Oct 24, 2010

Lovin' the trails...

I am consistently trying to balance training/playtime on trails and on the water... I love them both and thankfully a city like Vancouver makes it possible to enjoy the mountains/forests as well as the lovely ocean waters. You can even enjoy them in one day!.

This weekend though Andrew and I spent much of our time playing on the trails, mountains and in the forests. Friday afternoon we headed up to Squamish, after Andrew's bike purchase we enjoyed one of the more popular Squamish mtn bike trails Half Nelson Powerhouse plunge etc combination. We managed to rip around the wet forest for several hours enjoying the mud and fall colours and managed to escape the dooming rains.

We spent the evening with good friends in Whistler (I miss you Whistler!) enjoying the off season deals that Whistler had to offer.

Saturday morning Andrew and I decided to ride around the Cheakamus river/Creekside trails. We enjoyed the little side trails that took us to function junction and rode along Riverside trails...nice little warm up for the major climb of See colors and Puke... There were no colors seen but we did manage to find a bear (why do they have to be so cute!) and thankfully no puke instead just sweat and smiles. The scenery was awesome, lightly powdered alpine mountains with colorful subalpine and some sun to top it all off. We enjoyed the fast flowy Babylon trail minus the random eye poking branches sticking out... and then I got to see how much I have improved in my biking skills by riding tunnel vision a trail that when I lived in Whistler I could barely ride any of it! I can proudly say my improvements were fairly obvious...

Hallow's Eve Half Marathon: northshore style

Andrew and I were lucky enough to represent Steed Cycles at the half marathon trail race on Sunday morning. The sky was holding out with the rain for most of the race, the trails were muddy, rooty and slippery just the way we like'em... I was a little nervous to race as running used to be my forte sport but since becoming obsessed with SUP'in, kayaking, mtn biking , etc there has been less running and less running specific activities on my part. It is always tough racing in a race that in the past you have done well in. Luckily I didn't let it bother me too much and told myself that it was more important to enjoy myself, the trails, and the spirit of the event: and that I did. I had a great run, I felt good (never pushed too hard nor too little) I enjoyed like in the mountain bike my progress on the technical parts of the trail. Its funny, I have almost come full circle in my trail running. I used to pass everyone on the gravel road sections of trail but now I seem to get a little day dreamy on this sections and loose my speed and momentum but am picking it up on the technical. I managed to hold my own because of my technical skills. YES, I am pleased about this as I can also train a little more specific for my running if I found a race I wanted to train for. All in all a fantastic race: the volunteers were grand and I didn't get lost (a more often than I am proud about occurrence). I got my race stoke on again... LOVE IT.. and a big THANK YOU to Kim at STEED CYCLES!

Sorry no photos: the camera was left in the car or forgotten....OOPS.

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

Oct 12, 2010

Winthrop Thanksgiving 2010

Winthrop last year (video by Megan Rose):

Winthrop this year:

VIDEO 2010 by ANdrew Dye!

This is our third year heading to Winthrop for Thanksgiving for some adventurous riding, amazing views, delicious food, and awesome friendships. Whoever thought a place that seems to be like cowboy revival would have such epic mountain biking and bring us back year after year. I must say the word is getting out about the riding here as we saw more people than in the past out rippin' it up on the trails...

Our crew was a little smaller this year and sort of even smaller on most days due to people having to do some extra work/studying (and I wasn't one of them... yipee! for now).

Day 1 we all warmed up on Buck Mountain where the trails are relatively smooth, fast, and fun. We made it back to the car just in time for downpour #1. Kathleen and Angie had to head back indoors to do some work and the boys and I headed for bike ride number 2 of the day - Pipestone Canyon. It was a new route for Andrew, Paul, and I. The present half way up the steep climb was this amazing canyon that appears out of rolling hills. It was amazing, a great chance for me to get a breather in before the rest of the climb. The descent was rocky and more technical than Buck but beautiful. You descend into farm fields and then ride through forest and below the canyons... Winthrop, was not disappointing.

Day 2 typically our monster day of adventure and mountain biking. We woke up to rain, felt a little casual so decided on a 10 mile or so loop. We were up for trying a new area to keep our sense of adventure perky. Well, an adventure we got. We headed towards Tiffany mountain, about an hour drive or so from the house, up a really long logging road. We decided to park the car lower down in case we wanted to extend the loop form its original route on the map. The temperature dropped from 15 degrees to 10 since we left the house.. brrr.. you could feel the winter air not too far off. We started to climb, first on the road, a little descent and then climb, lunch, single track climb, hike a bike climb.... until we reached our second pass. A little descent through a forest that suffered from a forest fire years back we found ourselves at a junction. A little exploration eventually took us up what I thought was a cliff... minutes later I found myself with the others hike a biking on the side of the cliff.hmmm... I thought this little exciting hike would lead us to the down... the wind was picking up and the air becoming frigid... but alas we reached the pass to find out we were to go up around the ridge to the other side... oh yeah... really I love this stuff.. it reminds me of adventure racing which I love... so off we went on the side of the ridge most often then not pushing our bikes up the sandy, exposed slope. We finally reached Whistler Pass, the wind was fierce and my body chilled quite quickly.. We were off on the longer descent down to our cars.. this trail had obviously not been used in quite some time except for maybe a couple of hikers? last week? the trail consisted of a faint trail through hip high grass... it was interesting and different and well my favorite word: adventurous. I was feeling very very cold so was trying to just make it down before the chill through my body got any worse, my feet and hands were already numb. Happy to say we made it back to the car in good form and ready for beer and chips.

Day 3 Cedar Creek
We wanted to try a new trail not too far from the house. It was to be an out and back to a mountain pass. We didn't have all day on Monday as we needed to get back to our respective homes but the sun was shining in good Winthrop form, nothing better to do than go play outside in such fabulous weather. The start of the trail was steep but fairly smooth so rideable... we made it to the waterfall sweaty but happy. From the waterfall onwards for a good while the trail is steep, rocky, muddy and fairly difficult to ride up (well for me at least), I got some more practice at pushing my bike. Kathleen decided to stash her bike and just walk up... At some point Paul was feeling tired, and prob tired of pushing his bike so decided to head back down to take some pics along the way in the valley. Kathleen kept walking and Chris, Andrew, and I continued up the trail with our bikes in hopes of some smoother trails (like the book told us there would be)... happily fun single track trail appeared and into the valley we rode, the forest opened up and the mountain tops could be seen. The meadows were gorgeous. Due to time constraints Andrew and Chris made the decision to turn around, and head back down what we thought would be a slow and tricky descent. To my surprise the descent was awesome! totally rideable minus some very short sketchy rocks. It was fast and fun! We will have to come back and tackle this trail to the top next year, its a good one!

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

Oct 5, 2010

My Stand Up Story and how it brought me to the Battle of the Paddle: California

Stand Up Paddleboarding is my new little passion. I discovered it fall 2008 at Santa Claus beach, a beach just south of Santa Barabara CA. Andrew and I were on our first road trip down the west coast famous highway 101. We were chillin with my teammate Daniel from Yogaslackers and met up with some camp staff I used to work with in MN. They introduced SUPin' to us and I loved it. Andrew's first experience involved paddling side by side with a dolphin, which is pretty awesome in itself. I was on my way to a 6 month trip to South America which involved moutain biking, racing and hiking and soon forgot about this neat little sport I tried until I returned to Vancouver and saw that Deep Cove Canoe and Kayaks had started renting some SUP boards. I went out a couple of times and knew this was something I would be involved with. It was a combination of many of my passions (balance from slacklining, full body fitness, and the outdoors)... I needed to know more.... The summer came and left and well so did the winter and school and skiing and lots and lots of great things....

In April Andrew and I flew to Baja Mexico for a 6 day kayak trip and had a couple of extra days to spare. We found a kiteboarders heaven: La Ventana Beach. It was off season for kiting but perfect for SUPin' and so we did just that and explored some SUPin' there again... We saw fish from a new height and enjoyed the exercise and relaxation on the boards. Needless to say I was still intrigued by this new sport.

Spring rolled around and I began working part time at Deep Cove Canoe and Kayaks. I realized that I was spending my breaks and time before and after work on the SUP. I decided to race the Indian Arm race on the SUP... It was tough, it was long but it was my kind of race... I found out about this race in Vernon called the Kalavida Classic.. It would be my first real SUP event/race. Andrew, Kala, and I headed over with a board and some mountain bikes. I won both races, I felt great and I loved it. I was onto something.

Deep Cove started a SUP category on their weekly Tuesday Night races. At first this was tough for me because I also love surf skiing and loved using the Tuesday night races as my surf ski training but I was becoming more and more involved with SUPin' and began showing stronger and stronger feelings towards using these races as training for future SUP races.

I traveled the weekend before my wedding to Ucluelet to participate in the Island SUP race series. I had an awesome race coming in 4th overall (regardless of boat class). My presence in the scene in BC was growing and I was finding quick success and passion for this new sport.

I was away on my amazing honeymoon for the two big races in WA state and wasn't feeling organized enough to head to California to race in the biggest SUP race event of the year, The Battle of the Paddle. I was disappointed but determined to make it happen for the following year. To my surprise Bob from Deep Cove Canoe and Kayaks and Assistant Director Mike were heading down and were happy to help me out. I booked my plane a day before I left and I quickly found myself learning to stand up paddlesurf on Dana Point Beach.

I was negotiating the elite race all day/night and the morning of. I decided that in life taking healthy risks usually leads to some kind of growth/learning experience. I would only learn and excel as a paddler if I paddled with the best. So I found myself on the start line with 25 other elite ladies and about 120 elite men.

The course was a W loop course where surfing skills, turning skills, endurance, power and a little bit of luck were all essential to come out on top. I luckily acquired some of these essential skills but confidence and practice in the surf was going to be the difficult portion of the race for me. I had surfed before (not the standing up kind with a paddle) but sparingly, maybe once or twice a year depending on where I was traveling too. The gun went off and onto the board I climbed. I believe I fell off somewhere heading through the surf right off the start, most likely from nerves and being too stiff, so I forced myself to relax and stay calm and just try my best with the skills and knowledge I had thus far. Starboard helped me out with boards, for this race I was on a Free Race 12'6 x 31' Custom board. My thought with taking the slower and wider board versus the more race specific board was to sacrifice my flat water speed by being on a wider board (most elite racers were on 25' or so boards) in hope to stay upright more often in the surf. Well, I had good moments and bad moments... I was lucky at points: where we had to turn in breaking waves the majority of the time I missed the set but I also happen to be unlucky at times or just falter in the surf from inexperience.

I had moments where I wished I had entered the age groups and I had moments of great accomplishments and feeling proud to have taken up the challenge of the elite course. My result wasn't stellar but at least I have time and motivation to work towards improvement. Now, looking back I feel nothing but the feeling of success. I was the only Canadian on that start line, i gave it my all and I started racing and truly paddling 5 months ago. I am stoked.

I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the expo, talking to reps, sponsors, athletes, etc. It was great to share stories, hear stories, and relax. We spent the night with the Starboard crew.

Sunday turned out to be a relatively big day! lots of good time spent on the board. I entered the distance race. I raced on the 14ft Starboard race board. I had never been on the board which I suppose isn't the best strategy for a big race but I felt lucky to just be there and have a board to stand on. The race included a mass start on the water with 180 paddlers... a little crazy but I made it through noentheless. I was feeling pretty good through the first third but was quickly noticing that I was using tons of effort and wasn't feeling the ease through the water that I naturally do? I pushed hard though through entire race, a little frustrated at not feeling the flow but enjoying the battle of the long course. This is definitely my strength and oddly enough what I absolutely love, just hammering for as long as I possibly can... it's just me against my own strength and determination. I was pleased with my 1:29 time for a 10 miler.. but unlucky for me I was in a tough category... next time..... though watch out folks... I am on a mission.

TEAM CANADA RELAY: 20th out of 50 teams!

I think the highlight of this amazing weekend was taking part in our team Canada relay competition. Kelvin, Norm, Bodie and I rounded out the team. The race consisted of paddling out the surf around 2 bouys back through the surf, onto the beach run 75ft tag your teammate and repeat through whole team twice. We were on the Surftech Bark 12'6, which is a great all around board! My first lap was going great until a board came flying into my head and knocked me off my board (a popular occurrence when you have 200 paddlers going in and out of surf, some with leashes and some without...). luckily I was fine and climbed back on my board to finish off my round.... The atmosphere, the excitement and the teamwork made the experience an unforgetable one. There has got to be something to be said about teammates and working as a team, it is something you just don't get in solo races... It is something I miss a ton from Adventure Racing. The comaderie brings people closer in a way that is hard to match. After our interview for the live webcast and coming off our high, it was all over and time to take down, say goodbye to folks and try and enjoy the last couple of hours in california.

The battle of the paddle is quite the event, it's huge, it's loud, and it's inspiring. The vibe is all about Stand Up and its quite the experience to have hundreds of people so into the same thing.

I have to say I am even more hooked than I was before, and even more keen to teach, to motivate, to give others this opportunity to enjoy this awesome new sport.

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!