Category: Good Company

Best Towns for Bike Lovers

By dweb247 on April 24th 2018

When a city creates both a bike share program and safe cycling infrastructure, people become more comfortable on bikes. Once-empty streets become pedestrian paradises. Long-time residents and tourists alike start to appreciate the city in a new way, at a more humane pace. Bike sharing is now available in over 200 cities across the world, and quite a few American cities have recently announced new systems or high-profile expansions.

Cyclists Ride the Green Lanes in Seattle – Adam Coppola Photography

We recommend each of the following cities as bike-friendly and fun to visit right now, and we’ve given you a quick itinerary suggestion to get you started. We’ll start in the West and work our way all the way to the Big Apple, stopping at a couple of our favorite bike towns along the way. Of course there are many more great cities for the dedicated velo enthusiast, but here are a few that stand out as worth a visit right now.

CLASSIC BEAUTY: SAN FRANCISCO

It seems obvious to put San Francisco on any bicycling list, but the city hasn’t just rested on its reputation for being a bike town. The city has recently announced expansion of its bike system, called the Bay Area Bike Share. The number of bikes will increase tenfold, from 700 to 7,000 bikes over a two year period, with many new stations coming online as part of the expansion.

Our favorite route:

There are few things more beautiful to do with a morning than to ride along the waterfront, past Fort Mason in the Marina, the yacht club and then Crissy Field. For a longer ride, head on over the Golden Gate to Sausalito. This can easily be a full-day excursion with stops at any number of coffee shops and boutiques, so you may want to look at a full-day rental.

Cycling the Golden Gate Bridge –Salith Igde

You’ll want a windbreaker, especially on the bridge, as the bay can be quite chilly, even in summer. As Mark Twain once said, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Take your time exploring Sausalito, but when you’re feeling peckish, don’t miss Bar Bocce. This waterfront spot has wood-fried pizza and a cozy feel with a fire pit and (you guessed it) a bocce court. Bikes are allowed on the ferry back into town from Sausalito, so if you don’t feel like pedaling back up hill, you can take the scenic route instead. Be warned: you may have to wait for a couple ferries; even though most of the bottom level of the ferry is set aside for bike storage, the racks fill up fast.

FROM BROAD TO BIKE-FRIENDLY: SALT LAKE CITY

When Brigham Young led Mormon settlers west in 1847, I don’t think he could have imagined how many lives the streets would have; he purportedly wanted the roadway to be wide enough for a horse-drawn wagon to turn around “without resorting to profanity.” Now, almost 170 years later, visionary city planners have made it so that cyclists and pedestrians can use those same streets without resorting to profanity.

Several of these famously broad, straight streets in the Utah capitol have been tamed with bike lanes protected by a line of parking. New greenways have been coming online over the past few years, with more to come. Multi-use paths like the Sugar House Greenway will connect neighborhoods and make safe cycling more accessible for everyone. The GREENbike system also only costs $5 for a day pass, making it one of the cheapest systems to use.

Mountain Biking the Bonneville Shoreline Trail –Liji Jinaraj

Our favorite route:

Check in with one of the downtown bike shops for a “Cycle the City” guide (or print your own), with destinations and a route map for a half-day tour of downtown. Don’t miss the “optional loop” which will take you up City Creek Canyon past the Capitol. Your reward? Beautiful views of the mountains and downtown. Time it for sunset or sunrise for an even more dramatic and Instagram-worthy experience. The maintenance road through City Creek Canyon is closed to cars on odd-numbered calendar days, so if you’re looking for more, keep climbing, and the road continues for 5.8 miles. Mountain bikers will also enjoy the Bonneville Shoreline for miles of amazing views.

THE BIKE REPUBLIC: BOULDER

Okay, everyone knows Boulder has outdoor cred, but the “People’s Republic” isn’t all spandex and shaved legs. Boulder’s compact downtown and B-Cycle bike share system make it easy to stitch together a low-key, pedal-powered summer day with friends.

Our favorite route:

Let’s assume you and your crew are camped out at Basecamp Hotel, a hip–and actually affordable–new hotel in town. Right out your front door, at the corner of 21st and Arapahoe, you can jump on a B-Cycle. You’re within a few blocks of the Boulder Creek Path. If it’s a hot day, there’s no better way to cool down from your ride than a fun tube down Boulder Creek.

You’re going to want a workout after a Snarfburger –Mark McKnight

For lunch, head back toward the hotel to dock the bike and eat outside on the picnic tables outside Snarfburger. Order a double-bacon burger with fries and get one of their legendary frozen custards. Jump back on the bike after your burger and ride off the calories, this time heading west, where the Boulder Creek path ends and you can dock at Settler’s Park. From there you could even jump on the Red Rocks Trail for a hike. On the way back, stop in at West End Tavern and ask for a table on the rooftop terrace. End your adventurous day with a casual stroll back through the open-air shopping district–and perhaps a couple cocktails–on Pearl Street.

THE BIG APPLE BECOMES A BIKE TOWN: NEW YORK CITY

If you’re in the big city and looking for a great way to see more than you would on foot, hop on a Citi Bike and explore Central Park. The city has been investing big-time in pedestrian and bike improvements, and like San Francisco, cycling the city streets is no longer reserved for hard-core bike messengers. If you haven’t visited the Broadway corridor lately, you won’t even recognize it, and essentially every borough now has access to safe bike transportation.

Despite a rocky start, the city’s bike share program, Citi Bike, has announced a plan to double the number of bikes from 6,000 to 12,000. New stations are popping up all over the Upper East and Upper West, as well as Brooklyn neighborhoods from Boerum Hill to Park Slope and Red Hook.

Cyclists in Central Park –Mark McKnight

Our favorite route:

Spend a half day cycling through Central Park, where you can pick up a fresh-squeezed juice at one of the vendor trucks on the periphery of the park. You may want to rent a bike, as the Citi Bikes are designed for quick trips and get expensive after 30 minutes. Bikes are avaiable at Tavern on the Green and Merchants’ Gate Plaza. Central Park Conservancy’s “Greensward Guides” can help orient you and show you where to go, or go to their website for the trail map. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop at another food truck for lunch.

CITIES WE KNOW WE’RE LEAVING OUT

Clearly there are many more fantastic cities for cyclists than we have space to cover here: Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Madison, Tucson… and many more. Even Los Angeles, with its historical focus on the automobile, now has green lanes popping up all over downtown. With protected bike lanes going in across the country, there’s never been a better time to hop on two wheels and get some fresh air.

Clothes you can bike in!

The Women’s Airbrush Sleeveless Deco Shirt pairs perfectly with the Touchstone Short 11″ for a seamless pedaling experience. The Men’s Airscape Shirt breathes perfectly while the Mission Ridge 10.5″ Short has just enough length to keep you comfortable.

Earth Week is Here!

By dchulst on April 16th 2018

We have been celebrating Earth Day for as long as we’ve been making clothing, which (if you’re counting) is 22 years! Every April 22nd we reflect on the current state of the planet and look at how we can do our part to leave it a little better than we found it. From our deign philosophy to our customer service, we’re committed to creating a greener, more sustainable future for everyone. This year, we’re taking Earth Week (April 16 – April 22) to check-in with all our sustainability initiatives. Follow us on Instagram @toadandcoclothing for our sustainability updates throughout the week, and come say hi at our booth at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival!

We may be partial given that Earth Day originated in Santa Barbara, but we truly believe that our hometown has the most awesome Earth Day festival in all the land. With sustainability workshops, eco vendors, and the happy buzz of a community committed to environmental protection, the SB Earth Day Fest is a place for like minds to gather and to grow. This year we’ll have a tent by the beer garden (prime location, if you ask us), and we’re showing off our favorite new eco styles. Stop by our booth to take our polaroid #wearsustainable pledge!

If you play your cards right, you may even meet Dr. Drew, the king of customer service.

This year’s Earth Week theme is End Plastic Pollution, an initiative we have long been committed to. This season we partnered with a recycling company, Repreve, to create men’s and women’s styles made from upcycled plastic bottles. We’re putting our foot down when it comes to single use plastics, but it takes a little bit of action from everyone. So kudos to you for using reusable bags, skipping straws at Starbucks, and ditching plastic water bottles for reusable canteens. By eliminating single use plastic, we all contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet. Every little bit counts and YOU make a difference. Happy Earth Week!

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Our Eco styles feature fibers made from recycled bottles.

Winning Recipe from the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

By dchulst on April 11th 2018

What do Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt all have in common? All three of these famous creatives were able to produce stunning artwork from relatively simple materials. The magic lies in the artist’s ability to create something greater than the sum of their materials, and this philosophy is exactly what propelled UCSB’s Bren School to victory at the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown. For those unfamiliar, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is the biggest cooking competition west of Paris, and draws some of the world’s best chefs and artisan sandwich makers (that we know of).

With stiff competition and numerous competitors duking it out for the coveted Golden Spatula trophy, recipes are often kept secret. After all, why would you divulge such confidential and fame-inducing information? But this reserved mindset is not shared by all, especially the team from UCSB’s Bren School. They were generous enough to share the recipe to their winning sandwich, The Vampire Slayer, so everyone can enjoy their marvelous creation. Recreating the greatest grilled cheese sandwich of the year may be difficult, but rest assured, with enough time and dedication, you’ll surely be able to turn out a sandwich capable of slaying vampires!

The Vampire Slayer by UCSB’s Bren School

Ingredients

1 loaf of sourdough bread (The winning bread was from Helena Ave Bakery.)







Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese (Try some from Face Rock creamery.)







Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese (The one from Kerrygold is a good bet.)







Garlic Parsley Butter (1 stick of butter, 4 cloves of mashed garlic, liberal pinch of parsley.)







Homemade Marinara Sauce.

Instructions

For one sandwich, allocate enough Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese slices to cover an entire piece of sourdough bread.







Top the Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar cheese with a few slices of Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese.







Liberally apply garlic parsley butter to the outsides of both pieces of sourdough bread.







After the garlic butter has been applied to the bread, garnish the outsides with parmesan cheese for a toasted parmesan crust.







Place the sandwich on an already hot griddle, and toast until the bread has a light brown color, and a crispy texture.







Now you are ready to experience The Vampire Slayer!

The best team of the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown, UCSB’s Bren School!

6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

By dchulst on April 10th 2018

Every culture has a tradition that transcends time and becomes a shining beacon of pride. The Romans tout their architectural acumen, Hawaiians boast a proud wave riding culture, and Toad&Co is known the world over – nay, across the galaxy – for our unparalleled expertise in making grilled cheeses. But this rich cultural tradition (yes, we’re talking about the cheese) didn’t just pop out of thin air. No, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown was born out of both necessity and celebration. A celebration of the divine union of bread and cheese, and the need to find the one grilled cheese to rule them all. In 2011, the inaugural Grilled Cheese Smackdown was held by a handful of Toads in the office kitchen. It was the stuff legends are made of – fontina, cracked pepper jack, triple-cream brie… a tradition in the making. Well, grilling.

Over the years, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown has become a melting pot of intense competition, family rivalry, and good ol’ fashioned fun. Competitors line up at the ready and have 30 minutes to crank out 10 sandwiches – 2 for the judges, 8 for the crowd. Hungry onlookers watch the masters work and wait patiently for a bite of the good stuff. For the purists, a Make-Your-Own grilled cheese table has all the butter, bread and cheese you could ever want, and we recommend dunking into the world’s best tomato soup from longtime partner Organic Soup kitchen. To wash everything down, Draughtsmen Alework’s Blond Buxom poured freely all evening !

The stuff dreams are made of (CARBS).
A young chef in the making.
Even puppies love the Grilled Cheese Smackdown!

While the competition at this year’s Smackdown was intense, a few sandwiches stood out. A rookie Toad&Co team, Kira and Helena from our Design and Product Departments, came out swinging with the “Santorini Panini”, a beautiful basil and olive sammy that left everyone’s fingers Greecy (see what we did there….). Longtime competitors, UCSB’s Bren School warded off all bad spirits with “The Vampire Slayer” with heaps of garlic and a parmesan crust that slayed the taste buds. Our neighbors at Toad HQ, Team Ontraport’s sando, “The Briegal,”made good use of brie and granny smith apples. DE-LISH.

The Santorini Panini, in all its Greecy glory!
UCSB’s Bren School knows that presentation is everything at the Smackdown.
A little of this, and a little of that. It all came together for Ontraport’s Briegal sando!

But impressing the crowd is not enough. The judges are the ultimate authority on who will take home the coveted Golden Spatula Award. This year’s judges included past champions from Visit Santa Barbara, chefs from Organic Soup Kitchen, and our very own Danny, our West Coast Sales. In the post-eat interview, Danny referred to the event as “the best day of his life!” We can relate. When the dust settled, the judges declared the winner of the Golden Spatula to be UCSB’s Bren School for their scary-tasty Vampire Slayer Sandwich!

1st place at the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is an honor indeed, but the coveted People’s Choice Award is the true vote of the masses. More votes were tallied this year than ever before, and the perennial favorite, Alpha Resource Center once again clinched the people’s choice award.

As an event that has come to define Toad&Co and will (hopefully) take over the world, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown once again proved that a group of friends and a few beloved snacks is really all you need for an afternoon of epic proportions.

Beer + Cheese = Fun!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown!

5 Awesome Outdoor Documentaries to Inspire You to Get Outside

By dchulst on April 6th 2018

There are days when a warm bed sounds so much better than getting outside and enduring the elements. Let’s be honest, type 2 fun doesn’t exactly sound wonderful all of the time. But there’s no better cure for stoking your adrenaline and getting after it—no matter how chilly it is—than being inspired by others doing just that. To that end, here are our picks for 5 gripping, critically acclaimed outdoor documentaries that each tell a remarkable story about the outdoors and the adventurers, athletes, and environmental icons who run, climb, race, and row their way to glory (most can be streamed on Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu). Grab the popcorn and get ready to get inspired (and then outside).

1. MERU

World-famous photographer Jimmy Chin’s compelling film, which won the coveted U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of climbers Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk, and Chin as the trio attempts the first ascent of Meru’s notorious “Shark’s Fin.” After a failed attempt in 2008, the three men are determined to return and conquer this peak, and the film delves into the near obsession the world’s most elite mountaineers face as they tackle these death-defying expeditions.

2. DESERT RUNNERS

Desert Runners, which was released in 2013, follows a group of amateur runners as they attempt to complete the 4 Deserts race series, one of the most difficult endurance series in the world, in one year. The races take place over the course of 155 grueling miles in the Gobi, Sahara, and Atacama deserts, with the final race in Antarctica. Runners compete over the course of several consecutive days, sleeping at designated camps and slogging on the next day. You’ll have a newfound appreciation for gear like gaiters that keep sand out of shoes and feel intensely connected to the featured runners.

3. VALLEY UPRISING

Valley Uprising, which was released in 2014, spans the 60-year history of climbing in Yosemite. Anyone familiar with the history of climbing will love seeing icons like Royal Robbins, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Dean Potter, and the other colorful characters who pioneered the scaling of Yosemite’s big walls, and then took it to the next level. The film focuses on the three generations of counter-culture outdoorsmen who set up camp in the Valley and, much to the dismay of law enforcement, transformed the big wall landscape into what it is today.

4. UNDER AN ARCTIC SKY

Think surfing was limited to coasts lined with palm trees and warm sandy beaches? This 2017 film follows six intrepid (insane?) surfers as they travel to the northern coast of Iceland in the middle of winter in search of perfect waves. This region sees only three hours of daylight during the winter months, which would make for enough of a story, until the worst storm in 25 years hits and turns their excursion life-threatening.

5. MADE TO BE BROKEN

In 2016, Karl Meltzer broke the supported Appalachian Trail speed record after making it from Maine to Georgia on foot in under 46 days. This 2017 documentary follows Meltzer on his 2,189-mile journey, and he’s a real kick to watch. A superb athlete who doesn’t take himself too seriously, Meltzer is entertaining and self-deprecating—and falls down a lot. Red Bull, which produced this film, did a phenomenal job telling the story of this personable, quirky, and altogether astounding athlete from start to finish.

If these documentaries don’t get you fired up to charge the outdoors, we have one more motivating trick up our sleeve. Recently, Toad&Co Ambassador Emily Jackson kayaked a portion of the Grand Canyon, and documented her trip on our blog. This insightful tale of 15 days on the water is everything you need to stop what you are doing and get outside.

Written by Maggie Slepian for RootsRated.