Mountain Biking 101

Looking to go off road for the first time? Here are tips and advice you need to make your introduction to mountain biking fun and successful.

  • The Basics: Mountain Bike Skills You Need to Know
    While only lots of riding, great fitness and endless bailouts into the bushes will make you the hottest rider on the block, here are some basic skills that every aspiring mountain biker should know.
  • 10 Ways to Improve Your Mountain Biking
    Whether you want to smoothly descend near-vertical downhill sections or just ride your local trails without crashing, these tips will having you rolling with confidence.

Think you’re ready to go? Come join us and Fuji Bikes this Sunday, August 24 at Schaeffer Farm Mountain Bike Park. Demo their latest mountain offering, ask all your questions and learn from our Outfitters and the Fuji demo staff. You not only get free Fuji swag, but you get to ride the trails!

FujiFFL

Click here to join us!


Articles from “Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking” on Active.com

 

Be Awesome At Camping: 15 Hacks & Tips

It’s still camping season! Here are some genius camping hacks you have to try:

1. Adding sage to your campfire or fire pit keeps mosquitoes and bugs away.

2. Keep extra duct tape for emergencies right on your water bottle.

3. Make toothpaste dots.


Spread them out on a plate, let them dry for 2–3 days, and then sprinkle baking soda over them. Once they dry, just pop them into a resealable plastic bag.

4. Your deodorant doubles as a mosquito bite itch queller.

5. Make a portable reading lamp!


Point a headlamp inwards to a gallon milk jug filled with water. Click here for our selection of headlamps!

6. Glue sandpaper to the top of your match holder.


Keeping your matches in a tupperware or stainless container will ensure they don’t get wet.

7. Use an acorn cap to loudly whistle for help if you’re lost in the woods.


Get instructions here.

8. Make a last-minute camping spoon with a knife and a plastic bottle.

9. Carry your seasoning in straws.


Just use a lighter to re-seal.

10. You can also keep seasonings, toppings, and condiments separate but organized in stackable pill containers.

11. A 16-ounce water bottle will hold 8–9 large eggs.


Pre-scrambling your eggs will save you the trouble of having to figure out a way of transporting them. It also eliminates the need for a separate bowl and whisk.

12. Keep your TP fresh and dry


Coffee cans are wonderful for keeping your “important papers” dry and ready for use under any outdoors weather condition.

13. Tin Foil Dinners


An ideal dinner if you don’t want to spend much time cooking, yet want to serve a meal that’s wholesome and satisfying. The best part? No dishes to wash up!

14. Easy DIY firestarters


Wad up your old dryer lint and stick it inside a toilet paper tube.

15. Line your pie iron with foil for easy clean up.


You can go from grilled cheese to apple pie pocket with practically no clean up.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Know Your Cycling Etiquette

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert cyclist, here are a few basic rules of the road:

Be Predictable

Nobody feels safe around the car that’s swerving, not using signals, and stopping suddenly. Ride as you would drive—as if you were trying to pass a driver’s-license test.

 

 

 

 

Stick to the Law

In most states, bikes are considered vehicles. When riding in the road, always signal, make complete stops at signs, and wait for red lights for your turn to ride through.

 

 

 

 

Ride to the Right

If there’s no shoulder on a two-way street, it’s always safer to stay a couple of feet out into the road. You’ll be visible and force cars behind you to move into the oncoming lane to pass you.

 

 

 

 

… Except When Turning Left

For this move, you’ll want to move from the right to the middle of the lane or merge into the left-turn lane if there is one. Check over your left shoulder for oncoming traffic and signal left before moving over.

 

 

 

 

Stay off Sidewalks

Lousy sight lines and people entering or exiting doorways and driveways make riding on sidewalks an accident waiting to happen. If you have to, and the city permits it, ride no faster than 6 to 8 mph—the speed most people jog.

 

 
Published in July 2014 issue of Bicycling magazine.

8 Items For Your Activity Checklist

Summer is officially here, and that means hiking, backpacking, and camping season. Every year brings new products that make your experience better, and we have picked the top items that will help you pack better, have more energy, and even keep your gear protected.

The North FaceThe North Face M’s Short Sleeve RDT Crew
$35

Revolutionary FlashDry™ fibers in this lightweight tee wick moisture away from the skin towards the fabric’s exterior during periods of high activity, making this shirt ideal for wear during strenuous hikes in warm weather, and is crafted to reduce shoulder chafing while hauling a pack across the trail.

 

 

Princeton Tec Vizz

Princeton Tec Vizz
$49.99 | available in red, black and green

Camping lights can be a pain, but the Princeton Tec Vizz is simple and has everything you need, all in 92 grams. It is feature-loaded with three distinct beam profiles easily accessed via a simple press, hold, or double press of the button.

 

 

Clif Shot Bloks

Clif Shot Bloks
$1.99 each | available in-store only!

These are primarily used by performance athletes – cyclists, runners, mountain bikers, triathletes, and adventure racers. However, any performance-oriented athlete needing a quick burst of energy can benefit from Clif Shot Bloks. 95% organic, 50mg caffeine, simple to handle and easy to chew!

 

 

Platypus SoftBottle

Platypus SoftBottle 
$7.95 – $11.95

Carrying water is always a battle for weight and space in your pack. If you don’t have the space or don’t want to deal with a water bladder, the Platypus SoftBottle can hold a liter of liquid in a flexible, BPA-free bottle that squishes flat when empty.

 

 

Gregory Miwok 24

Gregory Miwok 24 Pack 
$119

From peak-bagging to business travel, the Miwok 24 does everything a daypack should and more. Designed for the trail, this sleek, lightweight daypack has ample storage capacity for all-day excursions, plus an expanding front pocket to keep bulkier items like a jacket or helmet.

 

 

Sweetwood Beef JerkySweetwood Beef Jerky
$6.99 | available in-store only!

This jerky is flavored with a wonderful blend of brown sugar, honey, and spices for times when you need to eat on-the-go. Sweetwood uses premium beef, natural herbs, is gluten free and has no added MSG.

 

 
MSRMSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove
$39.95 | available in-store only!

The MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove is the go-to for quick cooking in the outdoors. It weighs only three ounces and can boil a liter of water in less than four minutes. No need to prime or preheat; hook into any self-sealing canister fuel and adjust the flame at will.

 

 

Brunton

Brunton Heavy Metal 5500
$79.99 | available in yellow, white and black

Designed with the never-slow-down, everyday user in mind, Brunton’s Heavy Metal 5500 is robust, lightweight and always there when you need it. It is perfect for the truly power hungry, and charges a smart phone up to 5 times.

 

 

Weekend Trip: Stony Man Mountain

stony_man

Stony Man Mountain

Just about 2 hours west of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, raises Stony Man Mountain.

Perfect for a weekend trip; Stony Man Mountain boasts breath-taking views of the Blue Ridge Mountain range.

Eclipsing 4000 feet, Stony Man Mountain is Shenandoah National Park’s second highest peak. The mountain lends its name to the rocky cliffs that dominate the summit. Free of trees, the summit provides breath-taking views of George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah River. Spend the day practicing your bouldering skills or simply taking in the moment. In addition, Stony Man provides home to various local wildlife including, Whitetail deer, black bear, turkeys, and bobcats. Don’t forget to pack the camera for this one.

Summit access is relatively easy. Little Stony Man Route will have you at the summit in about 40 minutes. An even easier hike, road access will get you with in a mile of the summit. The summit trails do not allow pets, so be sure to leave Fido at home for this one.  Stop by the Rangers Station for detailed information on trails, wildlife, and other local attractions/services.

stony_man_trail

Feeling adventurous?  Summit two peaks in one day.

Hawksbill Mountain, the park’s highest mountain, is just a few miles down the road. It is a short but steep traverse, as you will quickly gain 700’ of vertical elevation. The summit of Hawksbill has been developed by the National Park Service and with provided picnic benches along the route; be sure to take a lunch with you on this one. The summit of Hawksbill provides great views of yet another of Shenandoah’s pride and joy, Old Rag. The rockiest mountain in the park, Old Rag is another adventure in it’s own.

The Red Tape

Access to the Park requires a daily fee of $15 or an annual pass can be purchased for $30.

Directions

From Washington, D.C. area, take Interstate 66 West to US Route 29 south. Follow Route 29 to Warrenton where you follow signs for route 211. Once you go through town, you take a right to stay on 211, which is 34 miles from Skyline Drive via the Thornton Gap Entrance. At this point, pay the fee and head south passing mile marker 39, and parking at milepost 39.1 at the small parking lot on the right, which is named Little Stony Man Parking. Park here and follow the well-marked trail for about 1.5 miles to the summit.

Camping

Camping is permitted in the park if you decided to stay the night. Campsite information/regulations can be found here.

Stony Man Mountain provides the perfect opportunity to cross your first mountain summit off the bucket list. So, pack the car, hit the road and get outside!

Keep Your Cool

8 Easy Tips

Summer’s here and with it comes a lack of outdoor runners. The summer sun and hot temps send people straight to the air-conditioned gym! But you may want to reconsider. Here are couple tips we’ve come across from July’s issue of Women’s Running Magazine, and thought we’d share the useful information:

When you run in hot temps, your body learns to use oxygen and muscle glycogen more efficiently while improving your ability to regulate body temperature. Training outdoors when the mercury rises doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience!

1. Acclimate gradually. “You can’t beat the heat, but you can slowly acclimate to it and manage it as best as possible,” says Nashville-based masters runner Sonja Freiend-Uhl. A typical heat acclimation protocol comprises 10 consecutive daily exposures of running in a hot environment. These runs should be performed at your easiest pace possible, with walk breaks whenever needed.

2. Be realistic. The sun and heat can take a lot out of you, even once you’re acclimated. Adjust your pace accordingly, and don’t beat yourself up for going slow. “You’re working just as hard or harder than you would be at a faster pace on cool day,” says Amy Marsh, a four-time Ironman champion who trains in Austin, Texas. Professional distance runner Amy Cole agrees: “Have confidence that you are building fitness and will be able to run faster in cooler temperatures.”

3. Set your alarm clock. If you want to battle the heat, you’ve got to beat the sun. Cole begins most of her summer runs before 5 a.m. Have an addiction to the snooze button? Read on…

4. Call in reinforcements. Find training partners who will tackle the temps with you! The buddy system offers great accountability–you’re less likely to skip a run if you know someone is counting on you to show up.

5. Strip down. Summer is no time for modesty. Sweaty clothes can cause chafing, add extra weight and prevent additional sweat from evaporating. “Wear as little clothing as possible,” says Marsh, “so long as it’s legal!” Or if you’re more modest, go for loose, breathable tops in light colors and accessorize with a visor to block the sun.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!Check out HTO’s selection of Camelbak bottles to help you hydrate your runs

7. Map your run. Try to find shady places to avoid direct sunlight during your workout. If you haven’t tried trail running yet, summer is a great time to start. Forested areas can provide a respite from the brutal summer sun. Also, consider routes where you can refill your water bottles at public water fountains, gas stations or local run shops. You’ll be happy to have an oasis.

8. Chill, girl! “Don’t psych yourself out!” Cole stresses. “Prepare for the heat but don’t obsessively check the temperature before your run.” Don’t ignore your instincts either. If your gut is telling you it’s too hot, listen to it–and hit the gym instead.

How hot is too hot?


By Susan Lacke
July 2014, Women’s Running Magazine, pg 36-37

Solo Thru-Hike the AT: 500 miles in

ATHike Back in April, one of HTO’s own Outfitters, Neha Khurana, from Fairfax started her AT solo thru-hike. We have been keeping tabs on this young lady’s progress, and living vicariously through her adventure. Here’s an account of what she’s encountered this past month.

First Days on the Trail

Approach Trail

“I have covered about 37 miles plus 8.8 miles of the Approach Trail. It has been very busy! I stayed my first night at the Springer Mountain Shelter near the summit. The next day I hiked around 8 miles to Hawk Mountain, where I camped with 30-40 other hikers. The trail is packed with thru-hikers! Everyone is so welcoming and we had a bonfire that night.

Camping Blood Mountain

I woke up and hiked around 13 miles the next day to Preaching Rock. The hike was tough, but the view was incredible. The next morning, we reached the Blood Mountain summit before making it to Neels Gap.”

“The trail has been wonderful. My feet are sore, but the experience is so worth it.”

Of Trail Angels

“From Neels Gap I hiked to Low Gap shelter. And because of flash floods and tornado warnings, we caught a ride the next day from Unicoi Gap to Hiawassee early. That night was spend at a hotel and I took a zero day.

We hit the trail the following morning and hiked 13 miles to Deep Gap, then 15 miles through the Georgia/North Carolina border to Muskrat Creek Shelter the next day. After a couple more days, we reached the top of Albert Mountain and completed our first hundred miles! Upon arriving at our shelter, some of our group hitched to town and brought back 13 pizzas… Definitely the highlight of my day!

At the border PIZZA!The following morning, after 4 miles to Winding Stair Gap, we were met by some trail magic (1). The trail angel had spread out breakfast in the back of his truck bed for us. Afterwards, we caught a ride with Ron Haven (famous trail angel) to Franklin, NC.”

Damascus

Neha is currently in Damascus, VA, nearly 500 miles in. She is taking a few days off for Trail Days. We can’t wait to see what else the AT has in store for her. Keep at it, Neha!

(1) The term ‘trail magic’ was coined by long-distance hikers to describe an unexpected occurrence that lifts a hiker’s spirits and inspires awe or gratitude. ‘Trail magic’ may be as simple as being offered a candy bar by a passing hiker or spotting an elusive species of wildlife. (source: appalachiantrail.org)