BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon has hit a new daily record for COVID-19 fatalities, registering 73 deaths as protesters took to the streets for a second day to denounce strict lockdown measures put in place to curb an exhausting surge in infections. The health ministry said Tuesday the number of new virus-related deaths in a day climbed above 60 for the first time, bringing the total number of deaths in the small country to nearly 2,500. Daily infections have soared in recent weeks and hospitals have struggled with COVID-19 patients, reporting near full occupancy of ICU beds. Nearly 286,000 infections have been recorded since last year.
For me, the takeaway was clear: In terms of immersion, convenience, skill-building and sheer downhill fun-factor, park riding is hard to beat. But parks streamline the process: A day pass brings all the gravity-fueled bliss my legs can stand. This small family-owned ski resort delivers an unexpected punch with its compact but powerhouse bike park. Situated around 35 miles northwest of Harrisonburg in the Alleghany Mountains, the park’s seven trails—which can be combined to form routes more than 2 miles long—are the result of a partnership between Trek and Gravity Logic. They are serviced by a quad lift and offer 500 feet of vertical drop. Trails were custom-designed to promote skill-building and progression. They are punctuated by an array of fantastic wooden bridges and features, tabletops, gaps, drops, and berms. If you’re looking for more smooth-riding flow than rooty, rocky, and technical, this is your jam. Day passes from $38. Pass with bike rental from $95. This northern Pa. ski resort has been recognized by mountain biking website MTB Parks as one of the East Coast’s top-five resort bike parks for four of the past five years. Despite a diminutive summit height of 1,540 feet, Blue Mountain compensates for its lack of elevation with 25 top-notch trails that drop 1,100 vertical feet and make the most of the mountain. Beginner-friendly green runs segue progressive-style into steep, twisty, and rocky intermediate and advanced routes like Formula, Jambalaya, Moto, Miles of Smiles, and OCS that showcase the natural terrain. In addition to dual slalom runs and tons of wooden features, Ewok Village and the newly added El Camino bring jumps, berms and drops. Tip: The resort offers cheap campsites close to the lift. Day passes, $40. Bike rentals from $99. Bike trips with my 13-year-old son had atrophied to an average of zero per month. Desperate for a solution, I turned to Bryce. bryceresort.com Bryce Resort, Va. Blue Mountain, Pa. skibluemt.com By the end of the day he’d put in at least 25 miles of (comparatively) hardcore gravity riding. Better still, he said he couldn’t wait to come back and “work on getting better.” snowshoemtn.com With thousands of miles of killer MTB trails crisscrossing the mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, paying $35-plus to shred in a resort bike park can be perplexing for old school riders and neophytes alike. I was formerly of this camp. But a trip to Virginia’s Bryce Resort last year led to a conversion: I now consider myself an Apostle of Park Riding. How did it happen? Bryce Bike Park’s summer race series welcomes riders of all ages and skill levels the second Saturday of each month throughout the season. / photo by Andrew DeVier-Scott “It’ll be just like snowboarding,” I promised, confronted by his reluctance and suspicion. “We’ll take the lift up the mountain to the trailhead, drop in, ride a professionally manicured route with giant bank curves and more than 50 jumps to the bottom, then hit repeat.” Snowshoe Resort, W.Va. The Beast of the East boasts more than 100 miles of world-class biking trails and will host the 2019 UCI Mountain Biking World Championships this September. The park offers a whopping 1,500 vertical feet of descent. Its 40 routes were designed by trail-building titan Gravity Logic and cater to everyone from first time riders to U.S. national downhill champions like Neko Mulally. High-speed quad lifts bring swift rides to trailheads. Try the smooth and flowy Skyline, which is 2.9 miles long and features massive berms and more than 50 jumps. Take note: Snowshoe is located in a very rural area, so those traveling from any distance will likely want to stay. Plenty of lodging is available atop the mountain or at the nearby Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. Day passes, $45. Bike rentals from $40. Lift-assisted MTB parks bring convenient, immersive thrills for riders of all ability levels. Here are five of the region’s best. Following the Bryce visit I looked for more great regional rides. What follows are five of the best the Blue Ridge and surrounding mountain ranges have to offer. beechmountainresort.com He remained dubious going into the first run. Then came a chute into a give-or-take 10-foot-high berm, followed by a tabletop that sent his Specialized gliding about two feet through the air and into a butter-smooth downhill landing. The raw joy of what could only have been an inadvertent “Yee-ha!” made my heart sing. The bottom found him pedaling hard to the lift. Trails range in difficulty from beginner to pro-level hard, tend to be crafted by world-class professionals, and appear almost neurotically well-maintained. Amenities are close at hand. Jumps and nifty wooden features abound. Trails begin atop high peaks and typically deliver 1-2 miles of pedal-free riding. While a cross-country day at my go-to spot—i.e. Massanutten’s Western Slope—usually brings about 18-20 miles of riding, I spend 70 percent of my time pedaling up hills. Billed as the highest lift-assisted bike park east of the Mississippi, this northwestern N.C. ride center brings 5,500-foot summits and some of the best downhill runs in the Southeast. Accordingly, it hosted USA Cycling National Championships in 2011 and 2012. Ten trails of varying ability levels wind through forests alongside the resort’s ski slopes—the longest of which is about 1.5 miles. Routes offer everything from ultra-advanced technical sections with loads of rocks, drops and multiple lines, to a terrain park and buttery beginner course. Cross-country and enduro fans will enjoy the adjacent Emerald Outback area. Hosting collegiate national mountain biking championships in 2013 and 2014, Beech is home to a 7-mile loop of exquisite single- and double-track. Day passes from $38. Bike rentals from $135. Windrock Bike Park, Tenn. Beech Mountain Resort, N.C. The only park on the list that doesn’t have a lift gets the nod for being one of the most interesting new operations on the East Coast. Co-owned by Neko Mulally, Windrock was purpose-built for enthusiasts by enthusiasts—and subsequently brings 16 of the rawest and gnarliest cross-country and downhill trails in the region. Made infamous by opening with difficulty levels that started at advanced and continued to extreme, the 550-acre park now offers two flowy, machine-built beginner routes, with another three for intermediates. Vertical drop clocks in at an impressive 2,150 feet from a 3,200-foot summit. Weekend van shuttles carry riders to mountaintop trailheads. Camping is available onsite. Weekend passes with unlimited shuttle: $35. Bike rentals: $130. windrockbikepark.com More Biking in the Blue Ridge from our September Bike Issue Here
In 2019, there aren’t too many topics Americans agree upon. One thing, however, most Americans can get behind is rooting for the United States women’s national team at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.The USWNT was tabbed as a favorite to defend its world title and cruised through the group stage of this year’s tournament with a +18 goal differential. Earlier this week, the U.S. defeated Spain 2-1 in the Round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals versus hometown favorite France. Megan Rapinoe — Team USA’s co-captain and one of the most experienced players on the squad — scored both goals to push the Americans past a physical Spanish team. MORE: USWNT vs. France is as big as it gets — and as big as it’s ever beenBut Rapinoe has found herself at the center of a storm of controversy regarding her national anthem decorum. Rather than joining the other 10 starters on her team who all visibly sing along with the anthem as the camera pans down the line of players, Rapinoe sticks out, staring into the distance as her lips remain tight and her facial expression locked as she stands there with her arms by her side.🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/kyPRXnqz7Z— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 11, 2019The silent observance of the anthem is nothing new, but has resurfaced in the media after comments from both Rapinoe and President Donald Trump reignited the anthem-protest flames stemming back to former San Franciso 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem of a Sept. 1, 2016, preseason NFL game.When did Megan Rapinoe start protesting the national anthem?Rapinoe was one of the first white athletes to join Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem. Just three days after Kaepernick kneeled to protest racial injustice and minority oppression in America, Rapinoe followed suit before a match between her Seattle Reign and the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League.Asked after the game why she knelt, Rapinoe told American Soccer Now, “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated, and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”Why does Megan Rapinoe protest the anthem?Megan Rapinoe has long been a passionate advocate for LGBT rights since coming out as gay in 2012. She continues to work with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and supports various other non-profits with similar platforms. Rapinoe has dated WNBA star Sue Bird since 2016.MORE: Rapinoe criticized for not singing national anthem at World Cup”Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,” Rapinoe said in 2016. In a piece for the Players’ Tribune, Rapinoe wrote, “I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country is allowing against its own people. I have chosen to kneel because, in the words of Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.'”Why does Megan Rapinoe now stand during the anthem?Just 10 days after Rapinoe knelt before the Seattle Reign’s game, the U.S. Soccer Federation — the American governing body of the sport and the men’s and women’s national teams — released a statement saying it is its “expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the National Anthem is played.” While Rapinoe was not directly named, the implication was apparent.Statement from U.S. Soccer on ESPN2 broadcast. pic.twitter.com/4n9LfFcBHM— John D. Halloran (@JohnDHalloran) September 16, 2016Months later, U.S. Soccer adopted a policy to its bylaws requiring that every player “stand respectfully during the playing of the national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.” Rapinoe called the new policy “pretty cowardly” and a failure by the federation to engage in an actual conversation about the issue. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Rapinoe said, “We can actually have a conversation, instead of just telling me that it’s a privilege to pull on the jersey. Like, of course it’s a privilege for me to pull on the jersey. Part of that privilege is representing America, and representing America is representing all of America. So I feel like there was a major miss on that part, which is unfortunate.”Since then Rapinoe has abided by the rule but does not put her hand over her heart or sing along with the anthem.”I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” Rapinoe said. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”President Donald Trump vs. Megan RapinoeA long-running tradition of championship-winning teams is to visit the White House and have a meet-and-greet with the president. Don’t count Rapinoe among those planning to visit the presidential estate should the Americans win the World Cup.”I’m not going to the f—ing White House,” Rapinoe told Eight by Eight in a video when asked if she would be excited to go to the White House following the World Cup. The video was shot months ago, but resurfaced in the news cycle when posted Tuesday.“I’m not going to the fucking White House.” – @mPinoe pic.twitter.com/sz1ADG2WdT— Eight by Eight (@8by8mag) June 25, 2019Rapinoe describes herself as a “walking protest” to Donald Trump and the policies his administration supports. Trump responded with a series of tweets on Wednesday:Women’s soccer player, @mPinoe, just stated that she is “not going to the F…ing White House if we win.” Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019….in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019….invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019Earlier in the week in an interview with The Hill, Trump said that although he has yet to take a stance on whether the USWNT deserve the same pay as their male counterparts, he disagrees with Rapinoe not singing the anthem. Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated in May that she is “not going to fake it, hobnob with the president, who is clearly against so many of the things that I am (for) and so many of the things that I actually am.” Do Megan Rapinoe’s teammates support her?While Rapinoe is the only player who doesn’t partake in the singing of the anthem, she is far from the only one on the U.S. team that is vocal against President Trump or in support of gaining equal rights and pay for women.Following President Trump’s tweets condemning Rapinoe, USWNT teammate Ali Krieger tweeted a message of support for Rapinoe. In regards to the “President’s” tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well. I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.— Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) June 26, 2019Teammate Alex Morgan also said in a Time Magazine story in May that she would decline an invitation to the White House and that she doesn’t “stand for a lot of things the current office stands for.”Following the U.S.’s win over Spain, Tobin Heath said the team “is lucky to have [Rapinoe] on [the] team.”The 28 members of the 2015-World-Cup-winning team are suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimmination, pointing out many inequalities such as the $15,000 women players were paid for making the national team compared to the $68,750 of the men.