Thursday, December 17, 2009

Backcountry.com's Gear Lists


sunday i was having a conversation with my buddy steve as we skinned into the crystal mountain backcountry. we are both admitted gear junkies and i was telling him exactly what mountain hardwear athlete / backcountry.com pro skier andrew mclean used for gear.  i've had a lot of trouble finding the right ski boot and i noted andrew's choice of the scarpa spirit 4.  steve had just brought a ton of slightly used gear to second ascent here in seattle and said "if i had these gear lists a few years ago i wouldn't have just sold $400 in used gear to second ascent".  using the pro's gear lists and the amazingly relevant reviews on backcountry.com is the only way to go when deciding on big ticket items that can make or break you trip into the backcountry.

andrew mclean's wasatch backcountry skiing gear list



Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Gifts for Adventure Athlete in Your Life

'tis the season to buy stuff. i am a certified gear junkie. here are some items that have been on my mind lately and could just be that perfect gift for the runner, cyclist or adventure athlete in your life.

Suunto T6c Training Watch  $399.00



this is the best watch for an ultrarunner, backcountry skier or distance mtn biker.  i like to know how much vert i'm climbing and the T6c's altimeter is spot on.  best i've ever used, and i've used them all.  the heart rate monitor is great and the useability of the interface has been well thought out.  it's no iPhone, but you could probably figure it out without the manual.
if you're buying this for a runner i'd get this watch with the runners pack, which includes a foot pod that meassures distance with an excelerometer.  once calibrated, it's far superior to gps in the backcountry.  that is an important distinction.  if you are buying this for someone who is in the backcountry a lot the tradition gps watch like a Garmin 305 or 405 will be in inept... trust me.  i've tried a number of gps units and keep coming back to foot pods.  in my experience gps connectivitiy just isn't good enough, foot pods still rule in the backcountry.  and don't even get me started on the vertical gain and loss calculations of gps units.  in one word ~ useless. 

VholdR ContourHD 1080p Wearable Camcorder  $329.95



my buddy steve brought this camera to our moab adventure.  i like to take videos of adventures and for mtn biking and skiing the 1st person perspective is really conveys the experience.  this camera let's you mount to just about anything you can imagine; bike or ski helmet, handlebars, etc.  it's small, easy to use and weighs just 4.3oz.  i'll let the camera speak for itself, here is video steve took while riding behind marcos and i on the porcupine rim trail.



Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp  $79



just this morning mandy and i forgot our headlamps for a dark thirty run at cougar mountain. we ran for 1hr 30mins by the light of super K's beautifully designed black diamond sprinter. even though i have a strong selection of headlamps (and love petzl) in the closet i've been lusting over this headlamp for a few months now. the main reasons are; it's rechargeable, no more throwing away batteries after they die. since we all create 4.5 lbs of waste PER DAY this is a great way to lessen our burden on the land fill (watch the story of stuff).  second, it's functionally a great light that lasts 4hrs per recharge. with that said it's not the light i'd rely on for a long night section of a race or adventure run. but it is perfect for the twice weekly morning runs we have here in seattle, and as a camping torch.

Skins Compression Socks $44.95



i first heard of calf sleeves a few years ago while hanging out with some salomon athletes.  their version was "hard to find" at the time, and looking through their website for this post i still couldn't find them.  at outdoor retailer i was introduced to the zensah calf sleeves, and i've been wearing them for a few months now.  these are definitely one of those hard to tell if it helps type of products.  however i believe in the technology, even if it's benefits are overstated on the skins website.  i would say if you are someone with calf or foot issues then it can't hurt, and it's likely to actually help.  there have been some days where i'm certain my calf sleeves have help lessen the fatigue and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Sorness) in my calves.
 
Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket $151.96 


this is a jacket i've been lusting over.  i think i need a hood for my down jacket when things get crazy cold and windy in the backcountry.  what pushed me over the top on this jacket was this review from FeedTheHabit.  his bottom line: "I’m sold on this jacket. I love how comfortable it wears and how well it insulates. Slip on the Compressor and you’ll feel like you just slipped into a mummy bag. With excellent wind and water protection combined with a tall collar to keep you protected from the wind, this jacket works great as a mid or outer layer.:"
Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Jacket $219.95



the nitrous is my go-to down jacket.  i probably wear this jacket more than any other in my quiver.  it's the best down jacket i've ever owned.  it's warm and super light.  i'll take this out into the backcountry skiing when the conditions aren't supposed to be arctic (see above jacket for that one).  i'll throw it on for backcountry lunch breaks and for the downhills.  this is a solid and versatile piece that looks great in the backcountry or a night out on the town.

... and of course THE best stocking stuffer is
nuun and U  $41.58 (8pack)





because it doesn't have the nasty sugars of a gatorade nuun is bladder safe. meaning you can add it to your ski or running backpack bladder and not worry about it becoming a science project. i'm going to publish a discount code for xmas soon... check back later!

Teko Pro Ski Socks  $15.16 


keeping my toes warm during backcountry ski tours is a real priority for me.  i've had frostbite on my bit toes before.  it's not pleasant, and it's left them more sensitive to the cold.  these teko ski pro socks have worked really well for me.  we all know the performance benefits of wool.  teko uses only the best merino wool, from one sustainable farm in new zealand.  the company is super environmentally conscious and analyzes every aspect of product and transportation of their products.  the best socks on the planet, the best socks for the planet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Positively False - Floyd Landis's Book


floyd landis was the 2006 tour de france winner. period. i now believe that he won clean. i just finished his book positively false - the real story of how i won the tour de france. it was a good quick read that i highly recommend. if you watched that tour, or are a fan of the sport you will devour this book.

i'll recap some of the things i found interesting. floyd grew up a mennonite and has basically been training since he was 8 years old. he started with mountain bike racing. he even mentions his first experience racing with professionals in a 24hr mtn bike race with my buddy john stamstad. from there he wreaked havoc in the road peloton until he got a professional contract.

john actually joined floyd's defense team when he was attempting to prove that he hadn't used illegal performance enhancing drugs during the 2006 tour de france. the way he was portrayed in the media was reproachable.  we all convicted him before any of the evidence was presented, with the "they all do it" attitude.  that was a shame, but an arbitration system that works would have allowed him to defend himself properly and prove his innocence.  unfortunately lives are ruined and a clean athlete has no way to defend from the inevitable mistake.  not ONE athlete has won their arbitration case... not one.. EVER.



floyd was a domestique for lance armstrong in 2002-2004 and was an integral part of two of lance's tour de france victories. what he writes about those years on the postal service team doesn't make lance or team director johan bruneel sound like very nice guys. however he admits that he and dave zabriskie were "dumb and dumber" as lance used to call them. tension and floyd's improving performance sent him to team phonak and a better deal.

one thing that fascinated me most in the book was floyd's description of his training. he once road 24,000 miles in a single year. that is an average of 500 mile weeks.. all year! i've done a couple 400 mile weeks in my day back when i raced bikes. it's hard. real hard. i would liken 500 road biking miles to 100 miles of running in a week. now i realize i'm no floyd landis, but just the thought of averaging 500 miles for a year really is borderline unbelievable. he mentions that lance and johan actually didn't believe him, so i'm not the only one that impressed. he also states plainly that he wasn't much fun to be around because literally all he did was ride hard, and rest even harder. spending non saddle time exclusively on the couch taking naps.



having watched the greatest single day performance on a bike live on television i was eager to get to floyd's description of his stage 17 at the 2006 tour de france. this stage is the day he tested positive and is often used as the obvious example of his enhanced performance. it's been analyzed at this point from every angle. a couple of things, besides the alleged synthetic testosterone (which actually wouldn't have helped on that day) enabled floyd to have that amazing performance. his team launched him off the front, ahead of the peloton. so he rode alone in the 102 degree heat. this allowed him to have a team car hand him bottle after bottle. in fact he went through 65 bottles, only drinking 16. the rest he repeatedly dumped on his head. which they believe allowed him to create a micro-climate around himself a good 30 degrees cooler than the other riders in the peloton. and we know that a hydrated person doesn't have to work as hard (meaning they require fewer heart beats) as a dehydrated person to achieve the same power numbers or output. they have also compared his power numbers to previous days in the tour and to some of the data from his bigger training sessions. there is nothing out of the ordinary. in fact stage 17 was not unique as far as power numbers go for floyd, it was no anomaly. but the situation made it the most dramatic day in tour history and i believe he was clean.

i won't get into all the reasons i believe this, but there are many and most center around the incompetence of the french lab. he had 9 tests during the tour and only 1 day came up positive. it's my understanding that if he doped with synthetic testosterone it would not and could not be clear from his system that fast. the french lab technician admitted she knew it was floyd's sample while she was doing the test. commentator phil liggett called this "unscrupulous to say the least". there was also the small fact that they mislabeled the samples, and throughout the testing results actually use the wrong test tube numbers. numbers that weren't associated with floyd's. it's not a stretch to say the french lab botched the test.

i fully realize i drank the coolaid. floyd's book had the desired effect on me. since writing the above book review i've since done a bit of digging around. there is obviously a convincing story to the contrary and it will be fun to read the other side of things. lance armstrong fans will recognize(and likely hate) the name david walsh. he wrote from lance to landis - inside the american doping controversy at the tour de france. i read an excerpt from his book and all i can say is, wow, he doesn't pull any punches.

if floyd is innocent this is the greatest sports tragedy of all time, surpassing what bill buckner did.