Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Opening Day...Colorado Ski Season 2010

Need I say more? Opening at Keystone Resort. Heather and I getting the cobwebs out. 36 inch base before Thanksgiving....keep it coming o holy white snow santa. Yes, those are teleturns for sure and the new HD GoPro Chest Cam. Bring on the hut trips, nordic skate days, hot chocolate, and winter friends. We even scoured the mountain for some bumps that were hidden in the backside.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Little Grand Canyon...Westwater Utah

As fall weather slumbers into the Rocky Mountains, all the usual suspects loaded up the KEENmobile and rolled into Westwater Canyon Utah for a 4 day paddling and mountain biking bonanza. Fresh off of my last trip to Seattle to adventure race with the DART gang, it was great to be back on the mountain bike yet again away from endless time in the kayak.  Heather and I started the weekend by hitting all the classic mountain bike rides (and a few we made up as we went!) in Moab. What is better in life than to wake up in the morning from our camping vista overlooking Slickrock followed by frumpy oatmeal and chocolate milk watching the sun rise in my KEEN flippity flops?

PADDLER'S PERSPECTIVE (Same Stretch Looking Downstream)
SIDE PERSPECTIVE (Same as photo)

Skull Rapid, Left Line vs. Right Line
After some epic mountain biking in Moab, we rolled upstream to Westwater Canyon to meet up with Andy Corra and family along with Nelson Oldham/fam for some big water boat'n on one of every wildwater paddlers' favorite stretches of river. Westwater Canyon, sometimes called Little Grand Canyon,  is rich in outlaw history, caves, and bald eagles. It is even richer in the quality of big volume pool drop rapids. The exitless inner gorge is 40 minutes of world class continuous big water rapids. Each drop leads to a guaranteed chest hit at the bottom of the explosive wave trains leading to the crux rapid in the series known as The Skull. To the right you see a photo from 2 years ago on another Westwater river trip with me taking the left line and The Boz taking his raft on the rowdier right line barely squeezing by the munchy massive hole that gives the rapid its namesake. Hitting the swimming pool sized hole almost guarantees a beat down followed by a story worthy dance with The Rock of Shock and then an unpalatable dessert in The Room of Doom. It's actually not such a Room of Doom for kayakers but it can hold a raft for hours if one unlucky soul gets sucked into the recirculating eddy inside the alcove unless they dump truck or bus stop (same as a dump truck but only the guide stays in the raft:) in the Skull Hole. .

Andy Corra and I prepaddled the same 20 mile run the day before in a brisk sub 2 hours on a training run (aka paddle as hard as you can to not lose Andy) but the run you see here is the family run with his talented paddling wife Janet and son Wiley as well as Nelson Oldham and daughter Kate both in kayaks and a support dory. Not blasting down the river in a paper thin 24 lb carbon kelar boat has its own challenges and you see me several times mis time my dory passes in the rapids resulting in a side hit on my stern and a double look to ensure I'm still sea worthy:)

I try to add a swiftwater racing tip on every blog entry and I think a great paddling tip from today's video is to "reach past every wave apex for your next stroke". Doing so centers your balance perfectly on each mega wave hit and boofs/drives the kayak forward trying to reach the next wave before my bow drops into the trough of the wave set (which would slow my speed like a speed bump). Notice the frequency of my paddle strokes matches the frequency of the swell surges...the slower the surges lift me the slower my stroke frequency.  I hear the advice "paddle like hell when a rapid approaches" which I disagree with from a technical perspective as the paddler flails with poor timing. "Never stop paddling and time each stroke to hit each wave apex" is a better paraphrase of that same advice. Notice my paddle is never out of the water except for a millisecond between strokes. That millisecond is the only instant I could get flipped like you see just before the slo mo in Skull Rapid but a few brace strokes prevented a roll. I may slow down my stroke by extending the stroke beyond my hip waiting for the next wave but my paddle is ALWAYS in the water for leverage.  In the notorious words of my favorite movie of all time: TOP GUN..."Maverick, that was some of the best (paddling) I've seen yet right up to the point you got (flipped)...you NEVER EVER leave your (paddle in the air:)

Heather got plenty of flat water time on the SUP paddle board and little 8 year old Wiley Corra really impressed me paddling rowdy class 3 wavetrains with a smile on his face. The US paddling scene will recognize this name in about 10 years as he'll surely go on to match his dad's world record paddling acumen.

As with life, the compression of every canyon brings a lot of rowdiness and uncertainly. Peace finally returns and that same rowdiness passes us by on its way to the next tumultuous canyon. In the early hours of morning on the same day as this video filming I saw the most magnificent shooting star go overhead seen from horizon to horizon with a glorious trail of green. Later that evening, I got a voicemail from my long time hometown friend letting me know the mother of my high school class Linda Griffin had passed. Now I know what it meant. 

Next up....nordic and hot chocolate hut season is upon us! Special thanks to the ever creative Heather for the video editing above!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How Not to Take Heather Kayaking...

OK, so only kayakers will appreciate how funny this video truly is. I personally will never take Heather on something she's not comfortable paddling herself but the conversation going on here is just classic among husband and wife/boyfriend girlfriend when paddling a tandem together. Every time we paddle our tandem, we joke with onlookers telling them we're filming a reality tv show called "How to Get Divorced in 2 Weeks or Less".....

This is on a class 6 section of the White Nile in Uganda and I just can't believe a kayaker would take a non kayaker through this without full disclosure but the drama is just priceless...

World's Worst Kayaking Experience

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chasing DART...

Team Dart Nuun Sport Multi: Jeremy Rodgers, Sean Clancy, Mari Chandler, Matt Hayes; 1st Place Trioba Adventure Race
So I've learned from this blogging thing to defer when you've been outblogged and Sean Clancy from Team DART is the blogger of all bloggers. Every photo and detail he captures like a modern day Mark Twain.

Glissading in the rocks...

Even though we won this very challenging race in 25 hours 50 minutes by a several hour margin ahead of second place Team Verve, I came to the realization that being in a kayak for the past 2 years really takes it's toll on leg and hip strength on super long races when a majority of the course is off trail on super steeps. My feet just hadn't seen that type of stimulus for several years and the first 7 hour orienteering section in the Cascade Mountains trashed my feet. Luckily, I had super professional teammates Matt Hayes (on the compass) , Mari Chandler (Ms. Efficiency herself), and Sean Clancy (The Hulk) and we all kept our heads down, made zero mistakes, and focused on the finish line. DART and their entire stable of racers are as good as they get.

Night falls on the Cascades.
Read Sean Clancy's blog summary at http://www.dartadventure.com/index.php/teamnews/95-team-wins-trioba-24-hours-

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Make that a Large Pizza...No Make that Supersize.....Leadville...Colorado River Trifecta

View South from 12,200 ft. Hope Pass of Collegiate Peaks Range
Who Throws Motor Oil Bottles  Out OfTheir Window?
What a stunning Colorado weekend! Heather and I loaded up the Sprinter and headed up to the Leadville Trail 100 to pace a few patients and friends of ours. We snuck a quick ride from Leadville up Independence Pass first thing in the morning followed by getting Joy Robertson and John Hill up and over the 12,000 foot Hope Pass.

All was smooth sailing for both of them. Joy arrived into Winfield looking the best she's looked in 4 years of pacing for her. She was celebrating the possible last time she'd complete Leadville for nearly the 6th time after realizing this year she was in need of a hip resurfacing procedure. She started the race with a not so perfect pain in her hip but seemed to have been in control of it. We made it to the top of Hope Pass, mile 60, right on schedule and began the descent. It was quite clear within the first 200 vertical feet of descent that Joy could go uphill all day long but the descent simply caused the cartilage problem in her hip to occur with every step. By the time we'd descended to 11,000 feet she was literally unable to take another step. With night fall upon us and 2,000 feet of descent and 4 miles left back to Twin Lakes,  we made a plan to have her piggy back and ride on my shoulders 5 minutes followed by 2 minutes of her walking. Luckily she's only 115 lbs dripping wet and I never thought in million years I'd be carrying someone on my back scrambling down a drainage ditch but our system worked albeit time consuming. I think we scared other racers more than ourselves with Joy and I combining to be a 10 foot tall hiker:) and the humor in it just offset the misery factor of being at such an altitude unable to ambulate. We made it back to the Twin Lakes aid station in 5 hours instead of the normal 3 and I just felt horrible for this long time ultra runner who just lives and breathes trail running in the Colorado mountains. She's always lands on her feet and I look forward to hearing where she diverts her energy until hip resurfacing technology is at a point that runners can return to running. Currently, the hardware interface fails with the load of running and technology doesn't exist for such an application.

Avoiding wave friction just on the seam...the secret art of swift water racing!

Heather Riding The Wave Train...a little bouncier just left of the seam!
So at 10:30 PM, Heather and repacked the Sprinter and drove over Independence Pass into Aspen just in time to grab a few hours of sleep before the 25th Annual Colorado River Race put on by Jerry Nyre www.canoecolorado.com. In hindsight, I think we were both more bummed we'd missed a thick crust supreme at Leadville Pizza Hut than were about starting a race with 4 hours sleep. Heather really impressed me as she was approx. 5th overall and ran some good rapids in an Epic 18 (ft) that really tests one's ability to line up the boat in tight wave trains that want to push you into the eddies and bridge abutments. I felt surprisingly recovered from the Leadville saga and went on to win the race for the 5th consecutive year. I chose to paddle a "short boat" WakaTwo wildwater racing kayak in the "long boat" unlimited class this year and at 15ft I was very surprised to see me just beat the previous course record of 1 hour 4 minutes I set 3 years ago in my 22 foot JKK Supernova. It just goes to show that hull speed doesn't always win if one considers bow wave resistance (greater in longer boats) when paddling in shallow water ways. Additionally, I'm a mass start racer by nature and the other long boats kept me focused on forward progress for sure.

For those wanting some advice on pacing on longer paddling efforts like 1 hour, I simply break the race into 15 minute intervals and each 15 minute interval into 5 minute sub intervals of increasing intensity ie hard, harder, hardest rising from just below anerobic threshold to just at threshold at the end of the final 5 minute sub interval. I monitor this as well as average pace on my Garmin 305 GPS odo/speedometer. The art of this pacing control I owe to Andy Corra's mentoring last year and it has been the single reason I finished top 5 nationally last year and beating my long boat record that had previously stood for 15 years originally set by a tandem K2 kayak in 1993.

Next week, off to Seattle to adventure race with Team Dart-NUUN-MultiSport who I've respected for years for their consistency in national and international races. They have a stable of swift talented multisporters that gave BPN a run for their money 2 years ago so really looking forward to seeing the Cascades with Sean Clancy, Mari Chandler, and Matt Hayes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

World Championships...Big Water and a Little Cash for the Road

Reeeaaaching for that next catch!


Unleash the new Waka Two from ZBS Sports in Czech Republic custom painted by Tomas Slovak...transparent Signal Blue:) By th e look on my face, I'd say I was 2 heartbeats away from blowing a gasket. Ah...the art of wildwater paddling...go so hard on the flats you almost blow a gasket then survive the rapids! Getting more confident at this balance but I have alot to learn:)

Another year of flooding every June 1st in Europe. This is the sprint course run out in Sort, Spain. The upper course got high enough that the whole river was off limits for 3 days. Flashbacks of Ivrea, Italy in 2008
Just another day at the office...just when you ask for big you get too big:)
On break between heats...

Play time for Heather and I...off to find another bakery for a E'Clair! Maybe I already had one in my mouth.

Monday, July 5, 2010

US Wildwater Paddler Andy Corra Sets New World Record On Yukon River!

Excerpts From Story on USA Wildwater.com
Only days after returning to Boulder from World Championships in Sort, Spain, I found myself sitting at Denver International airport yet again waiting for my flight to the Yukon Territory Canada busily checking flow gauges and gathering last minute information on the wilderness that waits.

Just when one thinks you have been dealt an average hand, all variables go in your favor and the impossible happens as the human spirit triumphs against all odds. Not 24 hours after I sent an email out to family and friends on my blog acknowledging the lack of adequate flows for a world record attempt on the 24 distance record, American wildwater paddler Andy Corra, from Durango, Colorado, overtook the current world record of 261 miles on June 28th by paddling 273.5 miles (awaiting certification by Guinness World Records) in 24 hours. The current official record is held by Aussie American adventure racing legend Ian Adamson . While flows were average at best compared to previous record attempts by others, Andy’s paddling and river reading skills, as well as tolerance of sitting in a kayak for 24 hours, were matched with eerily calm skies and the sheer hunger for what was one man’s first chance to attempt this life long goal.

Andy’s attempt was supported by 2 local guides in a flat skiff motor boat and myself alternating in a 2nd surf ski and time spent on the motor boat handling logistics. His attempt started with a simple touch of the reset button on the 2 GPS tracking devices at 12 noon as he pushed away from the flat bottomed guide boat and pointed the bow of his Epic V12 surf ski downriver. Needless to say, he chose against a long warm-up. What ensued in the next 24 hours was simply poetry in motion. Andy kept his signature form throughout the entire 24 hours and his cadence only slowed in the final 2 hours as fatigue and the intolerance of sitting took its toll on his back and shoulders. The river was swift and approximately 5-16 feet deep. The endless braids were challenging to find primary channels and we as a support crew were busy looking ahead with various means, then relying on Andy’s on the fly water reading skills. With moderate flows this year, Andy simply overcame moderate flows with both his paddling skill combined with excellent weather minus several heavy gale force squalls. The difference in Andy’s attempt and previous attempts by other paddlers seemed to be Andy’s dissection of each channels flow to gain maximum current speed advantage obtained from his years of wildwater racing.

We began below Lake Labarge around noon on Saturday and descended Five Fingers and Rink Rapids earlier than expected. In the wee hours of the arctic dusk around 2am, Andy negotiated the cross currents and exploding waves between the immersed rock towers of Five Fingers Rapids with the cautious focus you’d expect from a 6 time wildwater national champion paddling a 21 foot surf ski through short but worthy class 2-3 rapids. Andy had little to say the entire attempt but did muster the defining phrase, “that was anti climactic”, as he passed through the final rapid.

The rest of the night he remained on task only stopping long enough to urinate and exchange food and hydration systems. He did ultimately hit an expected low in the early hours of the next morning, hours 18-21, with only a slight change in cadence but no change in average speed even with dropping current speed. By hour 21, following a quick layer change, he regained his color and signature cadence for the final leg of this enormous human feat.

The entire US paddling community is excited about Andy’s accomplishment. Andy can be reached at corras@riversports.com to offer him congratulations.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unleash the Yukon....

Just days after the jetlag wore off and the Euros were converted back into USD’s, I find myself sitting again at Denver International airport again waiting for my flight bound for Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. I’m heading to the Yukon to crew/pace for prolific American paddler Andy Corra’s solo attempt on the Guinness 24 Hour Distance Record of 264.2 miles held by my fellow Coloradan and adventure racing legend Ian Adamson. The Yukon River has some attractive qualities that are no secret to the record setter, specifically, its massive flows nearing 110,000 cfs (cubic feet/second) through near arctic northern latitudes which provide 22 hours of daylight during summer solstice and virtually untamed undammed river flows. The river is deep enough that its massive flow produces little turbulence above class 2 rapids compared to what Andy and I are used to in the sport of wildwater racing. In contrast, its massive lower elevation river braids one half mile wide create significant navigational challenges to find the deepest current or simply not run aground in a backwater channel.

The 4 key ingredients in challenging this record are lucid: 1) having the fastest flows/snowpack runoff 2) having favorable winds/weather 3) being the technically best paddler 4) body management i.e. tolerating sitting, eating, urinating, etc in a kayak for 24 hours straight, and finally 5) having solid logistical planning (in order of importance). Flows when the record was reset in 2004 on this same river were 107,000 cfs. This week's flows are 70,000 cfs. Andy and I have no illusion about the challenges this presents and we are staying focused on laying down as many miles as the final 4 of 5 ingredients allow. Many paddlers look at this record and simply salivate on the simple premise it’s simply paddling more efficiently and faster than the next great paddler. In contrast, it’s a chess game of skill, luck, and wit to out jockey those things fitness and paddling skill cannot control.

We have 2 days of logistical jockeying on the ground evaluating flow gauges, weather, and mundane things as simple as battery life of tracking, signaling, and communication devices. Up North Adventures is our local guiding outfit and will provide motorboat support for Andy’s effort as well as assist me finding the fastest current ahead of Andy using stealthy techniques such as steering away from the bears in shallow water.

As I near the age of 35, I’m still not sure how I am magnetically drawn into these outings (no pun intended) nor why my girlfriend Heather still supports these misadventures far from home but, lucky for me, she still does enthusiastically; especially if she’s not the one in the front of our 2 person whitewater kayak otherwise known as the Jackson Dynamic Duo. This trip guarantees an experience of a lifetime with hopeful DISTANT grizzly sightings, endless UP CLOSE mosquitoes, and all the usual “I can’t believe that happened” ingredients that make one appreciate the simpler things in life.

Every adventure locale has its indigenous social, wildlife, and environmental hazards. Patagonia’s poison was instantaneous gale force windstorms and arctic water temperatures (pictured above circa 2005). New Zealand had endless glacial azure rivers, alpine rock fall from the mountain ledges above combined with the prickliest Spanish grass my butt has ever come to know. Nepal had its ruthless leeches in all the wrong places and Maoist extremists lurking in the trees just waiting to take my Nutter Butters. France brought weird accents who spoke at us Americans as if always mad and I’ll never forget the endless shocking by electric fences for cows that could jump houses. Spain introduced amazing rivers and how not to serve dinner until 10pm. My home state of Oklahoma yields tornados and bull riding cowboys. The Yukon Territory brings _________________________ to my Hybrid KEEN life.

Beginning this Saturday or Sunday, I’ll be sending several of you position updates by email via my satellite beacon transmitter so look for the start as the first one, a few updates signals, and 3 in immediate sequence as the end of the 24 hour mark.

My favorite adventure quote resurfaces for this occasion....
"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." Sir Ernest Shackleton, Endurance Antarctic Expedition circa 1908 London News classifieds

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adopt A Highway...Fight Back Against the Litterbugs!

So every time I clean my beloved adopted 2 mile highway section on Left Hand Canyon on one of Boulder's premiere cycling routes I feel the need to play a little game. The game is come up with a new way to break my course record cleaning it using any means available. I've cleaned it running only, using my scooter and a jousting pickerupper, rollerblades, jumping out of the back of a truck, one bike ride at a time...you name it, I've tried it. The new Sprinter van is paying off at every turn as this time Heather drove it while I hung out the side door like a hawk looking for it's recyclable prey...just salivating at the sight of every neglected piece of aluminum or glass beverage container anchored needlessly in the riparian tundra otherwise known as Left Hand Canyon.

Here are a few pics of the mornings work, 3 mega bags, 2 tires, 1 construction sign, and 1 box of jelly beans. I will say Bud Light cans are the usual instrument for those that are too lazy to throw away trash in a responsible manner but whiskey is clearly out of favor this tough recession. Imports were also no where to be found although a few high class litterbugs still lurk in the shadows.

Jesse...A+ on the Immersion Research Gertler shorts for functionality while trash collecting. They perform flawlessly in the low crouching positions jumping over trees, treacherous buried glass, and guard rails!

Special thanks to Clif Bar who is hosting a mega highway cleanup this week in Boulder County to do it's
part in promoting responsible trash disposal on Colorado's beloved roadways!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Annual Return to the Roots....Buena Vista Gravity Play Race

So I try to return to adventure racing at least once a year and this year it worked out to do Gravity Play's Buena Vista Adventure Exstream race. Heather is fired up to qualify for the Checkpoint Tracker national series race held in Colorado this year so I tagged along for a race on some top notch wildwater training on the Arkansas from town to Fisherman's Bridge aka Town Run to Milk Run.

The race started on foot with a 10K trail run/orienteering section to the paddle start. I shared the run with 2 military guys named Ryan and John. Ryan was active Army just back from Iraq and just from the cauliflower ear in his right ear called him out as an ex wrestler who shot his single leg with his right leg...sure enough he was an grappler from North Dakota. John was an active Air Force Academy cadet in his last year. Both of them were great company on the brisk run and we had a hoot scrambling down the cliffed out route we chose to descend into the river bed and having a fun time chatting about my Vietnam era Marine Corp dad Super Dave and the trials and tribulations of the career soldier. Army Ryan and I were simply getting punished by fleet footed Air Force John so I called an audible after CP2 and Army Ryan and I vanished into the slot canyons on a strategic evade and elude move after letting Air Force John get 30 seconds ahead of us. If you two guys read my blog this week... I forgot to thank you and all past veterans for your service to our country and the freedoms that service brings. These guys are solid and I wish them the best in the sport of adventure racing.

That was the last I saw of my running mates and I zoned out to let it rip on the paddle and bike to the finish. With really low spring water levels, I really had to stay on top of my line through the constant boulder fields. Sorry Bruce over at Coal Creek Collision Center in Boulder...I finally did some real damage to the bottom of the awesome new paint job you did for me this year.

I forget how much fun adventure racing is when the pressure isn't on for all the hoopla and I just enjoyed being out there with the other racers taking in all the great vistas and roller coaster single track in Buena Vista. The cyclocross setup on the my Gary Fisher Superfly from http://www.universitybikes.com/ in Boulder is just bomber on adventure races with gnarly single track minus big rock hits at 40 mph. You just point the Superfly in the direction of the finish and just her do her magic in the twisty turns. Gary Lacy was on my tail on the water and that guy just is ageless. I guess that's what happens when you race your sons every weekend!

Team KEEN slid in first overall in a smooth 2 hours 37 minutes. Heather won the solo female and is on track to meet her goals. Is it a problem if my own girlfriend may beats me one day? I think it's in the near future. Results at http://www.gravityplay.com/adventureracing/Results/BV10.pdf Adventure racing continues to thrive as does the Gravity Play series with over 250 racers at each race. Maybe next year Team KEEN will expand from 1 soloist to a team of 4;) Keep your eyes peeled racers!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Release…The Sprinter!

In support of our free spirit tendencies, Heather and I teamed up to buy and build the ultimate multisport van this winter. We were looking for a diamond in the rough and we found her in Golden in the form of a 2005 Dodge Sprinter. These Mercedes Turbodiesel driven wonders get 23+mpg at 8500 lbs and 22 feet long. Need I say more? We spent 2 weeks removing the vinyl branding aka burning our finger tips with heat guns on 32 degree nights after work until we had her as white as a baby’s bottom. Her dad, Buck, spent an afternoon laying the tile laminate floating floor as we anticipated some dripping kayak gear and muddy bike tires. We threw 18” alloy wheels from a Mercedes G500 SUV on for bling bling value so we don’t get the cops called on us when bandit camping in high end neighborhoods who mistake it for a passenger Eurovan!

Next stop was a visit to the boys at Vanworks,http://www.vanworks.com/, in Fort Collins, CO who specialize in custom van conversions. In short, these talented craftsmen can make anything out of anything. Dale and crew did the whole customization from the power system to cabinets and everything between. They added a shore line so the vehicle could be plugged in to our trusty friends all over Colorado. When plugged in the heater, home theater system, fridge, microwave, and other high consumption electronics can run directly from shore power. We added a 2 amp solar system to keep the batteries topped off while we’re out frolicking in the mountains. As any vegabond camper knows, a hot shower was first on our list of must haves for our home away from home. Vanworks put a water output from our sink to a external shower system that heats the water before sending it to the shower head mounted to the back door. (photo) This system doubles as our muddy bike washing station and stinky paddle clothing diffuser.

Another key component the promising van camper can’t skimp on is the ceiling vent and mood lights. Colorado, being the high mountain climate it is, made us pass on A/C. The ceiling vent keeps the humidity from building up and temperature down. We went with movie theater style LED mood lights along the perimeter of the ceiling courtesy of Barry from Jersey at Vanworks who gave mood lights two thumbs up. The finishing touch was the fold down toy hauler bed that converts into a dinette and table when necessary. Jim from Vanworks recovered the vintage fabric on the bed and seats with bling bling black neoprene compliments of Prijon Wildwasser kayaks in Boulder.
My high school days clearly resurfaced when it came to the audio system and I didn't want to let my high school friend BJ Rumph down when he came to town. We went with a single 10” sub under the passenger seat but heavy on everything else with around 600 watts pushing the 6 mid and high drivers. With movies like Top Gun and 300 in the DVD collection, Mike from Vanworks couldn’t pass on having the DVD integrate into the audio system or doubling down on the wall insulation to keep the neighbors from calling our cover when we’re camping across the street!  http://www.kustomkaraudio.com/ did the front door panel speakers custom for Sprinters.

The finishing touches were some of our favorites. To the left, Vanworks custom made sweet ceiling cabinets to house the microwave and my endless collection of KEEN's!

We just got the crown jewel.... personalized license plates. As many of my childhood friends will remember, my brother Josh was the king of van travel even as a young 20 year old in Oklahoma with several VW Eurovan restorations going on at one time. Because we just upsized the size of our van compared to his daily driver (photo shown on the right circa 1999...the first adventure race I ever did with some college

friends..silly Team Radical), JOSHUA2 seemed fitting for the tags. One distinct memory I carry forward from his nature is to be passionate about living life and pack it all in to one day as you never know how the next page reads. Even though I never liked to fish as much as he did, I paid attention and reeled when he said reel. (see below)! His spirit lives on one road trip at a time. Heather picked up where he left off and fishes the same Arkansas River from it's headwaters in our beloved Buena Vista, Colorado.

Shot of the Week...Where's the Airport? Shoshone 3000 cfs and rising....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chicagoland Adventure Racing Camp...and the 6 Lb. Burrito Brothers!

So I spent last weekend near Chicago, Illinois at Gerry Voelliger's Team High Profile Adventure Racing Camp http://thethunderrolls.org/camp.html with 180 adventure racers from 10 states and support staff. It's very real that adventure racing on a grassroots level continues to flourish in the Midwest and Gerry Voelliger is a big part of that success. I tell you this event director and his staff put on an outstanding camp. Gerry's enthusiasm for all things adventure is contagious and this camps stands alone for providing high quality instruction and will jump start any budding adventure racer's knowledge base 100fold in 3 days at a great price. World champion adventure racer Robyn Bennicasa was on staff last year. None of us are sure how Gerry gets his instructors but I'd say it's because if you knew Gerry you just can't turn down a request. He's the fire chief in Bettendorf, Iowa and just has a big brother vibe about him.

I was on staff to provide paddling instruction and all support all other programs related to adventure racing ie navigation, fixed ropes, foot care, in race tactics, etc. KEEN, Clif Bar, and Immersion Research came through for camp participants with the most schwag I've ever seen at an event and the campers loved it all. After 5-6 capsizes in the Mississippi during the field paddling session I'm certain campers found a new appreciation for proper clothing layers. My favorite camp memory was looking on shore and seeing 3 shall I say Rugby'esque campers recently removed from the frigid water (see below) huddled around each other buck naked still pointing fingers at who really tipped the canoe. They came to enjoy the namesake "The 6 LB Burrito Brothers" given to them by Gerry V. These guys traveled all the way from Nebraska and just reminded me of all the human experiences one amasses in the sport of adventure racing. Every second is a screenplay in the making. I enjoyed the racing spirit of these 3 guys, Casey especially, and I look forward to hearing stories of their future success .

Here is a photo of some paddling technique demonstrating how to get maximum power transfer from your body to the kayak/canoe using releasable foot and thigh straps. Note...never do this with straps that don't release instantaneously or you'll have a longer upside down experience than necessary!

Here's a photo of the Wakarusa River that racers honed their paddling skills on. Who knew a class 2 whitewater river runs through these fields surrounding Camp Benson? The river pulses through an otherwise agricultural backdrop and simply carves out some magnificent scenery with surrounding bat caves and high bluffs.

Special thanks to Active Endeavors owner Matt Ostrum who continues to foster the sport of adventure racing in the Chicago market and was an early supporter in my development when I was just a spunky 22 year old who was just learning to paddle on this very stretch of river. Repaying my debt to him working this camp was the least I could do and Gerry V and staff are just simply outstanding. Special thanks also to professional photographer Greg Boll who took all of these action photos. All photos can be viewed online at http://highprofileadventureracing.myphotoalbum.com/myphotoalbum.html?set_albumName=album16

Photos by Greg Boll. Mississippi Pallisades State Park.

Next Up...
1. June 5-13th Wildwater World Championships in Sort, Spain
2. June 23-27th Paddling Solo Support/Navigation for Prolific American paddler Andy Corra's Attempt to Break Ian Adamson's Guiness 24 Hour World Kayak Distance Record on the Yukon River in Yukon Territory (yep, this will be one the story of all stories race fans!)