A Local’s Guide to the Elan Valley, Wales

Polly from Mountain Yoga Breaks, shares her local knowledge of the stunning Elan Valley on the edge of the Cambrian mountains in Wales. Mountain Yoga Breaks are specialists in mountain biking, walking and yoga retreats in mid Wales.

Why the Elan Valley?The Elan Valley in Mid-Wales is one of Waless best kept secrets. It is tucked away on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains and contains a number of reservoirs and dams set in the middle of an area of outstanding beauty. Sometimes referred to at the Welsh Lake District the Elan Valley is rich in wildlife, with steep sided valleys covered in semi-ancient oak woodland and vast expanses of wild open moorland. You will see Red Kites circling overhead as well as many other birds such as Meadow pipits and Wheatears. This area is a Mountain Biking mecca with miles of natural trails all over the hills and valleys – if you want a taste of real mountain biking away from the busyness of trail centres then this is the place to come. You can ride for hours without seeing another living soul – its awesome.Some of the best routes for riding can be found in Mountain Bike Guide Mid-Wales and the Marches by Jon Dixon. Where to eat? There are plenty of places to grab food in the local town of Rhayader, the town is full of pubs and tearooms. Notable places to go are The Strand coffee shop and Bistro – good cakes and coffee, and The Castle which does great Tapas.When to go?The Elan Valley is a great place to go all year round. It tends to be busier during the summer season but its still possible to find solitude as its such a huge space. Spring and Autumn are rather stunning and the Winter is very dramatic.How to get there?The nearest train station is in Llandrindod Wells and then there are regular bus services to Rhayader from there, you can check the timetables here – www.veolia-transport.co.ukOnce in Rhayader the Elan Valley is easily accessible by bike or on foot, there is a wonderful bike path that runs from Rhayader all the way up the Elan Valley. If you are on foot it will take a bit longer mind.Things to Bring?A bike! Local bike hire from http://www.clivepowell-mtb.co.uk/

Plenty of waterproofs! Being the perfect place for lots of reservoirs as you can imagine it does tend to rain a bit there.

The area is covered by OS Landranger Map (1:50 000) Elan Valley & Builth WellsSheet14.

Could The Olympics Be More Extreme?

Every four years two if you include the winter editions the world stops to watch and enjoy the Olympics. And while we marvel at the feats of those who participate, discussion inevitably turns to what other sports we might like to see in the Games. Indeed, we even asked this question on our Facebook page.

Rio 2016 will witness the introduction of golf and rugby sevens, and the controversial replacement of windsurfing with kitesurfing. Sports that are reportedly being considered for 2020 include baseball and softball (who enjoyed a brief cameo in Atlanta), karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, wakeboarding, and wushu martial arts. The International Surfing Association are even lobbying for their sport to become part of the Olympic programme.

As energetic as the likes of squash might be, Much Better Adventures is far more excited by the extreme, the outdoors, and the adventurous, rather than the controlled, air-conditioned, and indoors. Therefore it should be no surprise that the suggestions on our Facebook page tended to be along those lines. Except for Tug of War and my proposal of dodgeball, that is.

But the problem with the extreme, the outdoors, and the adventurous, is that by their very nature they are difficult to mould into a format that fits the rest of the Olympics.

Take downhill and enduro mountain biking, for example. The sport is exciting, and relies on skill, speed, and a great deal of nerve, so would seem a perfect match. However, it also requires a suitable mountain. If downhill mountain biking had been included in 2012, it would most probably have had to take place at Fort William in Scotland, well over 400 miles from London.

As mentioned above, sports climbing is being considered by the International Olympic Committee. This seems a great idea, but questions remain over what format of competition would be used. Most crucial is the issue of where to do it? There is no doubt that the most stunning venues would be those provided by nature, but the logistical issues inherent with climbing outdoors mean that an indoor wall would be most likely. Would this diminish the sport’s appeal though?

If surfing were to be included in the Olympics, it would almost definitely have to take place on man-made waves. If London had hosted a surfing competition, would we really have been able to rely on a British summer swell? Wave machines ensure that consistent waves can roll through, on schedule, exactly where you want them, but a lot of the magic of surfing would undoubtedly be lost as a result.

Within the running community there is discussion about whether or not trail running, and ultra marathons should be Olympic disciplines. Trail running is great fun, but would be difficult to televise if it were to take place in true wilderness. As for ultras, would many people pay to watch runners moving relatively slowly for the best part of a whole day? Far better to include cross country running as a winter sport. The competition structure exists and the event can take place on courses within full view of spectators and television cameras. Also, it would boost the inclusivity of the Winter Olympics by involving athletes from Africa.

What about orienteering? It would seem to tick many of the Olympic boxes: speed, skill, history, and (at the lite level) lycra. But prominent camera positions and cheering crowds could give away the locations of the check points, thus defeating the object. However, put an HD head camera on every competitor and all of a sudden it becomes a very interesting proposition indeed.

In fact, I can’t think of many sports that wouldn’t be improved by having a head camera on each athlete. Imagine sharing Mark Cavendish’s perspective as he sprints ahead of the peloton; the view from Nicola Adams’ helmet in the boxing ring; or the defenders’ eye view of a crunching Craig Bellamy tackle.

Looking through the suggestions above, it seems important that any new Olympic sport be inclusive, easy to televise, involve lycra, and where possible make use of existing facilities within the host city. To my mind, the only sport that ticks all of the above would be inline skate marathon racing. Admittedly, it’s not especially extreme, and doesn’t have the cool factor of surfing, but true adventure sports would struggle to fit into the Olympic programme. I’ve witnessed such racing on the streets of Berlin and I am not ashamed to say it was really exciting. Imagine a cross between speed skating and a bicycle criterium and you get the idea. Skaters form into a peloton and slipstream their way around closed city streets, chasing breakaways and then finishing in a mad dash for the line, provided they haven’t crashed out first. The sport can also take place within a velodrome, but why stay indoors?

It isn’t a sport that we in Britain are particularly familiar with, but it has a reasonable degree of popularity elsewhere. It could be the handball of 2020. I can picture the British Federation of Inline Speed Skating giddily spending their new income from UK Sport on a nationwide recruitment and talent identification drive and establishing a central training facility on the European continent. They could poach Dave Brailsford from British Cycling to be the Performance Director and mastermind Team GB’s arrival on the global inline skating stage.

By 2024 our inline skaters will be household names and the French team will be questioning how we have risen to a position of such dominance so quickly, while the Federation of International Roller Sports hastily introduce new equipment rules in an attempt to re-level the playing field.

Written by Jonathan Bean, of Ethical Athlete, for Much Better Adventures.

10 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Adventure Travellers

Pinterest is fast becoming the go to site for adventure travellers looking for some inspiration from the adventure world.

We’re big fans of the site and have trawled the network to find you a mix of the best organisations, bloggers and sport enthusiasts worth following.

If you’re just dipping your toe into the pinning game, here are some great pinners and our favourite boards that we recommend to get your adventure fix.

1)Surfrider Foundation

Our favourite board: PSA’s

2)Local Surf

Our favourite board: Grommets

3)Adventuregirl

Our favourite board: Animals and too cuteness

4)Andy Jarosz

Our favourite board: Beautiful Photos

5)Iain Mallory

Our favourite board: Epic Adventures

6)Sea Trek Sailing Adventure

Our favourite board: Life in Indonesia

7)Adventure Cycling Association

Our favourite board: Bike Touring

8)Aivar Ruukel

Our favourite board: Flood – The Fifth Season in Soomaa

9)H&I Adventures

Our favourite board: Mountain Biking Videos

10)Envirosurfer

Our favourite board: Surf Inspiration

While you’re at it, come followMuch Better Adventures’ Pinterest boards!

Are you on Pinterest? Let our readers know about your best adventure boards in the comments below.

5 Top Tips for Night Riding

Magicshine UK is the first online retailer of Magicshine bike lights in the UK. We sell niche products for bikers, runners and divers as well as for other outdoor sports and activities.
Mountain bike night riding is exhilarating, a great way to keep fit and fantastic fun! It can of course also be very dangerous but there are easy steps we can all take to avoid accidents and ensure a safe return home.
1) Make sure you and your bike are up to it. Check tyre condition and pressures before you set off. Take a puncture repair kit or better still, a spare inner tube, just to make sure. Fixing a puncture whilst night riding can be annoying! Its also important to consider, are you up to the level of fitness for your chosen route?
2) Tell someone where youre going and give them an approximate time of return. If weather conditions deteriorate whilst your night riding, you dont want to be stuck on a mountain face with a reduced chance of an early recue.
3) Bring a fully charged phone with you. Consider two-way radio sets with hands free voice microphones. This means you can communicate with other riders all at the same time.
4) Check your bike lights. High power LED lights are available at great prices today check the internet. Theyre also re-chargeable so you dont have to fork out for regular battery replacements. Make sure yours are charged before you set off night riding! When shopping for your light, choose the one for your type of riding. There are various long distance beam lights available but if the trails you ride are particularly rough, you may also want to consider a light that offers a decent beam spread as well as distance.
5) If youre on a long night ride, ensure you have some form of sustenance in the form of an energy drink and bars/gels to get you to the end.
Finally, make sure you know a good pub at the end of your ride and some money to pay for a drink. Make sure the pub has somewhere safe to leave your bike and enjoy the rest of the evening youve earned it!

Magicshine UK is the first online retailer of Magicshine bike lights in the UK. Magicshine sell niche products for bikers, runners and divers as well as for other outdoor sports and activities.

Mountain bike night riding is exhilarating, a great way to keep fit and fantastic fun! It can of course also be dangerous but there are easy steps we can all take to avoid accidents and ensure a safe return home.

1) Make sure you and your bike are up to it. Check tyre condition and pressures before you set off. Take a puncture repair kit or better still, a spare inner tube, just to make sure. Fixing a puncture whilst night riding can be annoying! Its also important to consider, are you up to the level of fitness for your chosen route?

2) Tell someone where youre going and give them an approximate time of return. If weather conditions deteriorate whilst your night riding, you dont want to be stuck on a mountain face with a reduced chance of an early recue.

3) Bring a fully charged phone with you. Consider two-way radio sets with hands free voice microphones. This means you can communicate with other riders all at the same time.

4) Check your bike lights. High power LED lights are available at great prices today check the internet. Theyre also re-chargeable so you dont have to fork out for regular battery replacements. Make sure yours are charged before you set off night riding! When shopping for your light, choose the one for your type of riding. There are various long distance beam lights available but if the trails you ride are particularly rough, you may also want to consider a light that offers a decent beam spread as well as distance.

5) If youre on a long night ride, ensure you have some form of sustenance in the form of an energy drink and bars/gels to get you to the end.

Finally, make sure you know a good pub at the end of your ride and some money to pay for a drink. Make sure the pub has somewhere safe to leave your bike and enjoy the rest of the evening youve earned it!

If you’re in to your mountain biking, why not check out ourmorzine mountain bike holidays page?

Inspiration for a year of adventures!

Now that the New Year has rolled in, the fuzzy head has cleared and you’re looking forward to a great 2012, it’s time to start planning your adventures.

With so many places in the World to visit, a massive range of activities to complete, and only 12 months to do it all in, we thought we’d put together a list of some of the best adventure ideas, month by month to inspire you.

All of them are provided by our ‘muchbetter‘ members, so you know that your adventure will have a positive impact on the area you go…

January – Northern Lights Wilderness Adventure

Experience the beauty of the Northern Lights on this multi-activity trip to Lapland. Cross country ski, snow shoe and dog sled amongst frozen lakes and untouched forests.

February – Winter Skills Snowhole Expedition

Instead of descending to the valley in the evenings of your expedition across the Cairngorm Plateau in Scotland, why not stay high and make the most of your time – sleeping in your own snowhole!

March – Ski Touring Holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina might not be the obvious choice for a ski holiday, but the untouched wilderness is an experience not to be missed… Ski tour between the cities of Sarajevo and Mostar. Click here to see more ski touring holidays.

April – Marathon and Half Marathon Training on the Galapagos

You’ve got the New Years resolution to run a marathon, but the training has been cold and wet all spring… so why not treat yourself to this training camp in the beautiful surroundings of the Galapagos!

May – Klarlvdalen Kanot Canoe Tour

May has to be one of the best times of year to visit Sweden – it’s getting warmer, spring has sprung and the dreaded insects are only just waking up… These flexible self-led canoe tours are the perfect way to explore the Karlstad area of Sweden. See our canoe and kayak holidays page here.

June – Horse Trekking in Turkey

Run by Relief Riders, one of our muchbetter Pioneers, this is an amazing trip to Turkey, exploring the Cappadocia area on horseback. Along the way you’ll also be involved in some inspiring community based initiatives along the way.

July – Hiking Day Tours on the Peninsula of Trolls

Trolls?! Sounds intriguing! Explore this remote area of Iceland in July to experience the amazing scenery on offer. This area is as close to the Arctic Circle as you can get without actually being in it, but you’ll still be able to experience near 24 hour sunlight! Find more inspiring walking holidays here.

August – 1 or 2 week Surfariz

It’s the height of summer, Cornwall is experiencing a heat-wave, and the turquoise sea is as warm as it gets in the UK. So why not head down there for a week or two of surfing mixed with a bit of self-healing and relaxation through a range of alternative therapies. Follow this link for even more surfing holidays!

September – 2 Week Mountain Biking Adventure to Machu Picchu

Explore the mystical ruins of Machu Picchu on a mountain bike, whilst also visiting the hills around Cusco and the Incan settlements of Maras and Salineras. Lonely Planet author Katy Shorthouse and your local guide will tell you all you need to know about the fascinating culture. This link contains more info on cycling holidays.

October – Learn to Kayak in Nepal

Why not! With some world class whitewater, Nepal is a go-to destination for whitewater kayakers, so it’s also the perfect place to learn this amazing sport. This 4 day course is perfect for beginners to experts. Even morekayak holidays!

November – Learn to Dive with ReefCI in Belize

Diving gives you the opportunity to see a whole new world under the water… You’ll need to know how to do it though, so why not learn in the warm waters of Belize? You’ll also get the chance to be involved in some ocean conservation – protecting the ocean for your next visit! Find more diving holidays and marine conservation holidays here.

December – Snowshoeing in the Highlands of the Western Carpathians

What better way to finish off your year of adventures than a snowshoeing trip in Romania. It’s off the beaten track, so you’ll not bump into anyone else… T
he silence, empty forests and great local guides will ensure this is a trip you’ll never forget.

So there you have it – a year’s worth of adventure ideas. Your guide to making the most of 2012. We hope you’ll find some great ideas in here! There are so many incredible holidays on Much Better Adventures, we hope you’ll find what you are looking for. You can start your search from our Activities page, where you’ll find links to even more adventure ideas.

What does it take to become a World Champion?

Aah, its that time of year again. The Christmas turkey has been transformed into a months worth of turkey curry, the Christmas tree has shedded a million and one needles onto the deep pile carpet and all your trousers seem to be a little tighter than they were last time you wore them. Around the corner lies either a quiet night in or one of the biggest of the year, as 2012 hits the calendars. Isnt it traditional to have a few New Years Resolutions about to be made public, either to be carried on throughout the year or (perhaps more likely) forgotten within a week…

I’m rather in to adventure sports, so Ive been thinking up loads of resolutions for 2012; do more ski touring, get back on the bike as soon as the snow allows, actually TRY to do well at some endurance races this summer and perhaps even take up trail running!All of this takes some commitment though something to drive me to get out of my comfort zone, push myself that little bit harder than I usually do and, God forbid, do some training!

I am, however, currently at a bit of a loss as to how to achieve this, which seems somewhat defeatist at this time of year.

2011 was a pretty good year for fitness, what with learning to ski last winter keeping the legs toned, the reasonably warm spring letting me get on the road bike by March, a summer mountain biking where Id knock out a 4 hour climb no bother, and then a fantastic autumn where I actually performed relatively well at the few races I entered. Given that I put little thought into how I went about all of this, I wonder what would happen if I actually tried.

Whilst Im no World Champion, I figured it was worth looking at the training regimes of some of the top athletes from across the adventure sport world from mountain biking to skiing.

It turns out that some of the best downhill mountain bikers, such as World Champion Danny Hart and all time legend Steve Peat, enjoy a bit of Motorcross to help get their technique up to speed. Muscling the heavy motorbikes around the dirt jumps helps them control their mountain bikes when heading down hills at ridiculous speeds. And as with any cyclist, sprint and power training for the legs is vitally important to get themselves accelerated out of the gate. Steve Peat has also worked a lot with Sheffield Hallam Universitys Sports Department working on physical and psychological aspects of his training.

Whilst Im not sure Ive got the money for a motocross bike yet, Steves final piece of advice is certainly possible Drink beer and have fun…ha ha!

If you want to climb mountains as fast as Ueli Steck youll need to do a lot of varied training. His gruelling schedule includes endurance running, climbing various grades indoors and out, with repetitions at increasingly tough grades, a lot of stretching to prevent injury and increase flexibility, and mental training (I think Id need a lot of this to cope with the ridiculous amounts of exposure he experiences on the mountains!).

Kelly Slater is one of the all time greats of surfing multiple World Championships spanning over a decade, stylish, and an all round nice guy (oh, and into a bit of the eco stuff too!). In between all the distractions that must present themselves on warm tropical beaches with incredible breaks, it may surprise you to hear that hes been caught doing some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) training with Cage Rage light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. MMA is well known for providing a whole-body workout, and with core strength being key to good surfing, its no wonder Kellys been at it.

Kelly is also a fan of dry-land training drawing a surfboard shape in the sand, and practicing the motions of standing on the board. Good technique practice, and with enough reps, a good physical workout.

Its certainly inspiring stuff. And theres a few lessons I, and probably anyone, can take from this. All these athletes seem to mix up their training, with sports seemingly unconnected to their chosen one. Psychological training is another massive one, it seems I guess to be a World Champion takes a lot of commitment and focus, both before and during competition.

I recently came across this video, of Didier Cuches training regime. It shows the pure strength and agility needed to become one of the best Downhill skiers of our time, its humbling to watch.

Oh, and youll NEVER get me lifting weights on a gym exercise ball!

Working together with local communities in Ecuador

The spirit of Much Better Adventures is one that will be attractive to most adventure seekers. Although group tours and mass tourism is still widely available, many people are looking nowadays for more independent friendly travels. Much Better Adventures describes this as: Independent, individual and personal. Run by friendly people who share your passion for adventure, live locally, and know the best spots.
However the biggest challenge is how to find this trip. Most websites are still dominated by the big organizations who has a huge capital to spend on marketing (instead on the quality of the travel).
For me this was one of the reasons to start a travel organization in Ecuador, where I have worked as tour guide. I was surprised about the non-personal atmosphere of the trips and the distance with the local people. I set up an organization, named Go Local! that works together with locations owned by local people or run by a community. The same is for the activities that can be done; they are small scale and run locally or a possibility to visit a tribe.
The idea originated after contact with development organizations in Ecuador with a legitimate plan but without money for implementation. As well as the visits of local communities that had set up a nice tourism activity but no visitors. Knowing that in Ecuador there are still no affordable travels that make use of local initiatives, a liaison was made. With this concept travelers can explorer another Ecuador against a fair price. Moreover we support development projects by these special tours and travelers may visit the development projects during their journey.
To add local tourism at a program is not that simple as one might think. The locations for the trip are screened on accessibility (public transport), safety, comfort and price. But a place that looks well organized today can be dirty the next day. Support in management, ideas and marketing is highly needed. Another challenge is communication, as easy as we can send an email that difficult it can be for a community to get internet connection or even be reachable by mobile phone. Furthermore the setting of goals is a challenge. To improve a place to make it suitable for tourists is an activity with a lot of patience. Another important one is cultural differences. We clearly see that we have to translate our ideas and knowledge to get it understandable for the locals. They are thinking from their own setting or maybe the Ecuadorean but both can be very different than a Western idea, which is the final customer. You simply cannot just say a place has to be clean or comfortable, more description is needed. Positive about Ecuador is that there is already national tourism and this is the reason why there is already some good infrastructure. Where a national tourist want to have easy access, good radio and TV sounds, clear lights in the night ask a traveler for a more environmentally friendly and peaceful setting. This gives hope and opportunities to some community based locations that were neglected by the national tourist, but can be the perfect spot for the traveler.
All in all a bit of patience is needed but once things are running and you see the pride of the community which feels great. Go Local hopes that they can support these locations and be a benefit for them as well as for the traveller who want to find these spots with just a little bit of help. It is clear that the local initiatives need support from outside to get their business working. Go Local! is trying to give the community another platform to work as partners and to sell the product on their website. For us involving local tourism is not seen as a unique concept to charge high prices but as the logic standard. Another benefit is that the traveler can connect all the locations and create in this way a fully organized holiday. We have now realized trips to communities in the jungle, Otavalo, Nanegal, Cuenca, Quininde and Santo Domingo. At these locations you can share the daily life of the community and explore with them the surrounding. This can be working in the farmland or going for caimans. These trips can be combined with activities like rafting, surfing, mountain biking, hikes and mountaineering.
The most important chance of success for a local project is continuity and that is the aim for Go Local! In this way they are able to give the tourist the service that is needed and soon the project can run more and more on its own. Go Local! has written a special guidebook to make sure that the traveler can easily reach the local project. Because at the end you are you are looking for a better adventure but you are on a holiday as well.

With tourism being an important economic asset in Ecuador, Go Local!, a local member based in Ecuador, are very much involved in changing the way tourists see their country. Here Go Local! give us their thoughts on travelling locally.

The spirit of Much Better Adventures is one that will be attractive to most adventure seekers. Although group tours and mass tourism is still widely available, many people are looking nowadays for more independent friendly travels. Much Better Adventures describes this as: Independent, individual and personal. Run by friendly people who share your passion for adventure, live locally, and know the best spots.

However the biggest challenge is how to find this trip. Most websites are still dominated by the big organizations who has a huge capital to spend on marketing (instead on the quality of the travel).

For me this was one of the reasons to start a travel organization in Ecuador, where I have worked as tour guide. I was surprised about the non-personal atmosphere of the trips and the distance with the local people. I set up an organization, named Go Local! that works together with locations owned by local people or run by a community. The same is for the activities that can be done; they are small scale and run locally or a possibility to visit a tribe.The idea originated after contact with development organizations in Ecuador with a legitimate plan but without money for implementation. As well as the visits of local communities that had set up a nice tourism activity but no visitors. Knowing that in Ecuador there are still no affordable travels that make use of local initiatives, a liaison was made. With this concept travelers can explorer another Ecuador against a fair price. Moreover we support development projects by these special tours and travelers may visit the development projects during their journey.

To add local tourism at a program is not that simple as one might think. The locations for the trip are screened on accessibility (public transport), safety, comfort and price. But a place that looks well organized today can be dirty the next day. Support in management, ideas and marketing is highly needed. Another challenge is communication, as easy as we can send an email that difficult it can be for a community to get internet connection or even be reachable by mobile phone. Furthermore the setting of goals is a challenge. To improve a place to make it suitable for tourists is an activity with a lot of patience. Another important one is cultural differences. We clearly see that we have to translate our ideas and knowledge to get it understandable for the locals. They are thinking from their own setting or maybe the Ecuadorean but both can be very different than a Western idea, which is the final customer. You simply cannot just say a place has to be clean or comfortable, more description is needed. Positive about Ecuador is that there is already national tourism and this is the reason why there is already some good infrastructure. Where a national tourist want to have easy access, good radio and TV sounds, clear lights in the night ask a traveler for a more environmentally friendly and peaceful setting. This gives hope and opportunities to some community based locations that were neglected by the national tourist, but can be the perfect spot for the traveler.

All in all a bit of patience is needed but once things are running and you see the pride of the community which feels great. Go Local hopes that they can support these locations and be a benefit for them as well as for the traveller who want to find these spots with just a little bit of help. It is clear that the local initiatives need support from outside to get their business working. Go Local! is trying to give the community another platform to work as partners and to sell the product on their website. For us involving local tourism is not seen as a unique concept to charge high prices but as the logic standard. Another benefit is that the traveler can connect all the locations and create in this way a fully organized holiday. We have now realized trips to communities in the jungle, Otavalo, Nanegal, Cuenca, Quininde and Santo Domingo. At these locations you can share the daily life of the community and explore with them the surrounding. This can be working in the farmland or going for caimans. These trips can be combined with activities like rafting, surfing, mountain biking, hikes and mountaineering.

The most important chance of success for a local project is continuity and that is the aim for Go Local! In this way they are able to give the tourist the service that is needed and soon the project can run more and more on its own. Go Local! has written a special guidebook to make sure that the traveler can easily reach the local project. Because at the end you are you are looking for a better adventure but you are on a holiday as well.

Why not check out The Jungle Tour of Ecuador, Rafting Rio Jatunyacu, The hidden valleys of Chimborazo, Los Volcanos Ilinizaor Visit Los Tschilas?

Virgin Atlantic Low Carbon Fuel Breakthrough

Virgin Atlantic have announced today a ‘fuel breakthrough’ with news of a low carbon aviation fuel that will ‘halve the carbon footprint’ of the standard fossil fuel powered flights. Richard Branson said it is the most exciting news he has ever announced. A big moment indeed for sustainable travel, which leaves us with a few questions…

The story:

The carbon monoxide waste gases from industrial steel production will be captured and processed to convert them into liquid fuel suitable for use in aviation.

The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, said Virgin. They go on to say ” it is scalable and sustainable” – the process can be applied to other metal processing and chemical industries.

A demo flight is scheduled for the next 12 to 18 months, with commercial flights between London, Shanghai and Delhi operational in the next 2 to 3 years.

Here is Richard Branson making the announcement:

The burning questions:

We think this is an excellent example of recycling – using waste gases that would other wise go straight into the atmosphere. It does leave us with a couple of questions however.

Is this really a halving of your carbon footprint or a doubling of the amount we can fly on the same carbon footprint?

How many flights are ultimately going to be fuelled this way, and will Virgin be sharing this technology and fuel with other airlines for the sake of the industry as a whole?

Is the airline the best place to be using this new/recycled fuel or would it better redirected to more wasteful and inefficient industrial sectors where greater net co2 savings could therefore be made?

What do you think about all this??

You may also be interested in:

low carbon travel resources, carbon friendly flight finder, and alternative to carbon offsetting.

MuleBar bring out compostable wrappers.

MuleBar are rolling out compostable wrappers across their range as a way of combating the environmental pressure caused by food wrappings. With increasing numbers of people taking part in events, and consuming energy products during their leisure time, our countryside is becoming covered in plastic.

MuleBar’s compostable wrappers are obviously not an excuse to drop litter, but enable you to take home and dispose of them in an environmentally sensible way, echoing the company’s sustainable ethos.

Using non-GMO wood pulp from certified sources, the wrappers can be composted at home, or industrially. The way the composting takes places means that the wrappers won’t degrade on your shelves, as they require warmth, moisture and the presence of micro-organisms to initiate the degradation.

The compostable wrappers are first being used on the most popular flavour, Apple Strudel, and their range of products can be found on theMuleBar website, in cycle shops and independent sports retailers (as well as in selected Tesco stores).

Whilst we’re on the subject of MuleBar, check out the MuleBar GIRL video below – great little edit!

Ladies Pursuits from liammurphyfilms.com on Vimeo.

Chris of Gemini Lights’ muchbetter guide to Vancouver Island

About the Author

Chris Lai lives in Vancouver and is general manager ofGemini Lights, a manufacturer of LED bike lights.

As an innovative company sourcing far and wide for the latest technologies, Gemini promises to produce superior products without the premium price tag.

Why Vancouver Island?

Because the Island has everything your adventure seeking heart desires. Youve got mountain biking, surfing, white water rafting, sea kayaking, rock climbing, hang-gliding, cliff jumping you get the picture.

And if youre not so much an adrenaline junkie (a wee softie) there are things like camping, snorkelling, rock scavenging and the occasional bungee jump that might suit you.

By the way, if you bungee jump naked itll only cost you $35 instead of $99. Let your friends consider it for you.

Favourite spot for mountain biking in Victoria, BC?

The Hartland. Pack some sandwiches, your favourite sports drink, a camera and your favourite playlist on your iPod (if youre a lone wolf) and head over there. You can throw your bike on a rack and drive there in 20 minutes.

Dont have a car? Find a ride from the SIMBS or Pinkbike community who venture there daily. Riders are always happy to share rides and if you have no luck with finding friends you may be the unluckiest sod in town.

Theres still hope in the form of Victorias Regional Transit System. Reliable and cheap, every bus comes fitted with a bike rack for two. Get on the bus to Royal Oak Exchange and ride your way to the Hartland, Google map in hand. The ride should only take 30 mins and dont complain about the hill, the Hartland is worth it.

As a truly sustainable bike park, there are no chairlifts and there are many different types of trails on offer. To suit all rider tastes, Green, Blue, Black Diamond and Double Black Diamonds are all on the menu.

Bike Hike Adventures also have a great Coast to Coast tour.

Lose yourself in the lush, island forest – I dare you.

Favourite places to grab some food in Victoria, BC?

Wow. Where do I start? The Pink Bicycle in downtown Victoria has unreal burgers on tap. Homemade fries cooked with truffle oil are like nothing youve ever tasted.

Line up at Pagliaccis for the best Italian food in town (Tip: Be daring and start with dessert first. Theyll get a kick out of it).

Want something cheap and quick? Eat at Foo. The best Asian fusion sensation to ever touch your lips. Get it hot and take it with you in your box cube.Just dont eat it in public areas or people will ask you for some.

Favourite places for a drink in Victoria, BC?

Canoe Brewpub. Fantastically located on the retro waterfront of Victoria Inner Harbour, youll find a buzzing brewery pub with a log cabin style interior design. The timber and brick construction give a rustic feel that is complimented by the warm smiles from the gorgeous hostesses. Take a moment to step outside and breathe in the cool fresh air and scenic views of Victoria Inner Harbour.

To guarantee a banger night, bring a large group of friends and order the homebrewed beaver brown ale. Itll top all beaver metaphors that youve ever put your mouth on. Alright, next.

Whats the best time of year to come to Vancouver Island?

Summer. The weather is pristine and the killer whales are always in better moods when you govisit.

Anything else you need to share for people planning a muchbetter adventure to Vancouver Island?

Try staying in an Eco Lodge, Free Spirit Spheres. You sleep in a large sphere hanging from tree tops under the stars. Eco living at its best.

I hope you get the idea. Vancouver Island is a pretty sweet place. All the things I’ve mentioned, I’ve done myself and then some. Theres plenty more… surfing in Tofino is also a blast, sea kayaking by Salt Spring Islands was wicked, camping in Wrath Trevor (one of the national parks on the island) is tonnes of fun too.

Click here to check out the accommodation and holiday options on Vancouver Island.

Know somewhere that the ‘muchbetter’ adventure community should know about?

Let us know here or in the comments section below.

Video – new Danny MacAskill

We’re big fans of Scottish mtb trials hero Danny MacAskill, so its fantastic to see a new video of his coming out. Definitely worth sharing, so here it is.

This was part of the Concrete Circus TV program (Channel 4) which we mentioned on ourFacebook page a few weeks ago – If you get a chance to check it out, its well worth it!