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outdoors | recreation

Categories within outdoors | recreation

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Photo: Tour de France cyclist shares shocking photo of veiny legs

People across the world marvel at athletes’ physiques and rightfully so. They train months, even years, to get in great shape. 

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However, what people don’t always see is the grueling effect it has on the body. Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski changed that this week when he shared a picture of his veiny, muscular legs on Instagram

Poljanski, who is competing in the Tour de France, captioned his photo: “After sixteen stages I think my legs look (a) little tired.”

In just 21 hours, the photo garnered more than 22,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments. 

The image was also shared on Twitter, where users expressed awe and disgust.

U.S. Quidditch Cup, based on Harry Potter books, headed to Texas in 2018

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! The U.S. Quidditch Cup is headed to the Sports Capital of Texas next year.

»RELATED: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter turns 20 | See how to celebrate

The organization announced the news earlier this week, revealing that the event will be held April 14-15 at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.

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“We are honored to host the players, families and fans in Round Rock for the U.S. Quidditch Cup in April 2018,” Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Yawn said in a release. “How exciting that the year of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, the Sports Capital of Texas gets to announce that the magical, competitive Quidditch national championships will be held here!”

U.S. Quidditch announced finalists for the location of the cup in May, which included Lubbock, Round Rock and Wichita Falls. The finalists were selected based on bids, which were evaluated on location of the bid, the quality of facilities, the amount of financial support and the level of community support, according to the release. Round Rock beat out the others mainly because of the ample room of its facility, it says. 

Though Round Rock has yet to start its own official team, the Austin area is home to two national championship winning teams: Texas Quidditch and Texas Cavalry. In the 2016-17 season, Texas had more teams registered with USQ than any other single state in the league, according to U.S. Quidditch. 

The Quidditch tournament, which first came to life in 2005, is a real-world adaptation of the game Harry Potter and his friends played in the popular book series. The magical sport involves two teams who “fly on brooms,” competing to score the most goals. It can be described as a cross between rugby, basketball and dodge ball.

Want to learn more about the competition? Find out about tickets and teams here

Photos: AJC Peachtree Road Race 2017

Woman stalked by wolf for 12 hours, saved by bear

A woman wasn’t sure if she would make it out of the woods after a wolf stalked her for 12 hours. Luckily, a mother bear was nearby and the woman used that to her advantage.

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Joanna Barnaby was with her friend, Tammy Caudron, and her dog, Joey, near Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories of Canada last week when the two women became separated while picking mushrooms, CBC reported. As she returned to her truck, she heard a growl and turned around to see a wolf standing near her.

"I heard this growl behind me. There was a long, tall, very, very skinny wolf. A black wolf. And his legs were spread and his hair was standing, and he was growling and baring his teeth,” she told CBC.

Barnaby said the dog, Joey, attempted to charge the animal, but it didn’t work. She told CBC that the wolf began to attempt to separate the two and work on just one of them. "I think he was weak. He didn't look healthy. He looked old to me. I don't think he wanted to take us both on,” she said.

The two would be stalked by the wolf for 12 hours until finally around 4:30 a.m. Barnaby said she heard a loud noise and recognized that it was a mother bear and her cub.

"I heard this big crashing behind me and realized that the mama bear had attacked the wolf, or maybe the other way around, I don't know, but they were fighting and I could hear the wolf yelping and I could hear the mama bear growling, and I could hear all this crashing and I just took off," she said.

Barnaby and her friend's dog were able to escape and make it back to the highway, where they were picked up by the authorities. 

Read more at CBC.

WATCH: Fisherman gets a huge shock when he reels in this frightening catch

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A man got a big surprise when he went fishing with his child in the murky waters of Louisiana.

While filming on his GoPro at Lake Fausse Point State Park, Lance Burgos thought he hooked a catfish on his fishing line but instead caught a huge alligator.

“Oh my God! That’s a big (expletive) gator!” Burgos screams in the video as he pulls up the reptile. He is then seen pedaling for dear life on his boat as his child behind him is heard crying.

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At one point in the video, the child tries to grab the fishing line before the gator appears, which got a lot of viewers’ attention.

“So glad you and your child are safe,” commented one viewer. “Directing your child to be careful and not reach out to grab the line was a wise move!”

On Sunday, Burgos posted the heart-pounding footage to YouTube, where it has already received more than 2.7 million views.

“Kayaking and camping at Lake Fausse Point State Park, St. Martinville, La., will never be the same,” Burgos wrote as a caption for the video. 

>> Click here to watch

Thousands of pounds of snow shipped to Alaska for Iditarod dog sled race

This video includes clips from Alaska Dispatch News and Discovery and images from Getty Images.

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Officials in Anchorage, Alaska, have combated an unusually low amount of snowfall with an effective solution. 

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Seven rail cars packed full of snow arrived in Anchorage on Thursday morning ahead of the annual Iditarod dog sled competition. Those seven rail cars of snow are in addition to the 1,000 truckloads already gathered.

Unseasonably warm temperatures forced event organizers to outsource for their snow this year — a cost that is budgeted as a part of regular street maintenance in the city.

While many U.S. states pay for the removal of snow from city streets, Alaska allocates some of a $60,000 budget to bringing in snow ahead of dog races. 

The famous Iditarod competition is a tradition that dates back more than 40 years. It brings hundreds of dogs and people to the ceremonial starting line. 

This year, race leaders had to shorten the starting leg of the race from 11 miles to three miles because of a lack of snow, but organizers are confident spectators won’t be able to tell the difference.

One race organizer told NBC, “race fans concentrated in downtown Anchorage will not notice any changes to the race start as the excitement of having more than 1,000 of the most finely tuned sled dogs in the world will, as always, make for an electric environment.”

The 1,100-mile race kicks off Saturday morning. 

Rare 'super bloom' could sprout millions of flowers in Death Valley

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A rare flower bloom could happen in one of the hottest places on Earth, where 2 inches of rain a year is common.

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Temperatures in Death Valley can exceed 120 degrees.

If the valley, which spans across California and Nevada, gets a little more rain, it could create a "super bloom," a phenomenon in which millions of flowers grow in the normally barren area. It happens about once a decade. The last one was in 2005.

It's not uncommon to see some flowers there, but a super bloom is different.

Park ranger Alan Van Valkenburg advises sightseers to visit the area during the super bloom at least once.

"It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Valkenburn said in a U.S. National Park Service video. "These areas that are normally just rock, just soil, just barren, not even shrubs, they're filled with life. So Death Valley really does go from being a valley of death to being a valley of life."

The National Park Service said in January that it spotted "fields of flowers on the black volcanic rocks."

Currently, there are about 20 wildflower species in bloom, according to park spokeswoman Abby Wines.

The park said above-average autumn rains caused the early bloom. If El Nino rains start falling, it'll be even more spectacular.

Wines recommends interested parkgoers visit Death Valley to witness the super bloom sooner rather than later. She said the flowers will start to wilt in early April, and they'll die when temperatures reach over 100 degrees or when strong winds hit the valley and dry them out. She also suggests visiting the park during the early morning or afternoon, when lighting is brighter and better and the flowers show their most vibrant colors.

Flowers that bloom include the desert gold, a yellow daisy-like flower that has covered large areas of the park, and the desert five-spot, a pink or purple cup flower that can have up to three dozen buds on just one plant.

"One of my favorite flowers is the gravel ghost," Wines said. "It's not a very showy flower. It's just plain white, but what makes it amazing (is) the leaves are flat and blend into the ground and the stalk is very thin so it looks like it's floating 2 feet off the ground."

Read more here.

Photos: Tour a $54 million yacht

Renegade squirrel darts into cyclist's path, causing strange crash, injury

A renegade squirrel ran into the path of the Levi's GranFondo cycling race in Sonoma County, California, on Saturday, causing an unusual collision that left a cyclist injured and disoriented.

According to The Press-Democrat, the rider – one of 7,000 cyclists participating in the race – took a spill after the squirrel darted onto the course and became lodged in the spokes of his bike. The squirrel died; the man reportedly flipped over his handlebars and hit the ground.

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Several riders stopped to snap photos of the squirrel tangled in the spokes, The Press-Democrat reported.

"It was an oddity," said Monte Rio fire Chief Steve Baxman.

"I’ve never seen a squirrel caught in the spokes."

The cyclist, who said he was from Oakland, was disoriented and seemed to have a head injury, Baxman said. He was treated at a nearby hospital.

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