Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Video: Enduring the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Trail Run

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is considered one of the toughest trail running events in the entire world, drawing hundreds of competitors from across the globe on an annual basis. In this fantastic short documentary we get an inside look at that race courtesy of our friends at Columbia Sportswear and Teton Gravity Research. As with most long-distance endurance events, the race is a blend of agony and joy, with runners pushing themselves to their absolute physical limits over the course of the 103-mile (165 km) route. Along the way they pass through three different countries – France, Italy and Switzerland – as they take on some of the toughest and most beautiful terrain the Europe has to offer. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

Nat Geo Gives Us the World's Best Via Ferrata Hikes

We've all seen videos purporting to be of the "world's most dangerous hike." More often then not, those clips usually show us a terrifying via ferrata – or "iron way" – which has been built onto the side of a mountain somewhere, often in some state of disrepair. But most via ferratas are completely safe and offer unique experiences to hikers looking to visit some beautiful destinations. These paths usually find their way up climbing routes, where fixed ladders, cables, chains, suspension bridges, and other manmade structures offer access to a place that would otherwise be unreachable by all but the best rock climbers. They can be thrilling, exhilarating hikes to say the least, and aren't often for the faint of heart.

Now, National Geographic has compiled its own list of the 10 best via ferrata routes in the world, with locations such as the Italian Dolomites, the Canyon Des Étroits in France, and Catalonia, Spain all represented. Each is accompanied by an equally impressive photo and description of what makes these places so special as well.

Having done a few via ferratas in my travels, I can attest to how they are both scary and exhilarating. Of the few that I've done – none of which are on this list – they have all been more physically challenging that a traditional hike, but had amazing payoffs in the way of outstanding views and a sense of a rewarding accomplishment at the end. That makes them completely unique from any other more traditional hike I've ever done.

If you've always wanted to try a via ferrata for yourself, give this list a look. These are some of the very best in the entire world. I know I want to give several of these a go now.

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.

Video: Free Skiing Through A Mountain Glacier

It takes a lot to get met o post a ski video, mostly because there are a ton of them out there, they often do very little to distinguish themselves from one another. But, this one is special, so it was definitely worth sharing. It features pro skier Sam Favret as he free skis through the legendary Mer de Glace in the Mont-Blanc region of France. At a bit over three minutes in length, it is pure ski porn, with amazing visuals and some of the best skiing I've seen in a clip in a long time. Really an amazing way to take advantage of the terrain and create something special.

Ice Call - Sam Favret / Backyards Project from PVS COMPANY on Vimeo.

Video: Stunning Wingsuit Flight Ends in Nasty Crash

Wingsuit pilots take their lives into their own hands every time they take flight. Case in point, in this video a flyer named Eric Dossantos starts off with a leap from the top of a mountain with stunningly beautiful views all around him. His descent down the slopes of the peak looks fantastic too, with snow covered ridges zipping by at warp speed below him. But once he soars low enough to encounter the treeline things start to go wrong with Eric ultimately crashing into the forest below. Fortunately, he survived the flight, although he did end up with fractured ribs, multiple bruises and lacerations, head trauma, and a lacerated kidney. Dossantos has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical bills but it is going to be awhile before he's fully back on his feet.

The flight took place above Chamonix, France, which has recently banned wingsuit flying because of these types of dangers. This video underscores why they decided to make that decision, but thankfully Eric survived. Others haven't been quite so lucky.

How not to fly a wing suit unless you want to crash from Eric Dossantos on Vimeo.

Video: Welcome to the Birthplace of Extreme

This video takes us to the French town of Chamonix, which is widely regarded as one of the best outdoor playgrounds in the entire world. Renowned for its exceptional skiing and mountain biking, Chamonix is also the launching pad for trekking and climbing expeditions in the Alps, as well as the most popular BASE jumping and wingsuit flying destination on the planet. Here, we'll see a group of wingsuit pilots taking flight over the iconic village, while some work to overcome their fears. Chamonix is quite an impressive place to do just that.

Canadian Adventurer Completes Solo Atlantic Crossing in a Rowboat

Back in June I wrote about Laval St. Germain, a Canadian adventurer who was preparing to embark on a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. He was using his ocean crossing as a platform to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and set out from the coast of Nova Scotia back on June 15. This past weekend, he wrapped up the journey at long last, reaching the shores of France on Saturday.

It took St. Germain 53 days to complete the Atlantic crossing, which he said he was able to do thanks to the good weather he had throughout the voyage. He told the Canadian media that he had plenty of time to become accustomed to his boat and the daily grind of rowing before bad weather and difficult seas set in. By that point, he was much better prepared to deal with the conditions, which were expected even during the summer months when the North Atlantic is at its calmest.

All told, St. Germain covered approximately 4500 km (2796 miles) on his aquatic journey, which began along the eastern coast of Canada and ended in Brest, France. That is the opposite direction of most Atlantic rowers, who tend to start in Europe or at the Canary Islands, and head west to the Caribbean.

Laval says that he is happy to have completed the journey, but he is disappointed in his fund raising efforts. He had hoped to bring in $200,000 to support the Cancer Foundation, but has raised just $51,000 to date. That is still an impressive number, but far short of the goal that he had set for himself. He promises to continue with those efforts even though the ocean crossing is now complete.

Despite not raising as many funds as he would have liked, this was still a fantastic effort. Rowing an ocean as part of a team is a heck of a challenge, and doing it solo even more so. Congratulations to Laval for completing this undertaking and doing so for a worthy cause at the same time. He should be very proud of what he has accomplished on both fronts.

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!

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: Daredevils Climb the Eiffel Tower

It's been awhile since we've seen a good urban climbing video, but this one emerged yesterday. It features a couple of daredevils climbing the Eiffel Tower, and capturing some impressive footage along the way. Of course, this is extremely dangerous – not to mention highly illegal – but it sure makes for an intriguing video. Definitely don't try this at home for a wide variety of reasons. Instead, sit back and let these guys do it instead.

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.

Canadian Adventurer To Row Across the Atlantic Solo

A Canadian adventurer who was the first person from that country to summit Everest without the use of oxygen is now preparing to embark on his next big challenge – a 4500 km (2796 mile) solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to raise funds to fight cancer.

This month, Laval St. Germain will set out from Halifax Habor on what he calls the Confront Cancer Ocean Row. His hope is to arrive in France in a few months time, braving big waves, hundreds of miles of open water, and potentially dangerous storms along the way. Traveling west to east across the turbulent North Atlantic will test his stamina and determination with cold water and icy seas as well.

St. Germain is making this solo Atlantic crossing to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. He hope to pull in $200,000 in donations to help support that organizations cause, which is to work towards the cause of curing cancer and bringing an end to the disease which 43 Albertans are diagnosed with on a daily basis.

But Laval has another inspiration for rowing across the Atlantic too. In July of 2014, his oldest son drowned in a canoe accident on the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territory of Canada. He was 21-years old at the time, and had been attempting to lend assistance to a girl who was panicking while swimming in those waters. The young man lost his life, which as you can imagine had a dramatic impact on his family's life.

According to his Twitter feed, Laval will launch his epic crossing starting tomorrow – Wednesday, June 15. His specially designed rowboat has been placed in the water, and has been stocked with supplies, and the weather looks good for the start of the journey.

If you want to follow this adventure as it unfolds, it looks like Laval's Twitter is the best way to go. I wish him godspeed on this expedition. It should be a challenge unlike any other.

Video: A World Record for the Longest Slackline Ever!

Last month, slackliners Nathan Paulin and Danny Menšík traveled to Aiglun, France to attempt a new world record for the longest slackline ever. In this case, that means walking more than 1 km (.6 miles) over a massive canyon below. You can check out their attempt in the video below, which gives us a great look at this impressive feat.

Video: From Bangkok to Paris in a Tuk-Tuk

We'll end the week on this amazing travel adventure. In this short film we go on a six month long journey from Bangkok to Paris in a tuk-tuk. That's a small, three wheeled vehicle that is common in parts of Asia, and is typically not used on a long distance journey. But in this case, the makers of this video drove theirs over the Himalaya, across the Gobi, along the Silk Road, and through Europe just to make it back to Paris. Quite a road trip indeed!

 
De Bangkok à Paris en tuk-tuk! from Facteurs du Mékong 2 on Vimeo.

Video: Trail Dogs - Trail Running in the South of France

In this video we travel to the south of France to meet trail runner Gaëtan Ugnon-Fleury and his dogs, Pépite and Jolyn. All three love to run, particularly on the trails of the mountains that surround their home in the village of La Motte-d'Aveillans. It is a beautiful tribute not only to this place, and the sport of trail running, but the relationship between man and dog. If you have a pup of your own at home, you'll love this short film. Enjoy.

Video: Flying a Wingsuit Over Glaciers

To make this beautiful video, wingsuit pilot Alex Miziuk traveled to Chamonix, France to take an amazing flight over the glaciers found in the Alps there. Wearing his action cameras throughout the flight, Alex captures some stunning footage of the landscape that can only be seen from the air. This is definitely one of the best wingsuit videos we've seen in some time.

Glacial Lines from Alex Miziuk on Vimeo.

Video: Running the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc with the Nike Elite Trail Team

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is one of the most well known and challenging endurance races in the world. It takes place each summer in the Alps, with several route options available. In 2015, a team of Nike Elite Trail runners traveled to Europe to take part in the CCC (Chamonix-Courmayeur-Champex) a 101 km (63 mile) race that starts in Courmayeur, Italy and finishes in Chamonix, France. This race has over 20,000 ft of positive elevation gain, and challenges competitors with unpredictable weather and tough trail conditions too. This short documentary video takes us along for the ride at this epic event, giving us a glimpse of what this amazing race is all about, and what it takes to finish it.

Video: Xavier De Le Rue Rides the 55º Mallory Couloir in Chamonix

Over the years, we've seen big mountain snowboarder Xavier De Le Rue ride some impressive lines in some incredibly remote locations. But for his latest video he stayed close to home in Chamonix, France where he took on the impossibly steep Mallory Couloir, on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi, which features a 55º slope. As you can imagine, this run wasn't for the faint of heart, or those lacking in skills. Check it out in the video below, which first begins with some fun shredding in the Alps before making way to the main event.

Video: British Daredevil Scales Eiffel Tower

We've seen some impressive feats of urban climbing before, but this one ranks up there with the best of them. The video was self-shot by a British photographer/daredevil named James Kingston, who recently went to great lengths to climb the Eiffel Tower, going so far as to sneak past guards at 1 AM to begin his climb. This five-minute clip will take you up the tower with him, providing some pretty scary moments along the way.