Trump Opens 9.3 Million Acres of Tongass National Forest to Logging

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is known as the “lungs of North America.” With 16.7 million acres of temperate rain forest, it offers an ecological oasis where wild salmon, brown bears, bald eagles, and a diverse range of other species flourish. Its old-growth stands of red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce, and Western hemlock have stood tall for centuries––some trees for over 1,000 years. The Tongass also absorbs more carbon than any other national forest. Yet on Oct. 28, the Trump administration announced they would open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development.

More specifically, this move will exempt 9.3 million acres of Tongass National Forest from a 2001 “roadless rule” that prohibited road construction, road re-construction, and timber harvesting in designated areas of national forests. In addition to the exemption, the Trump administration will make an additional 188,000 acres available for timber harvest––most of which is old growth timber.

The announcement has been met with strong opposition.

During the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental review period, 96 percent of submitted comments opposed lifting the existing safeguards, while only one percent supported the move. Additionally, six southeast Alaskan tribes and six southeast Alaskan city councils submitted resolutions that opposed lifting protections.

“The Tongass is America’s Amazon,” Adam Kolton, executive director of Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement. “This presidentially directed move to gut roadless protections for our nation’s largest and most biologically rich national forest is a calamity for our climate, for wildlife and for the outdoor recreation economy of southeast Alaska.”

Southeast Alaska has been hit hard by the pandemic and the loss of cruise ship tourism dealt a serious blow to the economy. On top of that, fisheries have been struggling after seafood prices took a hit due to the global economic crisis.

Supporters of President Trump’s move argue it will provide a much needed boost for the struggling local economy. But while fishing and tourism account for 26 percent of regional employment, according to the Southeast Conference, timber only makes up one percent of local employment. Furthermore, a Taxpayer for Common Sense analysis found that the current Tongass timber program has cost U.S. taxpayers roughly $1.7 billion over the last 40 years.

While the President recently touted his commitment to planting trees through the “One Trillion Trees Initiative,” repealing environmental protections has become a hallmark of the administration. However, legal battles have resulted in many of these orders being blocked, including a court ruling that struck down a proposed 1.8 million-acre timber sale on the Tongass’s Prince of Wales Island.

Environmental groups have already announced they will challenge this latest repeal of protections in court, so stay tuned.

Jon Hamm Reflects on ‘Mad Men,’ Mental Health, and Filming ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Jon Hamm spent much of 2020 perfecting the art of “waiting it out.” Instead of touring the world to talk up Top Gun—currently slated for July 2021 after two pandemic-related premiere pushes—he took to chatting with some rabbits in his front yard. In lieu of spending long days on set, Hamm whiled away the nights catch-up Zooming with the friends he rarely saw in the Before Times. In other words: This star’s just like us!

Patrick Dempsey photographed by Nigel Parry on February 10, 2020, in Los Angeles. Styling by Annie Jagger. Grooming by Jill Dempsey. Production by Cool Hunt, Inc. Dempsey wears a vintage Tag Heuer Autavia. Clothes his own.

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Not for long, though. By the time “normal” life returns, Hamm will be knee-deep in reviving another classic Hollywood franchise. And if he’s not the first actor you’d peg to bring Fletch back to the big screen, you must have missed the multiple Saturday Night Live and comedy film appearances that earned him the nickname “The King of Cameos.”

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But before all that can happen, the film business itself needs to grind back into production. We caught up with Hamm at his Los Angeles home this fall, just as he was preparing to be back on sets for the first time since March.

Jon Hamm below deck while filming Nov/Dec 2020
Jon Hamm below deck while filming Nov/Dec 2020 Carter Smith for Men's Journal

Men’s Journal: So how are you at quarantining? Is your personality set up for this?

Jon Hamm: Well, yes and no. It’s obviously been a challenge that we’ve all collectively experienced in our own particular ways. I’ve tried to focus on maintaining a sense of grace and gratitude, and tried to kind of find the good in every day. It’s been challenging. The days tend to blend. But I will say, my gym, my trainer, recently, sort of reopened, and that’s been a real plus. Not being able to work out has been a real fucking bummer. I just got back from the gym, that’s why I was a little bit late. That’s been a real game changer. I’m not the kind of guy that wakes up and does situps and pushups.

Have you picked up hobbies?

No is the official answer. I wish I could say that I learned how to play the guitar or learned Japanese. But I’ve succumbed, as I think many of us have, to inertia. I’ve been doing a lot more reading, catching up on some TV shows, and cooking a lot. But just being at home is a new thing for me. The last four or five years of my life, I’ve basically lived in hotels or Airbnbs, on set, on location. And it’s actually been kind of nice to be at home. There’s a nesting pair of hawks that live in my backyard that I check out every day. There are these three bunnies that live in my front yard. And they’re just used to me at this point.

Jacket by A.P.C. Shirt by Truth Alone. Pants by Missoni.

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Let’s hope they don’t meet each other.

The hawks are a daytime thing, the bunnies are an evening thing. I’m glad that they haven’t met. I don’t want to wake up and see fur in my yard.

One of the bigger events of 2020 for you would have been the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick, which has now been pushed to next summer. You were a teenager when the first one came out. What do you remember?

I was probably 15, at the dead center of the target demographic. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking, “Yes. That looks awesome.” And it was. As an adult, I’ve seen it in the interim a couple times, and you realize that [director] Tony Scott, who came out of commercials, had an incredible sense how to tell a story, visually. That movie just looked so cool. It didn’t make sense, because every shot was at sunset or sunrise. But who cares?

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When you were 15, did you think of yourself as more of a Maverick or a Goose?

I was probably more of a Goose. I’m happy letting somebody else drive. I’m an integral part of the team, but not necessarily the guy at the wheel.

Jon Hamm as a high-ranking U.S. Navy officer in 'Top Gun: Maverick.'
Jon Hamm as a high-ranking U.S. Navy officer in ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ Paramount Pictures/Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Did having Tom Cruise in the lead take some of the pressure off? Or was that intimidating?

Well, I’ll say this about Tom, he is 100 percent movie star and 100 percent a leader. On Mad Men, I learned that if the person at the top of the food chain behaves in a certain way, then that’s how the rest of the folks are going to behave. Tom’s always ready. He’s already prepared. He’s always on time. He’s got 900 things going on that you don’t even know about. But that never comes into the daily work. If there was any pressure to perform and be great, or uphold the legacy of this film, it didn’t show. You could tell that he was having the time of his life, and that enthusiasm completely washed over the rest of the cast. My first day on set, I said to Tom, “This has to be just surreal for you. Like you’re literally in the same hangar, 30 years later. In nearly the same costume. What’s that like?” And he goes, “Man, it’s unreal. How cool is this?”

What can you tell us about your character? I’ve read you’re related to Viper, but not.

Yeah, it’s sort of tangentially related. It’s not so much of a father figure, the way Viper was to Tom. He’s air boss of the fighter wing. He has a lot of authority and responsibility. When that rubs up against Maverick, there’s friction, as you would guess. I provide the friction.

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Did you get up in the air?

I did not, unfortunately. I would have loved to. There’s a lot of paperwork involved when you’re stepping into an $80 million piece of hardware that’s owned by the taxpayers of the United States of America. I was not required to fly, therefore I did not get to.

Were you relieved, or bummed?

I think it was about 50/50. I did recognize the tremendous amount of preparation and work that went into it, but I was glad that I didn’t have to do it.

Jon Hamm Nov/Dec 2020 Men's Journal cover shoot
Carter Smith for Men's Journal

In keeping with the ‘80s theme—you just signed on for a reboot of Fletch. What made you think there’s new life to be had in that story?

Well I was a huge fan of the movie. I can literally quote it from top to bottom, because it was so funny, and again, I was dead center in that target demo. The movie inspired me to check out the 11 Gregory Mcdonald novels. Chevy had his performance and he’s so good, and physical, and funny, and it’s very specific to him in that time. We’re obviously not remaking that movie—it’s perfect. We’re just extending the story about this character, and hopefully telling a deeper, little more nuanced story about why this guy does what he does. There’s a lot of fertile ground to plow.

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Has a leading comedic role been a longterm goal of yours?

Yeah. I’ve been very fortunate in my career that I have some credibility on both sides of the aisle, from a dramatic standpoint to a comedic standpoint. Making somebody laugh is difficult. “Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” they say. It’s always a challenge.

Bill Hader as Vincent Price, Kristen Wiig as Gloria Swanson, Jon Hamm as James Mason during the 'VIncent Price's Halloween Special' skit on October 25, 2008
Bill Hader as Vincent Price, Kristen Wiig as Gloria Swanson, Jon Hamm as James Mason during the ‘VIncent Price’s Halloween Special’ skit on October 25, 2008 NBC / Contributor / Getty Images

In the middle of the Mad Men run, you were starting to do Saturday Night Live, building your comedy chops. What did you learn from the SNL crew?

You realize how uniquely gifted those people are—the cast, the writing staff, the production staff, everybody. It’s like being a part of a really good baseball team. You just don’t want to be the guy that drops the ball. You also realize that nobody bats a thousand. Sometimes the sketches fall flat—it is what it is.

IT’S LIKE BEING ON A REALLY GOOD BASEBALL TEAM. YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO BE THE GUY WHO DROPS THE BALL.

What was your favorite sketch that you were in?

Oh boy, that’s a hard one. [Bill] Hader had a long-running bit on the show, where he did Vincent Price and I got to play James Mason; [Kristen] Wiig was Gloria Swanson. It was super funny. And then there was another sketch that Kristen and I did called “Darlique & Barney,” where we play these kind of weird lounge singers. It makes no sense. And then I did one with [Will] Forte for the Halloween show one year, where he came to my door as a registered sex offender. There’s just so many funny things that you just have to lean into and say, “Ugh, we’re doing this. Let’s make some people laugh and then we’ll go home and see what happens.”

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It seems like you’ve moved toward comedy just as it’s becoming harder to pull off—given the state of the world, it’s very easy for a joke to inadvertently feel in very poor taste.

The pandemic and the movements that we’ve experienced this summer have made us all look at things that are challenging. There are other people who experience the world differently than you, and you have to come to some sort of understanding with that. That’s really what I’ve tried to do. Yes, it’s more difficult when you have to examine everything that you do, or say, or perform. But that’s not necessarily bad. If we’re all on the path of learning and growing, then let’s all be on the path. That way, we’re contributing not only to better versions of ourselves, but hopefully our society and our culture.

Jon Hamm Nov/Dec 2020 Men's Journal cover shoot
Carter Smith for Men's Journal

Are you proud of the way that Mad Men went out of its way to portray misogyny and racism?

Well I’ve said this before, but Mad Men is not a travelogue. It’s not meant to be, like, “Look at what happened in the ’60s.” Matthew [Weiner] did a great job of essentially writing a novel about a man and his journey—who he runs into and how he interacts with them, and how he changes. I just think it told a story very accurately about this world.

How did your ambitions shift after Mad Men became a success?

Early on I just hoped that I would someday be in something that was culturally relevant—maybe the third lead in a movie that won an Academy Award, or the lead in a really cool show. When that happened, I thought, well, I’m not going to squander it. So, I took opportunities like Bridesmaids, The Town, Tag, Keeping Up with The Joneses, Richard Jewell. I look back at everything I’ve done and I’m proud. Some haven’t made any money, but I don’t care. That’s neither here nor there. I had a blast working on them.

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You recently collaborated with Ellie Kemper in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She was your drama student back in St. Louis in the early 1990s— before you had made it yourself. How did you get that gig?

Well, I went back to my high school to teach because I felt that the school’s teachers had given so much to me, but there was no way for me to endow a scholarship or anything. I was a broke college graduate. But I very much wanted to be some version of the inspiration that my teachers had provided me. And I feel like I did that, in a certain way—not because Ellie became a famous actress or what have you. The school asked me to come back for the following year. But I thought, well, if I don’t try this once, I’ll probably regret it, so I turned down the offer and I drove out to L.A.

Are you ever going to be at the front of a classroom again?

That’s a good question. I certainly wouldn’t say no. I do find it incredibly worthy. I mean there’s something to be said for looking back on that time and saying, “I got it. I got the memo, I got the note.” If [my old high school] ever asked, yeah, I’d come back and teach a semester or something. Just not math.

I’M PROBABLY MORE OF A GOOSE. I’M HAPPY LETTING SOMEBODY ELSE DRIVE.

You’ve been open about your embrace of therapy and proactively dealing with mental health. Has it informed your acting at all?

As an actor, you have to be aware of your emotions and where you are in the course of a day or in the course of your life. And you have to be able to let that inform whatever character you’re playing. I think keeping that side of your mind/body duality sharp is the same thing as keeping your physical side sharp. There’s a weird stigma about mental health, and there doesn’t need to be. Staying aware of where you are in that spectrum just makes good sense.

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Are you still playing baseball?

Well, the pandemic had a little something to do with this season. No is the short answer. But I’m having fun watching it.

Are you big on tradition—an ‘unwritten rules’ guy?

Unwritten rules are stupid. If they’re rules, they should be written down. If they’re not, who cares? That’s my hot take.

Your team has no unwritten rules, then?

No. Our team is called The California Love. We play in a wood bat league in Beverly Hills, and take an easy approach. If you strike out, if you get a hit, if you make an error—who cares, man? It’s more about the hang. The baseball is secondary to meeting up and telling stories.

Jon Hamm Nov/Dec 2020 Men's Journal cover shoot
Carter Smith for Men's Journal

You’re a huge fan of your hometown St. Louis teams. If you were forced to delete one of these memories, which one would you lose: the 2011 Cardinals World Series run or the 2019 Blues Stanley Cup run?

That’s a tough one. I don’t think I would be able to lose the Stanley Cup. It’s too unique, that whole experience, worst to first. I was right there with it. I had a couple pals on the team. I got to lift the Cup. If I lost the memory of the 2011 World Series, I’d still have a couple other Cardinal baseball memories that I could rely on—1982 and a couple others.

So, what’s next?

I’m off to Detroit next month—fingers crossed—to shoot with Steven Soderbergh. It’s a phenomenal script written by Ed Solomon called No Sudden Move. It takes place in the auto industry. It’s me and Don Cheadle and a bunch of awesome people. I’m stoked. I’ve known Steven for years, but I’ve never got to work for him.

Kyle Chandler in the June 2019 issue of Men's Journal

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I can imagine that at this point you’d be willing to leave your house for far less.

For sure. It’s been a minute.

Wall Street Suddenly Loves Bike Companies Thanks to Cycling Boom

This article originally appeared on Bike.com and was republished with permission.

When Covid-19 locked up retail stores in March, bike shops were as worried about landing on the other side as Brooks Brothers and Gold’s Gym. When the pandemic motivated millions of people of all ages, interests and abilities to get on a bike for the first time in ages, cycling stores rode away laughing, while many other retailers crashed.

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Wall Street was watching.

In October, Canyon, a high end, direct-to-consumer bike brand, announced that it was in talks with private equity and buyout firms. A sale could bring in $592 million and start a trend.

“It was the story of the year,” says Stephen Frothingham, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, an industry publication. “When the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are talking about the riding boom and shortage of inventory [in bike shops], it catches a lot of people’s attention. Investors start wondering, ‘How do I get a part of this?’”

Canyon is a compelling story. In September, the 30-year-old German brand reported $474 million in global sales for 2020, a 30 percent bump from the year before. That included a jump in the U.S. market of more than 100 percent in June compared to the year before. Even though it’s only been selling bikes to Americans since 2016, bike industry insiders reckon its one of the four biggest bike sellers in the country. And because it only sells online, it’s not just another brand importing bikes from China, says Frothingham.

“The companies that play in the space where bikes and technology overlap are getting a lot of interest,” he says.

That’s especially true of the more tech side of the cycling industry. In September, one of Canyon’s suitors, KKR & Co, led a $450-million fundraising for Zwift, an online fitness platform for cyclists and runners. The Series C funding valued the company at $1 billion. Even before the pandemic the category was hot. Peleton, an interactive cycling and fitness training platform, raised $1.16 billion in 2019. That makes fitness apps popular with cyclists, like Strava and Wahoo, prime targets for major investments, figures Frothingham.

E-bike makers look juicy too. Electric bikes have outpaced all other cycling segments for years, including a 190 percent bump in sales between March and June this year, according to research by NPD Group, a retail monitoring firm.

“E-bikes are only at, like, iPhone 2.0,” figures Fotheringham. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

One place the interest probably won’t go, though, is the bike industry heavy weights: Specialized, Giant and Trek.

“A lot of companies are riding high, but a challenge they all have to growing is getting enough bikes,” Frothingham says. Almost every bike, whether it’s from Walmart or a $10,000 carbon fiber race machine is made in China or Taiwan. “No one is talking about building a new factory to increase capacity.”

Smaller brands, flying high on the intense demand, have a better chance of finding a buyer. The interest from investors will continue as long as concerns about the safety of public transport and flying away for holidays continues. With no end in sight to these pandemic-fueled worries, expect the bike boom to keep rolling right through 2021.

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Inside America’s Biggest Ski Factory

“The conditions were pretty awful, to be honest,” says Thomas Laakso, referring to his time testing ski prototypes on Mount Hood at the tail end of this summer. He continued, “but that’s a good thing for us. Skiing variable conditions like crud helps evaluate what works and what doesn’t a lot faster.”

As the VP of Product and Operations at DPS Skis, and a 20-year veteran of the ski industry, Laakso has taken more than a few pilgrimages to endless season outposts like Oregon’s Timberline to test skis. “We’re close to a final design—the last three days were focused on A/B testing of two similar models, to pick the best one,” says Laakso, holding back on further specifics. “We just feel fortunate to be skiing and to be able to test at all, under the circumstances.”

Thomas Laasko DPS Skis
Andy Cochrane

Laakso (pictured above) cut his teeth as a product manager at The North Face in the late ’90s, including work on a jacket that won Time’s Innovation of the Year. Five years later, he migrated to Black Diamond to become the ski category director. After 12 years and 35 patents, Laakso took a hiatus from corporations to help launch Mountain Hub, an avalanche safety startup. Most recently, in 2018, Laakso joined DPS. It’s fair to say that there are maybe a dozen people in the world that know the skis as well as Laakso.

“Honestly DPS feels a lot like a modern startup, at least culture-wise,” says Laakso. “We’re small and lean. We test products fast.” The downside to being nimble, is less supporting infrastructure. “But that’ll change,” Laasko adds. “For context, we’re the biggest ski manufacturer in the country, but at just 15 years old, we’re still smaller than many European brands.”

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DPS Skis factory utah ski
Andy Cochrane

Practically speaking, the DPS factory employees 35 full-time workers that make skis year-round. While the brand declined to share the exact number of skis it produces annually, its annual revenue was estimated at 18M last year, which likely means tens of thousands of pairs. Still, this is considerably smaller than a number of European manufacturers who have historically been race-driven brands with much larger markets. Demand for skis this winter has, according to DPS, exceeded expectations.

When asked about the biggest differences between DPS and competitors, Laakso was quick to respond: “We can design, make a prototype, test it on the slopes, and iterate all in the same week. Not many ski companies are able to do that. With the Wasatch out our backdoor and our production facility here in Utah, we also have more control over the process. We’ve looked at going overseas but couldn’t create the same quality, so we’ve stayed put.”

Laakso was brought into DPS to create internal structures, establish a long-term strategy, and find ways to reach new customers in a highly competitive industry. “We’re either the biggest small ski company in the world or the smallest big ski company, but size doesn’t always correlate to a great product,” laughs Laakso. “Innovation often comes from newer players in a space. Big brands have started to take note of us. The Rossi Soul 7—arguably the most popular ski in the world—took direction from the design of the Wailer 112 RP and is a spitting image of it, then crushed it in volume.”

As part of the three-headed senior management team driving the bigger picture of the company, Laakso works with ski designer Peter Turner, a DPS co-founder, and Nick Pascoe, a young Kiwi and lead product manager, to oversee product creation and R&D. This includes the new Pagoda ski lines, Phantom waxless glide launched three years ago, and a rapid transition to produce PPE face shields during this spring’s outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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DPS Skis
The DPS team outside the Salt Lake City factory base.

“We make a lot of different products, but the process is always the same,” says Laakso. “A lot of brands talk about one shape or one material that makes their skis great, but that’s not how we see it. It’s not just great carbon fiber or sweet shape that makes a good ski. Just like you need all the right ingredients to make a good soup, you need a complete recipe to make a good ski. We’re a high-end speciality kitchen compared to a commodity cafeteria.”

DPS backcountry Pagoda line
The new backcountry-specific Pagoda Tour 112 RP.

From this mentality came the Pagoda lines, made with new innovations in the wood cores, new shapes, and patented carbon-fiber constructions. This paradigm also drove DPS’ off-season project: face shields for frontline workers. Wanting to find a way to help those in need as well as keep their factory running and avoid layoffs, Laakso and his team designed and produced over 80,000 protective shields and their effort is still going.

Yet, despite major innovations in the last few years, Laakso believes the best is yet to come. “My favorite ski I’ve ever ridden isn’t out yet—you’ll have to wait a year to get a chance to test it,” says Laakso.

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Pro Surfers Score Perfect Barrels at Australia’s South Stradbroke Island

This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.

With the World Tour nixed for the foreseeable future, the pro surfing landscape has been pretty barren. While free-surf edits have kept us entertained in lieu of competition, the World Surf League managed to reignite pro surfing in the form of the Australian Grand Slam––a two-event series held at South Stradbroke Island and the Margaret River.

Earlier this month, South Straddie lit up and the 2020 Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast was on. The sacred sand delivered cavernous pits, and as the above edit illustrates, they were not wasted.

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What to Do if Your Lack of a Social Life Is Impacting Your Mental Health

The physical and mental health threats of COVID-19 are real and well-documented, but if you’re simply feeling bummed about missing your buddies, canceled pickup sports leagues, or—hell—your commute, that’s valid. The pandemic is affecting mental health in myriad ways.

“The isolation many are experiencing is one of the most devastating things about this moment,” says Avi Klein, LCSW, a New York-based therapist who specializes in men’s mental health.

See, human beings are hardwired for connection, explains Paul L. Hokemeyer, PhD, LMFT, a psychotherapist and author of Fragile Power: Why Having It All Is Never Enough. “Social connectedness is essential for our survival. It enables us to adapt to challenges and evolve as a species. Without social connections, we physically and emotionally atrophy.”

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That’s well-documented, too. Some studies suggest loneliness and social isolation could be twice as detrimental to both your physical and mental health as obesity is. It’s been linked to everything from depression and poor sleep to impaired brain function, poor heart function, and cognitive decline.

You can’t just put your social life on hold till the pandemic passes; connectedness is too important to your overall mental health, Hokemeyer says. It can bolster your immune system, help you find value and purpose, and lessen your metaphorical load. Ultimately, it gives you some ownership over your day-to-day life in a chaotic world.

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So how can you safely resurrect a floundering social life and boost your mental health amidst a pandemic? Here are four ways to go about it.

Mental Health Tips for the COVID-19 Pandemic:

1. Socialize Through Exercise—in Real Life or Online

Exercise is a proven health, mood, and self-esteem booster—boons that certainly can’t hurt right now. By adding a social element to your sweat (say via a live Peloton or Mirror class)? You’re adding to the benefits of fitness: “By joining a group of other people working to improve their health, you feel a sense of connection,” explains Hokemeyer, which can play a role in managing stress, fear, anger, uncertainty, and chaos, he says.

If you’re craving a face-to-face connection, get outside. By now it’s clear that being in Mother Nature minimizes your risk of contracting COVID-19. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends choosing outdoor activities and places such as parks or open-air facilities if you’re going to go out.) A socially-distanced run or bike ride is a triple whammy, says Klein: It helps you stay fit, fills your social quota for the day, and fits the bill as a lower-risk activity. Just be sure to wear a mask.

2. Give Your Time Away

Volunteerism has strong links to both physical and mental health—so much so that some research suggests the activity should be promoted as a part of a healthy lifestyle. And while any kind of volunteering could have benefits, some studies find that “other-oriented” efforts—those that are humanitarian or altruistic in nature, for example—have a great effect on social well-being and physical health than “self-oriented” efforts (anything you’re doing to purposefully “better” yourself). Try something like Create the Good, AARP’s database of gigs or Career Village, where you can give away your time (virtually) to answer questions from kids who want to enter your field of work when they grow up.

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3. Be Proactive—and a Little Unorthodox

In a pre-pandemic world, you’d plan your social outings ahead of time. Today? You’ve got to do the same. So push past your grievances (video socialization can taste like fake sugar, we know) and continue to reach out to connect, explains Klein. “You’ll get out of a ‘stuck’ place and into action. Instead of feeling discouraged, you’ll feel empowered and more in control of your life,” Hokemeyer explains.

Miss your pickup hockey league? Start a group text thread and ask the guys if they’d be up for a weekly interactive online video game meet-up (try Among Us). Haven’t been on a date night in … you don’t remember when? Take a few minutes every night to ask thought-provoking questions sure to start a conversation: “What was the most important part of your day?” or “What surprised you most today?” suggests Klein. An app like Lasting (which was actually developed to be a supplement to couple’s therapy) can also help foster a deeper connection between partners, he says.

4. Speak Up About How Much It Sucks

If you feel like you’re the only one in the world (or in your friend group) who’s down and out about the loss of your social life as you knew it, you can wind up feeling even more alone, explains Klein. The antidote: Let people know how you feel. Text your group thread about how much you’re missing your in-real-life hangouts. Tell your brother you’re reeling over not being able to really be there for your niece’s birthday. Hear Klein out: “Even though it might feel risky, I guarantee you that people feel the same way—and when we feel that someone is a little bit like us then we feel more connected.” Plus, maybe simply speaking up will spark that unorthodox meet-up—or more conversations. You won’t know unless you speak up.

Health and Fitness Visionary Dr. Jeremy James Launches The FITFOREVER Platform

This article was produced in partnership with T1.

As 2020 has indeed proven to be an unrelenting year of challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, government mandated quarantines, the economic collapse, and more, now more than ever, Americans are realizing the importance of maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. While the year has forced many business owners to reevaluate their companies and businesses, Colorado-based health and fitness visionary, Dr. Jeremy James saw the disadvantages of 2020 as an opportunity to reexamine how he could help optimize the performance and physical activity of Americans everywhere and recognized the demand for a safe and effective exercise program that people could utilize at home. With this, he developed FITFOREVER, the first of its kind, digital fitness platform that is completely customized to a user’s body and can be performed from home.

As many might have realized during quarantine, the current landscape for digital fitness programs revealed how most approaches enlist a one-size-fits-all style of for training. Though it may work for some, for others, an approach like this often leads to injuries and inefficient workouts. In light of this realization, Dr. James along with his team of health and medical experts designed FITFOREVER to serve its users with a personalized fitness program that meets their needs, abilities, goals, and equipment availability.

With an extensive background in chronic back pain and human biomechanics, Dr. James is known for his best-selling book The Younger Next Year Back Book as well as two other programs, BACKFOREVER and GOLFFOREVER. After designing these two programs as a way to help people regain mobility and retrain the body to move freely without pain in the back or body, Dr. James saw huge success rates within his client base. With the foundation of his two prior programs, the fitness expert parlayed this expertise into FITFOREVER, with its focus being a comprehensive digital fitness platform that ranks helping users feel great as a top priority.

“Our method is simple,” says Dr. James. “At FITFOREVER, our focus is on building a highly functional body that feels great. Looking good is just a wonderful side effect.”

Through a personal assessment test, the program is the first of its kind, as it builds out a workout plan specifically designed to cater to each user’s body type, physical capabilities and goals. The program also takes into consideration things like pre-existing pain and injuries as well as the type of workout equipment a user has available to use. With daily-guided workout videos, users will enjoy their customized fitness plan as they begin their journey to building a strong foundation of physical activity and health, something Dr. James intends for all FITFOREVER members. While most existing digital fitness resources and platforms focus solely on aesthetic, FITFOREVER is one of the first to prioritize longevity and overall wellness.

“I saw a need to provide consumers with an educational foundation for greater mobility and healthy living,” says Dr. James. “My goal for FITFOREVER is to create a fitness platform backed by and with access to medical professionals so consumers of all ages feel good and remain healthy and fully functional.”

Experience what a personalized fitness program can do for you, members can try for free for 7 days and cancel anytime. A risk-free program financially and physically, trust the experts!

For more information on Dr. James and FITFOREVER, please visit FITFOREVER.com.

The Two Top E-Gravel Bikes Reviewed

Talk to any bike industry insider and you’ll hear the same thing. Two categories are poised for exponential growth in the next decade: gravel bikes and e-bikes. Gravel bikes, the sweet spot between road cycling and mountain biking, invite open adventure along any road. E-bikes offer unprecedented accessibility, an undeniable fun factor, and an alternative transportation option to cars. Both reach out to new riders as much as they attract established cyclists.

What happens when you mix fire and gasoline? You get e-gravel bikes.

While this new category, electric gravel bikes, is still a niche category as far as sales go, it is worth considering because these bikes can do almost anything—at least where motors are permitted. Great for commuting, adventuring off the beaten path, getting in a good workout, or just going for a joy ride, these battery-aided hybrid bikes are the best of both worlds. I’ve had some of my favorite rides in the last year on e-gravel bikes, specifically two of the top new models worth comparing.

Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon
courtesy Cannondale

The Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon and Specialized’s Turbo Creo SL, are, as far as I’m concerned, the best on the market. Both bikes are new this year and have significantly upped the standard for the emerging category. Specifically designed to help you go farther on dirt roads and flowy singletrack, these bikes have the potential to unlock a new style of riding for a broader audience. To help you decide which is better fit for you, let’s compare them head-to-head!

Note: Both bikes are offered in a handful of tiers, mostly differentiated by the quality of components. This allows for a wider array of price points. For the purposes of this article, I reference the highest tier of both.

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Specialized Turbo Creo SL
courtesy Specialized

Weight: Cannondale relies on an off-the-shelf motor and battery from Bosch, while Specialized custom-built the motor for the Creo SL, which saves them a notable amount of weight. The Topstone claims to weigh in at 36 pounds, but my test bike was closer to 40. On the other hand, the Creo was right around 27 pounds, at least 10 pounds lighter by my measurement. Advantage: Specialized.

Cannondale Topstone
courtesy Cannondale

Suspension: Some of the Topstone’s weight disadvantage can be explained by its dual suspension: The Kingpin in the rear and the front Lefty fork both offer 30mm of travel. Compare this to the Creo, which has 20mm of travel in its Future Shock 2.0 (and none in the near); you can start to see the differences in these two bike designs. While the Future Shock punches above its weight class in terms of smoothing rough terrain, the dual suspension allows the Topstone to tackle more aggressive terrain. Score one for Cannondale.

Speed: Unless you’re an aero-obsessed roadie, this category is a bit arbitrary, so bear with me (note: I don’t own a wind tunnel). I found the top end of the Creo a bit faster than the Topstone, especially on asphalt and smoother dirt roads. The more traditional road geometry and lighter bike allows for a reduced rolling resistance, despite an 11-speed drivetrain compared to the 12-speed on the Topstone. However, on singletrack I found myself riding the Topstone more aggressively, thanks to a dropper post (the Creo is compatible, just didn’t have one) and more supple suspension. Overall, slight edge to Specialized.

Specialized Creo
Built for speed, and ready to be rigged and loaded up for adventure. Andy Cochrane

Tires: The Topstone comes stock with knobby 42c tires while the Creo comes with smaller 28c tires, which show what they are truly made to do. The Topstone was designed for traction and handling on rough surfaces, while the Creo more for versatility and speed. That said, the Creo actually has the wider range, with clearance that can fit a 650x50c tire, while the Topstone tops out at 650x47c. Both come tubeless ready. Comparing stock bikes, Cannondale’s gets the slight edge because it’s better on gravel.

Battery: The Creo offers a marginally bigger battery range, 80 miles compared to 78. The difference, in my experience, is negligible, because it varies considerably by how hard you ride, especially when going uphill. I found that both bikes provided around 50-60 bonus miles for my riding style. Specialized does offer an additional range extender, providing 40 extra miles of riding. With this in mind, I have to give the Creo SL a slight edge on battery life.

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Price: The big downside to a custom motor in the Creo is that it’ll cost you a pretty penny. While the highest tier Topstone is $9,000, the S-Works Creo SL is $13,500. With a price that’s 50 percent more, Specialized has created a bike that is out of many riders’ budgets. Advantage: Cannondale.

Cannondale Topstone Neo Carbon 1 Lefty Spd
The svelte display on the Topstone Neo Carbon 1.

Software Integration & Ride Feel: Both bikes feel smooth from the get-go, seamlessly integrating the battery and motor into your natural pedaling effort. However, there is a big difference in the software and interface for the rider. The Topstone has a small computer the size of a Garmin mounted to the handlebars that displays many data points. This unit is quick to figure out and easy to use. The Creo SL has a more advanced system, with a full app called Mission Control that has a steeper learning curve but offers more customization. Depending on the type of rider you are, each has some clear advantages.

Final Word: The three biggest differences to me are weight, budget, and use case. The Creo SL is the much lighter bike, while the Topstone Neo is considerably cheaper (relatively speaking). Often the deciding factor comes down to how you plan to ride, which fits a similar trend in the bike world, with the category slowly splitting in two: “Groad” riders who share time between paved and gravel surfaces are likely happier on the Creo SL; downhill gravel riders will appreciate added suspension in the Topstone Neo. Both offer an entirely new type of two-wheeled adventure.

 

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The Best RV Mattresses for Cross-Country Road Trips

From skiing the Alps to backpacking across South America, COVID-19 has caused many international winter plans to come to a screeching halt. However, over the past few months, RV travel has increased exponentially and the winter season affords many opportunities to explore the American landscape. And choosing the right mattress for cozying up in your RV is crucial.

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“Make sure you’re getting a true RV size mattress,” says chiropractor Rick Swartzburg, head of product development for popular RV mattress brand Snuggle-Pedic. An RV queen size is usually 60 x 75 inches and an RV king size is usually 72 x 75 inches, whereas a standard queen and king is 60 x 80 inches and 76 x 80 inches, respectively.

Comfort is also a big factor in selecting a new mattress for your RV. “As an avid camper and owner of several vintage motorhomes and travel trailers, I am intimately acquainted with just how uncomfortable RV mattresses can be,” says Joe Alexander, founder and CEO of Nest Bedding. “Many higher-end RVs have a simple dense foam with a fabric cover that’s supposed to pass for a mattress. The tip I give people is that if you have a mattress at home you’re comfortable with, try to replicate that as close as possible in your RV.” Alexander recommends choosing a mattress with two inches of support base foam and two inches of memory foam for both back and side sleepers.

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Although there are brands specifically tailored to fabricating mattresses for RV’s-like Snuggle-Pedic and Brooklyn Bedding, you can get away with choosing a bedroom mattress as long as it’s not too heavy and the sizing works for your vehicle (always measure the inside of the RV to make sure the specs work for your new mattress). Lastly, make sure the new mattress is made with comfortable material. For example, NuSeasons offers a gel mattress, while Nest Bedding and Casper are both made with foam.

As more Americans are hitting the road this year, here are five options for mattresses that have benefits that range from relieving your pressure points while you sleep; foam support layers; cooling fabrics; to innovative hybrid varieties.

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Are E-MTBs High-Performance Enough For You? Here’s Your Answer

This article originally appeared on Bike.com and was republished with permission.

At this point, pretty much everyone has an opinion on e-bikes. Some love ’em and others hate ’em, but there’s no denying their advantages. For a prime example of just how versatile and fun e-bikes can be, we dug up this edit from Levy Batista.

With lifts closed at the bike park, the talented e-biker powered up the mountain and was soon reaping the benefits––a wide-open park run with not another bike in sight. Batista scrubs jumps, power slides through corners and might just make an e-bike believer out of even its most fervent opponents.

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