Explore: April 2012

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10 posts from April 2012


Bloke Is Halfway to Cycling Six Continents

5966318639_eaa1be2e81_bIn January of 2010, when a quilt of snow fell over England and temperatures across Europe hit historic lows, Stephen Fabes headed east on his bike.

Fabes, a physician in his early thirties, had a vague plan. From Londontown he’d bump over the Alps, cut south from Istanbul and pedal Africa from nape to tailbone. Then on to the Americas, Australia, and Asia. He’d traverse six continents — 50,000 miles — in five years.

The first few weeks weren’t so bad, despite the fact that Fabes didn’t train for the trip (“I thought, ‘I have a lot of cycling ahead of me, why should I do more now?’”). But soon the spine of Europe appeared before him, and things got frigid. French motorists beamed incredulously as he ascended the mountains. One night a blizzard struck, hardening his gloves and turning his sleeping bag into an ice cocoon. He eventually breezed down to the Riviera and dipped into a tunnel that spit him out in a balmy valley east of the Alps. One thing he missed about the cold, he later mused, was the absence of “winged nasties.”

Soon he rolled into Italy and heard a clicking sound. This sound wasn’t coming from his bike. It was coming from his knee. “I could feel," he blogged, "a small curious mobile mass within the joint space which often got trapped causing me sudden pain.” Still, he couldn't turn back. He rode through the Balkans and Greece before an MRI revealed a bit of cartilage caroming in his knee. He stored his bike in Istanbul and hitchhiked back to London, where surgeons presented him the stray piece in a jar.

Continue reading "Bloke Is Halfway to Cycling Six Continents" »

Year in Yosemite: Time Travel

Meadow in YosemiteFor thousands of years, the native peoples wandered around Yosemite with seemingly no problem. For everyone else, access to Yosemite has never been easy. I was reminded of this when a friend wrote to say she was thinking of coming to visit. “How do I find you?” she asked. My answer bordered on the ridiculous. She could fly into Fresno and we’d come pick her up. Or she could fly to San Francisco, Oakland, Burbank or Los Angeles (4-6 hours away), take the train to Fresno and again we’d pick her up. Without renting a car, none of the choices were easy and even if she rented one, the trip from all but Fresno was long (especially after flying in from the East Coast). Furthermore, unless a person loves whipping around curvy mountain roads, the drive is not much fun. All of which led me to conclude that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Hit-and-Run from the Cyclist's Perspective


This harrowing video was shot by an on-bike camera by a Brazilian cyclist named Bruno on my own cycling turf in Berkeley, California. This is Tunnel Road, one of the usual cycling corridors up to the East Bay hills. You can cut to the chase at 2:39 when a black car sideswipes the cyclists--and doesn't even stop. Fortunately neither cyclist was seriously injured--partly because they were wearing helmets, as you can see in the slo-mo repeat when the head of the rider in back smacks the pavement. Ride safe out there!

Update The Berkeley Police Department has made an arrest in connection with the incident.


HS_PaulRauberPAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.

It's Eclipse Time

May 2012 Partial Solar Eclipse Suszter Balázs

It's been many years since a solar eclipse of any kind swept across the mainland United States, but on May 20 an annular and partial solar eclipse will be visible for millions west of the Appalachian Mountains.

An annular eclipse is one in which the moon passes in front of the sun but cannot block it completely because it is near apogee, or its farthest point in its orbit from Earth. Therefore the moon appears a bit smaller in the sky and a ring of sunlight still seeps out from around the edges of the moon. Annular and partial eclipses are not safe to view without proper equipment, such as a solar filter, #14 welder's goggles, or a pinhole projection.

The path of the annular eclipse is a narrow one that begins in South China, sweeps across southern Japan before crossing the northern Pacific and landing in the United States near the Oregon/California border. The path continues southeasterly, passing over Lake Tahoe, a number of national parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon, and through Albuquerque before ending just east of Lubbock, Texas.

In Reno, the partial phase that leads up to the annular eclipse begins at 5:15 p.m., with the annular phase lasting from 6:28 to 6:32 p.m., and the partial phase ending at 7:37 p.m. In Albuquerque, the partial eclipse begins at 6:28, the annular lasts from 7:33 to 7:38, and the entire show wraps up by 8:36 p.m.

Continue reading "It's Eclipse Time" »


Stoked to be Psyched, Psyched to be Stoked

Most days you'd be well advised to avoid non-recyclable bags of processed and fructosed junk food. But what about day 86 of an epic slog across Antarctica? Well, if your stoke meter bounds as high as Aleksander Gamme's does, indulge in the Cheez Doodles, by all means. 


 Basic needs - extreme happiness from Aleksander Gamme on YouTube

LaurenPopeLauren Pope is an Editorial Intern for SIERRA magazine. She graduated from Chico State with an Environmental Journalism degree in 2011, though her family jokes she actually got her degree in boating. When she's not writing, she's rowing the rivers of the Southwest - the place where she grew up and will undoubtedly grow old. 


Surfing and Exploring British Columbia

There are times you have found yourself sitting at your computer for 10 hours, having walked between the kitchen and your desk every few minutes to "reset" (or maybe to eat more handfuls of almonds and chocolate chips), wondering when you'll next get outside.  

Picture 3

So you shrug and type "surfing" into Vimeo to see how the other half lives, or at the very least, those who have access to the Pacific Ocean.  Your jaw drops when you click on this video, and you can't wait to get back on your board.

--Image from North*




SIERRA HEADSHOTBenita Hussain is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in GOOD, Women's Adventure Magazine and Matador Sports, among others. With degrees from Cornell University and Fordham Law School, she's also a part-time lawyer and yoga teacher that surfs, climbs and travels to do both.  Twitter: @hussainity.


Q&A: Extreme Skier & Consultant Alison Gannett

Ag 1Alison Gannett, a world champion extreme skier and climate change activist, has always had her hands full. But after a knee injury resulting from overshooting a cliff landing at the 1999 X-Games, the now 46-year-old returned to her roots as an environmental activist and climate change consultant.

She also began integrating her love for the mountains through her foundation Save Our Snow, whose mission is to educate people on global warming's impacts on glacial recession, as well as her women's adventure camps KEEN Rippin Chix.

As someone whose goal is to reduce her carbon footprint to two tons a year (versus the U.S. per capita average of 20 tons) Colorado-based Gannett takes her public role as a citizen athlete personally — from maintaining the homestead where she and her family live to the way she now skis.

In the second of our Q&A series with athletes committed to the environment, Alison Gannett shares stories of her past inspirations and future aspirations with SIERRA.

SIERRA: When did you start skiing, and how has it influenced your environmental and social outlook?

AG: I started skiing at 1 1/2 in my driveway in Massachusetts, and then at the massive 800-vertical of Crotched Mountain, New Hampshire. My dad managed the 800-foot hill, and almost all kids went there after school everyday, as we lived in the boonies and there was nothing else to do. My mom took us camping for all our vacations, and I really learned to love the outdoors and wanted to take care of it.

Was there a particular moment or adventure that led you to be more involved in the environmental movement or to start SOS?

When I was nine, I started getting really upset about my dad's styrofoam coffee cup use; after that, I just got worse through college.  Now my friends call me the environmental alarmist.

I started my first environmental business designing homes and doing energy audits and solar design in 1991, and have since founded four non-profits, including Save Our Snow. I've been fighting to make the world a better place twice as long as I have been a professional extreme skier.

Continue reading "Q&A: Extreme Skier & Consultant Alison Gannett" »


Protecting the Desert, One Drug Bust at a Time

Kevin carlos 1On remote stretches in southern Arizona's Sonoran Desert, drug smugglers map strategic jeep routes, which snake through the sand and brush. Physical artifacts of the criminal journey can be found at every turn on the Tohono O’odham Nation's land. 

Gas cans are littered at checkpoints on the impromptu northbound highway and along a series of alternate corridors in case of necessary diversion. The supplies often go unused and sit stagnantly until blistering temperatures warp the plastic and allow the oil to ooze onto the ground.

Stolen pickup trucks often break down in the heat and are abandoned by their drivers, left to rust beside cacti in the arid badlands.

An elite Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit of Native American operatives known as the Shadow Wolves stalk these runners using traditional tracking techniques, aiming to make arrests and reduce the debris in their wake.

Shadow Wolves tracker Kevin Carlos, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation who grew up hunting on and exploring his people's sacred environment, is particularly irked by the smuggler's treatment of the land.

Continue reading "Protecting the Desert, One Drug Bust at a Time" »


Year in Yosemite: The Inspiration

Wright_0924-1_adams"I know that I am one with beauty and that my comrades are one. Let our souls be mountains, Let our spirits be stars, Let our hearts be worlds."

-- Gaelic saying/Adams's favorite

We moved to Yosemite National Park three years ago because of Ansel Adams. And, spectacular as they are, it wasn't his photographs that hooked us. It was his early life. Like so many people who went on to change our world -- Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Charles Dickens -- he never finished school. Some of these people dropped out for economic reasons. Some, like Branson, were lousy students. And some, like Adams, Einstein and Edison, got kicked out and were asked to never come back. Too distracted, too dreamy and too inattentive, they proved a trial and tribulation for their teachers.

In Ansel Adams's case, he got lucky. After multiple schools had asked him to leave, his parents decided to home school him. When they discovered that nature calmed their high- energy, fidgety son they let nature become his greatest teacher.

Continue reading "Year in Yosemite: The Inspiration" »


If you can read this I'm in trouble

DoorOf all the hazards that might befall the urban cyclist, among the most frightening is being "doored"--that is, having an oblivious motorist suddenly open a car door in your path. This frightening prospect is why many canny cycle-commuters keep a watchful eye on parked cars as well as the flow of traffic--or, better yet, keep a healthy, door's-breadth distance between them and parked cars, even if it requires "taking the lane," as indeed cyclists are legally entitled in many states.

My bike messenger friend Casey tells about speeding along a busy San Francisco street only to see the dreaded door open directly in front of him. A bus immediately to his left gave no chance of evasive action. How did he survive? To this day he doesn't know. "Somehow I just found myself on the other side." If you're not willing to trust to miracles, perhaps this is the shirt for you. Available from Threadless Tees.

--Paul Rauber

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