Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life is changing....Go Pro Games 2014

As I eluded to last year, the field of competitors has deepened directly proportional to my waistline and inversely proportional to my time spent in river as Heather and I start a family. We (as in Heather) already discussed where any prize money would be delegated and in contrast to past years where it went to new kayaks, bikes, and travel expenses; this year’s top line items were (in order of payout): 1) new Honda Quadcut lawnmower for the yard 2) new Burley kiddo buggy for little Delany on the way 3) diapers. This speaks loudly to where we are at in life as my 40th birthday is in less than 20 days. 

Kayakers and climbers in training. Go Pro has fun for every age!
Colorado’s runoff is in full swing and that brings Heather, the Mazz, and I to the US’s biggest mountain festival in Vail, Colorado, the GoPro Games. As the economy heats back up so do races prize purses and sponsorship dollars and that was certainly reflected in this year’s Go Pro field in every discipline. The start of the mountain biking races were back to being a who’s who list of every dominate male and female rider I’ve ever followed over the years. It wasn’t just the racers that were out in force with bigger payouts. The mountain kids and dogs sure knew where the action was this weekend and I even hopped into the kayak pool to cool off with the next generation of US kayakers. Climbing, kayaking, running, slackline, photography contests abound, Go Pro Games is still growing every year.

Prijon Capri vs Taifun back to back.. and our favorite camping spot on club level!

We parked the Sprinter in our favorite spot on the Vail Village parking structure after trading KEEN hats and a crisp $20 bill with some fellow van dwellers who held our spot with their tents while we did practice runs. We sampled KEEN and NUUN product from the back of the Ultimate Multisport Van as a way to get to know our neighbors and get our leash reactive dog Mazzy used to little kids walking up to “her van”. (photo). Ear plugs are a must on “club level” at Vail Village Parking Garage and after a good nights sleep, we were ready for the hustle and bustle of Go Pro Games.

The crisp Vail breeze brought in the morning for the Bud Light Downriver Sprint with 200 kayak and SUP competitors all vying for the rush of 17 minutes in Gore Creek’s 40 degree F water rumbling down the mountain with it’s own agenda to wreak havoc to forward progress. I brought two kayak options for this race, the Prijon Taifun that found it’s way to a 2nd place finish in 2012 and a Prijon Capri that is 10 lbs lighter but is a bit twitchy and less forgiving in choppy big water or exploding waves but faster in lower volume flows.  As always, thanks to the US Prijon distributor for allowing me access to the warehouse full of the worlds toughest kayaks every year.

My plan was if flows were over 1000 cfs, I’d take the higher displacement Taifun. Flows were just under 1000 cfs, so I saddled up the Capri and asked her to have the run of her life today. For the kayakers out there, a warm up downstream is ALWAYS better than a warmup paddling upstream so Heather dropped me off well upstream and I pulled into the start eddy with minutes to spare waiting for the laser eye to give racers the green light.  A proper warm up is one that you get your heart rate all the way into zone 5 then recover back to zone 3 within minutes before you go back to zone 5. Training intervals in your workouts improves your "kinetic VO2 max" ie your ability to go up and down between zone 3 and zone 5 very quickly and efficiently which is some sports is more important than your V02 max.

My run went much better than last year affectionately labeled "the year of the Titanic" and Heather knew it from the smile on my face and how dry my cockpit was as a clean run means a dry skirt as every wave hit to your waist creates friction. Unofficial race results were posted within the hour showing me in 2nd place behind British 2013 extreme kayaker world champion Joe Morley which was a shoe in for the podium and definitely had the skills to relegate me to the diaper category making my hopes of a spanking new Honda lawn mower just out of reach. After several hours, some confusion arose that 2 seeded racers, Isaac Levinson and Dane Jackson both missed their start times and were given a alternate start which is a whole other topic but after calculating their new start times, US slalom standout Issac Levinson won in 17 min 5 seconds in 1st, Brit Joe Morley took 2nd in 17 min 9 seconds then Dane Jackson and I finished 3rd and 4th just tenths of a second apart while Dane’s father needing no introduction Eric Jackson rounded out the top 5. Issac and Dane also went 1-2 in the Steep Creek race the day before so they can buy any mower they want I say.
"Maneater Rapid" under construction in back yard.
Heather + Photoshop = Anything We Want
So the saying close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes applies and the good news is I ordered the lawnmower, Bob stroller, and diapers anyway as there are some perks with having a real job and one of those is prize money is just gravy in life and it’s time spent with family and building a full on raging white water course in my back yard this month that matters more to me now. Heather and I still made the cover of Outside magazine winning the “most days spent pregnant sleeping in a hot RV with your dog” category this month so we’re stoked just to be a part of the Go Pro Games.

Next next weekend then finish up the whitewater feature in the back yard. Little D comes on Labor Day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Babies, Big Waves, and Burgers....Buena Vista Gravity Play Puts DART nuun On the Podium Times 2.

Ryan Ognibene (left) and Jeremy Rodgers (right) win both the solo 12 and sprint races.

2014 Buena Vista Gravity Play Adventure Xtreme Series kicked off with a bang. Heather and I rolled into town with the Mazz in tow looking for a warm up race for the Go Pro Games the following weekend. Heather and I are 6 months along expecting our daughter in September so Heather sat this one out but is riding and paddling her way right into the delivery room!

Heather showing our biggest surprise to fellow racers.
Fellow DART racer Ryan Ognibene and I both entered as soloists in one of our favorite Gravity Play races consisting of run ride paddle orienteering and climb sections. Ryan held off up and coming Tecnu racer Jason Popilsky from Idaho by a coin toss margin after Ryan made a bold choice to clear all of the orienteering points while Jason's strategy was to lay down blistering speed on foot and bike which left them less than 5 minutes apart.  Ryan's been paddling with Gary Lacy and I since last fall and has really came into his own on the swiftwater paddle legs in adventure races. The paddling section on the Arkansas from Buena Vista to Browns Canyon put in was at super high flows so racers had their
hands full keeping their kayaks upright in the endless class 3 chop. My personal race highlight was watching one husband get flipped out of the kayak followed by his wife waving to him while she carried on down the river just fine without him! Ryan won the overall 12 hour race and I won the overall sprint race so DART nuun times deux is the punchline for this weekend.

Serving up gluten lactose and spam free burgers post race on the Beach!
Ryan, Heather, and I served up burgers post race for racers on the new "Beach" in Buena Vista while racers compared all the wrong turns, flips, swims, chaffing, and crashes.

Next in Vail, Colorado next weekend where 40,000 spectators and athletes vie for king and queen of the mountain in every mountain sport known. Ryan Ognibene and head to Untamed New England next month so look for them and Tecnu to battle it out yet again.