PQ TV Schedule Announced!

Monday, July 31, 2006
I saw this while reading the Yak Blog over at Check Point Zero It seems that the television schedule for Primal Quest has been announced, and the episodes will be shown Oct 9 - 12th (7:30pm - 8:30pm EST) on ESPN2, with the finale on ABC Oct 14th. So, set you're Tivo and prepare for what should be an outstanding show. Hopefully in HD too! Can't wait to watch.

Raid Savoy Report

The third stage of The Raid qualifying events was held in the Savoy region of France a few weeks back, and helped set the stage for the upcoming World Championships in Canada this September. "http://www.greatoutdoors.com/">The Great Outdoors has posted this report from the race, and while it's better late than never, it's probably mostly old news by now. Still, it's nice to get some first hand reporting from the race, since most of what we heard came directly from The Raid Organization itself.

Gearbox: GoLite Beat Review

I've been in the market for a new hydration pack for sometime now. The one I had been using was decent, but I'd had it for several years, and felt that it was time to upgrade to something new. So, I did some research, checked out packs at REI and read some reviews on the web. After careful deliberation, I settled on the GoLite Beat Pack, which I found online at a great discount. Since ordering it a few weeks back, I've had a chance to use it on a number of occasions, and now feel like I'm in a position to give some opinions on it.

First off, I should note that while I purchased this particular pack sight unseen, I have always had very good luck with GoLite's gear. I own several articles of their clothing, and they have all been wonderful, so I had little fear of ordering this bag. If you aren't familiar with the company, it was founded on the mantra that lighter is better, and faster. They've applied that idea to all things related to the outdoors, and the results have been ultralight clothes and gear, that remains durable and high quality. In fact, if you switched all your gear to GoLite products, you'd probably find that you'd shed several pounds off your back, while still maintaining the same quality of your equipment.

Anyway, back to the Beat Pack. The first thing that I noticed when I received the pack, was that it was a bit spartan in it's design compared to my older pack. There were fewer pockets, no MP3 player holder or headphone port, and a general minimalist look to it, which is in keeping with the GoLite philosophy. However, when I opend the pack up, and began to examine it closer, I found that the main chamber was quite spacious, much larger than my other pack, and the second main pocket was more than adequate for storing the items I needed close at hand, such as the aforementioned MP3 player. I was also happy to see two smaller pockets on the wasteband, which offered quick and easy access to snacks, engergy bars, or what ever other small items you needed access to without removing the pack. These pockets are not large by any means, but welcome none the less.

It took me some time to get the pack fitted properly. I had to adjust, and then re-adjust, each of the belts a number of times to get it the way I wanted. But once I did find the fit I was looking for, I knew I had picked the right pack. It's quite comfortable on your back, and molds into your body nicely. It's also so light, you'll barely know it's on. So far, I've taken it running three for four times, hiking a time or two, and just this past weekend, I took it on a mountain biking run. Under those conditions, the Beat Pack performed wonderfully. Not only did it hold everything I needed, it also provided plenty of water, rode on my back perfectly, and didn't weigh me down in the least. I especially like that it stays in place, and doesn't move when you have it on. Perfect for anyone who wants to use it in any kind of active way, like trail running or mountain biking. It would also be great for adventure racing, but the size would probably limit it to use in sprint races more than anything else.

One thing I love is the hydration bladder and the snug pocket that it fits into. When I say snug, I mean snug. It takes a little practice to get the full bladder inside of it, and I struggled at first to get it into place. But once it's in, it fights nicely, doesn't move around, and doesn't take away from the interior space of the pocket, something my older pack had an issue with. Fill up the bladder, and the interior space was reduced in size. The bladder itself holds 2 liters and is high quality all the way, It's made of Nalgene so it doesn't make the water taste bad and should wear well over extended use. The bite valve is also high quality and offers a switch to close it off and prevent leakage. Everything in this area is easily a step up from the pack that I'm replacing.

In fact, everything about the Beat Pack says quality. At this point, I only miss one thing from my old pack, and it's a fairly minor one. When I run, and sometimes when I bike, I like to take my MP3 player along for some exercise music. My old pack had a perfect pocket to drop it in and a headphone port for running the cord safely inside the pack. That may sound like a minor thing, and really it is, except that my player is a hard drive based device, which can skip with impact of the road while running. This was never a problem with my old pack, but has been an issue with the new one that I need to sort out. That's not really an issue with the pack though, and were I to upgrade to a flash based music player, the problem would be solved. If I can't resolve the problem, it looks like an iPod Nano may be in my future. :)

All in all, I'd highly recommend the GoLite Beat to anyone in the market for a light, durable, pack for day hiking, trail running, mountain biking, adventure racing (sprints only!) or any other outdoor activity. It fits well with the "Go Light, Go Fast" mantra of the company that designed it, and while it has a minamalist design, it still meets the needs for which it is intended in a perfect fashion. The GoLite page lists the Beat Pack for $70, but I found mine online for $32, and it's easily worth that price and more. If you're in the market for a new pack, you could do a lot worse than the GoLite Beat. I give it four and half out of five stars, a 9 out of 10, or something like that. :) Just know that it's a great, light pack, for on the go.

Have questions? Drop me an e-mail or post a comment.

Update: I think I've solved my issue with the MP3 player. It seems that it wasn't skipping after all. My player has a small joystick on it that is used for Playing/Puasing/Fast Forwarding/Skipping/Etc. While the device bounced around inside the pocket, that joystick was being bumped causing it to seem like it was skipping. Last night while running, I put the player in "Lock" mode, which essentially disables the controls, it worked just fine. No skips, pauses, or any other issues. Feel free to use your iPods without fear while using the Beat Pack.

Atacama Crossing 2006 Results

The 2006 Atacama Crossing is over, and it sounds like it was an incredibly tough, and challenging race. First place in the Men's Division went to Mark Tamminga of Canada, followed by Joe Holland of the United States, and Francesco Gallanzino of Italy. In the Women's Division, Lucy Marriott of the United Kingdom and Sissel Smaller of Norway finished tied for first, followed by Sandy McCallum of Canada and Julia Leder of the United States in second and third respectively. The Team title went to Team GB. You can read about all the winners and the final stage (including a wedding proposal!) here.

By the way, Joe Holland, the second place men's finisher, is a Backcountry Athlete over at The Backcountry Blog. Expect some more updates on the race, and possibly a first hand account, on that site soon.

Atacama Crossing: Stage 5

Thursday, July 27, 2006
Today marks the fifth stage of the 2006 Atacama Crossing. This is a fifty mile long, overnight stage, with the runners starting in staggred bunches. At this point in the race, Canadian Mark Tamminga is still in the lead, but a number of competitors have dropped out over the past few days, in no small part due to the grueling stages of the race, but also due to high winds at the campsites. For more insights into the race, check out the daily coverage over at backcountryblog.com which is not only offering up great coverage of what's happening at the race, but have one of their own athletes taking part. And while you're there, be sure to read their gear reviews for all the stuff they recently tested on an expedition to Codillera Blanca range of Peru. Good stuff.

Landis Caught In Doping Scandal?

It was announced yesterday that a rider in the Tour de France has tested positive for a banned substance, but the name, nationality, team, and substance have yet to be announced. Rumors have begun circulating today that the rider who has tested positive is none other than Floyd Landis himself. I should stress, at this time, it is just a rumor, but if it proves to be true, what a damaging blow to the Tour, and Landis' reputation.

The Tour was rocked with scandal just one day before it's start when several of the pre-race favorites were banned for having their names linked to a doping ring. If the man who went on to become champion is found to have used a banned substance, the credibility of the race will once again be called into question, as it has been in the past. Cycling has had a long, sordid history with doping, with dozens, if not hundreds, of riders testing positive over the years. While they have taken steps recently to try to clean up the sport, it still seems to be a major hurdle to overcome.

And what of Landis? A few short days ago, I was singing his praises, and commenting on what a remarkable rider he was in this remarkable Tour. Should these rumors come to be true, it will send him out of cycling in disgrace. We all know that he's due to have hip replacement surgery in the coming months, but it's also likely he would face a lengthy ban from the sport, and few teams would want to take a chance on him following the surgery, a long lay-off, and the stigma have having being caught for doping. We may well have seen him take his last ride. It's a shame to, considering the good will he had built up with fans of the Tour.

I won't pass judgement yet. As I said earlier, these are all rumos at this point, and I'll be sure to update things as the news breaks, and we get further confirmation. But at this time it doesn't look great.

Update: Just minutes after making the above post, it became official. You can read about it at ESPN.com. Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone following the 17th stage, which happens to be the same stage he made his remarkable comeback on. I'm assuming he'll be stripped of his Tour title, but we'll have to wait to see how everything plays out. I'm sure there will be an appeals process and other things that will need to be decided.

Update #2: Ok, a little more info on the subject is coming in. It seems that Landis has tested for a high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, which is consistent with having injected testosterone, but there may be natural causes for this. It seems on the day before, when he bonked on stage 16, he was most likely dehydrated and probably had an imbalance in electrolytes. It has been suggested that while he was re-hydrating, and getting some nutrition in his body, he may have had a beer or two over the course of the evening. (Don't ask me why he would be having beer. Carbs perhaps?) Alcohol has been known to lead to high testosterone to epitestosterone ratios apparently, which is what the current speculation is to why he tested positive. The cortisone shots he takes for his hip pain may also be to blame. It should be noted that he is NOT testing for high levels of testosterone, just a high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio. That weighs in his favor, and will probably help in his defense. Lets hope this was all a natural occurance, and Floyd can hold onto his Tour win.

The Mongol Ralley!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I just discovered the Mongol Ralley today, and I must say it sounds like an adventure I'd love to undertake! The Mongol Rally is an annual race from London, England, to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The race will over 1/4 of the globe, with the course running over 8000 miles! Oh! And one other thing, your car must not have more than 1 liter of power, which means it's none too fast or fancy. The teams of two must also be self supported, which makes for an even bigger challenge. The Official website has text updates from the teams (who seem to currently bein along the Russian/Kazak border), an overview of the event, a list of teams and their websites, a whole lot more. You can bet I'll be keeping an eye on this one, as it seems like such a great adventure! I'd love to do this with a couple of my best friends.

Death on Makalu: The last climb of Jean-Christophe Lafaille

GreatOutdoors.com has posted this article that they've reprinted from National Geographic Adventure about the last climb of Jean-Christophe Lafaille, who perished on Makalu last January. It's an interesting and eerie look at a climbers last day on the mountain he so wanted to climb. The story holds a special significance to me, as it was one of the first things I blogged about when I got started way back in January. (Has it already been that long?!?) At the time, we were still waiting for word on the fate of Lafaille, and this story fills in some of the blanks as to what was going on.

Makalu is the fifth highest peak in the world, checking in at 27,765 feet. It's located in Nepal, just 14 miles from Everest, and is known for being shaped like a pyramid and offering up a challenging climb for the most experience of climbers.

(Oh! And 300th Post! Cool! :) )

First Summit of K2 in Two Years!

Ask any high alpine mountaineer about Everest, and they'll tell you it's the highest peak on Earth, but not the most difficult mountain to summit. Ask them about K2, and they'll probably get a wistful look in their eye and tell you that it's the real Crown Jewel of climbing. MountEverst.net that paragon of high alpine climbing news, has a story up today about the first successful summit of K2 since 2004. The summit was completed by a husband and wife team, Nives Meroi and Romano Benet, who set off for the summit at 2 AM this morning, and have successfully arrived back in Base Camp at this writing. Congratulations goes out to both them on this monumental task.

K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, lagging behind Everest by just 780 feet. But it is orders of magnitude harder to climb. The summit is guarded by six steep, rugged, and treacherous ridges, each with their own obstacles to navigate. It's a long, hard, technical climb, and although fewer people have attempted the climb, it still claims lives at a higher rate than Everest.

Raid World Championship Qualifiers Announced

Check Point Zero has posted this article that lists the teams that have qualified for the Raid World Championship, which will be held in Saguenay-Lake Saint Jean region of Canada this September. Amongst the top contenders are ERTIPS, which recently won The Raid: Savoy, Team Nike, and Wila Sport/Helly Hansen. In addition to Nike, three other American teams will be making the trip, Team Spyder and Salomon Crested Butte. The field is diverse, well rounded, and challenging, which should make for a great race.

After you get done reading up on all the teams in the Raid at CPZ, be sure to check out this little preview of the region that will be hosting the Advendure Racing World Championship in August.

Team Nike Up To It's Old Tricks

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Team Nike coming off a win at Primal Quest just three weeks ago, has also successfully defended it's title at Adventure Xstream. This time, the team was mostly made up of members of Nike/Beaver Creek, although team captain Mike Kloser did join them for the July 22-23 race. Second place was awarded to Bagel Works who made a good race of it, until bonking on a final mountain biking leg.

Atacama Crossing Update

The Atacama Crossing has been going on for several days now, and we're into stage 3 of the event. It sounds like it's been a great race so far, with physical, nto to mention navigational, challenges on every stage. The first two stages reportedly had a lot of water crossing, which anyone who is a trail runner or ultra-marathoner will tell you means bad things for your feet. Several competitors have dropped out of the race due to heat exhaustion as well. But today's stage is a "mere" 25 miles, with a 131 racers still going at. At the moment, Mark Taminga of Canada is in the lead, but with three more long stages to go, there is still plenty of racing to be done, and we all know that anything can happen in a race like this one.

Backcountry Blog

There is another great blog for you to read, follow, and bookmark for daily visits. It's called The Backcountry Blog and has a stated mission of covering "Backcountry Adventure, Gear Reviews and Outdoor Industry scuttlebutt for Backcountry addicts". Sounds great to me. Looking through the site, I found plenty to read, with lots of great content about the same things that I like to cover. For instance, there are updates on the Atacama Crossing, as well as climbing news and info, as well as plenty of others outdoor adventure stuff. I think I'll be adding it to my daily swing around the Inter-webs!

David Sharp: Left To Die On Everest

Monday, July 24, 2006
MountainZone.com has reprinted an article that also appears in this months issue of Men's Health Magazine, regarding the death of British climber David Sharp. You'll recall that Sharp's story caused quite a stir in the climbing community when it was reported that a number of teams passed him by, without stopping to offer aid, on their way to the summit of Everest. The debate raged, with some people, including Sir Edmund Hillary, saying that it is the duty of everyone on the mountain to offer aid to those who are in need, while other climbers have stated that it's dangerous to try to mount a rescue above 8000 meters. Hillary went so far as to attack the climate of climbing on Everest these days, saying that most climbers are so focused on the summit, they've lost sight of what is important on the mountain.

I've blogged on this topic a number of times now, and I've made my thoughts known in the past. This article offers an interesting perspective as it is not coming from within the "community". The general population are horrified to think that climbers would pass someone by without offering aid, but then again, the general population has no idea what is happening to the human body while above 8000 meters and in the "Death Zone."

Tour: It's Over!

Sunday, July 23, 2006
The 2006 Tour de' France came to an end today, and as expected, Floyd Landis capped an incredible race by riding down the Champs Elysees in Yellow. The sprinters raced for the final sprint points, while Landis sipped champaign and took a leisurely ride into Paris, with his Phonak teammates close at hand. Australia's Robbie McEwan claimed his third straight Green Jersey for being the best sprinter. Denmarks Mickael Rassmssen earned the Polka Dot Jersey as the King of the Mountain, and Italy's Damiano Cunego won the White Jersey as the best young rider. All an all, an amazing tour. It'll be tough to top it next year. Congrats to Landis, and good luck with the hip surgery. We all want to see you racing again soon.

Tragedy on Nanga Parbat

Saturday, July 22, 2006
News came in early today from Nanga Parbat, and unfortunately it isn't good. Missing climber, Jose Antonio Delgado , was found dead today just 400 meters from his tent, which was located at 7100 meters, between Camp 3 and Camp 4. Delgado reached the summit on Wedneday, July 12 but got caught in a nasty storm on his descent. He remained trapped there for nearly a week, before rescue efforts were mounted by Pakistani high altitude guides. The search ended this morning. You can find out more about this story at MountEverest.net.

Tour: Landis Back In Yellow, This Time For Good!

On the final time trial today, Floyd Landis completed his most unlikely of comebacks, finishing third in the stage, but more importantly, erasing the thirty second gap between him and the Yellow Jersey, and then going on to open a 59 second gap of his own. The final stage of the tour is tomorrow, but aside from the sprinters finishing off their battle for the Green Jersey, it'll largely be a ceremonial ride, with Landis finishing on top of the podium. Oscar Pereiro will finish in second, and Andreas Kloeden will take third after an amazing time trial ride to move up the General Classification. Periero and Landis are former teammates and friends, and Periero was amongst the first to congratulate the American cyclist.

It's been an amazing tour to watch, but judging from the ratings on OLN, most Americans won't notice. In the first Tour in the post Lance Armstrong era, interest in the States has waned, but Landis has taken up the torch quite nicely. Unfortunately, Landis now faces difficulty hip-replacement surgery, which could possibly end his career. If it is the end, he's gone out on an incredible note, finishing first in the Tour of Georgia, the Tour of California, Paris to Nice race, and now the granddaddy of them all, the Tour de France.

Personally, I want to congratulate Floyd for this incredible win, and an awe inspring race. Get that hip taken care of, and get back to racing as soon as you can. The cycling world will certainly miss you.

Atacama Crossing 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006
The next leg of the Racing The Planet series of ultramarathons, the Atacama Crossing is set to begin in just two days time. This stage race ultramarathon will be run in the Atacma Desert, located in Chile. The desert is said to be 50 times more arid than Death Valley, which will surely test the mettle of the racers. I'll bring updates regularly throughout the week as the event unfolds. Looking over the competitor list, I don't see Terri Schneider's name. You may recall, Terri was the woman who wrote a very compelling blog while running the Gobi March a few months back, which was the most recent of the races in this series.

Tour: Landis Back In It!

Thursday, July 20, 2006
After a disastrous day yesterday, Floyd Landis has pulled himself back into the Tour de France once more with an amazing ride in the Alps today. In yesterday's stage, the American cyclist cracked on the mountains, and fell some 8 minutes and 8 seconds behind Spaniard Oscar Periero. Many, including me, felt that Landis' chances of winning were dashed on the mountainside, but today he proved everyone wrong. He sprinted out to a lead on the first of three brutal climbs, knowing that he had a huge deficit to make up, and when he had crossed the finish line in first place, winning the stage, Landis had narroed the gap between him and the Yellow Jersey to just thirty seconds. Tomorrow the Tour leaves the Alps behind with a mostly flat, fast stage. It's unlikely that anyone will make a major move at the top tomorrow, as team tactics and relatively easy riding will make it easy to reel someone back in. But Saturday marks the final Time Trial of this years Tour, and Landis excels in Time Trials. Much better than Periero. That thirty second gap doesn't look like much at this point, and Landis has regained his status as the odds on favorite to wear Yellow when the riders enter the Champs Elyse on Sunday.

Words can't describe how gritty a performance Landis turned in today. He basically saw the huge gap between him and the Periero, knew what he had to do, and went out and did it. A lesser rider would have just packed it in, and finsished the Tour as best as he could, but Landis, who will have one of his hips replaced after the Tour is over, wasn't going to let that happen. Today's ride is already being hailed as one of the greatest in tour history, and certainly ranks up there with the legends of this sport. It's hard to convey to someone who isn't a fan of cycling or doesn't follow the tour, just how huge this performance was today.

This year's Tour started off in controversy as many of the top names were suspended, just days before the start, due to a doping scandal. In fact, the top four finishers from last year were not in the race at all, as Lance Armstrong retired after winning his seventh tour. This made for a wide open field, that has been very competitive, and very compelling to watch. We've seen some epic rides over the past few weeks, and we're not done yet. Sunday should cap a great Tour with a great champion, no matter who is wearing Yellow at the end.

Newsflash: Being Sick Sucks!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Yeah, I'm sure this is a major newsflash for everyone reading, but being sick really sucks. I've been struck down with a stomach virus, and it's really frustrating. It started last Friday and has hung on for far too long. The worst part is that I can physically feel how weak I am right now, and just thinking about going for a run, a hike, or a bike ride makes me shudder. I have zero energy for those tasks, and while all I can do at this point is wait for it to pass, I know there is going to be hell to pay once I get healthy and start working out again.

Tour: Pereiro Attacks, Landis Cracks!

One day after claiming the Yellow Jersey on the slopes of the famed L'Alpe d'Huez, American rider Floyd Landis cracked on the slopes of another big mountain stage, and probably watched his chances of winning the Tour de' France disappear. Meanwhile, Oscar Pereiro, who many had written off coming out of the Pyrenees reclaimed the lead, with one more tough mountain stage to go. At one point in the tour, Pereiro was more than 30 minutes back of the leaders, so if he holds on to win on Sunday, it'll be one of the greatest comebacks in Tour history. Landis, who started the day with a 10 second lead over Pereiro, now stands more than 8 minutes back, in 11th place. Mickael Rasmussen was the overall winner of the stage, and probably cemented his second straight polka dot jersey.

Update From Nanga Parbat

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Just a quick update on the story I brought you yesterday about the climber stranded on Nanga Parbat. According to K2climb.net six Pakastani porters have been flown to Base Camp to begin the search for missing climber Jose Antonio Delgado. The high altitude porters are well suited for the climb to Base Camp IV, so hopefully we'll have a happy ending out of this yet.

Tour: L' Alpe d'Huez Awaits

Monday, July 17, 2006
Today was a rest day on the Tour de' France, which means Oscar Pereiro remains in Yellow, at least for another day. But tomorrow brings the fabled L'Alpe d'Huez with it's twenty-one twisting turns and "Beyond Category" climbs. Lance Armstrong left his mark on the Tour on this famous leg with some dominant performances in the mountains. But Lance has retired, and the Tour is up for grabs this year, so we'll have to see if someone makes a move on this stage. My guess is that we'll see a conservative ride out of the leaders, as there are two more wicked climbing days ahead, which is where the race will ultimately be decided. When we descend from the mountains on Friday, we'll likely know who the winner is. Look for the climbers, going after the Polka Dot Jersey, to push the pace tomorrow.

Climber Stranded on Nanga Parbat

According to this story Venezuelan climber José Antonio Delgado has been stranded on Nanga Parbat for the past six days due to inclement weather. Delgado summited then returned to Camp IV, where he has been stranded alone ever since. He used up the last of his supplies three days ago, and is reported to be in no condition to make a descent in the fowl weather on his own. Rescue efforts are being mounted however, so hopefully this story ends well.

Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest mountain in the world and is located in the Himalayas of Pakistan. It stands more than 26650 feet tall, and is the westernmost mountain of that chain.

The Raid: ERTIPS Wins in Savoy

TheRaid.org is reporting that the French team of ERTIPS has one the third, and final, qualifying round for the Raid World Championship, with a convincing win over the weekend. They will now go on to Canada in September, along with a host of other qualifying teams, to vie for the World Championship. Second place went to Les Arcs Quechua 2, another French team, with Wilsa Sport Helly Hansen coming in third. Saab Salomon and Salomon Espana round out the top five.

Tour Update: Here Come The Alps!

Saturday, July 15, 2006
It was another flast, and mostly fast, stage on the Tour de France today. We saw a breakway that built up a huge lead, nearly a half hour on the Peloton, and the escapees managed to maintain that breakway until the very end. As a result, Oscar Pereiro or Spain claimed the Yellow Jersey from American Floyd Landis, who fell to second place. Landis is betting that he can make up the 1 minute and 29 second difference between the two when they enter the Alps over the next few days. Tomorrow's stage will take them to the foothills of those mountains, and there are three amazingly tough mountain stages yet to come, and that is where the Tour will be decided this year.

Raid Savoy Update

The third stage of the Raid qualifying races kicked off this morning in the Savory region of France. You can find updates over at the official Raid website. As of this moment, through Stage D, Wilsa Sport Helly Hansen has the lead on the course, followed by ERTIPS, German team Saab Salomon, Les Arcs Quechua 2, and Salomon Espana rounding out the top 5. You'll recall that yesterday I predicted that Les Arcs Quechua would take this stage of the race, and you'll see there is a team with that name in the top 5. However, that is team 2 of the Les Arcs Quechua teams. Where is the one I picked you ask? They're currently in 19th place, about an hour and a half back. If they're going to make me look like I know what I'm talking about, they'd better get moving!

Want To Learn More About Adventure Racing?

Friday, July 14, 2006
I've been posting a lot about adventure racing over the past month or so. There have been a number of great races, not the least of which was Primal Quest which I talked about extensively. I've sort of taken for granted that many of you who have found my little blog knew what adventure racing was all about, which I've come to learn is not always the case. So, if you'd like to learn more, may I recommend this great library of resources over at www.ar.co.za.

You'll find everything you'll need to get a grasp on the sport, from some excellent articles on the basics of adventure racing, including how to get started, and the origins of the sport. There are some great training tips, and excellent list of all the gear you'll need. (Believe me, you'll need a lot of gear!) There is even a nice section for support crews and the basics of navigation. That should give you something to read over the weekend and keep you plenty busy for awhile.

Raid Savoy This Weekend

The third, and final qualifier, for this years Raid: World Championship, will take place this weekend in the Savor region of France. Checkpoint Zero has a weather report and course overview for the weekend activies, and it looks like it should be another fun, challenging race. Were I pressed to pick a team to win, I'd probably place my money on Les Arcs Quechua, the French team that has been racing so well over the past year or so. They'll have the home field advantage for sure, and have been clicking on all cylinders in these Raid events. Of course, you should never count out Nike, who are listed as racing in this event, but I haven't had that confirmed just yet.

Update: Checking the Nike website's schedule, shows that they have removed this race from their list, so it appears they will not be racing this weekend in France. My guess is, since they won the earlier qualifier in Idaho, they elected to pass on this one.

Giant Rock Slab Falls Off The Eiger

According to this article over at Outside Online, a huge piece of rock, weighing "millions of tons", has fallen off the side of Eiger, a 13,000+ foot peak in Switzerland. The slab was pushed loose by retreating glaciers, and has been threatening to fall for several months.

Eiger is one of the most recognizable and challenging climbs in Europe, with a sheer wall leading to the top of the tower. It was also immortalized in the 1975 Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction.

Tour Update: Landis in Yellow!

Thursday, July 13, 2006
After two grueling days in the Pyrenees, American Floyd Landis has taken the Yellow Jersey and now leads the Tour de France. The last two stages were marked with monsterous Category 1, and even steeper, climbs that have left the sprinters in the dust and have begun to seperate the pretenders from the contenders. Tomorrow's stage returns to the flat lands, which should favor the sprinters once more, but the Alps loom on the horizon where this year's Tour will be settled once and for all. Could the top spot go from Lance to Landis? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Rowing (and Racing) Across The Atlantic

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
110 years ago, two men set out from the Hudson River to become the first to row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean. They made it. And in just 55 days no less. Their record stands even to this day, but perhaps not for much longer. TheOceans.net has an update from one of the four teams that are not only racing one another, but history, as they attempt to row across the Atlantic.

The teams left New York on June 10th and at this point, the British "Commando Joe" team is not only half-way home, but half-way to the new record as well!

Reflections on Everest from GreatOutdoors.com

The Everest climbing season has come and gone, but it's not one that will be forgotten too soon. It was an eventful year, starting with the unrest in Nepal as the season started, followed by a large numbers of climbers, many of them first timers, making their way out to Base Camp. We had the controversy on the mountain this year, as everyone debated the David Sharpe incident, which was followed up with the dramatic rescue of Lincoln Hall. All told, some 15 people lost their lives going for the summit this year, marking a tragic, and hectic climbing season.

The GreatOutdoors.com sent Dave Hahn to Everest this year, and he sent back daily dispatches on what was happening on the mountain. Now that the season is long past, and Dave has leading climbs on Mount Rainier and Denali, it's time to reflect on the season that has passed. He does just that in this article that discusses his own summit attempt and the tumultuous season that was Everest 2006.

Summer Gear from Outside

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I also stumbled across Outsides Summer Gear Review while browsing around their site today. You'll find all kinds of great gear ideas for all your summer needs with everything broken down into four categories, Run, Ride, Climb, and Hike. If you read regularly, you know I'm a gear junkie whose always looking for something new to add to my gear closet. On their list, I'll take Arc'Teryx's Squamish shell, Osprey's Stratos pack, and The North Face's Hedgehog XCR hikers. So much gear. So little money! ;)

Tour Update: Now, it Gets Tough!

While you catch-up on todays stage of the Tour de France courtesy of Outside Magazine, keep in mind that tomorrow, everything changes. Thus far the stages have been relatively flat, favoring the sprinters, with a couple of time trials mixed in. But the race will be won and lost, as always, in the mountains. Tomorrows stage moves into the Pyrenees with several big category 1 climbs, including one that is nearly 20 miles in length. Then on Thursday, the stage gets even tougher yet.

The High Points Expedition

I found this blog over at Mountain Zone today, and it should be of interest to anyone who is into climbing. It's written by Ray Klukoske who has undertaken the monumental task of reaching the highest point in all 50 states without the use of a motorized vehicle. Ray kicks if off in style, starting with the highest of the high points, Denali in Alaska. I highly recommend reading this blog, as it's an awesome start to what should be an awesome expedition. I'll post updates from Ray as they come in, and I'll add this to the growing list of great blogs over at Mountain Zone.

Ultimate Travel Library

A few days ago I posted the list of Top 7 Adventure Novels compiled by Adventure Journey. Well, if that didn't offer enough to whet your reading appetite for the summer, then you need to check out The Ultimate Travel Library brought to us by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. On the list you'll find dozens of great books focused on every region of the planet, including the Polar Regions. There is even a list of Classic Travel books. So, if you're planning a trip somewhere, or just wish you were, I'm sure you'll find something on the list to appeal to you. Looks like my Amazon "Wishlist" just got a lot longer...

Expedition: Macedonia

Monday, July 10, 2006
Yahoo's Adventure Beat is sending resident adventurer Richard Bangs off to explore Macedonia and we get invited along for the ride. On day one they explore Macedonia's ancient history, dating back to Alexander the Great. And to prepare us for the journey, they also put together a list of the eight wonders of Macedonia. Looks like it should be a fun and interesting expedition.

The Raid World Cup Marches On!

This weekend marks another race in The Raid World Cup, this time taking place in the Savoy region of France. This is the third, and final, qualifier for the 2006 Raid World Championship, being held in Quebec in September. For those that don't know, The Raid has been a stalwart in the adventure racing world for a number of years, and has metamorphisized itself into a series of shorter qualifying events culminating with their World Championship expedition length race. You can read more about this weekends event at Check Point Zero.

Climbing to Resume on Mount St. Helens!

The USDA Forest Service has announced on their website that climbing is set to resume on Mount St. Helens on July 21st! Due to volcanic activity in the past several months climbing was strictly off limits, but it seems like it's been deemed safe once again. More info is suppose to be posted on Thursday of this week, but it looks like you'll be able to reserve your climb soon.

The Vocabulary of Kayaking

Last week Stellar Magazine brought us the Vocabulary of the Tour and their back this week with another vocabulary lesson. This time we have The Newbies Kayaking Vocab Lesson with a breakdown of all the important terms that someone learning to kayak should know and understand. I especially like their explanations of the different classifications of rapids and the parts of the kayak itself. Good stuff once again. I'm not sure if these "vocabulary" lessons are going to be a new feature over at their cool website, but I've like what I've seen so far.

Gearbox: The Two-Second Tent?!?!

I saw this item over at Gadling earlier, and I just scratched my head a bit in disbelief. It's a new piece of gear called the two second tent, which basically is a self expanding tent that you simply toss in the air and by the time it hits the ground, you're ready to climb in. Sound great right? Well, in concept, I'd agree, but when looking at the site, I see the tent in it's collapsed state, and being carred around by a guy like a backpack. Which of course begs the question, where does your uh...backpack..go? I mean, when you're carrying this tent, where is the rest of your gear, as it doesn't seem to fold up small enough to actually fit inside of a backpack. Great concept. Needs more work. Still, for only $100, this might not be a bad tent for the right circumstances. It even sleeps two! :)

Julich Out of the Tour

Saturday, July 8, 2006
American cycalist Bobby Julich, who some considered to have an outside chance of winning the Tour de France this year, was knocked out of the race today after a nasty crash during a time trial. Early indications are that he broke his wrist, and will be unable to continue. There were no other riders near him when he crashed, and it seemed to simply be a case of his tires giving out on the slick surface of the road.

Most of the other Americans in the race didn't fare well in the time trial either, with many giving up time, although Floyd Landis did finish second and seems to be setting himself up for a push in the big mountain sections.

Top 7 Adventure Novels

Thursday, July 6, 2006
It's time for another Top 7 list from our friends over at Adventure Journey. This time, it's the top seven adventure novels with some really great books on the list. I particularly like Kim by Rudyard Kipling, Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days and Into the West which is a popular asian tale. There are a few on the list I haven't read yet, so I guess I can pick a few up for some light summer reading.

The Vocabulary of the Tour

It's day five of the Tour de France. Another flat, fast stage that gives a lot of riders hopes of winning the whole thing, which are later dashed in the Pyrenees and completely crushed in the Alps. While browsing for some news on the Tour earlier I came across this article that explains all the terminology of the Tour. For instance, it explains how each of the climbs are classified, what all the different jerseys are awarded for (It isn't just about the Yellow Jersey you know!), and a whole lot more. Great stuff from Stellar Magazine.

Outside On The Tour!

Monday, July 3, 2006
Outside Magazine is reporting from the Tour de France for the next month, as the field is clearly blown wide open this year with the top four riders from last year no longer in the race. Currently, Thor Hushovd is wearing the Yellow Jersesy after winning the time trial on Saturday and re-claiming the top spot today from American George Hincapie, who has toiled in the shadow of Lance Armstrong for the past few years, but is not ready to stake his claim to his own Tour victory.

And while you're over at the site, be sure to read their profiel on Floyd Landis, another American who hopes to make the world forget about Lance.

PQ Update from Merrell

Team Merrell/Wigwam Adventures finished third at Primal Quest over the weekend, and not Team Captain Robyn Benincasa has updated their team blog with thoughts on the race, what it feels like for it to finally be over, and the incredible sprint they had at the finish to place just in front of Team Supplier Pipeline. Great read for a little behind the scenes insight into the race that we probably won't get until it airs on ESPN later this fall.

I love reading Robyn's blogs. She's a no-nonsense racer with tons of experience, and she always tells it like it is. She's one of my favorite racers because she's tough as nails, determined, and in incredible shape. If you followed the race, you know that Merrell lead the way for much of it, but coming down the stretch it looked like they might finish off the podium. I'm glad they found a way to dig deep, push on, and make it over the finish line in third place. They deserve it, and I offer a huge congratuations to Robyn and her "Kiwi Boys". Great work gang!

PQ Podium Set

Saturday, July 1, 2006
As I mentioned earlier, Nike Powerblast won this years Primal Quest with GoLite coming in second. Joining them on the podium is Merrell who managed to hold off Supplierpipeline and Saloman/Crested Butte by two minutes. That rounds out the top five, with the only other team to cross the finish line at this point being Bjurfors Adventure Racing in 6th place. There are still plenty of teams out on the course, and they'll straggle in over the next few days. Lets just hope they all finish safe and in good health.

Gearbox: The Symbiot Sportback Pack

Are you in the market for a small, light weight, pack for your adventures? If so, check out the Symbiot Sportback. This very cool looking pack is designed for running, hiking, biking, and just about any other outside activity. The pack is specially designed to hug your body, and stay in place, while you move. It's small, designed to carry just the necessities, and has pockets on the chest for quick and easy access to your important gear. Best of all, it's hydration ready, so you can bring a drink along on those hot days. It looks like they're taking pre-orders on the Sportback, with the intention of shipping this Summer, so if the pack looks good, get your orders in now!

Nike Wins Primal Quest!

It's official. Nike crossed the finish line ahead of GoLite this morning, claiming their fourth straight PQ title. Early this morning, both teams were pulled off the final ropes leg because of a lightning storm in the area, and both were forced to re-climb that section. GoLite pushed Nike to the end, but it wasn't enough to catch them. You can read all about the finish here.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the teams are still out on the course. Merrell is about an hour ahead of Supplierpipeline at the moment, and they'll most likely decide who gets to stand on the podium next to Nike and GoLite. PQ started out with 89 teams. Two have finished, 67 more are still racing, and 20 have withdrawn for one reason or another. Considering the difficulty of the course, and the heat the teams have had to deal with, I'm surprised that only 20 teams have pulled out. More later as we get further news and teams crossing the finish line.