Minnesota’s second-biggest utility plans major renewable energy expansion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Bismarck Tribune:Great River Energy aims for 50 percent of its power to come from renewable sources within the next 12 years. A proposed wind farm in south central North Dakota would be a large component of the Minnesota-based cooperative to get there.The GRE board approved the initiative and announced the new goal Wednesday at its annual meeting. “Great River Energy has already met Minnesota’s 25 percent renewable energy standard eight years ahead of requirements,” Great River Energy President CEO David Saggau said in a statement.The 50 percent goal also comes with interim renewable energy goals of 30 percent renewable generation capacity by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025.GRE’s renewable portfolio includes 468 megawatts of wind energy, 50 megawatts of which are produced in North Dakota. Assuming its purchase partner, NextEra Energy Resources, receives the necessary regulatory approvals to build, GRE aims to have 350 megawatts of wind production in the state in 2020 with the addition of the proposed 133-turbine Emmons-Logan wind farm. Success of that project would make it GRE’s largest single source wind power contract.Wind is the cooperative’s second-largest source of power behind its roughly 1,200 megawatts of coal-fired electric generation capacity from its two North Dakota-based power plants. The proposed wind farm would close the gap between the two generation sources, bringing wind production up to 768 megawatts. It would increase the amount of power produced by GRE in North Dakota to 1,800 megawatts, benefiting the cooperative’s Minnesota- and Wisconsin-based membership. “Renewable energy, particularly wind, is currently our lowest-cost option for new generation resources,” Saggau said.More: Power cooperative doubling down on renewables
China considering plans to speed clean energy transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:China is considering proposals to accelerate its adoption of clean energy as part of its next five-year plan that begins in 2021, as the world’s biggest polluter takes steps to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases.China’s current goal is to derive as much as 20% of its primary energy use from non-fossil fuels by 2030. One option under consideration is to bring forward that target, according to people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified, possibly to 2025. Another proposal is to cut the share of coal in the energy mix to 52% by 2025, from the 57.5% planned for the end of this year, one of the people said.The nation’s top leadership will next month lay out its broad strategy for 2021-2025, with specific details to be released in March next year. The new energy policy is likely to be an exercise in juggling the sometimes competing demands of delivering economic growth, promoting energy security and mitigating the worst effects of global warming.Promoting renewables at the expense of dirty energy like coal doesn’t necessarily mean that consumption of fossil fuels would fall, as total power needs rise as the economy expands. Unlike other major economies, China is expected to show some growth this year as it emerges more quickly than other countries from the coronavirus pandemic.Still, China has done a little better than it expected in its transition to clean energy so far, even as it remains the world’s biggest miner and consumer of coal. The share of non-fossil fuels in the energy mix was 15.3% in 2019, surpassing the 15% goal set for 2020.Chinese renewable energy stocks have been on a tear on speculation that Beijing could increase its requirements for solar and wind power. Bringing forward the 20% target to 2025 could see solar installations more than triple from 2019 levels to 105 gigawatts a year, while wind could almost double to 48 gigawatts, Zhu Yue, an analyst at Industrial Securities Co., said in a note.More: China mulls stronger clean energy goals for next five years
There are just oodles of reasons why the “Great Girl Scout Hike” was created. Barbara Duerk of the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council concocted it to invite scouts and their mentors to tackle sections of her beloved Appalachian Trail this year. Sure, it’s to celebrate the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary.It was a butterfly that helped inspire the Great Girl Scout Hike. Jennifer Pfister, an organizer for he Girl Scouts of Virginia, vividly remembers taking a little Roanoke girl hiking for the first time. The girl belted out a blood-curdling scream when an innocuous butterfly landed on her because she feared it was going to bite her. The girl had never seen a butterfly except in a book.“Kids aren’t getting outside enough,” says Pfister. “They’re very much glued to their computer screens inside. We’d like to get back to the basics of Girl Scouting.”So she and her colleague Barbara Duerk created the Great Girl Scout Hike, inviting scouts and their mentors to tackle sections of the Appalachian Trail in 2012. The hike also celebrates the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, and it was inspired by Honorary Chair Mary “Mama Boots” Sands, who trekked the iconic footpath’s 2,181-miles over two decades with her scouts.“The idea is to get girls outside, to get girls on the move and to appreciate our natural resources,” says Duerk, a long-time scout leader and A.T. trekker.That’s a huge part of what scouts did back when Juliette Gordon Low founded the girls’ leadership group in Savannah, Ga. on March 12, 1912 – before American women even secured their right to vote. The hike officially began on the scouts’ March 12 anniversary and ends on Low’s birthday, Oct. 31.So far, girls from 137 troops in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey and other states, have registered to hike legs of the A.T. One group of alumnae dubbed the Eaglet Express is even staging a northbound thru-hike.Seeing the scouts hit the trail makes Mama Boots beam. “It gets them back into the importance of physical fitness,” says the Louisville, Ky. octogenarian. “There are a lot of girls out there who aren’t athletes and ballet dancers, but they can hike on the Appalachian Trail and they feel like they’ve accomplished something.”In Burke, Va., Aly Kliem, of Troop 6115 wasn’t thinking about building muscles when she signed on. “It’s fun. You get to be outside,” says the 13-year-old. And, she added, “I’d like to see a black bear.”Kliem’s troop leader Sandy Latta is prepping her scouts for an overnight backpacking trip on the A.T. near Front Royal with neighborhood training hikes and expert speakers. Latta “felt there was a need for older Girl Scout high-adventure activities.” But even Daisies, Brownies, and other pint-sized scouts can join in by taking mini-hikes.“For some, this is the first time they are going to step on a hiking trail,” says Duerk. “We want the girls to go outside and think, ‘We’re having fun.’ That will carry on to the next generation.”This generation of high-tech hikers and their leaders will be texting, tweeting, shooting videos, and tapping their smart phones to update their Facebook pages on the trail–during rest breaks. They’ll also be adding their own voices to the storied trail at gshike.org.
On a brisk 20-degree Saturday in February, the parking lot at Fayette Station in the New River Gorge is shadowed in silence. During the rafting season, the lot teems with school buses idling side by side as guides shout commands and stack rafts to the frenzied buzz of customers pouring from the riverside. Recreational boaters are lucky to find a parking spot amid the sea of yellow paddles and blue plastic helmets and sun-bleached PFDs.But in the dead of winter, the parking lot remains mostly empty except on the sunniest of days, and even then, most locals have already hung up their paddles for skis. Yet for nearly every weekend this past winter, the parking lot has regularly seen four raft guides donning drysuits and braving the elements in the name of competition. Meet the Sweets of the East.The “Sweets” are an all-female rafting team based out of Fayetteville, W.Va. They’re also the sole East Coast competitive rafting team, male or female, vying for the chance to represent the U.S. at the International Rafting Federation (IRF) World Rafting Championships (WRC) next year in Japan.“The international rafting scene is much bigger than I thought it was,” says 2015 WRC Team USA alternate and Sweets team member Jo-Beth Stamm. “The competitive rafting culture here in the U.S. is tiny. It’s such a fringe sport. But in these other countries, it’s extremely competitive and there are even countries that pay their athletes. It kinda allows [the athletes] to treat it as their job, and they take it super seriously.”Last December, Stamm joined Team USA at Worlds, which took place on the Citarik River in Indonesia. Out of 16 women’s teams, Team USA placed eighth. Though she didn’t see the podium, getting a taste of the international stage was enough to light the fire in Stamm’s belly. When she returned to Fayetteville, Stamm set to work forming a team with fellow guide Sherry Spilker, a two-time National Championship contender. Together, Stamm, 33, and Spilker, 31, enlisted Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) guides Margaret Cadmus, 31, and Hannah Vogt, 24, to form their four-person, or r-4, team.“Honestly, it’s about time that we’ve had someone from the East go out and race in these races,” Cadmus says.“Fayetteville is small, but we’re such a hub,” adds Vogt. “We have two amazing rivers, so we should be producing athletes that are nationally and world renowned. There’s no reason not to.”Historically, the teams at Nationals hail from whitewater hotbeds like California, Colorado, and Oregon. But in 2003, Spilker joined a Fayetteville-based women’s team, one of the few in the town’s history, as an alternate at Nationals in Colorado, at which the team placed second. Spilker again competed at Nationals in 2014, and again the Fayetteville team ranked second. This past April, the Sweets competed at the 2016 Nationals in southern Oregon and placed third. For Spilker and the rest of the Sweets, the time to take home the gold is now.“The New and Gauley are truly world-class rivers,” says Dave Arnold, Vice President and co-founder of AOTG. “For the last 20 or 30 years, if you see a list in any publication, the Gauley especially is in the top five. A person who has been trained on the Gauley and the New who is a five- or 10-year guide, they’re as good as you get.”Earlier this year, AOTG announced its sponsorship of the Sweets, providing public relations, marketing, and fundraising assistance to the team. Despite the New and Gauley’s renown, for Arnold, who has spent 41 years in the whitewater industry, the Sweets represent a long overdue opportunity to put Fayetteville in the international spotlight.“There are plenty of people in this state who could compete on the world class stage,” Arnold says, “but it’s a huge commitment of time and energy and passion and finances. [These women] are amazingly committed. They’re amazing at reading whitewater and working as a team, and the added benefit is, they’re really smart and pretty and they speak well. They love West Virginia, and if you compound all of that together, it’s kind of a dream team.”Fayetteville is no stranger to the competitive rafting scene. For 25 years, the local Animal River Race on the Upper Gauley has attracted hundreds of kayakers, rafters, and even open boaters, though according to Stamm, “The Animal Race isn’t something you train for. You just show up and chug a beer and race.”But back in 2001, Fayetteville hosted the only WRC to be held on United States soil on the Gauley River, drawing rafting teams from over 20 countries. While the event proved fruitful in showcasing the area’s whitewater resources to a niche international community, its significance was overshadowed in the wake of 9/11. Arnold hopes that the Sweets will not only breathe new life into Fayetteville’s whitewater reputation, but that they will also serve as role models for up and coming raft guides.“These girls are not intimidated, I can tell you that right now,” Arnold adds.“I think it’s going to show other girls that it’s totally possible and hopefully we’ll stir up some competition for ourselves,” says Cadmus.The Sweets aren’t territorial, or even proud, of their sole East Coast team status. In fact, the team would like to see more East Coast teams competing at Nationals, and perhaps even forming their own regional race series. Both Spilker and Stamm have experienced a change in the sport’s vibe from fierce competitiveness to friendly encouragement, and they say that growing the sport, especially for women, is their ultimate goal.“Everybody’s incredibly welcoming and there’s a lot of fantastic camaraderie,” says Stamm on her experience at Worlds. “At one point, I was shooting video when the rest of the girls were doing slalom practice, and the captain of the Brazil team came over and started giving advice, giving tips.”And while the Sweets of course want to stay true to those pillars of support and inclusiveness off the water, when they’re on the water, it’s game time.Guides Guiding GuidesTraining for the Sweets has largely centered around one theme—time in the boat. Be it flatwater practice or downriver runs, the team was on the water every week this past winter, even if it meant sliding the raft down snow-covered banks to the icy river’s edge.“Some days it was so cold our hands and feet would go numb and you’d feel like you’re going to puke,” Spilker recalls.To escape the cold and continue to build strength, the team earned the support of the Holiday Lodge Hotel in nearby Oak Hill, W.Va., where they were able to use the hotel’s indoor pool free of charge. There they would meet twice a week to sit on the side of the pool and paddle in place for hours.“We’re simulating sitting on the side of the raft,” clarifies Stamm. “The pool water isn’t aerated like river water is, so it builds a lot of strength.”The stroke they practiced? The duffek, named after Czechoslovakian slalom paddler Milo Duffek. The duffek, also known as a bow rudder or hanging draw, is the most efficient stroke for entering and exiting eddies, which is the foundation of slalom racing. Commercial rafts are generally steered in the back by ruddering, sweeping, or drawing from one guide, but in races, directional aids like the duffek are given from the front.“The person we call the ‘guide,’ for lack of a better term, is really just the person in the back who has the final say on where we go,” Stamm says. “That way we don’t have four people who all read water a little differently arguing about it.”In effect, the Sweets have a team of guides guiding guides, which seems like a bonafide way to have a world class crew, except that no one person is calling the shots. Raft racing is teamwork at its essence and gaining that trust in one another has been the biggest challenge the Sweets have had to overcome.“We’re all great guides and if you put us in a boat by ourselves, we can get down the river,” says Cadmus. “But some of us guide on the left, some of us guide on the right, some of us set up sooner. We all see different lines, so a lot of what we’re working on is surrendering to other peoples’ ideas and saying, ‘I trust you, I know you are a good guide, I’m going to paddle whenever you say, and we’re going to get there together.’”Fortunately, rafting requires guides to have a sense of humility and respect for the river, so the Sweets are well acquainted with the consequences of hubris. They also recognize the importance of paddling and practicing together, as opposed to individually, to build better bonds between each of the team members.“The National’s team last year didn’t get a practice together until they were at Worlds,” Stamm says. “They trained apart and when they got together, they couldn’t work the little kinks out because they were still working big kinks out. We decided early on that you have to be able to be here [in Fayetteville] if you want to be on the team. The team that paddles together gets to know each other better and how you’re going to react to certain things.”Short of practicing trust, strokes, and sprinting, the team has been taking every opportunity to get on different rivers, or sometimes different sections of river, to increase their efficiency with technical maneuvers. Because the bulk of their training has been in the winter and spring, when river levels on already-big-water runs are higher than normal, the Sweets look to rivers and creeks like the Middle Meadow where tighter lines and more rocks allow them to practice river running skills like ferrying and catching eddies.“The rivers are way more narrow than they are here,” Spilker says of runs out west. “Here you’re going for big waves and big hits but it’s more technical over there.”Eyes on the PrizeThe team will see the results of their hard work in just a few weeks at FIBArk, America’s Oldest Whitewater Festival, in Salida, Colo., from June 16-19. For the first year ever, the U.S. Rafting Association will be hosting its 2017 Worlds qualifier one year in advance, as opposed to the year of, to give teams more time to raise money for travel. Due to IRF regulations, which require Worlds to alternate between teams of four and teams of six, two additional rafters, Jillian Rex and Julia Schneider, will join the Sweets at Nationals in Colorado.Each team must compete in four disciplines. The time trial, or sprint, garners the least amount of points but is by no means easy, requiring teams to paddle hard for a short distance; the head-to-head literally pits two teams against each other in a fast-paced sprint through a rapid; the slalom is the most technically challenging of the events where teams negotiate their rafts through 12 downriver and upriver gates; the downriver race is somewhere in the vicinity of eight miles, or one hour, of racing and usually is a stretch of class IV whitewater. The team with the most overall points wins.The Sweets swap “guides” for each discipline, depending on individual proficiencies. According to Stamm, who captains the raft for the downriver race, the Sweets are prepared to bring the heat, feeling especially confident in the downriver discipline. Considering the downriver race alone accounts for 40 percent of the team’s four-part score, this is a welcome assurance indeed. The Sweets predict that as many as seven women’s teams could be competing for the chance to represent the U.S. at Worlds.“Competition is going to be a little thicker this year, but hopefully West Virginia can come out of second place,” says Spilker.Meet the SweetsJo-Beth StammStarted guiding: 2005First memory on a raft: was a youth group trip rafting on the Lower Youghigheny. It was super scary. We flipped at Dimple and I thought it was the scariest thing ever. I said to myself, ‘I’m never rafting again.’ I was 15 or 16.Started guiding because: Brian Jennings told me I should be a raft guide.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: I got my butt kicked by my favorite rapid on the Gauley this year. I felt betrayed by Lost Paddle!Hannah VogtStarted guiding: 2014First memory on a raft: was when I was 14. My family came to Fayetteville and we did a family rafting trip. That became a regular family vacation.Started guiding because: I was a leader for Adventure West Virginia at West Virginia University. We would take 22 incoming freshman and travel around the state of West Virginia and go backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. I was down in Fayetteville every other week rafting and got to know a lot of the guides.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: We had really, really low water last year, and there’s a rapid called Lower Railroad. I did not do a move correctly and went way off line. We kinda parked on a rock and I went head over heels in front of at least 10 other boats. There were at least four video boaters who caught it on video. I scraped all the skin off my knuckles.Sherry SpilkerStarted guiding: 2003First memory on a raft: When I was 12, my Girl Scout troop went down the New River. It was 12 feet and rising to flood stage, which is every raft guide’s worst nightmare: a group of 12 year-old Girl Scouts when the river is flooding.Started guiding because: my older sister had done it.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: One time I mixed the lemonade wrong. I also won the chubby bunny marshmallow competition, when you stuff marshmallows in your mouth and say chubby bunny and whoever has the most marshmallows in your mouth wins.Margaret CadmusStarted guiding: 2009First memory on a raft: was during college. I had a friend who invited me to come down and camp at a raft outfitter and work for an outdoor photographer. I got to ride along for free and fell in love with it. I asked if I could come back next year and train and I did.Started guiding because: I got addicted.Most embarrassing moment on a raft: One of the first times I ran the Lower Gauley at really high water levels, around 8,000 cfs. As I was coming through Wood’s Ferry, I realized where I should have been just before we went over a giant pourover. I catapulted over the front of the raft. My body actually checked out the guy in the front and I took him with me. Then I went over another giant pourover myself and got sucked under for a full 10 seconds. When I finally popped up I saw my boat flip upstream. It was embarrassing because it was on video. I got several replays.
North Carolina duo Mandolin Orange – Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz – have been drawing acclaim from music critics and fans alike since the band’s inception in 2009.The band has earned high praise on it’s last two records, 2013’s This Side of Jordan and last year’s Such Jubilee, with Marlin and Frantz’s work described as “elegant,” “beautiful,” and “honest.” The songcraft that earned such platitudes is evident once again on Blindfaller, the new release that drops this week.I recently chatted with Andrew Marlin about the new record, which you can pick up on Friday, politics, and even charades.BRO – You wrapped this record up in just a week in the studio. Is there a better energy that develops from working at such a fast clip?AM – I am not sure it creates a better energy, necessarily, but it gives you less time to over analyze. I think you can definitely iron out too many imperfections and lose a lot of character.BRO – You tackle the contemporary political climate on “Gospel Shoes.” The current election seems great for songwriters but so bad for the citizenry. On an intrapersonal level, is that a difficult dichotomy to balance?AM – The current political state is not good for anyone, songwriters included. Songwriting provides me with an outlet for shaping internal feelings into something I can share. For me, the balance and the dichotomy is whether to view my songwriting as entertainment for others or something I can truly stand behind. Hopefully, it’s both.BRO – Is there a particular song on the record that just happened? One song that felt like it was meant to be and you grabbed hold of it right of the gate?AM – “Wildfire” basically wrote itself. From the rough draft to the record, not a lyric was changed.BRO – Speaking of, we are featuring “Wildfire” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?AM – That song was born out of growing up in the South and being surrounded by subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, racism. Within that environment, I was very fortunate to have wonderful parents who instilled in me a belief that all people are inherently good. When I wrote “Wildfire,” I was thinking a lot about the current climate in our country and in our home state, where it feels like some people – and not the majority of the people – want to glorify an ugly history and push us into a regressive state of being. It’s frustrating and disheartening to see people be so antagonistic towards their neighbors.BRO – Some friends and I have a charades game where we have to act out band names. Do you realize how hard your name is to act out? AM – It’s great for Pictionary, though!Mandolin Orange will be out on the west coast this weekend to celebrate the release of Blindfaller. Fans can catch the band in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego this weekend before Mandolin Orange heads north to Washington and Oregeon next week.For more information on the band, tour dates, or how to order a copy of the new record, be sure to surf over to the band’s website. Also, take time to listen to “Wildfire” on this month’s Trail Mix.
Zach Davis had never been backpacking before he started thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2011. “I was working in internet marketing and in a rut, and thought something far out of my comfort zone could be just what the doctor ordered.”Now, Davis lives and breathes thru-hiking. He wrote Appalachian Trials, a book designed to help thru-hikers prepare for their journey, and runs a website called The Trek, where long-distance backpackers can blog about their experiences and learn from each other.Davis also created the Badger Sponsorship, where he hooks up worthy thru-hikers with gear for their trek. Last year, Davis gave away more than $10,000 worth of backpacking gear. Here are Davis’ five favorite gear essentials, in his own words.Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka ($379)It’s expensive, but worth every penny. Montbell uses 1000 fill Power Goose Down to pack a lot of warmth for little weight (8.4 ounces). The exterior is thin, so you have to exercise caution—a wayward fire ember or a tent zipper could easily tear through the fabric. But it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for a jacket that has so much insulation but comes in at just half a pound.Darn Tough Socks ($23 for the new Uncle Buck)It’s not the sexiest recommendation, but the importance of a quality pair of merino wool socks can’t be understated. Not only are Darn Toughs the most durable and comfortable brand of merino socks out there, but they back up their product with a lifetime guarantee. In their own words, “if you wear a hole in them, we will replace them free of charge, for life.”Thule Versant 50L ($240)The main torso panel and the hip belt of this pack can slide several inches before being Velcroed into place, allowing you to dial in the support to your exact torso length and waist. The rain guard allows you to reach the water bottle pockets without taking off the shell.Sony a6000 ($549 and up)Mirrorless cameras are the ideal solution for photographers who want all the quality of a DSLR without the weight. The Sony a6000 is mirrorless, with interchangeable lenses and a really fast autofocus. The price is reasonable, given the caliber of capture.Altra Lone Peak 3.0 ($120)I have a freakishly wide foot. Altra uses a “FootShape Toe Box,” which is unusually wide to allow your toes to splay out naturally. Altra is quietly taking over the thru-hiking world, and for good reason. The newest model, the Lone Peak 3.0, is both comfortable and durable.Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt ($270)There’s a growing trend for thru-hikers to swap their traditional mummy style sleeping bags for a quilt, which are significantly lighter without compromising on warmth. Compressed down insulation under a sleeping hiker is mostly useless. A quilt removes much of the material on the underside, instead clipping together and relying on a sleeping pad to provide insulation for those sleeping on the ground. Enlightened Equipment makes a great quality quilt at a fair price.
There is never just one thing that inspires me to do something. I guess since the time I started riding, the mission to become faster, more efficient, and ride with more enthusiasm was derived by my surroundings and that inner force that continues to push me to do so. So what I’m doing is just going out and making something with it. I was always amazed by the people pushing their limits, whatever those may be—anything that pushes someone past their comfort zone. After I found what I wanted to push myself in, I’m finding ways to make that happen. How far do you plan to ride each day? I have biked it twice, one time in August a few years ago, and also last April. Both times I started in Cherokee and finished in about 7-9 days. The first time I was fully loaded with an approximately a 100-pound rig. The second time was probably around a 50 pounds. This go around, I’m aiming for around 50 pounds, but it will be mostly food and water. What do you think about for 989 miles? I chose spring for this very reason. I find it to have much lower traffic than summer and fall. School is still in and no holidays going on. The only thing during this time of year is that it can get cold, and weather can be interesting, so multi-seasonal gear is essential. Where will you sleep and eat along the way? What inspired the RCR ride? On May 4th, 7 am, at Rockfish Gap, Va., Ryan Davis is venturing out to complete an end-to-end-to-end ride of the Blue Ridge Parkway – 938 miles of self-supported bike packing. How will you handle the tourism vehicle traffic? I don’t know really. Back in 2000, a guy named Chris Boone cycled the 469 miles in a crazy fast time of 29 hours 36 min. People cycle the BRP all the time, but I’m not sure if anyone has ever done a self-supported ride out and back. My dad lives in Charlottesville, which is always a good environment to prepare, rest, and visit. I also think it would be a better location to leave my car. If I complete it in the rate I want to, I’ll be tired, and I don’t want a long drive home. You can track his progress here, or check back to Blue Ridge Outdoors for updates. We were able to catch up with Davis and ask a few questions before he begins his journey this week. Davis is going into this as an adventure cyclist, a certified nurse, someone living with Tourette’s Syndrome, and an avid lover of all things bikes and people. As his ride quickly approaches, he is eager for the self-discovering journey he is about to embark and the person he will come out as on the other side. Has anyone else done a double-thru-ride of the Parkway? The plan is to sleep as little as possible and still be able to get the mission done without destroying myself or putting myself in danger. I plan to bivy as much as possible, since it’s most efficient for a quick rest. The hard part is knowing when to stop or not. There are lots of variables when figuring out when and where to sleep. Shelter is sparse and legal camping is limited, so I’ll have to use my best judgement there. If I’m exhausted enough and I get to a place to where I feel like I’m endangering myself, I’ll take a nap somewhere. Have you biked the Parkway previously? I’ve been on an extremely low carb diet since New Year’s. I felt it was necessary to get lighter on the bike, so I dropped 25 pounds. My diet always changes when I get going on the bike though. I start to crave chocolate milk, fizzy drinks, peanut m&ms, chocolate muffins, and hopefully sandwiches. I’ll be burning through some calories, so getting enough will be my biggest concern. Of course I hope to manage a balanced diet, but the appetite gets weird after that many miles. I will have a tub of peanut butter in my jersey pocket, and a spoon in the other for emergencies. Why are you starting at Rockfish Gap? Are there logistical advantages? The idea of the RCR came to me in a pub in Mannheim, Germany, a few weeks after the Transatlantic Way Bike Race. I Just thought it would be cool to bring a little bit of that passion back, so I needed a place for it and wanted it to be in the region I call home. I couldn’t think of any other road than the Blue Ridge Parkway It’s all so beautiful. The viaduct is always a cool segment, and I love the tunnels, but I’m sure mile marker zero will be hard to beat. All the down hills will be good times. After a couple hundred miles it will all blend in essentially. I’m always hoping to see plenty of wildlife as well. I’m going to try and look at it not in days but as one long consecutive day, that way I’m not limited by night and day or when I should sleep or when I shouldn’t. My goal currently is to average 18-20 hours of saddle time per 24 hours, so however far I can get in that time. The RCR stands for Rockfish-Cherokee-Rockfish. It is a self-supported road cycling adventure, from mile marker 0, to mile marker 469, back to mile marker zero, all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Basically it’s just me doing an out and back as fast as I can with no outside help, other than what the road provides. I just had to give it a name. I got the name idea from the famous Paris-Breast-Paris. The RCR and the force behind it was made for many, so right now all it as is me. Any favorite spots along the Parkway? Davis firmly believes in the power of bikes. He feels they bring people together and builds a strong community of passionate people. My basic needs are always first. It keeps the chatter at bay, but if those basic needs are met, I try to always think pleasant thoughts. I think about family, friends, the ones that helped me get to this very moment, love, and life’s unanswered questions. But my brain never slows down. I know I’ll be playing a lot of tricks on myself. The season is just starting, and I have Tourette Syndrome, so I am predicting it could get to be a problem. My tics can cause a lot of muscular strain in my neck, hips, wrist, and ankles, so I’ll have to focus on trying to calm that. If I end up going to a dark place, and I’m sure it will happen due to it being chemical to an extent, well, that is when the real challenge begins. Finding the strength to keep going at that point can be tough, but hopefully, I can understand it and just keep spinning.
By Dialogo July 01, 2010 Some of the topics discussed during the visits included port security, professional development for noncommissioned officers, operational risk management, medical readiness, outboard motor maintenance and patrol craft operation. “The U.S. Navy and USSOUTHCOM are committed to these multi-nation partnerships,” Capt. Kurt Hedberg, mission commander of SPS 2010 said. “It gives all of us a chance to exchange ideas, mission-focused knowledge and expertise to improve capabilities in key mission areas. This sort of multi-national cooperation is vital to successful maritime operations today and in the future.” U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines on the Swift also conducted exchanges with subject matter experts from the region. During the SPS deployment, the Swift visited Barbados, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Suriname. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the U.S. Navy, along with the U.S. Embassy, for this donation,” Wendy Allen-Davis, senior medical officer at the Port Antonio Hospital said. “We hope that we will continue this partnership and that we can also look forward for these gifts we are so very grateful for in the future.” While in port, personnel aboard the Swift participated in Project Handclasp, a U.S. Navy program that transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nations. Pallets and two fire engines were donated to Nicaragua by the Wisconsin National Guard State Partnership Program for transportation, and Sailors aboard the Swift delivered medical supplies and equipment to the local hospital in Port Antonio, Jamaica. High Speed Vessel Swift, or HSV 2, along with various Navy and Marine Corps units, departed Naval Station Mayport in Florida on May, 2010 to conduct a five-month mission to participate in Southern Partnership Station 2010, an annual deployment to boost information sharing in the Caribbean and Latin America. SPS focuses on information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.
By Dialogo November 01, 2011 “If it’s on it’s going to work. So it’s 100 percent effective,” explained Eddi Bowers, the Regional Support Center-Kandahar (RSC) site lead, about the Counter Radio Electronic Warfare system. CREW systems are helping Soldiers to defeat deadly improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, by blocking radio signals that can be used by insurgents to detonate the devices remotely. The jammers were developed in 2006, when insurgents in Iraq were using cell phones to remotely detonate roadside bombs. The equipment developed by military scientists is basically equivalent to a transmitter on steroids, said Bowers. “It takes a little more than an off the shelf item to do that,” he said. CREW has been highly effective in preventing the remote detonation of IEDs by cell phones said Bowers. “There are still radio controlled ones out there, but nowhere near as many as there used to be because they know we have it figured out,” he explained. “They [Soldiers] love it,” Bowers said. “It gives them the boost of confidence to know that anything that’s radio operated out there, they’re going to jam it.” An average installation takes between two hours and four hours. The RSC at Kandahar averages about 10 installations per day and every field service representative there usually does about four or five maintenance calls a day as well. The team also has 9 FSRs out at various locations in Southern Afghanistan. “The biggest challenge for us is probably the kits for different vehicles.” Bowers said. “There is such a menagerie of vehicles at Kandahar (airfield). It’s unbelievable. There are loads of different types of vehicles compared to Bagram (airfield) and you have to have a special kit for each one of these vehicles. “And it’s a monster logistically wise. You have to have a special kit. And four or five of them [vehicles] will come in and then you’re out of kits and you have to wait to get more kits,” he said. Despite the challenges, RSC-Kandahar has the best production rate in Afghanistan. About fifty percent of all the theater provided jammers are installed here. The team started out with 52 guys working out of single office container with two computers. “We have come a long, long way,” said Bowers.
The Shining Path guerrilla group has been defeated and is not going to attack again, said “Comrade Artemio,” considered the leader of a remnant of that organization. In an interview granted to a Peruvian media outlet, in the jungle of Alto Huallaga, in the country’s southeast, José Flores, alias “Artemio,” said that Shining Path’s current position is “a defensive one, militarily speaking,” and that “there aren’t going to be any kind of attacks. That I can guarantee.” Shining Path was dismantled in the mid-1990s, and its chief leaders are serving life sentences after an internal conflict that left around 70,000 dead, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The group currently has remnants in the country’s two chief coca-producing areas, Alto Huallaga and the Apurímac and Ene River Valley, with a total of around 300 men, according to analysts. The Government accuses Shining Path of collaborating in guarding the illicit coca crops. In September, an attack on a military helicopter attributed to Shining Path caused the deaths of two officers. Other sporadic attacks have also caused the deaths of military personnel. Immediately afterward, the Peruvian Government said that it was ready to put an end to the remnants of Shining Path and their alliances with drug cartels, as Peruvian Prime Minister Salomón Lerner affirmed on a visit to the United States. By Dialogo December 08, 2011