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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pura Vida in Costa Rica...

After 10 years of spending every “vacation” multisport racing internationally, Heather deserved a casual vacation that didn’t involve pre-race meetings, bike boxes, and oversize luggage charges for kayaks. We chose the eastern Costa Rica seaboard as our multisport destination complete with whitewater kayaking, jungle lodges, canopy tours, mountain biking, and beaches.
Pacaure River (Mario in lead, Jeremy 2nd, Heather in raft 3rd)
 Day 1-2…We hit the water running with our 3 day whitewater river trip on the world famous Pacuare River. The Pacuare River is a 60 mile stretch of continuous class 4-5 big whitewater which runs from the continental divide in the west due east to drain into the Caribbean. Marcos, from in Turrialba , was our lead guide on the Upper Pacuare which I kayaked and Heather rafted with 6 others from the UK, Holland, Germany, and Costa Rica requiring Diego, her raft guide, to call out commands in 3 languages to avoid certain doom. Most class 4 rivers in the US are typically class 3 primarily with 5-10 class 4 rapids along the way. The Pacuare is a consistent class 4 rating (ie the whole river is a class 4 rapid) with over 30 class 4+/5- drops as the river rages through the tropical rain forest with waterfalls abound as the monkeys, red frogs, and toucan’s find humor in why these humans are descending this river in such poorly thought out means of transportation. 

Heather’s raft guide Diego was excellent and always on line. Even with his multinational commands and mixed experience levels in the raft, they cleared the canyon with only one near flip that Heather insists Diego tried for to spice up the descent. Mario was my compadre in a second kayak and I simply mirrored his kayak angles as we weaved our way through the minefield of bus-sized holes, some more gracefully than others. I was actually impressed with the quality of the guides most when one rafter from Texas took a swim in the gut of the canyon followed by a super swift rescue by Mario. I certainly had my hands full with a wing paddle (trying to limit # of paddles I brought!) and no time to recover between rapids as well as essentially paddling the river blind with my guide in front setting the line as the only thing I could use to foreshadow the trouble ahead.

 Our friend Shane Sigle from Boulder lived in Turrialba for a year and certainly warned us this river was a handful but you’ll see from the photos, it was worth every minute including getting worked by El Sugundie rapid which I front endo’ed into the main hole followed by a beat down equal to the spin cycle of your favorite Maytag washing machine. My favorite adventure racing teammate Bill Dean put it best years ago: “gravity and moving water, otherwise known as your judge and jury.”

Day 3-4…Mountain biking off road in Costa Rica typically means lots of mud and we certainly got our shoes full. Carlos, from, was our always enthusiastic and quite fit guide. Heather found him from another American’s blog entry describing his 6 hour “March of Death” ride with Carlos. This ride option obviously intrigued us more than a “March of Roses” ride so Carlos was happy to oblige us for the second time he has done this ride as a guided tour. We began in the rafting epicenter city of Turriablba and made 2 ascents/descents of the continental divide on jeep trails including a 1 hour mud slog in knee deep mud descending into the River Reventazon valley (see video). We were super stoked with these 2 days of riding which allowed us to slow down while ascending volcanic rims and see some great wildlife, sample coffee beans from their host fruit, and suffer some sweltering heat with our solid guide Carlos. Check Lava Tours out if you’re looking for a high end hard core single or multi day bike tour with zero down time. Many of the tour companies we contacted catered to casual rides with lots of down time. Carlos knows what’s up and is a solid mountain biker in his own right and multi year competitor in the Leaville Trail 100 Bike Race. He speaks great English and even stuck around to have dinner with Heather and I.

Day 5-7 was spent on the Caribbean Coast in Puerto Viejo following a simple transfer shuttle via the national shuttle system Interbus.  We were quick to decide renting beach cruisers sooner than later was the best way to get around the coastal destinations for snorkeling, kayaking surfing (see video), and wildlife tours. The monkeys and sloths were particularly densely populated on the coast compared to the elusive species on the River Pacuare. Bring lots of KinEsys sunblock and plenty of Nuun electrolyte replacement for those tough days where your GI system isn't feeling as gung ho as your legs.  We also wished we had brought more clothes for a rain forest trip as by the end of a week we had 2 piles of clothes, those that stink and those that stink less. Something about nothing dries when the humidity is pushing 90%!

Pura Vida
Jeremy and Heather

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unleashing the Sprinter...Season 2 Unplugged

Just when we all thought Heather and I's "Ultimate Multisport Van" couldn't be improved, we found a way just in time for UMV Season 2 with the addition of a self sustaining solar power system that allows for perpetual Hybridliving. We all ask ourselves how we can give more back the earth than we take? How can we tread lighter yet live life to the fullest? How much electricity do we actually consume per hour? If I can pay for electricity by burning coal cheaper than other energy sources, why does it matter?

For about $500 for a 135 watt PV (photo voltaic) panel and an additional $400 for charge controller and installation, $300 for 2 440amp/hour deep cycle batteries, $1000 for a Xantrex AC inverter/DC converter, and $200 for Hell Roaring battery isolater, we have perpetual power to operate our minimalist design multisport van's refrigerator, lighting, TV/DVD, water pumps, and heater for up to 7 days without starting the engine. Our system including the panel, charge controller, batteries, inverters, and installation was approximately $2500. This setup on a larger scale would absolutely work for your home however your average consumption per hour is closer to 800 watts at any given moment. A typical solar panel has a 12-15% efficiency rate providing 100% return on investment in 10 years and a lifespan of 15-20 years (except $300 batteries have a 5 year life span). Once solar panels hit 20% efficiency this year, ROI will be accomplished in 3 years!

As you may know, solar panels require an amperage charge controller device to keep the batteries from being overcharged and they are also only as good as the ability to store DC power. Going back to physics 101, a 100 watt appliance uses 100 watts  or 11 amperes per hour on a 10-12 volt system .(Power = Amperes x Voltage). This would exhaust a 440 ampHour battery in 40 hours without replenishment. It takes about a 150 watt solar panel (producing 10-11 amps)  to offset this 100 watt consumption due to inefficiencies in conversion of solar energy to electrical energy/less than perfect sunlight/limited number of hours of sunlight exposure, etc. Additionally, it takes a reservoir aka batteries to store energy when possible because it's impossible to match electrical needs with sunlight availability.

Overkill perhaps but most importantly it's symbolic of our commitment to treading lightly in our surroundings and detaching ourselves from the traditional life of decadence "living on the grid". The Sprinter is just the earliest phases of living a simpler life off the grid as the cards play out. Until then, we look forward to spending time on the grid plugged into our favorite travel destinations.

We also added a wireless Roku modem to the van this year to stream Netflix movies to less remote locations.No more repeats of the movie 300... just name your request and we can stream it!

For a complete summary of the Sprinter's unleashing.... Season 1

See you all on the trails and rivers!

Heather and Jeremy

Friday, January 14, 2011

Right to Float Law: Battleground Colorado.

American Whitewater and The Right To Float from Amongst It on Vimeo.

Right to Float: Statutory and Case Law in Colorado
I'm sometimes asked by new kayakers "is it true a river is a public resource and may be floated across private land" as long as I don't touch the ground ? Yes, the actual case law is "People versus Emmert, 1979" that was actually lost then overturned on certain points. It's accepted that public waters are not to be obstructed but it's not clear what happens if a floater come across an obstruction.

What if a dangerous water level fence, bridge, or rapid affects my ability to make passage safely? Grey area. It's generally acceptable from case law the paddler may safely walk around the obstruction incidentally without trespassing.

How can I help? Be a respectful paddler and citizen when crossing contested lands in a kayak.  Try to pass fly fisherman wide and avoid impacting their fishing experience as much as possible. Plan ahead...don't use the restroom or plan lunch on private land. Join the AWA above. Additionally, contact your state legislature when interest groups need your help.  Be informed by watching the video above from the AWA!