Monthly Archives: November 2010

Fall/Winter Trail Runner’s Gear Guide (Staff Picks)

You can throw on road running shoes, some long pants, and a wicking shirt to go running, sure.  That doesn’t necessarily make for a great experience though.  The clothes and gear you wear for trail running should change with the seasons.  Here are a couple of things we have in the stores to make your trail running times enjoyable.

  1. A good watch with heart rate capabilities:  Did you know a watch could track your distance, heart rate, calories burned, speed and more?  Well, they can.  We have several different brands of Heart rate monitoring watches, but one that seems to be a stand out is the Suunto T4-D.  This watch can do it all.  For the specs of this watch you can go to their website.  If you have ever wondered mid-workout how hard your body is working, this is the watch for you.  The Suunto T4-D watch has a real-time Training Effect option where you can look at an accurate measure of your workout and adjust your pace as needed.  This can actually help you design a training regime to fit the results you seek.  Pretty cool, huh?
    Honorable Mention: Garmin Forerunner 301
  2. A good pair of tights:  We have an abundance of cool weather tights for running and cycling in our stores.  One stands out with a technology only scientists could invent.  The CW-X tights were developed with kinesiology, the study of human movement, in mind.  The scientists at Wacoal Human Science Research Center in Kyoto, Japan studied 35,000 people’s injuries that occurred from warm-up and cool-down periods of exercise.  The CW-X tights and shorts were created to mirror kineseo tape that you might see professional athletes sporting when they have injured muscles.  It offers support for your joints and muscles by creating an exoskeleton support system that improves bio-mechanics during motion.  If you are prone to running related injuries, these are the tights for you.
    Honorable Mention- Patagonia Cool Weather Tights
  3. A fine pair of stable shoes:  No, you cannot just use your road running shoes on the trails.  On a trail, your ankle is more susceptible to injury; therefore you need a shoe that performs differently.  Salomon makes a variety of great trail running shoes with extreme stability and comfort.  One stands out to our staff as a favorite: The SpeedCross 2.  It is an ultra-light, race-ready shoe with aggressive tread that works great year round.  One of the unique features of Salomon shoes is the uni-lacing system.  The laces are made of Kevlar (that’s right, just like bulletproof vests) and it is all one consecutive lace.  Because approximately 80% of people over-pronate when walking and running, this lacing system offers extra support on the inner section of your foot.  A lightweight, stable trail running shoe.  What more could you want?
    Honorable Mention- The North Face Ultra 104 (Gore-Tex Optional)
  4. A warm, lightweight jacket with wind protection:  When you are out in the elements running, the last thing you would want is a bulky fleece that lets wind pass right through.  Wind is a strong factor in how cold you get when out running.  What you really need is a thin, windproof jacket with a light lining.  The North Face Flight Apex Climate Jacket is the perfect combo.  This is a slim, windproof jacket that gives you all the wind protection you need and no extra bulk to get in your way.   When paired with the proper layering, this jacket is perfect for a cool day on the trails.
    Honorable Mention-Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover
  5. A water bottle that doesn’t get in the way:  For a long time, people were wearing Camelbacks on long trail runs.  There is nothing wrong with a Camelback, if you don’t mind the weight and warm material on your back.  Ultimate Direction offers a different way to carry your drink of choice.  The Fastdraw Xtreme fits perfectly in your hand and offers a zippered stash pocket for a key, money, or gel.  The only downside to this in opposition of a camelbak is that you cannot carry as much water with you.  The Fastdraw Xtreme is perfect for a short to medium distance run.
    Honorable Mention: Ultimate Direction Access Gel Waist Pack

Other Must Haves:
-Long sleeved wicking shirt
-Polarized Sunglasses
-A lightweight hat
-Energy gel or bars


Product pictured on Robin Kendall, Union Avenue Store Manager
Watch:
Suunto T4-D
Pants:
CW-X Stabilyx Tights
Shirt:
The North Face Impulse ¼ zip shirt
Vest:
Patagonia R2 Vest
Sunglasses:
Oakley Endure
Water Bottle:
Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Xtreme
Hat:
The North Face Vaporwick Endurance Cap
Black Jacket:
The North Face Flight Apex Climate Jacket
Blue Jacket:
The North Face Torpedo Jacket
Shoes:
Salomon Speedcross 2

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Memphis Celebrates the Longest Running Cyclocross Race in the Nation

A winding bike course stretches down Memphis’ Greenbelt Park lined by the Great Mississippi River on an early Sunday morning.  On-lookers stand atop a hill above the course waving cowbells with the passing of each cyclist.  The 24th

Annual Outdoors Inc Cyclocross Championship Race is in full swing.

The race, which is the longest running Cyclocross race in the United States, was created to give cyclists an alternative training option in the colder months.  Once the temperatures begin to drop, not every cyclist is keen on riding long distance in freezing weather.  Cyclocross provides the right amount of physical challenge for the perfect amount of time when the weather is less than ideal.  Unlike road races that take place in warmer weather, riders compete by time instead of distance.  This actually makes the race spectator-friendly, because you can have a great view of the entire course.

Race director and co-owner of Outdoors Inc, Joe Royer, spent over 20 years racing in cyclocross, road and mountain bike races all over Europe and America.  With each race he gained the knowledge and experience to bring the highest quality bike race possible to his hometown of Memphis, TN.

The course wraps around the Park, taking the riders up hills and over barricades where they have to dismount from their bikes and carry them as they jump over and remount.  Cyclocross is a physically demanding sport that requires balance, as well as speed.

For a unique twist this year, the barriers were constructed from Cottonwood trees pulled right out of the Mississippi River. Over the years the race has been held in many different locations around Memphis, but Joe Royer, race director and co-owner of Outdoors Inc, says people just love the race being located along the Mississippi River.

Riders sweep around a 1.5 mile loop for 10 to 50 minutes depending on age and category.  The C race starts off the festivities with children, ages 3 to 14.  The youngest, 3-5 year olds, take off down a 50 yard dash, followed by the older kids riding around a shortened track for 10 minutes. The B race is for beginners, while the A race is rapid paced with Nathan Rice and Katherine Williams leading the men’s and women’s divisions.

In previous years, the winners have been renown cyclists from all over the United States including National Cyclocross Champions Paul Curley, Steve Tilford, and Frank McCormick.  Needless to say, the 2010 racers were in good company.

For the race to run smoothly, it takes attention to detail from all the Outdoors Inc staff handling the event.  “Everything from registration to the take down of the course has to be perfect,” says Royer.  The company dedicates extra time for the take down after the race to guarantee that the race site is left cleaner than they found it. This could be a detail that will ensure the race will stand the test of time.

5 Websites for Finding and Mapping the Ideal Bike Route

Memphis Bike TrailsWith the Greenline putting Memphis cycling in the spotlight, people all over the city are wondering how they can map bike routes to work, school, or anywhere else in the city.  While we are waiting on bike lanes to populate the city, a safe street bike route is the best way to get from place to place in our fair city.  Here are just a few easy ways to find or chart a bike route:

  1. MapMyRide.com:  This is by far the easiest to use interface for bike route mapping.  With this site, you can easily create bike routes and mark water stations, bathroom breaks, and first-aid stations.  If you are organizing a group ride, MapMyRide is a great way to create a route to send in email or print for distribution.  You can create an account to save your routes for future use and share them with other users.  Pretty nifty, huh?
  2. Google Bike Routes:  We have been using Google Maps for years to figure out the perfect route for road trips.  This last year, Google introduced bike route functionality where you can put in your current location and destination, and it will show you the best bike path to take.  Google Bike Routes are in Beta, so be patient with it.  Google’s not finished tweaking it.
  3. Bikely.com:  Bikely works similar to MapMyRide, where you can search the system for specific bike routes that have been contributed by other users.  Do you have a cool bike route that should be shared with the rest of the world?  Well, Bikely is the site for you.  You can find short distance routes to extended touring bike trips.
  4. BikeMap.Net:  This is a site that is not yet utilized widely in our city, but it works just as well as all the other options.  You can easily create a route on the map and save it for others to use.  You can also share your route on Facebook (what can you not share on Facebook these days?).  Like Google Bike Routes, this site is in the Beta phase, but it works fine for simple route mapping and sharing.
  5. AdventureCycling.org:  This is a wonderful resource for cyclist all across America.  Through this site you can find adventure routes, guided tours offered, complete maps of the U.S. Bicycle Route System, and much more.

Now that you can map your bike paths, where do you plan to ride?

Factors That Make or Break Your Backpacking Trip

Your backpacking experience is only as good as the gear you take. There are several precautions you can take to make sure your backpacking trip goes smoothly.

  1. Proper Pack Fit: Your back is aching, your head is throbbing, your neck is about to fall off. You should have gotten your pack properly fitted. If you ordered your pack online, chances are, you have not had it fitted to your torso. It doesn’t go by shirt size. “I wear a medium shirt, so I must require a medium pack frame.” Wrong. Having an ill fitting pack could mean extreme discomfort for you. If you have an old pack and feel it is time to check and see if it really does fit you, we suggest bringing it in to your local outdoors store to get an assessment.
  2. Proper Boot Fit: Just like a pack fit, a pair of improperly fitted boots can cause you great anguish and hinder your backpacking experience. In order to prevent a poor boot fit, bring in the socks you plan to wear with your boots and get your foot measured with a Brannock device. Boot fitting is an art and there are many different aspects to the perfect fit. For more information visit Great Outdoors boot fitting guide. Once you have purchased your boots, it is good to try them on in the evening after your feet have swollen during the day. Also, we suggest purchasing your boots several months in advance of your trip so that you will have ample time to break them in. It is never a good idea to wear brand new boots on a backpacking trip.
  3. Loading Your Backpack Correctly: Making sure you fit everything into your pack is one thing, but distributing the weight correctly is certainly another. Most of the weight of your pack should reside on your hips, not your shoulders and back. To make this work, you need to position the heaviest items closest to your back in the middle of your pack between your shoulder blades. If you are going off-trail, it should be up a little higher in the pack, still positioned up against your back. The farther away your weight is from your back, the more your straps will pull on your shoulders and lower back.
  4. A Good Mattress Pad: After a long day on the trail, all you are going to want is a good night’s sleep. A comfortable and compact-able mattress is key in this equation. With outdoor gear technology getting better every year, it is not too hard to find a small, but effective blow up mattress for your backpacking trip. If you are extra concerned about space, you can invest in a ¾ mattress that leaves you feet hanging off. Really, how much padding do your feet need when you are asleep? Not much. Save space and be comfortable, too.
  5. Know the Weather You’re Approaching: When you are planning your trip, make sure you scope out the weather before hand. You will need this information to plan what gear and clothes to pack.  If the weather is somewhat unpredictable where you are headed (for example Mount Washington, New Hampshire), look into previous years during that same time. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared in these situations.