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Ten Waterways

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

In my creek boat, coming up from a roll

Just got back from a weekend in PA where I paddled three more rivers. This brings the grand total paddled in the past 6-7 weeks (since April 11) to TEN.

Here's a list of them, with the rating listed at American Whitewater:

Fall Creek (II-III)
Middle Moose (III)
Catatonk Creek (II)
Letchworth Gorge (II-III)
Black (III+, the parts I've done)
Woodhull Creek (III+)
Lock 32 (II+)
Slippery Rock (II-III)
Lower Youghiogheny (III)
Stony Creek Canyon (III-IV)

In my river runner / play boat about to flip and get trashed in a hole, and end up swimming...
Why? 'cuz I'm not leaning forward, and my paddle ain't in the water. grr. :-p

More pics here:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRACEFULIFE 6/3/2010 4:03PM

    Grrr. Facebook. No hay.

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LALMEIDA 6/1/2010 11:51AM

  Looks like you had quite a lot of fun on your adventure! emoticon

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DDOORN 6/1/2010 9:59AM

    Know whatcha mean @ rollin' a little fear to make for an even greater thrill!

What a SUMMER you're cooking up for yourself! Whew WEEE! :-)


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DANSTOUT 6/1/2010 7:57AM

    Looks like your having a great time!

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    That looks wet. How is the water temp this time of year? Or does it matter?

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/1/2010 7:36AM

    Dude. It ain't fun if it ain't a little scary! LOL

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CARRIE1948 6/1/2010 7:12AM

    Okay, that's starting to look dangerous. Fun, but a bit scary.

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Boat time translates into boating improvement

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OTTAWABOUND 5/21/2010 3:06PM

    I envy you that you have found a physical activity that fuels your passion for life. So far, I still find it a grind. But as I get lighter, I am trying new activities and I'm confident I will find something that I love to the degree you love paddling. Inspiring!

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GEE-KNEE 5/19/2010 10:57AM

    I am glad you found another reason to stay in shape. It sounds like fun.

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ZIRCADIA 5/18/2010 8:44PM

    Sounds kind of terrifying to me, but who knows - I might be like you someday. :) But I so know what you mean about that physical passion that is the reason for staying fit and healthy and not just the means! :) Rowing is definitely something like that for me as is running. Although not EVER row or run feels that way, I want to be healthy, strong, and fit so I can enjoy those things and be better at them. One of my rowing buddies commented that she went to the gym and lifted weights so she could help the club lifting the boat - didn't want to let the team down. hehe. Anyway - thanks for the comment on my blog. Those stupid mental/emotional ruts!!! Such a great way of putting it... but yes, I do get in the ruts. From time to time - and they get nonsensical. But at least I have found a way ot knowing those exist and I can think about it and try to recognize when something bothering me is really a rut and not a true experience.

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MOM5INFL 5/18/2010 6:37AM

    You are quite the athlete! Keep up the good work! Birdie.

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CARRIE1948 5/18/2010 6:31AM

    Unbelievable. Guess you won't want to waste time paddling on the lake with a novice again this summer.

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LINIS_THIN 5/18/2010 3:25AM

    I am always excited by how much you enjoy this.
I love the kayaking machine at the gym but it cannot touch open water.
The few times I kayaked it was not as enjoyable as it would be for me if I did it NOW because I was not as strong and the effort it took on untrained muscles took some of the joy away.

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to kayak again!
Excellent upper body workout!

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KAREN_01 5/18/2010 1:40AM

    Seems I need to get something I really like as a reason to put me through the paces. It seems as if it works fantastic for you, so, it would make sense that it should work for someone else. Now, what will it be.....?

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GRACEFULIFE 5/18/2010 1:21AM

    I was just wondering what you had been up to lately since you don't seem to have been around here that much, and it turns out that you posted a blog entry today. Sounds like you've been having a great time!

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    Very motivating stuff. And I can pronounce the activity this time. What a bonus!

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DDOORN 5/17/2010 8:26PM

    There is NOTHING like finding something that stokes our fires like kayaking does for you!

Biking is becoming that for me too...once I get past hurdles like piriformis troubles...! I can SO relate to that push to "make up for lost time!" I just don't want my body to stand in my way! :-)

Don't know how or when I'll get there, but am aiming to build to a point where I'm touring multiple days/nights on my bike. I think that would be SO AWESOME!

Keep that bonfire blazing!


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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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEE-KNEE 5/15/2010 12:30PM

    Those look like tough exercises. I think I've worked with the guy on the dubside page. LOL or maybe it was just some other goofy looking unshaven vegan mountain man.

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CHEMMD 5/14/2010 9:08AM

  You piqued my interest with that word for your subject. I have to come back and re-read what it is about. Sounds like you like it for exercise though. Enjoy!

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SYSADMN 5/11/2010 11:33AM

    Awesome. They lost me when they said one of the goals of ropework was to build a high tolerance for pain. I'm working on building a high tolerance for avoiding pain. Aches are fine, pain means something is breaking.

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GRACEFULIFE 5/7/2010 5:26PM

    Doubled. Gah.

Comment edited on: 5/7/2010 5:26:28 PM

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GRACEFULIFE 5/7/2010 5:25PM

    Wow, honest there's nothing to do that bolding thing or add R-greater than thing in my comment. I think I broke it.

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GRACEFULIFE 5/7/2010 5:24PM


Doubled (reversed) lockers would be best here. Also multi-wrap the webbing with the knot on the back side. Maybe add some stopper knots to ensure the safety of your water knots - or forget all that and use some pre-sewn runners. Putting in a rig like http://www.qajaqusa.org/common_imag
es/ropes_setup.jpg would be fairly simple. I'd use 4x4s, guy the end ones (each with two guys), and use a cross-wise bolt on each post to hold the rigging at height.

Comment edited on: 5/7/2010 5:24:24 PM

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GRACEFULIFE 5/6/2010 2:08PM

    Setting up the ropes looks like rock rigging... and I can definitely do that. I haven't read the links, but I bet this is something I'd enjoy. A real challenge!!!

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COLOURFULME 5/6/2010 11:44AM

    Great that you are starting to search for other ways to exercise. I still want to skate but have to purchase first a pair and ofcourse the protection for the head, wrists, knees and elbows. As soon as I do I can choose to walk, bike or skate to work. It makes me all jiggling!!!

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EVERLEARNING 5/6/2010 9:48AM

    Wow! Very impessive. Keep us posted on your progress

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KAYOTIC 5/6/2010 9:47AM

    Just had to read based on the title! Now I'm intrigued...

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JESPAH 5/6/2010 6:45AM

    Right now I'm impressed with the spelling of those words. Does it count as cardio if you can pronounce 'em? :)

Seriously, find something you love, and if you can find something new to love, that's a great thing, too. Yay!

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SLENDERELLA61 5/5/2010 2:26PM

    Wow! Impressive workout. Good for you! -Marsha

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MRPLATSON 5/5/2010 2:13PM

    all i need now is a backyard

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DDOORN 5/5/2010 1:45PM

    Cool to keep finding new ways to challenge ourselves!


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    I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat.

Where do you do something like this?

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New Sea Kayak!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The new boat, an 18 ft QCC 700X. A sweet roller & cruiser. I've graduated! LOL

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAVEW175 5/28/2010 5:53AM

    Great boat... enjoy

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FRECKS96 4/28/2010 3:38PM

    Beautiful!! Enjoy every second of it!

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    How exciting and truly inspiring.


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ALEXAALEXA 4/28/2010 11:07AM

    Super cool, I added you as my friend, hope you don't mind and I joined your team

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JESPAH 4/27/2010 7:17AM

    Oh man I haven't paddled anything in forever. Makes ya wonder if ya can still do it (of course! ha!). Great stuff -- you're really doing it and really pursuing cardio that you love. That's awesome.

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NANJHALL 4/16/2010 6:11AM

    You are my inspitation.....

I sld my kayak because I got to big for it. I loved and and really miss the feel fo r cutting through the water and the peacefullness of it.

I am putting a picture of you and your kayak on my inspiration board!!!!! emoticon

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LIFE-OF-LEISURE 4/15/2010 1:44PM

    That's a sweet ride! and the water looks gorgeous!

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RAINBOWFALLS 4/15/2010 9:29AM

    very nice

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CARRIE1948 4/15/2010 7:54AM

    Amazing new yak. Enjoy

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4MYBOYSANDSELF 4/15/2010 6:42AM

    So cool! And that water looks so gorgeously clear... I've only tried kayaking once, in a river. I wound up stuck upside down under a tree branch for what was probably a couple of seconds, but felt like hours... It scared me more than anything I've ever done. But on a nice calm lake? Hmmm...

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GRACEFULIFE 4/14/2010 10:47PM

    That looks like a heck of a boat. And I see you made sure to demo the roll on BOTH SIDES for me this time! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 4/14/2010 10:47PM

    Ooh, you make me homesick for the finger lakes! Looks like a blast.

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DDOORN 4/14/2010 10:35PM

    What a sweet, sweet reward!

How fortunate to find such a gem so close to home!

You're gonna COOK in that thing! Woo hoo!


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LINIS_THIN 4/14/2010 10:35PM

    I LOVE the feeling of the kayaking machine in the gym!

Now that my arms are stronger I know I cn kayak better than my pathetic first attempts as a novice!

You make me really want to try again!

(Now where can I find a kayak and some water?)

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ANNE7X7 4/14/2010 10:05PM

    WOWZA! THat`s a huge boat! I bet you will have a blast in this one!! Enjoy!

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ZIRCADIA 4/14/2010 10:04PM

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I'm still scared of that whole rolling situation, but you (and your new kayak) make it look so easy! :D heehhehe. CONGRATS on the great find!

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A kayaking goal accomplished! One more step toward badass status. LOL

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OTTAWABOUND 4/13/2010 10:38AM

    I am so inspired by this blog--not because I want to try kayaking, but because I see that you are doing something that you really enjoy that would not have been possible before you took control of your health. My water fantasy is learning how to surf. And you show me that I will, with patience and work, be able to get there! Thanks.

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JAY75REY 4/12/2010 12:53PM


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KELLYS_JOURNEY 4/12/2010 8:05AM

    Great adventure! Even greater goal setting and accomplishing! Thank you for sharing!

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CARRIE1948 4/12/2010 7:34AM

    You are a lean, mean, energy machine

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SMILINGBREYES 4/11/2010 11:38PM

    Glad you had a BALL!! Done the whitewater rafting but never the kayak. Think I'll keep the kayak to the calm water until I learn to swim. emoticon

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DDOORN 4/11/2010 9:43PM

    Love the way you pull out all the stops when you go after what you want...!

Correction to your blog title...TOWARD badass status...? You've already arrived and are CRUISIN' in badass mode!

Sounds like you've been lovin' your bike BIGTIME!

I'm hoping to crank up the miles soon...everything in noteable biking distance around here always seems to put me @ 18 miles for the round trip. Want to start nailing MORE! I keep tackling nasty hills and LOVE the way my bike can climb! I tend to average between 14-15 mph.

Keep up the super pace!


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SUSIEMT 4/11/2010 8:57PM

    WooHoo!! Sounds like an adenture!!

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GRACEFULIFE 4/11/2010 8:52PM

    I have more experience with alpine skiing, in which there is nothing like having your own skis. From my small experiences I think that whitewater kayaking is much the same, in that there's nothing like having your own boat and paddle.

Also, I think that I need to give myself another few months, complete P90X and Insanity, then see. I think after that I'll be 20 pounds lighter and have some beastlike core strength. The question is whether or not I will have enough hamstring flexibility to make it work well. I think it's time to devise a scheme of stretching to do every day for a period, or something, to accelerate progress on that, because in almost no time it will be the only thing holding me back (well, there will also be the no-cash thing).

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MARVEL-LOSS 4/11/2010 6:03PM

    Wow -I'm impressed and excited for you- you've found a "passion" that can keep you excited for the long haul. I'm a quiet water paddler but I love to watch the thrill of white water boating.
Of course I'm also impressed with your success building a new you- or is it discovering the real you!
Happy, healthy life ahead!

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