Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 50+ - 'Lost Track of Days'

It has now been almost 2 weeks since I last had chance to write up what has been happening on tour and as such I have now completely lost track of the number of days I have been here. It is now the 28th May and I have only 1 week left until I fly back to the UK. The last few weeks have been super exciting and really busy as I have been traveling on the rodeo tour, boating every day in a whole load of new features with loads of new people.
Claire O kicks off the 2012 competiton series with a big loop in Colorado, USA (thanks to Bryan Dorr for the photo
Green River 'The Kellogg's and Pancake Breakfast'
The tour started in a small town in Wyoming called Green River. A 12 hour drive from Reno. We spent a full day driving through the salt plains passed Salt Lake City and through miles upon mile of desert to reach this small mining town in the middle of  nowhere. The event was held on a whitewater park on an Island on the outskirts of town. When we arrived the feature wasn't great but over a few days Stephen worked with Billy Bob to create a fun, feisty little hole perfect for the competition. We spent almost a week training at Green River trying to figure out the tricky energy zapping hole. As the week went on we met loads of new boaters from across the USA including the Kellogg's a lovely family of kayakers. Mum Susie, dad Dan and the kids Grady, Broady, Kenny, Daley, Caidy, Cairdy, Rowdy, Maddy, ... And Ellie. Yes that's 10 kids! And the eldest No 11 had stayed home! All the boaters out here have dogs so there was dogs, boats and kids everywhere it was great. 
Sage figuring out the hole in her C1 (photos by the Kellogg's)
The Green River event is one of the nicest events I have ever been to. The local  town and event organizers led by Katie Duncombe did everything possible to make us welcome. On the day of the event we even had a lovely pancake breakfast, then lunch and dinner in the community hall. Loads of local people came out to support us and there was a very friendly, welcoming and fun atmosphere around the whole event. The event started with the Cadet (U13) class and the eldest Kellogg kids entertained the crowds with some great rides in their tiny Jackson Fun 1's and Fun 1 1/2's. 

Cady Kellogg surfs the wave
Then it was the juniors, ladies and men's. midway through the day there was also a Duck Race. The local fire service water rescue team came out and kitted up in dry suits walked into the water and released hundreds of plastic ducks into the river. The juniors went first with Gradey Kellogg winning after collecting over 30 ducks! Next up was the  seniors and it's was more competitive than even the freestyle. Nick and Dane battled each other for ages whilst the rest of us fought to collect the ducks. Dane who thought he had the perfect strategy going without a spray deck ended up almost swimming losing in most of his ducks in the process and finishing in last place. Despite a complete lack of training for this event. I won with 30 ducks. I also won the freestyle as did Stephen, Lauren and Gradey. All in all it was a fantastic event hosted by some lovely people. 

Claire O and Jessica counting ducks at the end of the race
Other things that happened during the week included the van breaking down, Dane taking some massive wipe outs on the local bike park and learning how to ride a pump (bike) park track. It was also the first time I had ever competed in an event with prize money so massive thank you to Green River for putting forward the money which will be a great help on my trip.

Buena Vista, Colorado - 'Sun, Snow and Mountains'

Next up it was another long drive 8 hours, to Colorado to a great adventure town called Buenna 
Vista for the CKS paddlefest. The paddlefest is an annual event organized by the local shop where padddlers come together to celebrate all disciplines of paddling. Theres a big sale, free demo boats, clinics, party's and competitions. The event takes place in a great new village complex called South Main right on the banks of the river. An inovative idea by Jed .... and Dustin and Katie Urban. South Main is a custom made community for adventure people to live. There's boulder rocks to climb, skateparks, pump and bike parks, a whitewater park, natural product stores, awesome restaurants, trails and bike routes. Everywhere you look there's fun things to do. The whole place is set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains... it's beautiful! At 8,000ft + there's also loads of altitude! 
Crowds gather to watch the action
So we arrived early to start training and found the river level super low 450ish. Luckily the park has some sweet although extremely challenging (because they are so small) holes which run at all levels, so we could still train. Due to event permit requirements the competition had to be held on the smallest of the features so we spent most of the week surfing a 1.5m wide, 6" high, flushy, shallow, small wave. Paddling at altitude is something I've only really experienced a couple of times before in Nepal. It's so strange running out of air and breathe so much faster than usual. I'm really glad we arrived here early to acclimatize. 

Clay makes the feature look tiny ... ok it is tiny!!!

Broady Kellogg shows us how its done
The weather all week was for the most part amazing, hot and sunny except for the one day that was freezing cold and snowy! The event kicked of on Friday with a big dealer, team meeting. Everyone's here including the JK team, Liquid Logic, Werner, Sweet, Pyranha US, Wavesport... It's a great chance to catch up with loads of people I haven't seen for a long time. Over the weekend loads of paddlers show up to take part in the events. The freestyle event goes really well and I tie in 1st place with Adriene finishing the tie break in 2nd with Ruth not far behind in 3rd. In the men's Stephen lays down some huge rides throwing massive links and combos but its Dane, Matthieu and Dustin who battle it out with some huge rides, especially on such a small feature, for the Pro Men's first place. Dane eventually steels the win with his last ride scoring a huge 1,280 points. Jordan Poffenburg takes two wins (C1 and jnr mens) with some impressive rides and the jnr ladies battle it out with some great high scoring rides. With current world junior champion Lauren Burress scoring McNastys and AirLoops to take the win. 

Matieu throwing some amazing combos to take 2nd place
Saturday and Sunday I'm asked to help teach some Intro to Playboating clinics. It's great meeting and teaching so many motivated new freestyle paddlers and being able to help them to begin to develop their skills. Then it's the open and cadet class events. The feature is such a beginner friendly hole that it is perfect for this event and everyone paddles amazingly well cheered on by a big crowd on the bank and winning some awesome prizes  donated to the event. The paddlefest finally comes to a close for us on Sunday afternoon and we take the chance to relax and unwind by heading back onto the water for another surf and skills session back on the park! 

Stephen coaching playboating in the sunshine
Other fun things that happened this week include going to a gig at the local BV sushi bar where freestyle paddler and musician Jeff Campbell is performing an acoustic set. Watch out for his album coming soon. A great night of live music. Biking around town and learning more skills at the pump park. Jason Craig turning up just in time to compete in the freestyle event. His first event since smashing his back and pelvis in March 2011 making the men's finals in 7th place.Seeing the lads and Adriene successfully run Vitamin B a class 5 downhill bike ride twice. Meeting back up and having chance to properly catch up with Courtney and the Jackson's. Playing my first round of disc golf, which started with a crash course in how important it is not to stand in front of another player during the game after being smacked in the head with a disc by Nick T at the 1st hole! Oh yeah and Nick T winning the party, the less said about this the better!!!

Thumbs up for another great event

Next stop the Teva Mountains Games in Vail!