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New gear for summer of fun

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports
Chris Eckert of Sports LTD examines the new Fox Pro Pedal suspension system on the women's Specialized mountain bike that is also new this spring.
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Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on physical fitness preparation for summer.

By Susan Wood

Tribune staff writer

Backpackers trying to cut down on weight and bulk may now have a solid solution to purifying their water.

One of a few products that stands out for spring and summer is the MSR Miox Purifier – a water treatment system the size of a large ball-point pen. Iodine tablets are lightweight, but they give water a chemical taste and fail to filter out particles.

The battery-charged system sends electrical currents through the fresh-water solution to kill dreaded viruses like giardia that packers could pick up in wilderness streams and lakes.

“This is really the most significant thing this year,” Tahoe Sports Ltd. employee Tiffany Kreutzer said Wednesday. She added the Village Center shop has ordered the winner of the Popular Science 2003 Best of What’s New Award.

Camelback has gotten in on the act by coming out with water bladders made of plastics that reduce the amount of bacteria. Users have found science experiments growing inside some bladders.

Also for backpackers this spring, sleeping bags have improved or expanded their inventories in outdoor performance clothing.

Women should appreciate mummy bags shaped to better fit their contours and which are designed with more insulation.

“They’ve found women’s respiratory rates run lower. That’s why they’re colder all the time (than men),” Kreutzer said. “More companies are beginning to focus on women’s specific needs.”

This may show on the feet – as variety may be the catchword for female backpackers seeking as much of a choice in equipment as their male counterparts. The changes could be as simple as color.

“At least women don’t have to have pink shoes anymore,” Kreutzer said.

Like much of the footwear, revolutionary changes in clothing may be a little lackluster this season, except that the water-repelling treatment like Goretex can be found on more fabrics than the previous years.

Tennis players may go for garments with more emphasis on functionality.

For one gear manufacturer, Wilson will now offer clothing made of synthetic material that wicks away the moisture much like wilderness garments.

The runner who needs more ventilation may appreciate the 2004 New Balance 717. Now at Footlocker, the running shoe for men and women has increased the surface area of cloth versus leather in the shoe, thus reducing weight and making the footwear more breathable.

Both genders of outdoor enthusiasts placing their feet in the pedals may enjoy a variety of suspension settings for climbing hills. The number of mountain bikes that provide a variety of soft- to hard-trail rides has expanded. With dual shocks so popular on the trail-running bikes, many hill riders have found a slight instability in bobbing up and down on their shocks.

With Fox Pro Pedal shocks by Specialized, riders can either hit a switch that adjusts the ride or opt for a bike that sets its own, Sports Ltd. employee Chris Eckert pointed out.

He added many more bikes are made with mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes, too.

Mountain riders Bob and Connie Lopez were out looking at bikes at Sports Ltd. on Wednesday. It’s been eight years since the couple have updated their technology.

“It’s a matter of stepping out of the stone age,” he said. “When we went to a one-shock bike, everybody said wait until you get two.”

The 6-foot, 5-inch man said his biggest concern was finding a 23-inch frame that would fit his stature.

For roadies, 123 Bikes custom bicycle maker Mike Olson lauded a Shimano Dura Ace gearing system for road bikes at his shop in Round Hill Square. The system has established 10 individual back gears with two front rings that translates into 20 total gears. The incremental settings make gearing tighter and therefore more efficient, Olson added.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com


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