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The Most Active U.S. Cities - Austin TX, Truckee CA

The Most Active U.S. Cities - Austin TX, Truckee CA

 

Active Cities to Live the Dream

We all strive to take full advantage of the recreation benefits of where we call home. The active lifestyle is on the rise as more and more people seek the physical, mental and social benefits it provides. From coast to coast, there is something unique about every town and the activities that can be discovered. 


But there are more than a few locations that, because of geographic positioning and local mindset, have become meccas for like-minded athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies and weekend warriors. It is to them, that we give a shout-out for setting the pace and living the dream. So add these spots to the list of your next vacation or residency. 


Austin, Texas


Deep in the heart of Texas, the capital city has been undergoing a population explosion in recent years. With over 300 days a year of sunshine and an average temperature of 68, Austin offers those who live, work and play there, endless options for recreation. To the west lies the the rolling landscape of Texas Hill Country and the Colorado River rolls right through the center of town, so amphibious adventures await.


The Dream

The heat of Summer in Austin is exactly what you’d expect in Central Texas. With temperatures typically climbing into the high 90’s mid-day, early morning rides or runs are best. Spring and Fall bring on the best weather. Winters are mild but the locals are freezing if it doesn’t hit 60 in the afternoon. That sets the stage for perfect conditions for every outdoor sport.


Barton Creek Greenbelt has easy access to fantastic mountain biking right in the center of Austin. With hardpack trails, creek crossing and limestone ledges the Greenbelt offers something for riders of all levels. A very popular hiking and running spot, the beautiful limestone bluffs also attract rock climbers.


The controlled flow of the Colorado River between dams, creates a 22 mile stretch of flat water that is the real gem of Austin. Rent a boat for a day of wakeboarding or grab a Standup Paddleboard at the Texas Rowing Center and paddle under the Congress Ave bridge for an amazing spectacle. From March to early Fall, 1.5 million bats, the world’s largest urban colony, emerge at dusk to feast on 20 to 30 thousand pounds of insects each night, conveniently keeping the mosquito population in check.



Refuel


Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden cranks out over 2,000 pounds of homemade sausage in 30 different varieties each week. With 200 beers on tap, live music, pig roasts and top notch southern hospitality, Banger’s is the perfect spot to kick back and enjoy a good old fashioned good time.




Truckee, CA

Sitting at 5,800 feet in Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, just below Donner Summit,Truckee is the consummate ski town in winter. Some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the lower 48 states can be found at the neighboring resorts, Squaw Valley, Northstar and Sugar Bowl. Only a 3 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay area, Truckee is easily accessed, right off of Interstate 80. And when the storms are tracking in from the Pacific Ocean, the summit routinely gets dumped on with 6 feet or more of lovely powder.


And as they say, “you’ll come for the winter but stay for the summer”. The watersport world comes to life during the off-season with beautiful Donner Lake right in town and the majestic Lake Tahoe only a 15 minute drive away.


The Dream

Catch a bluebird morning session for perfect Spring Skiing and navigate to the Headwall run at Squaw for jaw-dropping, panoramic views of deep blue Lake Tahoe. Double down with an afternoon kayak, paddleboard or outrigger canoe lesson at Watermans Landing. Then throw a line out off the public docks on Donner Lake to end the day catching the sunset.


Run, bike or hike along the paved Truckee River Legacy Trail or hit the dirt on Sawtooth Trail. Let the kids have at it on the Pump Track in town and chat up the gear heads at Cyclepath bike shop for the inside scoop on conditions and many other rides. 


Refuel

The food scene in Truckee is amazing and walking the 3 blocks through downtown, you can window shop the menus and atmosphere and find what you’re craving. Grab breakfast at the funky Squeeze In or an artisan cup of joe at Coffeebar. Grind on the Train Wreck at Burger Me or nosh and sip while listening to live jazz at Moody’s.

How to Stay Warm for Winter Sports

How to Stay Warm for Winter Sports

Gear Up and Stay in the Game During Winter

As the age-old Scandanavian saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. More and more outdoor enthusiasts are realizing that it’s not necessary to seek refuge inside the local gym to stay fit until the mercury scales upward. A frigid forecast can be overcome with the proper equipment to push your season longer or keep the fun rolling year-round.


As the sun begins to sweep lower across the sky, layers of fabric technology are waiting to be adorned or stashed into packs to protect your core temp from anything old man winter can brew up. There is a wonderful world of innovation to be found. Whether clicking across sites online or getting the low-down from a knowledgeable shop, the perfect under and outer armor is available to blow up any fair-weather excuse you can stick to.


Aerobic Sport Layering For Winter

Layers are the name of the game for cardio activities outdoors in winter. Managing body heat and moisture are key once the engine is running but those first few minutes can be a cold start. A synthetic, moisture-wicking base layer works to transport perspiration away from your skin. Worn under a stretchy fleece or a waterproof, wind-blocking shell, the varying thickness of base layers can be utilized to perfect your inner climate control. 


Consider outer shells that have a front-zip or ventilation in the underarm. Blowing off some of that heat will keep you comfortable for the long haul. For the legs, it’s a bit simpler. Depending on just how cold it is, leggings and tights worn under shorts or fleece pants are usually sufficient. 


Base Layer Top Picks

Check out the REI Co-op Lightweight for early winter running, biking, rowing, skiing and snowshoe outings. The polyester blend dries fast and with a sun-protecting 50+ UPF, you can rock it in the summer too. When looking for max warmth, the Helly Hansen Pro Lifa Seamless Half Zip features thermal mapping technology with a Merino wool exterior. A perfect mid-weight base layer or worn by itself in chilly conditions. 2XU Heat Compression Tights deliver leg warmth with brushed bamboo charcoal fabric and increase blood flow for better recovery.


Wind-Blocking Shell Top Picks

The Brooks Canopy Jacket is an inexpensive, breathable shell that blocks wind and rain. The packable Canopy Jacket is designed to stuff into its own chest zip pocket with a wearable elastic band. GORE-TEX technology will keep you protected from the rain and snow in the ARC’TERYX Women’s Norvan SL. The super-light, insulated Norvan is a great choice for the most challenging conditions.


Winter Protection for Sports in Extreme Elements

For surfers in northern latitudes, most of the best waves of the year arrive during winter. So, with ocean temps hovering in the 30’s and air temps often much colder, it takes serious gear to last in the lineup. Getting barrelled in a blizzard requires hardcore technology like Patagonia's R2 Hooded Full Suit. Featuring recycled materials and Yulex® natural rubber that is tapped from hevea trees, the R2 mirrors the brand's sustainability mission and is considered the warmest and most durable wetsuit available.


The dangerous conditions that mushers face in Alaska’s Iditarod race can be a matter of life or death. With temperatures -40f or below, these guys are not pulling jackets off the rack of a clearance outlet. Apocalypse Design in Fairbanks has been outfitting Alaskans since 1983 with gear that is made to be used in the planet’s toughest conditions. Their Alpine Parka was developed for a group of scientists doing work in Greenland and dog mushing the Iditarod. So safe to say, it has you covered on your next windy trip up the ski lift.


Outdoor sports are heating up the winter season. And now more than ever, the innovative gear to keep you out there is easily found. So zip-up, suit-up and hit the hills, trails, water, and frozen tundra. Because winter doesn’t last forever you know!

Snowshoe Running

Snowshoe Running

For cross-country and road runners who have discovered snowshoe running, winter is a time to rejoice. Every well-known trail, loop, and course becomes new again with the ever-changing challenge of a blanket of snow to lay tracks on. Although speed is considerably sacrificed, the exhilaration that comes with the heightened focus required for each snowy stride gives new meaning to a “runner’s high”.


Snowshoeing for Winter Cross-Training

There are many benefits to switching it up a bit and strapping on snowshoes in the off-season.

With the added exertion of negotiating foot placement in the uneven surface and wading through varying snow depths, even the most physically fit runner will feel the burn quickly. The miles may pass slower but an elevated heart rate comes at you much faster compared to running on solid ground. 


Because of the need for a higher leg lift, snowshoers engage more stabilizing and core muscles and build better overall leg strength. Running on snow is also a great way to prevent overuse issues or impact stress on joints and to recover from leg injuries. For snowboarders and skiers, it is a perfect strength-building activity to elevate fitness.


Getting Started with Snowshoe Running

The best advice is to take it slow at first. Forget about checking the time of your first mile. Day to day conditions are going to greatly affect speed, so just focus on the total amount of time spent running. If you are used to running 30 to 40 minutes, you might find that 20 minutes on the snow the first few times, to be more than enough.


Start somewhere like an athletic field or flat golf course. Find your groove on some hardpack trails that don’t require an exaggerated knee lift. Once you are comfortable with that, begin hopping off the beaten path and into the lung-busting deeper snow. Loopback onto the hardpack to bring your heart rate back down. Before long you will be breaking trail across fairways fresh with powder like a carefree Chocolate Lab chasing a stick.


The Snowshoe Race Scene

Perhaps you have no intention of taking an off-season for racing. Well, you are in luck. The United States Snowshoe Association is the governing body for snowshoe racing in the U.S. and promotes regional races as qualifiers for the National Championship each year. Local races can also be found at many snow resorts and Dion Snowshoes posts a race calendar for the Northeast region of the U.S. 


If strength in numbers helps to motivate you, look for meet-up groups like the Donner Party Mountain Runners in North Lake Tahoe, or the Saratoga Stryders in Sarasota Springs, NY.


However you get into snowshoe running, taking advantage of the change of seasons will and running on snow will certainly benefit your fitness and reinvigorate your love of running.