Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (Finally) Resigns

15 Dec

On Saturday morning, President Trump announced via Twitter the resignation of his Department of the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. 

Zinke has been plagued by scandals practically since the day Trump appointed him to oversee this country's 500 million acres of public land. For the full list of investigations into his business dealings and conduct, check out our tracker: the list includes possibly trying to fire the DOI's Inspector General and questionable uses of taxpayer money.

According to the Washington Post, the probe that finally convinced the White House that Zinke had to go concerned a shady real estate deal in the Secretary's home state of Montana. It's a complicated investigation that was referred to the Justice Department in October. Here's how we described the situation earlier this year

Zinke may have violated conflict-of-interest laws when a foundation under his name worked on a real estate deal with Halliburton chairperson David Lesar. The Interior Department’s internal watchdog opened an investigation—the 11th to date during Zinke’s 16 months at his post—because the secretary stood to personally profit from the deal. Halliburton is one of the largest oil drilling and fracking companies in the world, with projects highly affected by DOI policies. The short version is that Zinke met with Halliburton executives at DOI headquarters in August, and they discussed the Interior Secretary’s Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, which is trying to build a park in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana. A month later, Zinke’s wife signed an agreement allowing a developer connected to Lesar to build a parking lot on land the foundation owns. Lesar is also backing commercial development in Whitefish, including retail shops, a hotel, and microbrewery, that would be set aside for Zinke and his wife. Plus, with all the development nearby, the land Zinke owns would greatly increase in value.

Many conservationists are happy to see Zinke go. “Ryan Zinke will go down as the most anti-conservation Interior secretary in our nation’s history,” Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, told the Washington Post. “Surrounding himself with former lobbyists, it quickly became clear that Ryan Zinke was a pawn for the oil and gas industry. We can expect more of the same from Acting Secretary David Bernhardt, but without the laughable Teddy Roosevelt comparisons.” (If you want to read more about how Zinke really stacks up to Roosevelt, read our writer Wes Siler's opinion.)  

Zinke oversaw a number of initiatives that enraged both environmentalists and outdoor industry representatives during his time in office. Under Trump's orders, he led the charge to shrink a number of national monuments. He launched a Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, then filled it with businesses and other interests that advocated for increasing park privatization. He wooed energy extractors to public lands. As Elliott Woods wrote in the Outside profile of Zinke:

It could be said that the Zinke doctrine is not multiple use but maximum use. In pursuit of President Trump’s energy agenda, he’s pledged to throw open the gates to development on public lands on a scale that has not been seen for decades, if ever. Interior also oversees offshore leasing. In October, Zinke announced the largest lease sale in U.S. history, involving nearly 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, including areas where a moratorium has been in place since the Deepwater Horizon spill. 

All that said, conservationists aren't exactly rejoicing at the resignation. Zinke stands to be replaced by his former deputy, David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist who will take over the DOI immediately as acting director. (Trump is said to be vetting a number of Republican candidates for the top job.) Last month, Siler spoke to a Democratic Congressional staffer about Bernhardt. The source "described Zinke’s corruption as 'penny grifting,' but warned that Bernhardt could be a 'puppet master.'"   

"If Zinke is a swamp monster, then Bernhardt is the bigger, meaner swamp monster who shows up just when the heroes of this bad movie thought they’d won," Siler wrote. 

How to Become a Better Bike Rider in 9 Steps

1 Aug

Good mountain bike riding requires “aggressive finesse,” says Lindsey Richter, founder of Ladies AllRide bike clinics. The mental game matters, sure, but its foundation is firmly rooted in technique. What follows are nine skills to practice on your local trails that will help solidify your riding base. After all, as Richter and her team of coaches preach: Ride bikes, be happy.

#1. Get Your Boobs over the Bars

(Axie Navas)

On steep climbs, aggressively slide your hips forward to move your center of balance up and off the back wheel. It’s amazing what you can climb with this forward-leaning body position.

If you’re dropping off something, you also want to get your chest over the handlebars. “Peek and push,” is how Lindsey describes it: Peek over the bars as you come up to a drop or jump, then push the bike forward so you place the front wheel with deliberation and control, rather than just let it take you for a ride.

#2. You Ride the Bike—Don’t Let It Ride You

(Axie Navas)

Bikes don’t have brains. We need to tell them what to do. Practice wiggling your bike under you when you’re on the trail and in an aggressive riding position (see above) to convince yourself that this machine is not heavy. You are in control of it.

#3. Brake with Just One Finger

(Axie Navas)

The index finger, to be specific. This gives you more control of the bike—more palm on the bars—and plenty of braking power. (Try standing your bike up on its rear wheel and holding the right brake if you don’t believe me—the bike isn’t going anywhere.)

While we’re on the topic of braking, remember that you never want to hit your threshold—you don’t want to squeeze the brakes all the way. This absolutely destroys your traction, making your wheels freeze up like locked knees on an ice rink. Lindsey compares the knobbies on your tire to soccer cleats: You need them to dig into the ground to change direction at speed. One way to push those lugs into the sand is by braking with a rolling wheel—using both your brakes in tandem. Another way: Pump your feet in the apex of the corner.

#4. Think About Rocks as Momentum Blockers

(Axie Navas)

Hit a rock, and it will slow you down. If you want to get over the rock, you’ll need speed or finesse (that is, wheelie over it) or both. One good rule of thumb: When you’re approaching a big momentum blocker, let off your front brake. Pretty simple.

#5. Practice Proper Body Position

(Axie Navas)

There should be a straight line between your wrist and your forearm—the bones should be stacked, without a crick in the wrist. Your elbows should be bent out to the side, like you’re in the middle of a push-up. This gives you more control of the bike and prevents arm fatigue.

#6. Your Feet Matter, Too

(Axie Navas)

Whenever you’re descending, your pedals should be level and parallel to the ground, with your center of balance low and centered over the bike. Now’s the time to put the dropper post down, if you have one. If you don’t, consider buying one—it’s a simple upgrade that makes a bike much more capable on descents. Drop your heels and pump your feet to retain balance and traction in corners or on especially steep stuff.

#7. Know Your Level Lift from Your Bunny Hop

(Axie Navas)

A level lift is where you preload the bike by stomping your feet, then jump straight up into the air with both wheels leaving the ground at once.

A bunny hop, on the other hand, is where you get the bike to arc in the air—like a jumping horse—first with the front wheel and then the rear wheel leaving the ground. It’s a complicated move that involves stringing together a front-wheel manual with a rear-wheel lift. Unless you are an exceptional athlete, you’re not going to master the bunny hop by reading 50 words online—go to one of Lindsey’s clinics and she’ll break it down for you.

#8. Drop Centered

(Axie Navas)

When you’re going over a drop, you want to land centered. The key to this is in the takeoff: When you get to the drop, preload the bike by stomping your feet and jumping—performing a level lift—off the ledge. You’ll land in an aggressive riding position with your feet level.

#9. Banish the Negative Thoughts

(Axie Navas)

In mountain biking, as in life, we’re susceptible to self-doubt—that nagging voice in your head that’s a master of worrying at your weaknesses. In mountain biking, that voice is the single biggest thing holding most of us back. (“I couldn’t possibly get over that big step-up!”) It’s also the easiest thing to control: Quiet the voice, believe in yourself, and get over the momentum blocker. Get comfortable with failure, too, and relish your tangible victories.