Showing posts with label Cycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cycling. Show all posts

Video: Pedal to Peaks Across Norway

In this video, we join a group of friends as they set off on an adventure across Norway by bike, climbing, and skiing. As with any good adventure, not everything goes as planned and they hit more than a few challenges along the way. But, they also discover amazing scenery, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful people as they traverse Lofoten archipelago, learning more about themselves and each other along the way.

105-Year Old Cyclist Sets New World Record

If you're looking for a dose of inspiration to get your new year off to a good start, look no further than    Robert Marchand. Yesterday, the Frenchman rode a total of 14 miles in one hour, setting a new world's record in the process. Now, I know what you're thinking. 14 miles in an hour isn't particularly very far and that you could probably cover that same distance in less time. But, here's the real meat to this story: Robert is 105 years old.

Yep, that's right. At the age of 105, Marchand set a new mark for the longest distance ridden in an hour by someone in his age group. And, he says he could have gone faster had he not missed a sign telling him that he had 10 minutes left in his ride. While conserving his energy for the final push, he failed to see the notification, which meant the didn't give it his all when he was in the final stage of the event.

Robert says that he picked up cycling at the ripe-young age of 68, when he rode from Paris to Moscow back in 1992. He also leads a healthy lifestyle and doesn't smoke, rarely drinks, and recently gave up eating meat after learning about how unethically some animals are treated. He lives in a small apartment in Paris, where he rides a stationary bike every day.

If a man who is more than a century old can lead this kind of active and energetic life, why can't the rest of us? Think about that the next time you're climbing on your own bike or lacing up your running shoes.

Congratulations to Robert for setting this record. You're an inspiration to us all.

This Cyclist Want to Ride His Bike in Every Country in the World

Over the years, there have been a number of cyclists who have quite literally ridden around the world on their bikes, circumnavigating the globe under their own power. We've even followed a few of them on their adventures here on this blog. But, German rider Patrick Schroeder is setting an entirely new bar for others to follow, by attempting to ride his bike through every country in the world. All 195 of them.

Over the holiday break, the team over at Gear Junkie posted a story about Patrick, sharing his goals to pedal his way across the globe. Ten years ago, he set out from his home country at the age of 19 to see where he could go on his bike. At the time, he didn't really have any goals for his ride, nor did he have a plan. But over time, and as the years, passed, he decided that he wanted to pursue his goal of cycling through every country on Earth.

Patrick says that after he completed school and military service, he spent a year traveling around the world. After that, he got into bike touring, with his first big adventure being a ride from Germany to South Africa. He also rode from Germany to China – and back – as well as Argentina to Canada. Along the way, he has now ridden his bike in 141 countries, leaving him 54 more to go.

In the Gear Junkie article, Patrick talks about the equipment that he takes with him, his current bike (a custom MyBoo Densu), as well as ones he has used in the past, his favorite pieces of gear, and more. He also talks about the things he's learned on his bike journeys, the hardest place he's traveled through, the extraordinary things he has seen during his travels, and the things he hasn't done yet that he would still like to do.

Perhaps most interesting is his list of gear that he has taken with him, both on his 2008 bike expedition and on his 2016 journey. As you can imagine, things continue to evolve over time, with new and better gear being released regularly. For instance, on his 2008 list he has an iPod Nano, but now he uses a smartphone instead. His gear has been reduced in weight nicely too. In 2008, his kit weight about 55 pounds. Today, it's down to 26 pounds. That's some impressive gains to say the least.

If you're interested in long-distance bike travel, this is a story that you'll want to read. But beyond that, it is just really interesting to see what Patrick is doing. No word on where he is headed next, or how he'll knock off those remaining countries, but follow him on hit Facebook page to stay updated.

Video: Behind the Scenes on a Danny MacAskill Video

Over the past few years we've all watched in awe as pro rider Danny MacAskill has done things on his bike that most of us didn't think was possible. After watching one of his videos, have you ever wondered how those amazing clips get made? This video takes us behind the scenes to show us how things are plotted and planned. In this case, it involves the final jump on his Cascadia film, which ends with him leaping off a 27 meter (88 foot) ledge to land in the water. It's all fascinating stuff. Check it out below.

Video: Bike Rider Balances on Narrow Beam 200 Meters Up

Add this video clip to the list of things you shouldn't try at home folks. It features pro rider Fabio Wibmer as he rides along a very narrow beam 200 meters (656 feet) up the Koelnbreinsperre Dam in Austria. Needless to say, it is a scary sight to behold and no one will blame you if you catch yourself holding your breath as he inches along. I prefer my bike tires to stay more firmly planted on the ground, but I can definitely salute his skills.

The 2016 Adventure Blog Holiday Shoppers Guide (Part 2)

Yesterday I posted my first round of picks for the best gifts for the outdoor lover in your life in the form of Part 1 of my Holiday Shopping Guide. Most of the items that made the cut are products that I've personally used and really enjoy, but they also mostly focused on the basics for the general outdoors, including boots, a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and so on. Today, in Part 2 of the shoppers guide I'll offer up some suggestions for other categories as well, including travel, running, cycling, and so on. Hopefully you find these suggestions to be good ones as you get ready to head out and start hunting down the perfect gift for the adventurer on your list.

Altra Men's Superior 2.0 ($110)
If you're looking for a great trail shoe for the runner on your shopping list, look no further than the Altra Superior 2.0. I practically ran the bottoms out of mine this year, as they are comfortable, lightweight, and offer plenty of room in the toe box. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find a shoe that offers better balance and control on the trail. (Buy at (Note: These are on sale at both REI and the Altra website for $76 right now)

Craghoppers National Geographic Response Compresslite Travel Jacket ($95)
The Response Compresslite from Craghoppers is my new favorite travel jacket. Incredibly lightweight, yet warm and comfortable, this jacket stuffs into one of its own pockets for easy packing, yet when needed performs like a much bulkier and heavier puffy. The jacket looks great, isn't overly technical and is priced right. It is the perfect companion for the traveler who is active, but isn't venturing into the more remote areas of the world where something more serious is required. (Buy at

Catalyst iPhone Case (Prices vary by model)
Lets face it, our smartphones are a constant companion these days no matter where we go. That means we have to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are well protected, both from accidental drops and the elements. I haven't found a case that does that better, without compromising the look and feel of my iPhone, than the ones made by Catalyst. These cases don't add a lot of needless bulk to your mobile device, and yet they still offer an amazing level of protection. The cases are available for the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, as well as the "+" models for each of those generations too. Once in place, the phone is waterproof and shrouded in a case of armor that is will keep it safe from just about anything. (Note: Catalyst also offers cases for the iPad and Apple Watch too.)

Power Practical Luminoodle Plus Camp Lighting ($39.99)
Camp lighting has come a long way in the past year or two, to the point that there are now a number of awesome options to choose from. One of my favorites is the Luminoodle Plus from Power Practical, which uses a portable battery pack to power a flexible string of lights that can be strung up just about anywhere. Waterproof and durable, these lights give off up to 180 lumens, but the light is dispersed more than with a headlamp, making it easier to enjoy when sitting in your tent or lounging around the campfire. (Note: The Luminoodle Plus is on sale for $28.50 right now)

Stacked Wireless Charging System for iPhone ($99.99)
Speaking of iPhone cases, here's one that not only keeps your phone well protected, but also offers the ability to charge it without having to plug in cables as well. The Stacked Wireless Charging System has everything you need to keep your iPhone charged both at home and on the road, plus an optional car adapter ($49.99) not only does the same in your vehicle, but is great for mounting the smartphone where it can be reached for navigation too.

Ledlenser SEO 7R Headlamp ($90)
A good headlamp is essential for adventure travelers and outdoor lovers a like. The SEO 7R from Ledlenser can fill both niches nicely. It offers 220 lumens of light, and a burn time of up to 20 hours, and since it comes equipped with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and can also use AAA batteries as well, you never have to worry about running out of juice again. (Also, for the mountain biker in your life, check out Ledlenser's amazing XEO 19R headlamp, which puts off a blinding 2000 lumens of light to illuminate the trail.)

Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket ($65)
Want the same comfort and warmth that you get from your down jacket in a blanket? Rumpl has you covered with their Original Puffy Blanket. Made of high quality fabrics that are weather resistant, and filled with the same insulation found in sleeping bags, this is the best outdoor comforter you could ever ask for. Warm and cosy in the tent, backyard, or cuddling up around the fire at home, it is simply the best. And since the blanket packs down to an incredibly small footprint, you can take it with you when you hit the road too.

Eagle Creek Afar Travel Daypack ($119)
Every traveler needs a good daypack to accompany them on their journey, and Eagle Creek's Afar pack is perfect for just about any kind of excursion. Made from durable fabrics and with integrated anti-theft zippers and lock points, the Afar offers plenty of storage for carrying essential gear for the day. It includes a laptop sleeve large enough to hold a 17" notebook, a passport pocket, a padded, breathable backpanel, and a built-in ego-skeleton that adds increased durability. It is even water and abrasion resistant so it can handle the rigors of the road. (Buy at

ExOfficio Isoclime Thermal Hoody ($90)
We all need a good looking and versatile wardrobe at our disposal for when we hit the road, and ExOfficio makes some of the best travel clothes around. Their Isoclime Thermal Hoody features casual good-looks, but it is also warm, comfortable, quick-drying, and has the ability to wick moisture away from the body as well. Additionally, it works well as a layer under a warmer jacket, or completely on its own depending on your needs. And of course, if you're ordering anything from ExOfficio, don't forget to pick up a pair of their legendary underwear. No adventure traveler should ever leave home without at least one or two pairs. (Buy at (Note: The Isoclime Thermal Hoody is currently on sale for $44)

Adventure Medical Kits World Travel ($80)
Staying healthy while traveling is never easy, but with the World Travel first aid kit from Adventure Medical Kits, it is a lot easier. Packed with items to keep you healthy while away from home, this kid literally has everything you need, an then some. The World Travel is stocked with enough bandages, gauze, medications, and tools to keep a family of four well stocked for a month on the road, and probably longer. It even comes with a handy guide for treating common injuries as well, and when you start to run low on supplies, AMK has handy refill picks too. (Buy at

Solavore Solar Sport Camp Oven ($239)
Want a unique and fun way to cook at your campsite that is also good for the environment? Check out the Solar Sport oven from Solavore. This oven comes with everything you need to create some amazingly tasty meals at your campsite using nothing but the rays of the sun. It does require a bit of planning and forethought on a part of the chef, but the results are amazing, including the ability to bake bread or cookies, make pizza, casseroles, and so much more. Designed more for car campers than backpackers, this oven will nevertheless turn you into a camp gourmet.

There you have it. More picks for the best gifts for the traveler and outdoorsman or woman in your life. Anyone of these items is something I'd like to find under the tree come Christmas Day, and chances are your loved one will too. Happy Holidays!

Gear Closet: Haibike Xduro AllMtn RX Electric Mountain Bike

One of the hottest trends in cycling over the past couple of years has been the rise in prominence of the electric bike – more commonly known as the e-bike. At first glance, most of these bikes look like just about any other that you might encounter on the road, although they have a hidden secret. They come equipped with a battery-powered motor that can help you maintain higher speeds with less effort or climb tough hills that would normally leave your legs crying out in agony.

This little speed-boost has made e-bikes especially popular with commuters, many of whom find that the onboard motor helps them travel along with traffic better and allows them to arrive at their destination relatively fresh thanks to not having to exert as much energy.

An avid biker myself, I've been intrigued with e-bikes for some time, but hadn't gotten the chance to try one out for myself. That changed recently when Haibike sent me one of their electric assisted mountain bikes to take for a spin, and I have to say I came away impressed. The bike delivered on everything that was promised – and more – allowing me to power through a ride like never before. But in the end, it also left me reevaluating why I like mountain biking so much in the first place.

For my little e-bike test drive, Haibike sent me a 2015 model known as the Xduro AllMtn RX. The current model that fits pretty much the same specs is the Xduro AllMtn 7.0. Both versions sport Shimano components, 27.5" tires, a full-supsenion, and a slick looking design that looks aggressive and fun to ride. Hidden inside the aluminum frame however, is a 36-volt motor that is powered by a 500 Wh battery that help this bike truly stand out from the crowd.

Before we go too far into this review, it is important to point out that while most e-bikes provide an electric assist, but you still have to do all of the pedaling. You simply don't have to pedal quite so hard in order to get the bike up to speed nor to maintain that speed. Likewise, when climbing a hill, the speed-assist kicks in to lend a hand, making it surprisingly easy to shoot up steep grades, although you still have to put in some work to get to the top.

The motor installed on this bike has five different settings, including Eco, Tour, Sport, and Turbo, as well as off. Yes, you can ride the bike without any type of electrical assist, but since it tips the scales at 49.2 pounds, it does feel a bit slow and ponderous. Eco mode provides the least level of assistance, which doesn't feel like much, although it is there to lend a hand when you need it. Turbo is bit like strapping a rocket to your bike, although it comes at dramatically reduced battery life.

While testing the Xduro, I only switched over to the highest level when tackling a big hill, otherwise I tended to stay in Tour mode most of the time. This allowed me to easily maintain a good rate of speed over a variety of terrains without having to expend a lot of energy in the process. The result was that at the end of my ride, I still felt like I had a good workout, but I wasn't completely wasted, even after riding a tough trail.

The Xduro AllMtn has a built in cycling computer mounted on its handlebars that provides information such as your current speed and time, as well as offering a trip odometer, and life-time odometer all in a digital format. That same display also provides constant updates of how much battery life remains by showing not only a battery indicator but also the amount of range the bike has before it runs out of juice. The screen also has an icon that indicates which level of power that the motor is set too as well.

Getting on the bike for the first time, I was unsure exactly how things worked. The motor was engaged, but there is no throttle that you can control, so I wasn't exactly sure how I'd know if it was working properly. It only took a second to figure that out however, as when I started to pedal you could feel the electric assist kick in with a very noticeable boost, even in Eco mode. That boost only became more noticeable as increased the level of power generated by the motor.

Before too long, I found myself testing the bike to see what it could do in a variety of different conditions, and for the most part it performed very well. It wasn't quite as agile and responsive as my Trek mountain bike back home, then again that bike doesn't power up big hills as easily either. I have to admit, the Xduro AllMtn is fun to ride, and is quite capable of tackling a wide variety of trails types.

Now, all of that said, I have to say that I have a few reservations about this e-bike as well. For starters, it is a heavy beast. As mentioned, it is nearly 50 pounds (22.68 kg), which makes it more than twice as heavy as my normal ride. That added weight becomes more evident on tougher trails where agility can be an important factor. And heaven forbid you should run out of battery power while riding, as it would definitely be quite a workout to get Xduro back to the trailhead without the electric assist.

Despite how much fun I had riding the bike, I also couldn't help but feel like I was cheating a bit out on the trail. Part of the allure of mountain biking for me is taking on the challenges of the route with just my bike. That includes all of the challenges, such as climbing hills and maintaining a good speed. This bike made that so easy to do that it almost felt like an entirely different sport. At the end of my test run, I came to the conclusion that while I wouldn't mind an e-bike for commuting around town, I'm not sure I want one to replace my mountain bike.

That said, for riders who are a little older, or aren't quite as physically fit, the Xduro AllMtn is a good solution that allows them to ride challenging trails much more easily. I can definitely see the allure of this bike under those circumstances.

Durable and well-built, the Haibike Xduro AllMtn 7.0 is competitively priced at $5299. It has quality parts and components at every important spot, and a tough aluminum frame with solid geometry. It also happens to have a secret weapon hidden away in the form of an electric motor. All of that design and technology doesn't come cheap, although I've seen plenty of standard mountain bikes that fall in the same price range, even without a motor. Of course, those bikes are likely to have even better components and a carbon frame, just to put things in perspective.

If you've been considering an e-bike for your mountain biking needs, I'd certainly encourage you to give the Haibike Xduro AllMtn a look. It is a great machine for the right rider. I'm just not sure if that rider is me.

Find out more at

Video: Danny MacAskill's Wee Day Out

This video was released while I was away in Majorca, but it is so good that I thought that it was still worth sharing anyway. (And if you've already seen it, it's worth another look!) It follows biking phenom Danny MacAskill on his day off exploring the rural landscapes near Edinburgh. Travel along with Danny as rides through a series of pastoral settings in unique ways that only he can. Definitely a fun and entertaining video.

Outside Gives Us the 5 Best Pieces of Gear From Interbike

A few weeks back, some of the top brands in the cycling industry descended on Las Vegas for the annual Interbike International Expo conference. Each year, that convention lays out the latest trends in the cycling industry and gives us a sneak preview of the best new products that are coming in the months ahead. And while reports indicate that attendance was a bit down this year, there were still some interesting things to show of. In fact, Outside magazine has collected their five favorite items that they saw at Interbike, and has posted them online for eager cyclists to discover.

The list includes a $20 bell from Kong, a sweet bike from Rawland Cycles, a new hitch-rack from RockyMounts, a light from Fabric, and a bike helmet with bone-conducting technology that allows you to safely listen to your tunes on a ride. Each of the products on the list is distinct and different, but each brings some good innovation to the table as well.

While not quite as exciting as Outside's list of favorite gear from Outdoor Retailer back in August, cyclists will no doubt appreciate these items nonetheless. After all, technology is making our rides safer and more enjoyable than ever before, and this is just a small sampling of what is to come in the weeks ahead. Plus, each of these five products was impressive enough to catch the attention of Outside editors, which should tell you that they are all very impressive in some way.

Fall may be in the air, but it isn't time to hang up your bike just yet.

Gear Closet: JBL Reflect Mini BT Wireless Sport Headphones

In case you haven't heard, there is a new iPhone coming out this week. That's pretty much common knowledge considering how much press Apple gets. But what you might not have heard is that one of the design elements of the new smartphone that is getting the most attention is Apple's decision to drop the standard audio port. This has freed up some precious space inside the phone that Apple engineers can use to add more tech, but it also means that we can no longer simply plug in a standard set of headphones. Moving forward, the iPhone's lightning port will pull double duty for both charging and audio output, which means you'll need to either use a set of lightning earbuds, a lightning-to-3.5mm adapter (included in the box), or wireless headphones to listen to your music, podcasts, and audio books. While all of those are obviously viable solutions, Apple is making a hard push towards Bluetooth headphones, particularly since they are releasing their own unique entry into that market with the new AirPods and some updated wireless options from Beats.

I haven't had a chance to test out the AirPods yet, but I have been testing some other wireless headphones that are specifically designed for use by those of us who are fairly active. I actually made the switch to Bluetooth earbuds awhile ago, and I have to say that it is a niche shift. Not having to deal with cables while running or cycling is a major plus in my book, and I think that while some will continue to be reluctant to make the change, once you do, you'll never want to go back.

Recently I've been testing the new Reflect Mini BT sport headphones from JBL and have discovered a product that ticks all of the boxes in terms of what I'm looking for when it comes to earbuds. And while they may not be quite a fancy as Apple's AirPods in terms of design and technology, they still perform very well and cost a lot less.

The Reflect Mini use Bluetooth technology to connect wirelessly to your smartphone. There once was a time when that pairing process was a bit of hassle, but those days are long over at this point. It literally took just a few seconds to pair the two devices together, and after that when ever I turned on the headphones they would automatically connect with one another. That's the way all wireless audio devices should work, and that has pretty much been my experience with all of them for some time.

As with most wireless earbuds these days, the Reflect Mini comes with an inline remote that allows you to control volume, switch tracks, pause playback, and so on. It even has a built-in mic that gives you the ability to pick up incoming phone calls too. Those are fairly standard features at this point, but JBL has made them easy to use thanks to a remote that has large buttons and a simple, straight forward configuration.

I've tested wireless earbuds in the past, and one of the biggest challenges I've typically faced is finding the right sized rubber ear tips to fit into my ears properly. Some previous models I've tried out have come with as many as seven sets of those silicon inserts, and I'd usually have to mix and match to find the ones that worked best for me. The Reflect Mini ships with four ear tips – two sets of sports and two regular. But, this time out there was now fiddling to find the right fit. The ones that came preinstalled worked perfectly for me right out of the box, snapping into place and staying there while I ran. Obviously you may find that you'll have to play around with the tips a bit to find the ones that work for you, but I've never had fit this good before.

In terms of audio performance, I found these earbuds to be solid, but not overwhelming. Music sounds crips and clear, even at higher volumes, and there was even some solid bass mixed in, something you don't always find on smaller, sport-oriented earphones. The Reflect Minis probably aren't going to win any awards for their performance, but in terms of something that you want to wear out on a run or for a workout at the gym, they are definitely up to the challenge. I will note that some of the podcasts I listened to while wearing these headphones did sound a bit muddled at times, but that is probably more due to the quality of those recordings and less about the earbuds themselves. Music tracks, which have higher production values, sounded great, which is a better way to judge overall quality.

Battery life is the other element that always concerns me, as unlike standard earbuds you'll need to recharge your wireless models on a regular basis. JBL says that the battery is good for about 8 hours playback, although that number can vary depending on volume, audio source, and so on. In real-world testing, I found that I was getting closer to 6 hours of battery life, which for me translates to having to recharge after I've run with the earbuds four or five times. While I would like to get a bit more battery life out of the Reflect Mini, I've been mostly satisfied with their performance so far.

On that note, it doesn't seem that JBL has built-in an auto-off feature for the Reflect Mini, which means if you accidentally leave them on, you'll drain the battery somewhat even when they're not in use. When you're done working out, be sure to turn them off so they'll be charged for your next session.

Since these are earbuds designed for use while being active, they have been built to be sweat proof. That means that they can survive your wet hands pawing at the remote control or you working up a good sweat while running. That doesn't mean that they are water – or even rain – proof however, so keep that in mind when using them. I've had other wireless earbuds that were sweat proof in the past, and some would stop working if I used them on a run in the rain. I don't know if that will be the case here, as I haven't tried the Reflect Mini BT in the rain yet, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.

In terms of long term durability, we'll simply have to wait to see how well these earphones perform. Right now, they function very well, with great battery life, solid audio performance, and very few distortions or audio cut-outs while in use. But, some of the wireless earbuds I've used in the past haven't stood up to the test of time, wearing out after just a couple of months of use. Hopefully that won't be the case here, but only time will tell.

In terms of price, JBL has delivered a good product that performs very well, that won't make your wallet duck for cover. At just $99.95, the Refect Mini BT stacks up very well against the competition in terms of performance and value. Apple's new AirPods, which aren't specifically designed for use while exercising, cost $159, making them a bit pricer for those who are just entering the wireless earbud market.

Whether that's you, or if you're simply looking for a new pair of wireless earbuds, the JBL Reflect Mini BT is a good choice.

Video: Taking the Tour de France Off Road

There is no question that the riders in the Tour de France are amongst the best cyclists in the world. Still, even those guys would be hesitant to attempt some of the things that freestyle rider Sam Pilgrim pulls off on his road bike in this video. Everything from hopping up stairs to riding along the sides of high bridges are fair game for Sam, who seems to know no fear or have any cares about the road bike that he is abusing along the way. Even Peter Sagan would be jealous of some of these moves.

Video: Inside the 2016 Tour de France (Stages 1-7)

Last year, many of the bikes used in the Tour de France were equipped with action cameras from GoPro for the very first time. These tiny cameras captured some amazing footage from inside the peloton, and the videos were so successful, that they were used again this season. In this clip below you'll get an up close and personal look at what it's like to ride in Le Tour, with some scary, crazy, and down-right amazing images from the roads of France. Think it's easy to ride in this world's most famous bike race? Think again!

Chris Froome Wins 2016 Tour de France

Since I was out of the country for the past few weeks, I wasn't able to follow this year's Tour de France as closely as I would normally like. As usual, it was filled with lots of unique achievements, impressive individual performances, and crazy events. But, judging from the reports, it was also a race that lacked much in the way of drama, as Team Sky's Chris Froome rode to a third victory with few challengers emerging.

The biggest challenge to Froome's dominance was expected to come from Team Movistar's Nairo Quintana. The Colombian rider has looked strong in the past two Tour's and seemed poised to break out this year with a performance that would push Froome to the limit. That never happened however, and for the most part it seemed that Quintana struggled to keep pace. In fact, if not for a herculean effort in the final few days, he would have finished off the podium altogether. He did manage to claim third place, finishing behind Froome and Romain Bardet of Team AG2R.

For Froome, this was his third win in four years. His string of dominance began in 2013, although he crashed out of the race in 2014 and was unable to defend his championship. Over the past two years however he has looked untouchable, with every challenger being turned away. His most vulnerable moment came this year however, when the British rider (by way of Kenya) actually ran up the slopes in Stage 12 of the race after his bike frame broke during a crash. It was an odd scene to say the least, but it showed his fighting spirit and unwillingness to give up in the face of adversity – something that has helped endear him to cycling fans who have been slow to embrace the champion. 

In other Tour news, Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan went home with the Green Jersey once again. The current world champion showed why he is one of the most talented and versatile cyclists in the world, easily amassing enough sprint points to outpace his rivals. Russian rider Rafal Majka claimed the Polka Dot Jersey for the King of the Mountain's classification, which is given to the best climber each year, while Aussie Adam Yates took the White Jersey awarded to the best young rider under the age of 25. 

While I didn't get to see much of this year's race, the complaints I've ready mostly center around the fact that there was almost no drama at any point. Froome's rivals didn't challenge him much at all, and it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would win the Tour by the midway point of the event. That doesn't make it very interesting to watch. Some of the riders were clearly playing safe since the Olympics are now just a few weeks away, and they'll be competing for gold in Rio instead. But still, it would be nice to see someone – anyone – attempt to unseat Team Sky and their leader. Sadly, we'll now have to wait until next year to see if that can happen. At this point however, it looks like barring an accident, the only person who can beat Chris Froome is Froome himself. 

Video: Why We Love the Tour de France

It is tough to explain exactly why I – and other cycling fans – love the Tour de France to someone who has no interest. But this video, from Specialized Bikes, goes a long way to explaining it. It is three weeks of intense competition with some of the best back drops anyone could possibly ask for. It is a challenge that requires both mental strength and physical endurance, and it is perhaps the toughest bike race in the world. You'll discover all of this and more in the clip below, which serves as a good introduction to Le Tour to newcomers, but a wonderful reminder to those of us who already love it as to to why it is such a special event each year.

The 2016 Tour de France Begins Tomorrow!

July is here, and that can mean only one thing for cycling fans – the 2016 Tour de France can't be far off. In fact, the most famous and popular bike race int he world gets underway tomorrow, with some very familiar names expected to battle it out for the win.

The race will officially begin with a 188 km (116 mile) stage that runs from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. This is unusual for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is its length. Typically, the first stage of the race is a short time trial that helps to establish who will ride int he famed Yellow Jersey for the early stages of the race. This long, opening day ride is part of the Tour's attempt to shake things up however, with some changes to the format designed to inject some energy into the early days of the race.

Expect the day to belong to the sprinters. None of the eventual contenders are likely to vie for the stage win, or put themselves in jeopardy in the early days of the race. There are sprint and climbing points to be earned however, so those looking to go after the Green or Polka Dot Jerseys will be in the hunt early on.

And just who can we expect to be in the Yellow Jersey heading towards Paris in three weeks? Two-time winner Chris Froome is the odds on favorite, although the course does favor Nairo Quintana as well. If both men can stay healthy, we can expect some epic duels in the mountains in the later stages of the race. Should they falter or face injury, the race opens up to dramatically, giving a new rider the chance to take center stage.

As long-time readers know, I'm a big fan of Le Tour, and usually cover it extensively throughout the month of July. I know that there are some of you who don't appreciate the race as much as I do however, and simply tolerate my TdF updates. For those folks, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I won't be following the race nearly as closely as I have in the past, so there won't be daily updates on the event. The bad news is, I'm leaving the country to a remote region next week, so there won't be any updates at all for awhile. Personally, I'm bummed I won't be able to watch the race on a daily basis, but duty calls and other adventures await.

Fans of the race will be able to get all the news and information they need at the official Tour de France website. Good luck to all the riders.

Video: GoPro's Best Bike Line Contest Returns

Last year, GoPro and Pinkbike got together to sponsor a contest in which cyclists and mountain bikers were invited to film and submit their best line. Some of the entries were truly amazing, and as a result over $25,000 in prize money was given away. The same contest returns in 2016, and this video gives us a preview of what to expect. It is filled with some great clips that were part of last year's contest, with some truly jaw-dropping rides. Even if you don't plan to enter the contest, this video is worth a look. It'll leave you awe struck at the places that people will take a bike.

Gear Closet: Dakine's Oakridge Flannel and Dropout Jersey Cycling Shirts

Summer's here and if you're not spending time on the back of a bike, you're not making the most of the season. Of course, the clothes we wear on our rides can have a significant impact on our comfort, which is why the right apparel can make a huge difference in how much we enjoy those outings. Fortunately, we live in an era where outdoor gear is the best it has ever been, and that extends to cycling and mountain biking too.

Dakine makes plenty of great gear to help you get the most out of your rides, including some great cycling shirts that perform well but don't necessarily look like they are meant for the bike crowd. Recently, I had the chance to test out a couple of items from their line-up, and think they'll both make a good addition to your wardrobe as well.

Oakridge Flannel Shirt ($80)
Searching for a good looking, durable shirt to wear both the trail and off? Dakine's Oakridge Flannel looks like something you could wear just about anywhere, but includes some nice features that mountain bikers are sure to appreciate.

For instance, the shirt is made of durable fabrics that provide plenty of coverage, which anyone who has ever had a mishap out on the trail knows can be extremely useful. If you ride often enough, sooner or later you're going to crash, but this shirt can survive those incidences and help protect your arms at the same time.

Made from quick-drying polyester materials, the Oakridge features Dakine's very own Polygenie Odor Control Technology, which is designed to fight off the funk that comes with getting heated up on the trail. The shirt breathes very well, and can wick moisture too. Still, I found it to be a bit warm for my summer rides, as the flannel material is thicker than I'd like in the heat and humidity of my home trails. That said however, I can't wait to wear it in the fall, when things cool off a bit, and the crispness returns to the air.

One of my favorite things about this shirt is that it looks like just about any other flannel shirt you might find someone wearing while just wandering around town. It has a stylish, athletic cut that is form fitting without being overly restrictive, and it there is very little about it that indicates that it is a piece of performance gear designed for mountain biking. That makes it easy to transition from the trail to the pub after a ride, or just wearing it when you want better performance from a flannel shirt. With its classic good looks, the Oakridge doesn't feel like it would be out of place in just about any environment, which is the kind of versatility that I particularly appreciate.

Priced at $80, the Oakridge Flannel is a great option for cool weather rides, hikes, or just running errands on your day off. It is comfortable to wear, looks fantastic, and offers solid performance. I know that come fall, this will be one of my go-to shirts for the days that I want to hit the trail.

Dropout Bike Jersey ($40)
Dakine's Dropout Bike Jersey is a more traditional looking shirt made specifically with mountain bikers in mind. It uses similar materials as the Oakridge flannel, using 100% polyester fabrics that are quick drying, wicking, and very breathable. The shirt also includes the same Polygenie Odor Control Technology that keeps it smelling fresh even after a tough day on the trail. That comes in handy when you grab a beer after your ride, but don't want to drive away the other patrons at the bar.

The Dropout has relaxed fit that makes it a good choice for a wide range of riders. It also features raglan sleeves and a built-in soft sunglass wipe for keeping your shades clean while out on the trail.

This is the type of shirt that is more appropriate for a warm summer ride. With its quick-drying and wicking performance, you'll stay cool and comfortable even while working hard as you climb hills and bomb down the other side. It even pairs well with a hydration pack to keep you comfortable throughout your ride, allowing you to go further and faster, while staying out for extended periods of time.

The Dropout is a bargain at just $40. At that price, you might want to add two or three of them to your wardrobe, because it is likely to become your new favorite mountain biking shirt. This kind of performance shouldn't come at such a low cost, but you'll definitely be glad that it does.

Find out more about both of these shirts and the full line of Dakine products at

Tour de France to Use Thermal Cameras to Thwart Mechanical Doping

Just as the 2016 Tour de France is set to get underway, officials at the world's most famous bike race have announced new plans to thwart potential cheaters in this year's event. Along with the battery of drug tests that they'll be given, riders will also face an array of high tech gear – including thermal cameras – that will be on the look out for "mechanical doping" as well.

In recent years there have been some allegations that certain riders – including two-time TdF winner Chris Froome and world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara – have been competing with a hidden motor in their bikes. The accusations come following impressive individual performances by those riders, although there has been no proof so far that anyone on the pro cycling circuit is actually using such a device.

Earlier this year, Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was caught using such a motor at the cyclocross world championships. The 19-year old looked to have a promising career, but she now faces a six-year ban from the sport. Now, the Tour is looking to avoid a similar scandal while also trying to dodge another major black mark on a sport that has had so many controversies over the years, including countless doping scandals.

The thermal imaging cameras will allow judges to look for heat signatures on the bikes of competitors. A hidden motor will generate plenty of heat, which should stick out like a sore thumb on these special cameras, making it obvious who is using such a device.

These small motors don't create a ton of power, but they do assist already great riders, allowing them to pedal faster with less effort. This comes in handy when climbing hills or out racing sprints for instance, while keeping riders fresher throughout the race.

TdF officials say that the use of these motors may be the greatest threat to the sport ever. In fact, they claim that they are fighting for the very future of cycling itself at the moment. Those are strong words  when you consider the number of doping scandal that these officials have seen over the years. Still, they are stressing how serious they are taking this issue, and how they are moving forward with efforts to prevent it from happening.

By sharing the news that thermal cameras will be employed to prevent mechanical doping, the riders have been warned. But, this being cycling, I wouldn't be surprised if someone tried to get away with using one anyway. We'll just have to wait and see what comes of this. Hopefully it'll be a good race this year completely free from controversy.

Outside Presents Gear of the Year for Summer 2016

With the warm summer months now upon us it is time for everyone to head outside and hit the trail, go camping, climbing, cycling, or take part in whatever your favorite outdoor activity might happen to be. Of course, it is also a good time to inspect our gear and check for new options that can help us to be more comfortable and efficient during our adventurous pursuits. To help us navigate through the sometimes overwhelming and confusing gear options, Outside magazine has posted their selection of the very best gear for summer 2016.

Amongst the items that earn a spot on Outside's list are the new Kelty TN2 tent, which is lauded for its no-nonsense design and ease of use, and The North Face Fovero 70 backpack, which was a favorite with editors thanks to its comfort and ability to carry heavy loads with ease. Klymit's KSB 20 Down sleeping bag gets the nod as the best sleeping bag on the market currently, while Under Armour's unusual Verge Mid GTX shoes take home the honors of top hiking shoe. 

Other items on the list include Outside's picks for the best road and mountain bikes, as well as the editors choice for favorite jacket, trail running shoes, fitness tracker, kayak, and much more. In short, it is a list of the very best equipment available today for just about any type of outdoor activity. Whether you like to hike, camp, paddle, cycle, run, or combination of all of the above, you'll find some great gear to help you through the summer on this list.

To get full geared up, and see what other items make the list, check out the full Gear of the Year article here.

Video: Introducing the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride 2016

Looking for a good cycling challenge and a fun adventure for 2016? Why not join the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride held in Australia each year. The nine-day event features more than 5000 riders, who roll along a 550 km (341 mile) course that not only passes through the Grampian region of Oz, but rolls along the Great Ocean Road as well. The video below gives you an idea of what to expect in this fully supported ride. Adults can join in on the fun for $995, which includes meals, luggage transport, support out on the road, and a host of other benefits. Looks like a great event. I need to head back Down Under to join the peloton at some point.