Monday, May 17, 2010
A friend remarked this weekend that I've improved ridiculously fast in my kayaking skills since the last time he'd seen me practice my rolling in a pool in early March. He said it was due to spending so much time in the boat(s).
I was reflecting on this and decided to actually add up all the hours just to see how much time I really have spent padding. The results surprised me.
Since January 31 I have spent the following number of hours paddling:
14:11 - pool and lake rolling practice
(This doesn't include the rolling I do every time I get into the water. I want to keep this skill strong and fresh.)
19:57 - class I rapids and sea kayaking
10:40 - class II rapids
13:27 - class III rapids
1:28 - class IV rapids (which was over my head but I was lucky)
Which adds up to almost 60 hours in the water with a paddle in my hands.
Since the beginning of April (less than 6 weeks ago) I have paddled 6 different rivers and 3 lakes, some of them multiple times. I have used 7 whitewater boats and 4 sea kayaks. I rolled all of them successfully except one of the sea kayaks that has a high seat back.
By the time Memorial Day rolls around there will be 4-5 more rivers on that list, most of them class III and III+.
Which, considering I only just started lake paddling in earnest in July and began whitewater in late September *is* kind of stunning, I suppose.
I just feel so driven:
1) I just love it. Try to keep me out of a boat. I dare you.
2) I want to make up for lost time, now that I'm physical condition to do it
3) I want to cram as much progress in as possible before I lose my physical ability to handle it (One of my paddling buddies this weekend is in her 60s and an incredible boater, so perhaps this is less of a worry than I think it should be)
Despite all this, paddling is really more of a *reason* to stay in shape than a *way* to stay in shape because it involves a lot of time sitting in the car driving to a destination and sprinting-type exertion once I get there.
Which means I absolutely have to keep up with the spinning, strength training, and swimming so I'll have the power and stamina to handle boating all day for multiple days in a row as will happen in two weeks.
And I have to pay attention to technique to avoid shoulder injury and ice the tendons in my right wrist that became inflamed during the sea kayaking trip two weeks ago.
It's a shame I don't enjoy cycling as much because that does burn carbs. I do love cycling, but not as much as paddling. It doesn't grab me the same way.
There's nothing like approaching a drop, where the world ends over the edge, with your heart pounding and fear running through your veins, and your mind focused on getting down cleanly and eddying out at the bottom to avoid getting mushed up against a dangerous canyon wall...
Gee. That doesn't sound very fun, does it? But it is, I assure you!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I've been paddling a lot lately, both flat and white water.
But yesterday I got to try something new - qajaasaarneq - Inuit rope gymnastics designed to keep kayak hunters in shape during the off season. These exercises are supposed to be the closest thing to rolling a kayak there is, without involving a boat and water, LOL.
These days there are competitions for who can do the most moves in half an hour (each side, forward & backward). There are 26 moves in all:
Let me tell you, these exercises are challenging. I managed the Akulaammillugu move forwards with my right leg above the rope, and could do it until I was dizzy. It's the easiest move and the only one I mastered.
I almost managed Akulaammillugu backwards with the same leg in front. My pulled hamstring complained when I tried Akulaammillugu forward with the left leg in front.
I *almost* managed Pallussineq but just couldn't quite get all the way back over.
All of us tried Qajaasaarneq and a few of the more experienced kayakers managed it, both forward and backward.
It was a really good workout. So good that I'm thinking of getting rid of the Bowflex in the basement, moving the Olympic cage to where the Bowflex is, and hanging some ropes where the Olympic cage is now. That could be a fun thing to have in the basement to work on during the winter...
We also tried some of the high rope exercises. One guy even managed to get up and over it! None of us managed the one-hand hold (Kisitsineq).
The requirements for setup are pretty minimal. It would be fun to see this end up as a new esoteric exercise regime for the masses, LOL.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The new boat, an 18 ft QCC 700X. A sweet roller & cruiser. I've graduated! LOL
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Last July as a reward for losing 100 lbs I got myself a little 12 ft Current Designs Kestrel. I loved that boat. I took it out almost every day after work. I paddled it in all kinds of weather, including crazy storms (just ask CARRIE1948, LOL).
There was a problem, though. After about a month I found that I wanted to go faster. It seemed kind of stubby and slow. It was so stable I had problems edging it. And whenever there was wind or a diagonal following sea I spent more effort correcting course than I did actually moving forward.
In other words, I outgrew the boat. Although I actually outgrew it in about a month, I loved it so much I kept paddling it anyway. It was pretty fast for what it was, handled nicely, and was comfortable. But I knew that I'd eventually have to replace it with something more designed for big water like we have sometimes on Seneca Lake.
On Monday morning I met some friends and tried three of their boats: Necky Looksha (I hated it - couldn't roll it at all!) Perception Shadow (really impressed with it, actually), and a QCC 700X that they use for racing. Gosh, the QCC was a sweet ride. Fast, smooth, and rolled almost as easily as the Shadow. It was also 18' long.
I looked at the Paddling.net classifieds and there were a few shorter used QCC boats for sale in the northeast, and one Shadow that had been in CT was sold already. So I thought, "I'll keep that in mind for the future. Oh well."
Later the same afternoon I looked again, and suddenly there was a new ad, for a 700X, somewhere in NY. Gee. Maybe it's only in the Hudson Valley, or Buffalo? I wrote back and asked about it.
Nope. West Syracuse. Less than an hour's drive. And this boat that goes for $3000-$4000 new was being sold for $1800 and the owner said he'd paddled it 3 times. So I wrote back and said I was taking a rest day from the triathlon training (which was true) and could I come see it tonight?
It was in pristine shape. I'm actually kind of surprised he'd paddled it at all. Almost no marks, even on the hull. So in the end I bought it and drove home Monday night with an 18' boat on top of my Honda Fit (which is 5' shorter than the boat, LOL).
The funny part is, until Saturday I'd never heard of QCC, and until Monday morning I'd never even seen one, let alone paddled one!
I've ordered foam to pad out the cockpit some and add thigh braces, but as you can see from the video it already rolls just fine.
It also cruises. No wonder people race in them.
I'm going to use it for cruising up and down Seneca Lake after work, and for kayak camping.
And I know that it'll handle those nasty diagonal following seas just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Back in September I took a whitewater kayaking class so I could learn how to roll for my lake boating.
It was all well and good while we practiced in the pool, and even on the one day outing.
But everything changed when we did the overnight trip to the Middle Moose river in the Adirondacks.
We went down that section twice; once on Saturday when the river was running at 3.5, and once on Sunday when it was running at 4ft.
Saturday was a blast, although frustrating. I was in a giant RPM Max boat that was so big I couldn't maneuver it at all, but it was so buoyant that it basically floated me upright through everything no matter what I did.
Sunday was a mess. I traded down to a Jackson 4Fun play boat with much less volume (its original paddler got so beat up on Saturday he decided not to go at all on Sunday), the river was higher, and I swam at every rapid, as most of us did. One student even lost her paddle - we never did find it. The instructors decided halfway through to cut the trip short and we walked up the hill to the road.
That day I was cold, tired, and yet still wanted to keep going. And that day it became personal. Between me and the river. I vowed that I'd lose the rest of the weight, get my rolls solid, build up my core and upper body strength and return in time for spring to do that same section at the same water level, with finesse.
I decided I'd become the baddest 40-something ass on the river who used to weigh over 300 lbs. And if that pool of competition was too small, I'd open it up to ANY paddler on the river who used to weigh over 300 lbs. LOL
Today, 7 months later, the first time out in my new boat on moving water, I did it. No swimming, no rolling, AND we added a rapid at the end that was much bigger than anything I'd done in September. According to the gauge the water level was somewhere between 3.93 and 3.9ft, which is close enough to 4ft, in my book.
In one way I feel really good about this; I set out to show the Middle Moose who was boss, and I've done that. On the other hand, as so often with achievements, it was a bit anti-climactic.
I kept waiting for those big scary waves and holes I'd remembered. And we got to the point where the class finished in September and one of the guys said, "gee, that was tame" and I found myself thinking, "but it hasn't begun, yet. what happened?" And now that I've actually done it, on my first day out of the 2010 season, holy heck what am I supposed to AIM for between now and September?! LOL
According to one of my companions the last rapid we added was supposedly a low class IV.
One of the guys did come out of his boat (it's hard to roll that boat - it's a weird Italian play boat). Another who'd gone down before me said he'd come through the rapid all which-way. Somehow I got lucky on that one and missed most of the big holes and punched through the ones I didn't miss. And I stayed pointed downstream.
Part of the credit I think is due to my boat. It's a Pyranha M3 233 creek boat, designed for big water - and I bought it because I figured it would be forgiving of my mistakes more than a river runner or a play boat.
And I was right, I think. Today demonstrated that.
Unlike the RPM Max, it actually fits me, so there is lots of ability to edge and maneuver it. It spins on a dime. I can see that I'm going to find this boat very comfortable for a long time, unless I start getting into playboating.
Amusingly, on the way back to the cars we ran into the guy I'd bought the boat from. He now paddles a Pyranha Burn, which is the next generation after the M3 and he says he loves it.
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