Sunday, June 23, 2013

Go Pro or Go Home...Go Pro Games and FIBARK 2013!

Mike Dawson (NZ) 1st, Jeremy Rodgers (USA) 3rd.
Martina Wegman (Netherlands) and Mike's girlfriend
I think? won the woman's overall and Steep Creek.
So those of us that thought the longtime Teva Games becoming the Go Pro Games in 2013 would result in some degree of contracture of the event were seriously wrong. The biggest multisport festival in the US held in Vail, Colorado, now with Go Pro as the title sponsor, took another massive leap in the direction of growth. Registration and spectatorship was robust in all events with particular expansion of the slackline and stand up paddle board disciplines. Where else can the action seeking kayaker to the dog lover to the climber to the shopper find all their heart desires in one weekend in 2 square miles?

With most of the debate settled over my custom kayak creation 2 Teva Games ago, Heather and I once again loaded up the Mazz and headed to Vail in the Ultimate Multisport Van. Heather entered the 4 sport Ultimate Moutain Challenge in the Pro Class where she’d kayak class 2-3 Gore Creek, mountain bike, run a trail 10k, and finally time trial on the road bike up Vail Pass. Quite a full plate in any one’s book and I was proud of her for diving in such a competitive field. After the kayak stage, she sat in a comfortable 3rd place (queuewith all the elite Xterra multisport females salivating for the mountain bike stage that afternoon. Heather rallied through the remaining stages and learned a lot about herself and the stout female competition at this year’s Go Pro Games. When the economy bounces back, sponsorship dollars and prize money comes back and boy did it ever with uber multisport athlete and past Ultimate Mountain Challenge Gretchen Reeves barely getting edged out for the title by less than 1 minute and only 2 minutes separating the top 3 females in over 255 minutes of multisport head to head racing.

My Heather recapping a tough mountain bike leg in women's
Ultimate Mountain Challenge.
While Heather was running all over Vail Resort, I focused on the kayaking events.The BudLight Downriver Race is my favorite  16-18 minute race down 4 miles of Vail's fast flowing Gore Creek. Because the river is only class 3, it leaves lots of options for trickery that us adventure racers love bending the rules till they almost break. Well this year, the rules didn't break but they nearly sank:) The Prijon Capri is only 12 feet long and 43 lbs. Well under the 13 foot limit and not as long as the best in class Liquid Logic Remix Stinger, it's the best choice as long as the water level stayed medium to high. With it's sea kayak keel and minimal rocker, I've got just as much length in the water but significantly narrower and much lighter at 43 lbs. For the sake of head to head racing, I loaned my ringer Prijon Capri  to slalom and freestyle legend Eric Jackson after some intense prize money reallocation negotiations. His run went smoothly until he took out at the wrong bridge and had to re enter his skirt costing  him some unfavorable time. The Prijon Capri made it back just in time but I missed my warmup and had to sprint to the start line and make a Superman dive start then skirt up while under way. In all the confusion, I had zero time to check the kayak and the stern hatch was loosened when the kayak got transported and dropped on the starting area grass. This rapid increase in pressure combined with me leaving it loose the night before while emptying bulkhead allowed the normally bomber designed hatch to remain unfastened so halfway down the 4 mile course, I noticed a) I was beating my split deadlines to each river landmark b) I was losing control and sliding through the turns on rapids like high schooler practicing drifting in his sports car. After the rear bulkhead filled half the kayak to the brim and I began to pop a wheelie full time,  I looked back over my shoulder to see the hatch cover dangling beside me knowing there was no way to reach back and close it or empty the tanker I had become. 

Hotel Hybridlife at GoPro Games. Room service was first class.
I limped through the bottom half of the course doing a mega crunch to weight the bow enough to keep me operational and crossed the finish line at Covered Bridge in Vail. A NBC sports reporter got a chuckle asking me what happened out there as I emptied the bathtub I just paddled downstream and the best response I could muster was "pre flight checklist ignored". Total rookie mistake but somehow I mustered a podium finish but well off the pace it would take to dethrone New Zealand slalom and extreme paddler Mike Dawson's flawless run. 

As soon as we unloaded the Ultimate Multisport Van, it was time to clean it and repack days later for the 2nd biggest whitewater festival and race in the US at FIBARK  in Salida Colorado, one of the oldest, longest, and most debacherous whitewater races in the world actually. 

FIBARK is quite a different race than the Go Pro Games which restricts paddlers to sub 13 foot and plastic 50 lb kayaks. FIBARK lets the river decide what kayaks may pass safely along it's marathon distance course from Salida to almost the Royal Gorge. The kayak of choice is a 23 lb 15 foot long carbon fiber wildwater racing kayak which incidentally is my primary kayak design of choice for FIBARK's 26 miles of class 3 and 4 rapids.

Andy Corra, 2013 FIBARK winner, executes a perfect line through the exploding
hole of Cottonwood Rapid
Durango's Andy Corra, 9-time race winner and Guinness world record holder in distance kayaking happens to own this race and is probably going to retire before any of us develop enough to beat this American paddling standout. Andy mentored me in my early wildwater days and I crewed for him on his world record attempt on the Yukon River in 2010 so it was a race for 2nd place with past race winner Gary Lacy, Spanish slalom champion Jordi Domenju in a C2, and Salida's own Steve Holmes. 

I regressed back to my adventure racing roots again and rigged my kayak with a custom bilge system for this week's trickery. In a 2 hour race, most of us raced in years past with a Hydropak hydration bladder inside the cockpit. This year I rigged a bladder hose from the floor of my cockpit to a hose leading to a bite valve holder on my pfd allowing for me to both hydrate with my favorite race day drink,  Nuun Kona Cola, and empty my kayak all along the way. Other than loosing my bite valve going through Bear Creek Rapid at mile 4, the gadget was flawless and the river water that got through my skirt turned into Nuun Cola which had me smiling all along the 26 mile course. For those neahsayers who subscribe to the seed not the soil theory, I did add 2 iodine tablets as well but no telling if they had enough contact time to oxidize my nemesis...Giardia...but at day 7 post race I'm still pun intended:)

Yours truly "reacting to cold water" aka carping for the photographer
at Cottonwood Rapid. My cockpit full of Nuun was the only thing
keeping me afloat.
So after 24 miles sitting in second place by a slim 3 minutes behind Andy Corra, I came to Cottonwood Rapid which is the scene of many lead shuffles over the years. While a straightforward Class 4 rapid with 2 distinct line choices, bad and worst, it's just a slap in the face after paddling 2 hours at anaerobic threshold in a tippy racing kayak full of water (except mine of course:) As I approached Cottonwood, I couldn't get a handle on whether to take Andy's left side line (which requires laser like precision but certainly the fastest) or Gary Lacy's right side line (which requires luck that only Gary has). I hesitated at the top setup wave and exploded off the main hole pointing right instead of left. Right it is and I greased that thing like a bull  in a China closet followed by getting maytagged like dirty skivvies in the washer on heavily soiled setting.The hilarious photo above showed up on the front page of the paper with the caption "Jeremy Rodgers from Boulder reacts to the ice cold water" which is just hilarious as any kayaker knows that's "carping" after I did a back deck roll through just enough to grab a few oxygen to clear the rapid turbulence before finally returning to forward progress. I like paddling the Arkansas right side up or right side down I say...two completely different rivers.

So FIBARK ended at mile 26 with Andy Corra in his usual slot uno in 2 hours 20 minutes with me about 4 minutes back followed by Steve Holmes and Gary Lacy, who incidentally chose the same sideways upside down side stroke down the right side line of Cottonwood. Mike Freeburn, another standout US paddler was injured and had to set out FIBARK but certainly deserves acknowledgement in any FIBARK writeup.

Next up, swiftwater paddling camp for Colorado adventure racers Sunday July 14th 10am at REI Denver and Confluence Whitewater Park. Email me directly for details gang. Jeremy_rodgers AT hotmail dot com.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dart Nuun Roster Wins Colorado Pole Pedal Paddle

The Pole(ski) Peddle Paddle is much like your traditional triathlon but it pulls from a much different set of athletes. It brings together professional mountain bikers, rando racers and small town elite athletes. After a particularly bad snow year the few weeks before the race restored some faith in this event dumping over 40inch of snow in April alone rejuvenated the slopes and refilled the rivers.  Our 3person coed team will be pushing the limits and trying Keep up with all of the men’s teams.  The team consists of Ryan Ognibene in his first 3P where he will pushing hard on the ski. Heather Prentice which will be our stud biker and JR’s new fiancé, Woohoo, you heard me right people. Lastly, we have Jeremy Rogers doing the anchor leg in the kayak where he will hunt down anyone that has snuck past earlier in the race. 

After Checking out the conditions of the course Saturday and fine tuning all of our gear we settled in for the night and got ready for our not so early morning. Everyone on the team really enjoyed the 10:30am start time which left us plenty of time to sleep in, eat a good breakfast, and get mentally prepared to race.
At 10:30am the gun went off. Ryan Took off up the snow packed trail for a 10min accent. Ryan moved quickly into second place pushing hard. At the top he ripped his skins and took off down the only fun section of skiing on the course. With fresh soft snow the downhill went very quick, rushing through the trees and out onto the flats. On The flats Ryan pushed hard alternating between skating and double poling down the track. Towards the end when the snow turned in to more dirt then snow Ryan quickly switched to his Vasque running shoes and ran out the last mile of the course. This did not prove to be faster than his competitors but it did leave Ryan with the satisfaction he was not literally skiing on rocks and ruining his skis on the last mile of the race course and a faster TA time. In the TA Ryan quickly passed on the timing chip to Heather and she took off.

 Heather powered through the 15 mile mixed forest service road and single track descent with wreckless abandon shaving 10 minutes off her 2012 split on the bike leg finishing in a solid 1 hour 9 minutes just minutes off the lead male soloists. Her technical riding skills have really blossomed in the last year and the packed sand couldn’t slow down the Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s. 

Jeremy took the pass off from bike to paddle and weaved his way through record low water flows to win the paddle leg by a respectable margin with Colorado multisport powerhouses Shane Sigle and Evan Ross close on his heels.  Never had running shoes been so important in a paddling race! He even ran his boat over numerous stretches that he deemed unpaddle able from scouting runs the day before. Colorado’s snowpack is finally recovering from last years drought and this years low flows were more reflective of conservative releases in early season than potential runoff in the upcoming 4 weeks.

After a hard fought race we waited in suspense to hear how we had placed. Not really knowing how the other teams had done. As awards went on we discovered we did not take the entire race. A few 3P veterans had finished just before us. Finally our time had come to learn our fate. We were not 3rd, we were not 2nd, we had Won!! The announcers states that Team Dart-nuun not only won the Coed team division but they had beaten out all of the men’s teams also. What a great experience and race. We will definitely be back next year to race the PPP again.
Looking back at the race we also discovered we had put the fastest TA times up of any team or individual. This was just icing on the cake for our great weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 That's a wrap!

So 2012 ended on several high notes preceded by several medium notes.

Sprinter making some watts while we were out burning some watts1
 In July, Heather and I raced the Breckenridge Gravity Play 12 hour adventure race in the 2 person team class. We've race on 4 person teams before in last years Glenwood Springs race but never together by ourselves. The paddle leg was defined by what ourselves and another Colorado adventure racing couple coined paddling "divorce boats". I'm certain we don't argue like non paddlers going in circles in these awkward inflatable kayaks designed more to create angst more than move forward but we certainly had some colorful team communication on the water:) We actually paddle a hard plastic 2 person whitewater kayak called a Jackson Dynamic Duo alot on class 3-4 so we've gotten used to having 2 ambitious spirits in the same watercraft going downstream. After some lightening storm spiced time on the mountain bikes above treeline, Heather smoked the orienteering course bringing us across the finish line in a cool 1st place.

In September, we split our forces and I joined up with old teammate Gretchen Reeves while Heather joined up with Colorado's multisport patriarch Gary "Let's Get This Fire Started" Lacy in the Gravity Play Glenwood Springs 12 hour race. Gary's son Mason Lacy was under our radar screen as we're always looking out for his talented brother Spencer Lacy who recently suffered yet another shoulder dislocation. Mason was back in his pre college form and laid down a brisk pace on the initial run straight up to the Glenwood Adventure Park where we rappelled into the cavernous cave system. After a 3 hour singletrack bike leg and a mandatory flat tire on my cyclocross wheelset, Gretchen and I could see Mason just ahead of us but couldn't reel him in before the rowdy river boarding section down the Class 3 Shoshone section of the Colorado River. Mason's strength is certainly in the kayak but he laid down a solid pace on foot and bike to take the overall win with Gretchen and I on his heels paddling mandatory (punishment) inflatables. Gretchen was using this race as a tuneup for a race in China the following week so mission accomplished with no hospital bills and some champagne to boot.

Next up...crewing for Dart Nuun's Cyril Jay Rayon at the US 24 Hour Mountain Bike Nationals in Colorado this year! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Maverick Greets USA Pro Cycling Tour Comes to Boulder

Classic video footage of Heather Prentice and I running ahead of peloton of US Pro Cycling Tour final climb up Boulder's Flagstaff Mtn.  That's yours truly in the Top Gun Maverick jumpsuit with the air horn and Heather in the wig and disco get up. Not bad for running in Keen flip flops!

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's Not About the Boat...Teva Games 2012

Teva Games Bud Light Downriver Podium: Jeremy Rodgers USA (2nd), Mike Dawson NZ (1st), Eric Jackson USA (3rd)

So many of you remember the the coup d' etat of Teva Games 2011 and thought the story couldn't get better. Well, for the most part you were right but it was all smiles on race day after a last minute rule change that became known as the "Jeremy Rodgers rule" that kayaks cannot be customized in any way and must be a mass produced production kayak. Rather than debate the minutia meaning or origins of this rule, I called up my go to guys, Landis Arnold and Trung at the North American Prijon distributorship in Boulder, CO and told them to troll the warehouse relics for anything under 13 feet, plastic, no rocker, and light as possible. They scored a gem in the rough with a 1986 Prijon Taifun (pronounced Typhoon) at 12 foot 9 inches, 10 lbs lighter than a Dagger Green with less rocker. Rocker, my friends, is the upsweep of the front and rear of the kayak which allows it to turn or not turn easily and when it comes to downriver racing rocker is not your friend as we've only got one place to go and it's not left or right:) The only kicker of the deal was I had to wear the original 1986 rainbow striped skirt (see closeups below) to make the package complete!

With last year's controversy about my custom creation, the Wavechopper, need I say more?
 After chumming it up on pre race practice runs  with Ultimate Mountain Challenge favorites Travis Macy, Josiah Midaugh, and Sari Anderson, we ironed out all the nanosecond saver moves on the downriver race course from East Vail into Mountain Village. With record flows last year producing my winning time of 17:30 seconds, we weren't so lucky in 2012 with record low snowpack producing a technical paddlers dream race....the lower the water the harder it is to read the fastest lines. In high water years any line with a kayak right side up is a good line and the field gets compressed into closer times. In short...keep in the middle, paddle like hell, fastest time wins. In sparkling contrast, low water years spread out the field as you just have to weave magic to avoid running aground or wave friction.

Post race cool down in the Prijon Taifun....take a gander at the rainbow striped skirt straps and  grab loop aka Garmin 310 anchor! Guys in 1986 wore this? Classic! Lost a few letters on my fellow racer message sticker as well but quickly repaired!

So the story played out that New Zealand Olympic slalom paddler Mike Dawson, who finished second to my Wavechopper last year by same margin, edged my time of 22:57 by 3 seconds in a Liquidlogic Remix Stinger and US whitewater freestyle and slalom icon Eric Jackson finished in 3rd by the same margin. It seems it's not about the boat but the rule change will live on:) Complete results subdivided by classes and story linked here in the Denver Post. Mike Dawson is on fire this spring leading up the the Olympics in London and his checkbook after Teva Games shows it with a sweep in all events! Good job Mike.

On a side note, we saw a power output of almost 400 watts! No, not from a paddle blade but from the latest addition to the Ultimate Multisport Van! Heather and I had a 600 watt wind turbine added to the van this spring via a partnership with Keen and Southwest Windpower. The adventure van is now officially self sustainable just in case we have to make a fast getaway and leave the world behind. Combined with the solar system, we never have to start the engine to make it through watching Top Gun and Braveheart back to back. Even better, NO annoying generator noise or fumes for our fellow free spirited campers.

New to Teva Mountain Games in 2012 was the Gibbon Slackline Amphitheater and what a show these guys and gals put on. I thought how entertaining can balancing on a slack line be but man was I wrong. Big air back flips to straddle landing to double front flips was the theme of the day. Good thing the Nuun tent was only a few yards away as these athletes were sweating up a storm with their aerial performances. I think all boisterous 40,000 spectators were piled around the slack line venue all at once so find the lack liner in my photo from my cheap seat in the nosebleed seats.

If over 8 sports and 40,000 spectators weren't enough, even the dogs had their day in the limelight with dock dog jumping competitions and trail races. Mazzy, our 1.5 year old cattle dog, pulled off a coup d'etat of sorts and outlasted the competition in the Rocky Dog 5K race straight up and down Vail Resorts switchbacks. Mazz even snuck in a few dives into the creeks along the way to cool her afterburners on a warm Teva Games morning with me in tow. My Keen A86 new issue trail racing flats handled the loose mountain trail terrain like a pro and at a slim 9 ounces with lots of retro flashy appeal, I think Keen is onto a winner. Trailrunner magazine agrees with me! The Mazz and I finished a smooth 3rd overall in the 5k to top off a great mountain weekend and Heather snuck in an age group placing as well. .Here's the Mazz strutt'n through town with her medal...does it get any better than this dog lovers?

See you all back on the river and trails with 3 more mountain festivals in the next 4 weeks!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2011...It's a Wrap

Team DART-Nuun has had another very successful and busy season of racing.  The team not only competed in the biggest adventure races in the world, but also in foot races, bike races, triathlons, and kayak races.
Here are some of the team’s  key accomplishments:
  • The team is currently ranked 2nd in the nationAR Power Rankings. They had a great chance to be ranked 1st but team member Cyril became ill at the US World Qualifier and the team finished 2nd. The runner-up finish has energized the team to work even harder in 2012 to stand on top of the rankings.
  • Jeremy Rodgers qualified for US Canoe and Kayak Wildwater Team and  will represent the USA at the 2012 World Championships.
  • Jeremy Rodgers won the Teva Games Downriver race – see the  race report
  • Mari Chandler won her age group at the Duathlon long course World Championships despite coming off a 6 day non-stop race 2 weeks before and not owning a TT bike.
  • Jen Segger won Ultraman Canada
  • Jen Segger won the Whistler 50 mile ultrarun
  • The team finished 3rd at the US World Championship Qualifierrace report
  • The team finished 3rd (1st American) at the Canadian World Championship Qualifierrace report
  • The team finished 7th (1st American) at the Switzerland World Championship Qualifierrace report
Additional accomplishments:
  • DART-Nuun created an exciting Ultra endurance racing video.
  • The team put on races including the Trioba adventure race and Malibu Day & Night trail runs and hosted events such as ProClub series of clinics in Seattle and mountain bike night ride clinics in Los Angeles)
For a complete list of the team’s race results and events visit the DART-Nuun site.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Birthday...Step One....Become Lighter than Air.

Happy Birthday Heather! Glider flight over the Rockies looking west from Boulder
Heather and I kicked off the official off season with a glider flight for Heather's birthday followed by a trail day with Mazzers on mountain bikes at Picture Rock. We were up for a sunrise flight after sharing ice cream and cake with her parents Marci and Buck last evening.

Elliot, our trusty pilot from the UK or South Africa ( I couldn't quite place the accent but we finally decided South Africa:), guided us around the biosphere.  It gave new meaning to getting outside the bubble as Boulder is affectionately known. I knew we were in the right place when he made us wipe the morning dew moisture off the wings "because it compromises lamellar air flow". I like that in a pilot and I sure don't like compromising lamellar flow on my wing paddles either!


I just returned from the Russel Fork River Gorge in eastern Kentucky this weekend where I was competing in the US Wildwater Team trials. After a great classic race and ok sprint, it seems I'm back off to France next summer for perhaps my last hoorah.  Waxing the backcountry skis as we speak....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SUP'er FLY Weekend....Chasing the Fall Colors

And A Road Runs Through It...Never Summer Range on Colorado Wyoming border.
 So we aren't about to let the summer wind down without a bang but a long season of packing, unpacking, booking flights, entering races, and juggling all things domestic are coming to an end. Perfect time Heather says for a weekend to sneak away to her favorite Colorado getaway...the Never Summer Range in northern Colorado where the aspens paint the landscape with a burning orange and yellow mosaic in the shadows of early season snow sprinkled 13,000 foot peaks. 

 Long off the beaten path, the Never Summer Range takes you back in time to what Colorado used to look like before the development of it central valleys into ski resorts and highways. The photo above is what we woke up to after arriving well after dark. The Sprinter van just seems to have an instinctual awareness to find the best views even absent of light and she hit a home run this morning. 
 We spent the weekend scouting by bike backcountry yurts for the upcoming ski season as well as paddling Michigan Lake. Heather continues to develop the best kept secret sport of SUPerFly fishing well into it's second year of development. SUP stands for Stand Up Paddleboard and you get the FLY part hey? The catching seems to be mastered but the release remains a bit tippy. Standby for the production version next spring.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Team Nuun Ripboard Wins Gravity Play Glenwood Springs 12 Hour Adventure Race

Team Ripboard Jeremy Rodgers, Heather Prentice, Mike Freeburn, and Ryan Ognibene (missing)
So we finally got the adventure racing Zen master Mike Freeburn out of semi retirement for the Glenwood Springs Adventure Extream 12 hour race and what a treat it was to race with Mike again. Heather, Ryan Ognibene, and I teamed up with Ripboard based out of Denver, Colorado with an all star cast. Mike was one of my original mentors and inspirations to begin downriver kayak racing in 2005 and was one of the best adventure racers in the US for many years. Even better, he's a principal of Durango High School so he knows how to keep the team in ship shape hence the nickname Zen Master.

So 50 teams began the 12 hour race with a 3000 foot ascent straight up on foot to the caving, rappel, and alpine slide. We jockeyed with Team Lifequest Adventure from gun fire to finish line. We discussed pre race that only the first 6 racers, solo or team to the alpine coaster got a carbohydrate free ride down the mountain. After a grueling vertical ascent, the alpine coaster had us all giggling with high G force turns. We came off of the first run leg 1 hour later in a lead with Team LifeQuest Adventure in a close second place.

We began the mountain bike leg with a brisk ascent of Lookout Mountain on our way to Boy Scout Trail which is a gem of a ride for single track lovers just outside of Glenwood Springs. This singletrack has amazing views and even more amazing exposure. Today had no shortage of carnage and just as Team Lifequest caught us on the bikes they crashed trying to keep their small lead.

After several hours of jockeying back and forth and steep descents back into Glenwood, we pulled some aces out of the hat. As team Lifequest rolled into the TA and check out, we traded in our mountain bikes and grabbed road bikes for the bike path ascent to the riverboarding/paddle section of the course on the Shoshone section of the Lower Colorado.

With 2 national kayak team members and all 4 of us being river  saavy, we held our position in draft of Lifequest all the way to the river board start. Race director, Will Newcomer, met us at the river board put in to let us know our engineering marval "Ripboard Transport System", which was a fast hauling portage system to run the river boards 2 miles up the bike path, was a no go. With the Shoshone section running double it's normal volume at nearly 2500 cfs, he was concerned hauling the river board portage system down river with us wouldn't bode well as we agreed.

It was clear to us after 5 seconds in the class 3-4 river board section how Rip Boards got their namesake. Heather got a wild ride in one of the holes in Tombstone Rapid after having her Ripboard ripped out of her hands.  She rallied back onto the Rip Board and we cruised into the paddle start neck and neck with Team Lifequest with Team OutdoorLife about 30 minutes back.

Heather diving for dollars on the river board section. Nice job hun!

Our strategy played out as the paddle leg was our bread and butter. Team Nuun Ripboard rolled into the finish line in 5 hours 28 some minutes a hard fought but smooth 10 minutes ahead of a solid all male second place Lifequest team. Adventure racing has always been a coed sport and we are hard headed like that and choose to stick with tradition but these all male teams really made us work hard to outwit and outlast the horsepower heavy all male teams that race in the same 4 person elite class.

Team Nuun Ripboard was first overall followed by Lifequest Adventure and Team Outdoor Life then soloist Spencer Lacy. Spencer and his paddling phenom brother Mason duke it out like 2 brothers 1 year apart should and their post race stories are the best in the business.  We even got one racers report that he saw them both crash on Boy Scout Trail off the exposed trail only to hear "giggling in the bushes". Priceless!

Team Nuun Ripboard, 1st Overall, Mike Freeburn, Heather Prentice, Jeremy Rodgers, Ryan Ognibene, and of course Mazzers and a curious Labrador.

Hamburgers on our new grill and cool drinks after the race around the HybridVan punch lined the post race events for racers. Special thanks to Nuun, Ripboard, KEEN, and Garmin for their ongoing support of adventure and adventure racing in the US!

Next up, 2012 National Team Trials in Kentucky Oct 15th followed by ski season.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Colorado Style....

Monarch Crest....Continental Divide. 32 Miles of Mind Blowing Singletrack at Over 12,000 Feet!

So Heather and loaded up the Hybridvan and rolled on down to the Arkansas River Valley for Labor Day. Top on the list was testing our new Party King grill for the van. This hitch mounted instant tailgater grill put the finishing touches onto the Ultimate Multisport Van.

You can see below even Mazzer's was stoked about her new magic brat grill'n wonder that in seconds converts from our hot water shower heater to instant filet mignon.You know we'd be crushed to come back after a long ride and see the grill missing so we had to add   a security system  and back up camera thanks to the installation crew at Car Toys in Boulder.Thanks Bobby, James, and Jesse for the advice on these improvements!


After 2 days of riverboarding on our new Ripboard's from Ripboard in Denver, CO and a Colorado classic Super Monarch Crest ride, we were ready for the grill for sure.

Weekend cap was a few good town runs in Buena Vista on our way back home. I just got my new Garmin 310XT to test out and Garmin continues to reinvent itself. Not only is the new 310XT 110% waterproof, it adds several functionalities that the performance kayaker, multisport athlete, or even beginning runner can self coach even better with. My favorite improvement over the Garmin 305 is that the 310XT  is slimmer and even lighter however maintains the gold standard super large readouts and multiple data fields for on the fly viewing on even the most aggressive terrain conditions.

Next week...Gravity Play Glenwood Springs Adventure Race with our favorite Colorado racers Mike Freeburn from Durango, CO and Ryan Ognibene from Boulder. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shot of the Month! Father's Day Colorado Style

Salida Colorado's Next Mayor and Kayaker Extraordinaire Mike Harvey on Brown's Canyon at 1800 cfs with son Miles Harvey in the driver's seat! Love this photo of Miles who is about 10 years old right now and well on his way to out doing his dad on the river.

Mike Harvey, Heather, myself, and Shane Sigle bought this Jackson Dynamic Duo on a boatshare agreement as a means to take our non-paddling friends down the meat and it sure does the trick.

For the naysayers, the rear paddler can roll the front paddler as long as he/she lays forward on the deck and weighs considerably less than the rear paddler. Their was a small army of safety kayakers working the river with them I'm sure.

Nice air pick better lines than your dad ever did:)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Teva Games 2011....Leading the Coup d'état....Jeremy Rodgers Dart Nuun/KEEN Wildwater Paddler Wins the Teva Games Bud Light Downriver Race

(Left to Right) Mike Dawson (New Zealand), Jeremy Rodgers (US), Issac Levinson (US). All stoked about the paycheck and Thule carry-ons!
"A coup d'état (English: /ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/, French: [ku deta]; plural: coups d'état)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government,[1][2][3] usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military."

So my close paddling friends have long known my angst with any race that doesn't let the river decide what water craft is best suited for any given race. Teva Games, held annually in Vail, Colorado hosting over 40,000 spectators was such a race.  Combine this with my roots as an Eco Challenge competitor, where wit and strategic treachery within the letter of the rules is not only allowed but simply held in sacred regard.

Get'n a little help from Teva Games race staff...Thanks guys. Notice rear end has been chopped off....previously known as a Wavehopper, now the Wavechopper!
Dagger Kayaks was a major sponsor of the Teva Games event in it's humble beginnings a decade ago so Dagger sponsored athletes, who hands down are some of the best creek boaters in the world, naturally lobbied the event to exclude downriver racers like myself who race in 15 foot carbon kevlar kayaks made for pure speed and grace on swift moving violent whitewater. The 2 simple rules remain the same today and kayaks 1) must be 12 foot or less in length 2) must be made of plastic. While I'm usually in Europe the month of June racing in wildwater events, this summer I chose to stay and race domestically opening up an opportunity for my coup d'etat at Teva Games against over 200 of the best whitewater paddlers in the US and abroad with an impressive prize purse big enough to justify the hassle factor.

So I called up my boys from Boulder Boatwerks and told them of my plan to take a 15 foot plastic Wavehopper (made for training but we race in carbon versions) wildwater kayak and have it cut down to 12 feet and rewelded. These good ole boys (Andy and Steve), who specialize in plastic dorry boat design/welding, went above in beyond to reconfigure this mutant wildwater kayak for no other reason than they agree...let the river decide what kayak a paddler can keep upright, not some sponsor who's athletes want everyone paddling the same boat they are contractually bound to paddle:)


So my mutant kayak was exactly race specifications and 100% legit, 12 foot long and same weight as the Dagger Green, the gold standard racing kayak for this race but more stable and wider than my tippy wildwater kayak. The difference is that wildwater kayaks are extremely narrow and tippy which most creek boaters find unpalatable over distance. Creek boats are made to make big 15 foot waterfall drops, not hammer at a supraanerobic intensity for 15+ minutes in class 3-4 whitewater. 

Teva Games...pick your sport...gravity is your judge and jury in all of them! Nice photo Heather.

 So Heather and I show up race morning trying to stay under the radar of all the world class creek boaters who are looking for a paycheck. Legendary extreme kayaker Tao Berman was particularly enthusiastic to hear about this mutant kayak which I particularly appreciated considering he knew what I was up to and it wasn't helping him pay his travel expenses:) I think he sincerely appreciated my message....LET THE RIVER AND PADDLER DECIDE WHAT KAYAK THEY CAN KEEP UPRIGHT.

So, with the rumbling in the creek boater camp underway, I pulled into the start eddy and waited for the laser eye and clock to give me the thumbs up followed by what was possibly my best technical race I've ever paddled. Downriver racing is embodied by the art of reading the swiftwater and with the help of standout US wildwater paddlers Andy Corra, Andrew McEwan, Gary Lacy, and Shane Sigle over the last year, this day I painted perhaps my masterpiece. Specifically, connecting the dots between the fastest moving water and avoiding every minute wave hit that translates to friction.The Colorado snow pack is almost 200% of normal in most river basins following a massive snow season so the rivers are raging out of their banks making wave hits and navigating rapids even more exciting this year. I set my Garmin 305 heart rate/pace monitor to it's usual screen, revved it up till the heart rate zone data field read "painful",  then settled into a rhythm with my "forward focus" mantra chiming in my head. 

With a brisk 17 minutes, 30 seconds registering as I pass the laser eye at the finish at Covered Bridge in Vail Village, the reality of what just happened set in. A coup d'etat had indeed taking place with my time besting the next paddlers, Kiwi Mike Dawson and Americans Issac Levinson and Tao Berman by nearly 20 seconds. Hats off to these guys who I've followed for years on the extreme kayaking scene...they simply rule the class 5 creeks.

Mazzy even gets serious in big races...a good day for me means new luggage handles to try to chew on all the way home! Not this one the Thule Carry On!

Hotel au Hybridlife...pets allowed to offset the wet kayak gear odor.
 We'll see what this outstanding outdoor mountain festival and arguably biggest whitewater race in the US does next year on this long going debate of should racers be forced by the rules to paddle a Dagger Green like boat or can they paddle any plastic boat they can keep upright. Either way, Teva Games remains the best organized world class event in the US whitewater paddling circuit and I respect their decision. I also respect the hard work and talent demonstrated by all the Dagger athletes and especially Tao Berman's congeniality pre-race which reminds me what this sport is all about...."let's go boat'n"!

Next up next weekend, Lyons Outdoor Games and US Wildwater Nationals.

Red = maximum area of wussitis
I still can't believe it but I may miss racing next weekend after a freak injury walking Mazzy, our rock star cattle dog on her new elastic leash back to the Ultimate Multisport Van. Mazzy, while perfect in so many ways, loves to chase cars and darted after an oncoming car in Vail Village. Not being used to the new elastic leash, I let her get too close and reacted by tugging her out of harms way. Even in my agile Keen flippety flops:) , I went over a landscaping wall and landed on a metal post right to the ribs and kidney. Seriously Tao, put away the vodoo doll as I was just guys own Teva Games:) Xrays tomorrow morning and rib belt and shallow inspiration till then!

Shout out to past teammates Travis Macy and Gretchen Reeves who both found their way to the podium in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge where they not only paddled but mountain and road biked up Vail Pass followed by a 10k trail race! Junior US wildwater paddler from Durango, CO Cully Brown also represented well in the Downriver race with a 7th place finish in an outstanding 150 some senior paddler field. Look out for this "kid" in 2 years...I'm retiring to avoid him I think:)
"When long boats are outlawed, only outlaws will have long boats...." is what I say.

Signing out,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On a roll....Dart NUUN (aka Team Wildcats) Wins Buena Vista Adventure Exstream Race

Race Clip Video

So I've long wondered what would happen if an experienced team took an absolute adventure racing newbie with a big engine from sea level and put him into a super competitive adventure race at 9,000 feet. The victim of my experiment was none other than my good high school friend from Ponca City, Oklahoma Brad (BJ) Rumph. BJ and I played soccer together from our teenage years through highschool and he went on as a stand out collegiate soccer player as well. BJ continued running marathons and mountain biking from his home in Dallas but had never touched a kayak paddle until the day before this race. I convinced Brad this was a good idea to do this race I believe over dinner and too many drinks at one of his many ski trips out to see Heather and I.

BJ in the front calling the lines!

So after a pre race skill session on how to paddle a kayak and swim in class 3 swift water the day before, BJ was clearly ready for what we had gotten him into! The race started with a 1,000 vertical foot climb on foot to CP1 as a means for the race director to space the racers before the class 3 kayak section down our beloved Arkansas River right in town aka "the Milk Run". Mayhem ensued as we entered the river in kayaks in second place behind a 2 person all male team. I steered the kayak from the rear while BJ set the cadence and watched for icebergs and other natural disasters ahead. Plenty of dumptrucks (where both paddlers get ejected) and bus stops (where only 1 paddler gets exits the kayak) were to be had all around us on this steady class 3 section but all racers were smiling at the takeout. We ran the kayak section smooth like butter with our teammates, Heather, my girlfriend, and Ryan Ognibene in a solid 1st place heading towards the 1st mountain bike leg.

After a short climb on bikes to the ropes course, BJ's resolve came to shine. The ropes course was a 400 foot Tyrolean traverse (zip line). Most zip lines are a time for fun and laughs in most races but with the last 100 feet a near vertical hand over fist suffer fest, BJ visited the pain cave in a big way. Something about hanging upside down for 20 minutes at 9000 feet of elevation zaps the human spirit and for the first time I could sense a bit of hesitation in BJ's facial expression. He rallied back onto the mountain bike as we sped out of the ropes course heading to the orienteering course 2 hours away on bike.

Heather and I eddying out at paddle you're not crazy, we switched paddlers after rapids!
So this ain't my first ro'deo when it comes to putting together a rock star adventure racing team so I felt inclined to seal the deal with bringing in up and coming orienteer extraordinaire Ryan Ognibene also from Boulder, Colorado. This 22 something year old engineering student adventure racer just graduated from University of Colorado and has been smoking the orienteering scene this year and making old racers like me vomit just to try to beat him.. This day he was on fire and I witnessed some flawless navigation over the 2 hour orienteering course. BJ held steady with the help of Nuun tablets, gummy bears, and Heather's moral support as he tried to figure out why would anyone run up and down in the mountains for 2-4 hours looking for orange orienteering flags using a map that looks like a bowl of spaghetti. Ryan set a course record on the orienteering course in just under 2 hours with us in tow and really sealed the deal in this race. 

My predictions that the o course above was the deal breaker in this race held true as we remounted our mountain bikes heading to the finish line still holding our lead on the world class singletrack Midland trail back to Buena Vista. Other teams had their own solid lineups as well and we fought off a solid Team LifeQuest Elite from Colorado Springs who's past military soliders work with returning soldiers trying to find their center again after returning to the US.

So Team Wildcats (our highschool mascot!) aka Dart Nuun Sport Multi brought home the gold in a long 6 hours 40 something minutes just like the good old days at Ponca High. BJ didn't puke and actually really impressed us that a flatlander could not just survive but excel at what we just put him through. Look at that big smile at the finish line above!

Special thanks to Nuun Active Hydration tablets and Hydrapak hydration systems for standing by just in case! At the cost of a typical water bottle minus the mess of handling gel wrappers, the new Hydrapak Gel Bot is simply genius!

Next up....4 weekends of wildwater kayak racing leading up to USA Wildwater Nationals so I'll be back in the boat for the next month!

Post race gear shuffle in the garage...enough to make you stop adventure racing! Dirty piles and less dirty piles merge into one!

Peace out,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Bifecta Weekend....Western National Team Trials and the Pole Pedal Paddle!

Athletes advice...keep it in the middle, paddle like hell, fastest time wins gang:)
Load the dog, throw in a couple of kayaks, Heather grabs the peanut butter and jelly, and we're off to Glenwood Springs for the Western National Team Trials on the class 3 Shoshone section of the Colorado River.Western Junior Trials were held in conjunction with the Glenwood Whitewater Jubilee put on by race director Denny Adams and company. I still can't believe it but we showed up to see 45 juniors registered for western wildwater team trials hosted in Colorado this much for rodeo and SUP taking over paddlesports!

Durango standout nordic skier Cully Brown set the gold standard with a smoking fast 14 minute classic course time for the K1 junior men. I'll be honest that I've watched this kid grow under the tutelage of American wildwater perennial powerhouses Mike Freeburn and Andy Corra and I was seriously watching over my shoulder for this junior to make me vomit to stay ahead of him and several other seniors that showed up in force. I hung on for the overall classic win and Cully won the K1 junior class just some 15 seconds behind me in 3rd place overall. Something tells me I'm going down next year if this 17 year old gets one more tip from these guys:) Coached by Olympian Scott Shipley, slalom standout from Lyons, Colorado Spencer Huff was hot on Cully's heels in 2nd place just seconds ahead of JP Griffith.  Dawson School put Sarah Neimeyer on the women's K1 podium who went on Sunday to match the men's K1 sprint time which is very impressive.

 Clinic time...back to the books with my own version of Mr. Rodgers neighborhood and 45 juniors.
When's recess I say?
I put on a 1.5 hour wildwater clinic for the juniors focusing on outfitting of a racing kayak, forward stroke technique, river reading skills, and pacing with a GPS based heart rate monitor. Special thanks to KEEN and Nuun for providing raffle prizes for all junior attendees.
Heather and I loaded up the Hybridvan and headed to Salida, Colorado for the Annual Pole, Pedal, Paddle to race with 107 other teams. Our ringer teammate Shane Sigle got deathly ill days before the race so we were short our skier until Salida local and Monarch Ski Patroller Eric Ramsey surfaced after a late request at the race meeting. Our kharma was solid gold as this guy smoked the rando ski leg that begins on Monarch Pass descending into Fooses Creek to pass off to our cyclist...none other than my girlfriend Heather who battled near hurricane force winds to keep us right in the game as she descended into the Arkansas River to pass off to me . With super low water conditions, I nit picked my way down the river in a brisk 45 minutes reeling in the 2nd place team putting some solid time on the next team paddler. So Team 2 Hounds and a Fox won the team race with our last minute savior Eric Ramsey who was eating pizza/brew next to the race meeting when his friends rallied him to jump on our team....does it get any better than this?

Team 2 Hounds and a Fox Win the 2011 Colorado Pole Pedal Paddle. Jeremy Rodgers, Gwen Ramsey (representing our skier and her dad Eric Ramsey, and Heather Prentice. Powered by Nuun!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Saving Face in Moab....Season Opener

Gunshot! Did I tell you Michael Jackson's glove's make me feel fast?

Countdown to 2011 Moab Gravity Play Race:

  1. Replace carbon bike frame after cracking the headset and finding peace nothing worse could happen?: Check
  2. New chain: Check
  3. Renew Cipro script for lingering Costa Rica GI bug: Check
  4. Replace old non-Schwalbe tires with new bombproof Schwalbe tires. Negative 

Over 400 adventure racers and teams descended upon Moab, Utah for the US adventure racing season opener in the Rocky Mountains, the Gravity Play 12 hour race. Young and not as young, family teams, elite teams, just for fun teams all come together for this season kickoff in the mountain biking and 4 x 4 mecca town of Moab. As usual, I do a few early spring adventure races before the kayaking season ramps up just to get my overall cardio fitness base up to where it needs to be before spend the next 4 months exclusively in a downriver racing kayak focusing on supra anaerobic 5 minute intervals. With 7 podium finishes in this race, I've had my share of successes making this is one of my favorite courses. That being said,  this years race quickly became a test of one’s resolve.

Great on course shot by Heather. La Sal Mountains in distance.

The race begins with a 35 mile mountain bike ride with a 6 mile massive peloton road ride to the mouth of Longhorn Canyon where the jeep roads become paradoxically vertical. Not 3 minutes after the gun went off (pictured), I hear the most dreaded sound known to cycling….ssssssssssss followed by yells from all around me FLAAAATT and zigzagging to get out of my way. With my tires being setup tubeless, there is a milky liquid inside of them to address such a misfortune. That milky goo fills small punctures like a thorn or glass shard but not so much with a nail. If it will plug it, the tire won’t take on much pressure and has to be ridden low.   I speed up and zig zag hoping to fill the puncture under way. No luck, my rear tire is hemorrhaging air rapidly and I can see the serpent’s head, a small roofing nail, with every revolution of my tire. Any adventure racer, while perhaps in disbelief this could happen in the first 3 minutes of a race, looks forward to the solution options in a sick way when such a debacle presents itself.

My options:
1) Stop/lose the peloton and pull the nail out and hope it self seals (30 seconds)
2) Stop/lose the peloton and use my only C02 to fill a real tube and place it inside my tire (3.5 minutes)
3) Walk 100 yards back to the starting line and grab my fishing pole followed by Frisbee with our new puppy Mazzy (end of day)

Rear tire at 20 psi at end of bike leg good:)

I chose option 1 (remove nail and hope it seals) with the intent I could bring my tire pressure back up with my only C02 at the top of the climb when it turns to pavement. As any mountain biker would agree, having my tire pressure drop to 30 psi on sandy jeep roads is quite a desirable occurrence but with 40% of the bike course on paved roads, I want my tire pressure closer to 50 psi the entire race. I made a break from the peloton hoping to get far enough ahead to pull the nail and rejoin them just like the Tour De France. Wrong answer. When I made my break, race favorites Mike Dawson, Spencer Lacy, and company jumped onto my wheel thinking I was making a break and all nearly rear ended me as I came to a screeching stop on the opposite side of the road which made for some good post race laughs. Nail removed and tire still hissing as it tries to seal, I watch the peloton move off into the horizon as find myself in dead last place.

There was a time in my life that I was purely focused on adventure racing results but today, with adventure racing being my secondary sport, I found myself focusing on just living what the race throws out knowing that certain realities are a given, specifically that 1st -5th place will be decided by less than 10 minutes and I just gave that time away.  Self talk is a crippling, yet with a shift in focus, empowering thing and I certainly found myself initially focusing on what was wrong with my tire losing air. As I climbed 2000 feet to the top of the mesa without my usual draft with the lead pack, I went back to some of my old race mantras of “forward focus” and “stuff happens to every team today”, then put my head down, pedals forward, and did my best with the situation. I remember chatting pre-race with “Team Environmental Hazard”, a 2 person women’s team whose goal was to loose 50 more lbs above the 50 lbs they had already each lost. I remember a conversation I had this week at the clinic with a patient who just wanted “to walk 5% better” after an ankle fracture. How about all the parents on the course that juggle every second to find that hour to get in a ride or run? My self talk turned back to “OK, now my bike is 10% slower until I can seal the slow leak but my kayak is 10% faster, so now I’m simply  even with every other racer”.

Finish line shot. Feeling surprisingly good for just blowing a gasket on paddle leg.
After spending the next 3 hours chasing my way through the pack on the run/orienteering course, rappel off of Gemini Arches, and 2nd bike leg, I clawed and crawled my way back through the entire field to 6th place at the final paddle put in. After a hour descent on 2nd bike leg and lots of praying my rim doesn't cave from a rock hit, I jumped off my bike and did a 20 second transition into my kayak. It is here something special happened and I just felt outstanding (thanks nuun active hydration tablets!) getting into the kayak followed by some vengeful paddling bringing me to within 15 minutes of the 1st and 2nd place leaders. I beat my best all time paddle split on that section of the Colorado River for any year ever and finished in just over 5 hours in 3rd place overall and 15-20 minutes behind fellow national team paddler/CU Nordic skier Spencer Lacy and minutes behind last years winner Mike Dawson from Park City, Utah.

This is what happens without Nuun in the Moab Canyonlands! How many Kid Rock songs would it take to get you through a day like this?
In reflection of the day, 20 year-old Spencer Lacy has become a force to dealt with. He ran a clean race and took 10 minutes off of his 2009 time where he finished 3rd behind Travis Macy and myself. He’s had a rough CU Nordic season and it brought a smile to my face to see him notch a win. 

3rd Jeremy Rodgers (Boulder), 1st Spencer Lacy (Boulder), 2nd Mike Dawson (Park City, Utah)

More important than the podium today, I was reminded that in an adventure race of any length, 1000 things have to go right to have a clean race which is simply impossible. We just forget what happened last race and something new happens every year that you can't prepare for. You stack your hand pre-race with planning, training, the right gear, and experience and hope it's enough to offset Murphy's Law. Today, I got what I deserved all things considered and felt good about gaining back the 30 some minutes I lost dealing with an endlessly leaking tire. We’d all like to get in front and stay in front in life but it felt just as good to start in dead last and try to catch these guys and visit with other racers on the course at the same time. Additionally, every team out there had it challenges that no one ever hears about. It’s how we deal with those challenges that defines a team and individual’s resolve and spirit.

Special congrats to Danelle Ballengee who won the woman’s solo 5 years after her fateful fall and subsequent challenges after fracturing her pelvis and also to Team Environmental Hazard who won the race before they even started after having lost 50 lbs each training for their first adventure race. 


And...have you met our new Cattle Dog/Hybridliving partner Mazzy? This was her first road trip in the Ultimate Multisport Van!  Next up, San Luis Obispo Adventure Racing Camp with Team Dart nuun and Ian Adamson followed by the start of kayak racing season.

Forward focus!
Team DART nuun SportMulti