MICHAEL J. YBARRA, WRITER, DIES CLIMBING. It’s almost belittling, the title the Wall Street Journal gave to Ybarra: “Extreme Sports Correspondent.” What Ybarra was was a storyteller, and a darn good one. Read his piece on attempting to climb El Cap’s Nose in a day, and you get chills and laughs — and in hindsight, ominous foreshadowing of some risky behavior that you can’t help but fear may have been repeated this past weekend when he was soloing the Sierra’s Sawtooth Ridge Traverse and failed to return from the trip. But Ybarra had clearly made his peace with the dangers of climbing. A 2009 Journal story on the death of solo climber John Bachar makes that abundantly clear, especially this: “Most people exist so swaddled against danger, measuring out their lives with coffee spoons, that those who reckon by a different calculation of risk and reward appear insane. Yet to survive a perilous situation is to love life more than the average person can imagine.” Via Rock and Ice and the Wall Street Journal.
COLORADANS WANT THE OLYMPICS — BUT DOES THAT MATTER? 77 percent of residents in the Rocky Mountain state say they want the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to a recent survey, but it’s not up to them. The U.S. Olympic Committee has to first decide that it wants to put in bids for the games — and there are bitter memories of failed bids for the winter games in Colorado, like in 1976. And even if Colorado gets tapped as a bid candidate, there could be a lot of infighting over which resorts should host which events. Vail-Beaver Creek would have an inside track, perhaps, because in 2015 the resort hosts the the World Alpine Ski Championships and the vote for the 2022 games would be in June 2015. Which could be a great chance to show off the resort — unless they have a repeat of last year’s weak snowfall. Via Aspen Times.
NO MATTER HOW DRAMATIC, THE MODERN TOUR DE FRANCE HAS NOTHING ON ITS OWN HISTORY. This awesome slideshow, which spans a 70 year of the Tour’s 99-year history, shows just how relatively soft today’s riders really are. From the 1926 race that was 1.5 times longer than today’s to the idea of riding entirely fixed gears down dirt mountain passes boggles the mind. And yet there have been just four deaths, which also provides some perspective on the skill required of TdF racers past, whose bikes had incredibly weak brakes by today’s standards and whose rigs broke at the welds with disturbing regularity. Via The New Yorker.
THE TOUR DE TECH — WHAT THE RACE IS REALLY ABOUT? Bike Radar reporter James Huang’s extreme deep dives on bike tech from the Tour de France are mind blowing; I once walked the pits with the guy at the Giro d’Italia and in 10 yards Huang pointed out new designs, experimental brakes, and cranks that weren’t in existence on the market. Huang spots the stuff nobody else unearths, because nobody else has as keen an eye for detail. Huang might someday find gainful employment for the UCI, policing their absurd policies on what’s legal and what’s not — save that he regularly mocks their efforts. Why, you might ask, should you care about the technology at the Tour? Because unlike in other forms of racing, the bikes and gear at the Tour will be sold to the general public — it’s just that the pros get all the coolest stuff first. Via Bike Radar.