Showing posts with label Mountain Biking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountain Biking. Show all posts

Want to Take Part in A Groundbreaking Study on Kilimanjaro This Year?

Kilimanjaro is one of the most alluring challenges for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers from around the globe. Each year, thousands flock to its slopes in an effort to reach its lofty summit – the highest in Africa at 5895 meters (19,341 ft). But, many of those climbers never make it to the top, and some even experience serious health issues along the way. There are even a surprisingly high number of deaths not he mountain each and every year, usually due to complications with altitude.

This year, a the University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg in Germany is conducting a study of how our bodies react to altitude in an effort to learn about how to threat this suffering from altitude sickness. To do that, researchers are looking for 25 people to participate in a study that will take place on Kilimanjaro this September. But, the study isn't looking for just your average trekker. Instead, they would like to find mountain bikers or mountain runners who are willing to join them on the mountain and consent to being tested throughout the climb.

The Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge will take place from September 24 through October 1, and will begin with a three-day training camp prior to the start of the climb. This will allow participants to acclimatize to the altitude and for the researchers to study how the altitude is impacting their bodies.

Rainer Braehler, who is organizing the event, tells adventure sports journalist Stefan Nestler "Up to now, pursing sport seriously on a mountain like Kilimanjaro was a dream limited to just a few elite athletes,but with this study, ambitious amateur athletes can now test their limits at very high altitudes – with the reassurance of full medical supervision.”

If you think you'd be interested in joining the study, you can find all of the information you need, including price, dates, and full agenda, and how to apply by clicking here. Not only will you be going on an adventure of a lifetime, you'll also be helping science find ways to help us be more efficient at altitude. 

Outside Shares the 7 Best New Trails in the U.S.

Now that spring is here, I'm sure that many of you are ready to get back out on the trail and resume hiking after taking a break for the winter. But if the same old local trails aren't inspiring you to lace up your boots, than perhaps Outside magazine can help. They recently posted an article that lists the 7 best new trails in the U.S., providing some good suggestions for alternative places to explore on foot.

The seven new trails can be found in places as diverse as California, New York, and even Austin, Texas where a new 30-mile (48 km) urban route is starting to take shape. Other options on Outside's list include the Captain Ahab Trail in Moab, Utah; the Wild Rogue Loop in Oregon, and the Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado.

No matter what kind of trail you like to explore, chances are you'll find something that will spark your interest here. For example, the Colorado route mentioned above takes trekkers to the top of one of the state's famous 14ers, while the Captain Ahab is built specifically with mountain bikers in mind and reportedly features some epic downhill. The trails vary in length greatly from as few as 4 miles to as much as 750 depending on which one you choose, although most are considerably shorter than that.

Since most of these trails are almost completely new, some of them are not entirely complete yet. That means you can probably expect some rough spots along the way but also less traffic as well. Chances are, some of these will be almost completely empty depending on when you go.

If you're ready for some inspiration to help you get started on a new adventure this year, this article can help. Check out all of the trial options by clicking here.

Video: Exploring the Atacama Desert by Unicycle

We've seen some unique modes of transportation used in adventurous ways over the years, but riding a unicycle remains one of the most unusual. In this video, we follow an adventurous unicyclist as he rides his one-wheeled bike through some impressive landscapes in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. These are places I'd love to mountain bike, but I'd prefer to do it with two wheels, thank you very much. Still, it is impressive to watch nonetheless.

Video: Mountain Biking Patagonia

Take a beautiful journey through the wilds of Patagonia in this great video. We'll head out with pro rider Matt Hunter and friends as the explore this incredible setting from the seat of their Specialized Bikes. What they find, is a place unlike any other, with some unbelievable trails to ride. Having just gotten a glimpse of this place for myself, I can't think of a better way to see this part of the world.

Gear Closet: Mountain Hardwear Thundershadow Jacket

Good rain gear is essential for any outdoor adventure, particularly in the spring when frequent showers make it a challenge to get outside as often as we'd like. The right rain jacket can be a revelation however, allowing you to comfortably and easily enjoy your favorite activities no matter the weather. That's what I found in the new Thundershadow Jacket from Mountain Hardwear, a category-defining product that is a dramatic improvement over my previous rain jacket. 

Before I started writing this review, I stopped to think about the last time I wrote about a dedicated rain jacket. Looking through my notes, I saw that it was exactly seven years ago to the day that I posted a review of the Helium Jacket from Outdoor Research, which at the time was one of my favorite pieces of gear. But times have changed, and fabrics and materials have evolved dramatically over that period of time, providing better all around protection with greatly improved breathability, something that is key to any piece of waterproof gear. I still wear that Helium jacket on a regular basis, and it has accompanied me on trips all over the world. But, as my gear has improved over the years, I've noticed that it doesn't perform as well as I would like. 

With that in mind, I was eager to see how far good rain gear has come since I wrote that review. So when I was offered a Thudershadow Jacket to test, I jumped at the chance. It has been fairly rainy where I live recently, which has provided plenty of opportunity to put the new jacket through its paces. What I discovered was that I could indeed have a rain jacket that provided a protective layer from moisture on the outside, while still allowing the moisture underneath to escape as well. 

Mountain Hardwear used its proprietary VaporDry fabrics when creating the Thudershadow. Those materials have been tested and perfected in other products over the years, and have proven themselves to be extremely efficient at not only keeping moisture out, but venting excess heat and perspiration as well. As a result, I stayed much drier than I did with my old rain jacket and didn't find myself peeling out wet clothes after a particularly energetic hike or run. That couldn't be said about the Helium, which often left me almost as wet as the rain if I wore it for extended periods of time while working hard on the trail. 

Of course, waterproof and breathable fabrics are nothing new to the outdoor industry, even if they have come a long way over the past few years. But Mountain Hardwear also managed to mix its VaporDry materials with a 40D ripstop fabric that has some surprisingly good stretching properties as well. This prevents the Thundershadow from inhibiting your range of motion, which makes it great option for not just hiking and backpacking, but trail running, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities too. And since those same fabrics are lightweight and highly packable (the jacket stuffs into its own pocket), it is a great choice for travelers as well. 

Weighing in at 11.8 ounces, the Thundershadow isn't the lightest rain shell on the market, but it isn't especially bulky either. At that weight, it hits the mark for performance and durability, without adding too many extra ounces to your pack. If you're extremely weight conscious you may want to look elsewhere, but for the rest of us this jacket strikes a nice balance. 

Other features of the Thundershadow jacket include a large, fully-featured adjustable hood that is helmet compatible and a pair of zippered chest pockets that are accessible even while wearing a pack. There are also pit zips that provide even more ventilation for when things really get heated up, although to date I haven't had to use them much. I imagine as temperatures continue to warm into the spring, they'll come in handy though. 

Priced at $175, this isn't a rain jacket for your casual outdoor enthusiast. But for those of us who demand good performance and a high level of comfort from our gear, and frequently find ourselves in the backcountry when the weather takes a turn for the worse, this is a jacket that will prove invaluable. It offers an impressive blend of both protection from the elements and a high level of breathability, two factors that will help to keep you dry. Its stretch properties will make the Thundershadow a favorite with outdoor athletes as well, which makes it very easy to recommend to readers of The Adventure Blog. 

If you're in the market for a new rain jacket this year, this is an excellent option. I waited far too long to upgrade mine, but now I'm very glad to have this one in my gear closet. 

Buy online at REI.com

Gear Closet: Osprey Duro 6 Hydration Pack

Trail runners listen up! There's a great new pack you're going to want to check out, and probably add to your arsenal. The new Duro 6 hydration pack from Osprey delivers the level of quality and thoughtful design that you expect from that company, with a few nice additions that you're definitely going to love out on the trail.

The Duro 6 is just one part of Osprey's new line of hydration products, which also include the Duro 15 and Duro 1.5 packs, the Duro Solo belt, and Duro Hand bottle holder. The ladies version of the packs go under the name Dyna instead, but offer very similar features, just with a more female-friendly design. These packs are designed to be lightweight, comfortable to wear, and offer plenty of storage options for everything from a short training run to a an all-day race.

While Osprey's long heritage of creating excellent backpacks can be easily seen in the Duro 6, one of the first things you notice is that it also includes a design that is closer to a vest-style hydration pack, which have become increasingly popular amongst trail runners in recent years. I personally have come to really appreciate this type of pack as it keeps the bag from jostling around too much while I run, and yet doesn't impede motion in anyway either. Plus, the Duro hugs the body nicely and is so comfortable to wear, that you almost forget that you have it on. That's not something I can say about some of the other running packs I've tested over the years.

Despite it's relatively small size – just 6-liters of carrying capacity – the Duro 6 has plenty of room in its main compartment for carrying an extra jacket, wallet, keys, and a few other spare items for out on the trail. Better yet, the harness itself has a number of well placed, zippered pockets for carrying snacks, gels, and even your smartphone, while larger harness pockets provide room for water bottles too. As if that wasn't enough, there is a larger stuff pocket on the back and two stretch mesh pockets on the sides as well. In short, there are a surprising number of places to carry all of the gear and food you'll need out on your run.


The Duro 6 ships with a very nice hydration reservoir that can hold up to 1.5 liters of water. That reservoir is easy to fill, seals up tight, and slips in and out of its designated sleeve within the pack with ease. It's bite valve offers plenty of water on demand, while Osprey's patented magnetic retention system keeps the hydration bladder's hose out of the way until you actually need to take a drink. This is a feature that another pack I've been testing lately does not have, and I found myself sorely missing it while on longer runs.

As someone who tends to get very warm, and sweat a lot, while on a run, I always worry about how much adding a pack to the mix will potentially increase my discomfort out on the trail. But, I can honestly say that the Duro 6 is so lightweight and easy to run with, that I haven't really noticed much of an impact in this area at all. Granted, I've been running in relatively cooler temperatures so far, but this vest/pack hybrid has been a joy to run in, and has now supplanted Osprey's own Rev 6 as my new favorite running pack.

While this bag is obviously aimed at trail runners, it can also pull double-duty as a mountain biking or light hiking pack as well. In terms of carrying plenty of water and offering a surprising amount of onboard storage, you'll be hard pressed to beat the Duro when you also factor in all around comfort and efficiency. If you're in the market for a lightweight, versatile pack for your favorite outdoor aerobic activities, this is a great choice. And since it comes with Osprey's All-Might Guarantee, you can bet its built to last too.

Priced at $110, the Duro 6 is in my book, a very good value. Osprey has managed to pack a lot of features and design elements into a compact package that trail runners are absolutely going to love. And with spring just around the corner, you know you're going to want a new pack to help you get back up to speed out on the trail. This one will do that, and more.

Buy at now at REI.com.

Osprey Packs | Duro/Dyna Series | Product Tour from Osprey Packs on Vimeo.

Video: Take A Wild Ride on the GoPro Winning Mountain Bike Line of 2016

At the end of 2016, GoPro invited mountain bikers from across the globe to share their favorite rides from the past year, promising to pick a winner for their favorite line. The winner, which can be viewed below, was submitted by Stevey Storey and was filmed as he bombed down a trail in British Columbia. This first person ride is fast and wild with a little bit of everything, including narrow, twisty singletrack; obstacles to avoid, and even places to catch some air. This is pretty much a dream trail for most mountain bikers, so sit back and enjoy.

Video: (To)Day Dream - REI Reminds Us to Spend Some Time Outdoors

This video seems highly appropriate as we head into the weekend. It is a a short, but sweet, reminder to get outside and enjoy nature. It comes our way courtesy of REI – who obviously has a vested interest in getting us outdoors – but it is a great message nonetheless. Yes, we're all busy and have very complicated lives. But some time outdoors can help us sort through all of that. So, as the video says find an empty spot on your calendar and find an empty spot on the map. It is as simple as that.

(To)day Dream from REI on Vimeo.

Video: Mountain Biker Sets New Downhill Speed Record

Mountain biker Max Stöckl has just set a new speed record for the fastest speed downhill, breaking his own mark set back in 2011. At that time, he managed to hit 164.95 km/h (102.4 mph), but with some new science and technology, he was able to eek out just a bit more, hitting 167.6 km/h (104.14 mph) this time out. To achieve these speeds, Max flies down the side of Cerro Negro, a volcano in Nicaragua on a specially designed bike and wearing some specially designed clothing. As you'll see in the clip below, it's all rather crazy. I can't imagine going that fast on a bike. What a ride!

Video: Riding the King Kong Mountain Bike Trail in Utah

Don't have time or the weather isn't right for a mountain bike ride today? Than why not join pro rider Andreu Lacondeguy as he takes on the King Kong trail in Utah, courtesy of GoPro. Andreu recently took on this amazing trail while wearing a Hero action camera on his chest. The result is a first person view of his ride that is amazing to watch. Check it out below.

Video: Bike Tips From Danny MacAskill

We've all seen Danny MacAskill do some amazing things on his bike. (For a reminder, check out his Wee Day Out video) But have you ever wondered how he sets up his Santa Cruz 5010 CC before he begins shooting those amazing clips? In this video, he tells us how he tunes his ride and provides some good tips for configuring your own bike. If you need some advice in this area, why not get it from one of the best riders around?

TrailFoody is a Monthly Subscription Box That Keeps You Fed on the Trail

Subscription box services become all the rage over the past couple of years, with options ranging from geeky gifts for your favorite nerd to high fashion options. Heck, we've even seen some made for outdoor enthusiasts, including Cairn and BivySak. But now, a new subscription box is on the scene, and it wants to send you healthy, nutritious snacks to take with you on all of your outdoor adventures.

TrailFoody is a recent start-up that hopes to take the drudgery out of picking food to take with you on your hikes, mountain bike rides, paddling excursions, and camp outings. Each month, the service will send you a box filled with energy bars, dried fruits, nuts, trail mix, energy drinks, and more. Those treats come from such partners as Tanka, Justin's, and Epic Provisions, and everything is stored in a nice little compression sack that makes it all very easy to pack and carry. Best of all, the items that are sent to you in the box are specifically selected to provide energy for active pursuits, and most avoid artificial preservatives of any kind, nor are they genetically modified in any way. Many are completely organic too.

The subscription service offers three tiers starting with "The Wanderer," which offers enough goodies for 1-2 outings at a price of $21.95. That box includes 1 trail lunch and the equivalent of 4 energy bars. The second tier is dubbed "The Pathfinder" and offers enough food for 3 outings, including 3 trail lunches and 6 energy bars for $43.95, while "The Intrepid" level provides 4 trail lunches and 8 energy bars each month at a cost of $53.95.

Recently I received a sampling of the TrailFoody offering, and I have to be honest. Prior to getting my own box, I thought that the prices were pretty steep for products that we all probably keep around the house anyway. But, after sifting through the package that was sent my way, I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed. My TrailFoody box was filled with more goodies than I expected, and I've been happily munching away on them for awhile now. Sure, spending $22 a month to have energy bars and other assorted snacks sent to your door is a bit lavish, but if you lead a busy lifestyle, and don't have time to shop for these items yourself, you'll probably really appreciate it the next time you're heading out to the trail.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in trying, TrailFoody is giving Adventure Blog readers half off their first month. Simply enter the promo code: ADVENTUREBLOG in at checkout to receive the discount.

Happy trail and happy snacking!

Video: Above Bellingham - Drone Footage From an Adventure City

Bellingham, Washington is a city that has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor adventure, much of which you'll see in this video, which was captured using a drone to stunning effect. The clip starts a bit slow, and you'll probably wonder why it is worth sharing, but as it goes along the landscapes and opportunities for adventure reveal themselves. By the end, you'll be wanting to visit Bellingham yourself.

ABOVE BELLINGHAM - 4K Drone Film from Kjell Redal on Vimeo.

31 Last-Minute Outdoor Gift Ideas from National Geographic

Still wondering what you should get that outdoor and adventure lover on your list this holiday season? Are you starting to stress out as time begins to run short? Never fear, because National Geographic is back today with yet another extensive list, this time providing 31 gift ideas to help us get outside more.

As you can imagine, this particular list is filled with some wonderful suggestions for outdoor gear that your adventurer is sure to love. For instance, you'll find the Rumpl Down Puffy blanket on the list – which is something I recommended in my holiday shoppers guide a few weeks back. Nat Geo also recommends The North Face ThermoBall Hooded Parka for the ladies, as well as Smartwool's awesome mountaineering socks, which were created in conjunction with Conrad Anker. Other items that get the nod also include Osprey's Raptor 14 hydration pack, Gear Aid camp lights, and the GoPro Hero 5 camera.

All in all, this is a really diverse list of gear with suggestions for just about every kind of activity or outdoor gear lover. Whether they enjoy hiking, biking, running, or travel, there are plenty of suggestions on what gifts to buy this year. Check out the full list by clicking here.

I'm working on my own last minute shopping guide as well with even more suggestions for what to get your favorite adventurer. Look for that in a couple of days, hopefully with enough time to round out your shopping before Christmas.

Nat Geo Adventure Gives Us 39 Destinations for a Great Long Weekend

Looking for a few suggestions on where to get a nice long weekend adventure? If so, you're in luck, as National Geographic has compiled just such a list. But this one is quite extensive, offering 39 different places in the U.S. to make a quick getaway, but still enjoy a surprisingly great outdoor adventure too.

Now, lest you think this is one of those quick and dirty  lists that is vague in its description of the place, each of the locations is given a solid introduction and shares inside tips from an expert on that particular place. You'll learn where to hike, bike, climb, ski, and paddle, as well as where to eat, drink, and stay too. You'll also learn about the favorite spots for the locals as well, most of which aren't well known to visitors. All in all, the individual posts for each destination are filled with useful info to help you to decide just where you want to go, and what to do when you get there.

So what are some of the places that earn a nod? The list begins with Salida, Colorado, expands to Hood River Oregon and Lake Placid, New York, before spreading out across the U.S. to other places like Ely, Minnesota and Whitefish, Montana. Of course, the list is populated with plenty of destinations you've heard of, but it is also long enough to slip in some new ones that you probably haven't encountered before too. And whether you like to play in the snow, desert, mountains, or on the water, you'll find something here to draw you in.

As 2016 grinds to an end, and the holidays draw ever nearer, most of us probably don't have a lot of free weekends at the moment. But, 2017 is just around the corner and after the New Year comes and goes, I'm sure we'll all be looking for an escape. Check out the full list here and start planning.

Video: Fatbiking Through Western Mongolia

This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of July riding on horseback through the Tavan Bond National Park in Mongolia on what turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. But, if riding on horses through this part of the world sounds a bit daunting, my friends over at Round Square Adventures have an alternate means of transportation – fatbikes! Yep, that's right, you can visit the same region of Mongolia that I did, but on a bike instead. The video below will give you an idea of what these excursions are like, while also providing an amazing look at the landscapes you'll be traversing. After watching the clip, you may want to get on your bike and start training, because you're definitely going to want to do this.

Fatbike Trips through Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia from Kirsten Scully on Vimeo.

Adventures in the Caribbean: Hiking and Mountain Biking Nevis

Yesterday I posted the first part in a series of stories I'm writing about my recent visit to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. That article was meant to serve as an introduction to the place, which is rich in history and culture. If you haven't read that piece already, you may want to take a look at it first before proceeding with this one, as it does provide a bit of context. That said, these stories are also meant to be self-contained so readers can enjoy them without needing too much backstory. So, without further ado, here's a bit more about my recent travels in the vary intriguing country.

When most travelers think about a visit to the Caribbean, they usually conjure up images in their mind of white sandy beaches, relaxing in the warm water, and enjoying fruity beverages in the sun. Of course, you can do all of those things on Nevis too, but there is so much more to see and do there that you'll miss out on a lot of you confine yourself to the lovely beaches alone.

For example, the island actually has a couple of unique and challenging hiking trails. As mentioned in my previous story, one of the most difficult is a tough climb to the top of Nevis Peak, which stands at 3232 feet (985 meters) in height. Remember, you'll be starting at sea essentially sea level, so while the altitude isn't all that serious, the amount of elevation gain can make it tough. There are also some ropes involved in getting to the top, and you'll definitely want to take a guide if you go.

Unfortunately, do to scheduling I wasn't able to make this hike, so instead I trekked another route known locally as the "Source Trail." The path gets its name because it passes through some lush cloud forests on the way to the island's main source of fresh water, located high in the mountains there. Now days, a series of pipes have been installed to carry that water to the towns below, but it wasn't all that long ago that the inhabitants of Nevis had to make this hike daily to fetch fresh water for use around their homes. It remains a popular walking path with visitors and locals alike, and is a good way to stretch your legs.


The trail begins near the Golden Rock resort, first winding its way up through some small villages before passing under the thick jungle canopy. From there, the route covers just a few miles, but takes about 2.5 hours to complete the round-trip, in part because there is a lot of uphill sections that can be both muddy and rocky. Because of this, you'll want to wear a sturdy pair of shoes that can grip the slick surfaces and provide plenty of support. Some of the group of hikers that I joined didn't heed that warning, and were actually forced to turn back midway through the walk.

Since the trail passes through the cloud forest, it can be warm and humid even in the mornings. Bring plenty of water and dress in wicking, quick-drying clothes of help keep you more comfortable. Even then, expect to get sweaty, dirty, and completely soaked through as you march up the trail. A shower will most definitely be in order after you finish this brief, but often intense trek.

Those who do venture up the Source Trail will get a sense of what it was like for the locals to walk to collect fresh water each day. While the hike itself isn't particularly grueling, it is a challenge to keep your footing in certain sections, and it is easy to get dehydrated and overheated as well. The islanders who made this hike in the past often did so without shoes at all, and while carrying heavy jugs of water back to town with them.

Sharp-eyed hikers may spot some of the local vervet monkeys that inhabit the island as well. These primates came over from Africa – via Europe – as pets when Nevis was first colonized. Over the years, some of them escaped, and ended up mating in the jungles. Now, it is to the point that there are probably more monkeys on the island then there are people. For the most part, they scurry away at the sound of humans approaching, but on occasion you could catch a glimpse of them leaping through the trees.

The Source Trail comes to an abrupt end at a relatively nondescript place. We were told that to go any further would be too dangerous, so the group I was hiking with stopped to enjoy some light snacks and water before turning back. The view at the turn around place was a bit obscured by the thick trees, but you could still see through to the shoreline far below. There, the beautiful beaches and stunning waters of the Caribbean looked spectacular, making the hike up worth the effort.

After a few minutes, we turned around to head back down, which in some ways was more difficult than the hike up. The slick rocks, coupled with the sometimes steep trail, meant that you had to be very careful where you put your feet. There were times when I wished I had a pair of trekking poles along for the walk, as they would have come in handy on the descent. Still, it was easy enough to make our way back to our starting point, it just required a bit more diligence to avoid tripping or falling on the obstacles along the way.

While not as challenging as a climb to the summit of Nevis Peak, the Source Trail is nonetheless a good hike with plenty of opportunities to test your legs and lungs, not to mention your balance. If you're looking for a hike to take with friends and family while on the island, it is recommended. And while a guide isn't needed, it is recommended.

Hikers aren't the only ones who will find ways to stretch their legs on Nevis either. Road cyclists and mountain bikers will get the chance as well. The island is very bike-friendly, and it is not uncommon to see riders out on the road. There are even some surprisingly tough hills that can provide a good workout as well. Take for example Anaconda Hill, which leads out of Charlestown on the main highway that circles the entire island. It is long, difficult, and at some points quite steep. If you're looking to do a bit of cycling on a visit there, and want to test your legs, Anaconda will be more than happy to oblige.

I certainly love a good ride on a road bike, but I'm a fan of mountain biking as well, and had the opportunity to spend one of my afternoons there touring the island in that fashion. My guide was none other than Reggie Douglas, a local legend for his cycling prowess. Reggie has competed in triathlons and cycling events all over the world, and is definitely a strong rider.

He and I set out on our afternoon jaunt from a place called Pizza Beach and ended up wandering up and down a variety of both paved and dirt roads, as well as some jeep trails and single track. Along the way, we passed through a number of small towns and villages as wandered past old sugar plantations, churches, cloud forests, and more. For me, it was a great way to explore the history of Nevis, and Reggie was a knowledgeable guide who pointed out many sights to see along the way.

In terms of mountain biking, there was nothing incredibly technical about any of the routes we rode. Just about anyone could climb on a bike and enjoy the paths we rode, with the only real challenge coming in the form of some steep hills and the hot afternoon sun. For the most part, I had few problems keeping up with Reggie, who obviously was doing his best to not drop me on the climbs. But, on the last big section of uphill of the ride I was forced to dismount and push my bike to the top. After a very long day in the warm Caribbean sun, I just didn't have power left in my legs any longer.

But, after cresting the top of the hill, I climbed back on my bike and started the descent down the other side. At this point, we had left the paved roads, villages, and other signs of civilization behind, and we were gliding along in an open meadow lined with cloud forest around us. As we zipped past the trees, some of the vervet monkeys that are common on Nevis were hopping out of the grass and fleeing into the jungle. It was a sublime moment for sure, and one of my favorite memories of any mountain bike ride I've ever taken. Reggie can take you on the same ride as he runs the Nevis Adventure Tours, and can be hired for a tour at just about anytime.

One of the things I love about mountain biking is that it allows you to go places on a bike that are often only accessible on foot. That was certainly the case here, as we wandered through the cloud forest, spotting the remains of old plantations that date back to the 17th century. While riding high in the hills, we could also look down at the beach and the Caribbean Sea. From that vantage point it was beautiful to behold, even when rolling along at a rapid pace.

Once again, if you're going to mountain bike while on Nevis, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear comfortable clothes. You will work up a sweat, and the heat of the day can take its toll on your legs. But, you'll be rewarded with a great ride that provides amazing views and a chance to immerse yourself even deeper into the history of the place. I've always been a big proponent of using cycling as a way to explore a destination, and Nevis is a great example of that.

Unfortunately, my time on Nevis was short and I only had the opportunity to see a fraction of what it has to offer. Still, I was more than impressed with the options for hiking and biking that the island provided. While of course we all enjoy sitting on the beach and being pampered from time to time, most of us also like being active on our escapes. On Nevis, you can do both, and feel very happy and satisfied along the way.

In the next part of the series, I'll explore a few other things that the island has to offer, which go beyond hiking and biking. Stay tuned.

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 REI.com) (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 Campsaver.com)

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 Campsaver.com)

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 REI.com) (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 Campsaver.com)

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!

Reminder: Don't Forget to #OptOutside This Friday

We are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., and as such I'll be shutting down the blog over the next couple of days to enjoy some time with friends and family, as I'm sure many of my readers will be doing too. But, before I step away I wanted to remind everyone that Friday of this week is also "Black Friday," that annual ode to consumerism in which many people flock to shopping malls and department stores in search of the ever elusive big sale. But, just like last year, there is an alternative – you can #OptOutside instead!

Last year, gear retailer REI made headlines when it elected to close all of its stores on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Instead of luring in customers, the company decided to give all of its staff the day off and encouraged them to go outside to pursue the activities they love. They offered the same encouragement to us – their customers – as well.

Needless to say, the promotion was a big success, so REI is doing it again this year. Their stores will be closed – including the website – and the company's employees will once again get the day off. But this year, more than 500 other organizations are joining the #OptOutside campaign, including the national parks and many state parks as well. If you're looking for a place to go to get outdoors, check to see if the parks near you are offering free entrance to celebrate the day.

I'm happy to see that this movement has continued for another year. Hopefully it will become an annual tradition, not just for REI, but other stores as well. Most of all, hopefully it will be a tradition for most of us too. After celebrating Thanksgiving with the family on Thursday, gather them all up for an outdoor adventure on Friday. You won't regret it for sure.

How will you #OptOutside this year?