will soon flock to Whitefish, Montana—and it's all thanks to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The organization's annual summit is happening right now, and it's just given kudos to Whitefish Resort's new Kashmir Trail, calling it a model flow trail.

That's a sign of positive developments for two reasons. Kashmir's success just a year after its completion signals a shift for resorts in the western United States, which are increasingly offering better options for summer sports. What makes Kashmir so good? "It's smooth, every corner has a berm, and it's kind of effortless to ride," Whitefish resident Pete Costain told the Whitefish Pilot"It's essentially dirt art." 

Flow trails are also relative newcomers to mountain biking. "Flow trails take mountain bikers on a terrain-induced roller-coaster experience," according to IMBA. For an experienced rider, braking and pedaling might not even be necessary. The trails provide "an exploration of skills and airtime for fast, talented riders who want to turn the trail into the ultimate playground," though they can also be very family friendly. Sounds like the ideal setup for a lift-serviced resort trail.

It's great developments like Kashmir that will be the focus of IMBA's World Summit, taking place now through August 24. The summit gets everyone from mountain bike enthusiasts to trail builders and land managers into the same room. On the table this year: improving long-distance trails, rapidly building up world-class bike park facilities in the United States, and daily bike time, of course, like night riding on Emerald Mountain. If you wish you could be there too, follow the weekend's developements on IMBA's Twitter feed.

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Though tigers naturally avoid humans, they tend to continue killing people once they start.     Photo: Christopher Kray/Flickr

Indian Tiger Killed by Rangers

Animal blamed for 7 deaths

Forest rangers in the Indian state of Maharashtra say they shot dead a tiger blamed for killing seven people since March. Three teams of officials organized on Tuesday evening to track the endangered animal through a forest in Chandrapur.

"The growing incidents of man-animal conflict in the area have put a lot of pressure on the [forest] department," Maharashtra forest chief Sarjan Bhagat told BBC Hindi. "Considering the safety of people, orders to shoot the animal were issued."

Tiger attacks have been on the rise in India, with the endangered animals having killed at least 17 people so far this year.

The increase in tiger attacks is linked to human encroachment on the animals' already limited resources and habitat, with many Indians moving onto reserve lands or poaching the big cats. This encroachment indirectly leads to orders to kill tigers—officials say tigers rarely attack humans without reason, and habitat loss forces human contact when tigers leave their forests to look for food. Only 11 percent of Indian tigers' natural habitat remains.

The order to shoot tigers dead is itself significant: 100,000 tigers roamed India 100 years ago, but only 1,700 wild tigers live there today. Indian officials report killing only two other "man-eating" tigers in Chandrapur, an area that's home to at least 100 tigers, since 2007, with both killings occurring that year.

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When it comes to this record holder, everything old is new again.     Photo: Sydney Morning Herald/Google CC

Swimmer Becomes Oldest to Cross English Channel

Makes good on a promise to his coach

It's been 10 years since a swimmer set a record in the English Channel. That changed Wednesday, when 70-year-old Australian swimmer Cyril Baldock earned the title of oldest person to swim the 21.1 miles from England to France. 

Baldock began his swim off the coast of England and arrived at Cap Gris Nez in France 12 hours and 45 minutes later. Upon completion, he immediately posted on Twitter: "I made it!" and announced his new record title. "I haven't had that much fun in years," he told the Australian.

Baldock, a lifetime member of the Bondi Swim Club, is no newbie when it comes to the challenges of the English Channel. He had completed the swim once before, at age 41, in 1985. But this time around, he completed the journey to honor his former coach, Des Renford, whose lifetime goal of crossing the channel as the oldest person was halted after he suffered a heart attack. It was his promise to fulfill Renford's dream that kept Baldock going, even when the going got tough.

"There's no way that I'd attempt the English Channel just to swim it a second time. I've done it. I was only the fifth Australian to do it back then, but to be the oldest, it's an enormous challenge. It's something that very few people can ever achieve," he told ABC. "It's helped my fitness. I've got five grandkids, and I'm able to do things with them that a lot of 70-year-olds couldn't do."

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