Rivanna River: S. Rivanna Reservoir dam/Rio Mills Rd. to Riverview Park, Charlottesville, VA


I hopped on the Nelo 510 today to do a quick training run down the Rivanna River since the reservoir itself has an algae bloom that neither I nor my allergies wanted to deal with.

I paddled at a constant, brisk pace and captured my GPS trace and measured the distance at just about 8.8 miles and covered that in 1hr 25min.

It was my first fast run down the Rivanna this year since I did not participate in the annual Regatta/river race.

I passed many kayakers and tubers along the way and it was great to see so many people out enjoying the Rivanna.

The water was relatively low (the reading at Palmyra was ~500cfs) and I bumped a few rocks along the way, but the 510 performed beautifully through numerous rapids and there was plenty of water to have a great run.

The 510 is rock solid and might be my new whitewater boat.




Renpho Smart scale review

I’ve discovered a new product that is already blowing me away on its first day in terms of affordability and utility.

I just got my Renpho Smart Scale today and it links with an accompanying app via BLE to provide a variety of body parameters including body weight, BMI, BMR, Body Fat %, and muscle mass, among other parameters, using bio-impedance and it is FDA approved.

It cost me under $30 and I’ll bring you along with me on my journey to shed body fat over the next 8 weeks.  I’m backing off the weights in the gym and subsequently will go full-on NSNG next week and reduce my caloric intake slightly to get ready for my last couple kayaking races and kayak adventures for the year.

But first I will relax my diet and enjoy myself this weekend to see what happens.

So far the scale seems like an amazing tool for tracking my body progress.

And yes, I bought it with my own money because I researched the category and sought out this particular product so this is a completely independent and objective review.  I have no connection to the company or product whatsoever, but I am providing a link below through my affiliate’s account on Amazon should you wish to buy one for yourself.




My first day and initial measurement with my new smart scale

Buy the Renpho Smart Scale through my affiliate account on Amazon

Update 8/31/18:

This Renpho Smart Scale is simply amazing.

When you step on the scale all you get is your weight, which doesn’t seem special, but synch it with the app and a variety of useful parameters are available to you.

I’m 1 week into it and in the name of science I binged last weekend to see what would happen with my body and if the scale would detect any changes.

My initial weight was 178.8 and then I shot up to 184.6 over the weekend and now I’m down to 177 after starting strict NSNG (no sugars, no grains) on Monday.

I learned two things:

  1. It will take your body an entire week to recover from a bad weekend, assuming you get back to clean eating right away.
  2. This Renpho scale sees subtle changes and is a very useful and affordable tool for tracking body transformation.

I’ve said from the start of my fitness journey that I don’t much care what my weight is as long as I am gaining muscle mass and losing body fat.

Now I know with confidence that is happening.

This scale is a great way to get deeper insights over and above body weight.  It allows you to track weight, BMR, body fat percentage, muscle mass and more over time.

Below are some screen shots from my first week with the scale.




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Overview, weight, body fat %, and BMI tracked over 1 week with the Renpho Smart Scale

In short, I highly recommend this scale.  It is an incredible, affordable tool for tracking what is happening with your body.  As I write this it is selling on Amazon for $23.79 which boggles my mind.  Don’t just buy a scale, buy this thing.

I’ll check in with you again next week when I’m under 13% body fat.

# # #

Buy the Renpho Smart Scale through my affiliate account on Amazon

Low-carb Diets DO NOT Shorten Lifespan

De-bunking a recent story that was put forth by CNN.

Here is a link to the study.

“Both high and low percentages of carbohydrate diets were associated with increased mortality…”

So why the misleading headline?  And a study that simply asked participants to fill out a questionnaire and then try to link that to all-cause mortality rate?

Dodgy science, at best.

Fat: A Documentary

I cannot wait for this movie to come out.

I truly believe fat in the absence of carbohydrates is not a problem.

Low Carbs, High Fat #LCHF is my adopted lifestyle and it definitely works for my human performance during endurance events.

Race report: Richmond Paddle Cup 2018

2018 8-11 Paddle Cup-492-bhdr


Yesterday I paddled in the 17-mile canoe & kayak race during the Richmond Paddle Cup event.  The sponsor, Crosswind Paddle Co., added a longer, 17-mile race this year after they were approached by the James River Association (JRA) and asked if they would consider adding a longer race in lieu of JRA hosting the James River Rundown this year.

I’m very happy that Crosswind Paddle Co. added this longer race and encourage them to hold it again next year and think about expanding the distance.  I’ll do my part to help promote the event and encourage more participants.

The race began at 8am at the Maidens boat ramp and the weather was perfect paddling weather, which is to say it was mostly overcast for the duration of the race.

I had only paddled this section of river twice before.  Once during the 40-mile James River Rundown in 2015 and then again in the 100-mile James River Rundown in 2016, however, in the 2016 race I paddled this section at night and didn’t really get to see it, but I did recall scraping a few rocks both times.

So I knew from experience there were some rapids early in the race but the last few miles were wide and deep with the possibility of wakes from recreational boats.

I chose to paddle my Nelo 510 due to the possibility of hitting rocks and knew Paddling Buddy Dave was taking his 19’2″ X 18.9″ carbon/Kevlar Stellar SR, so I fully understood I would not be any real competition to him so I hoped to compete well against other similar boats that showed up, especially any Epic V7’s, of which there were two of them in this race.

We got off to a good, clean start and Ryan jumped out to an early lead in his racing canoe followed by Salli & Mike in their tandem Stellar ski and then Paddling Buddy Dave.

I managed to work my way up through the main pack to stay in 4th place behind them and I was able to keep Dave at least in sight for the duration of the race.

I found myself in the ever-so-familiar no-man’s land again: well behind the leaders and well ahead of the main pack, so once again I paddled alone for the whole race.

I managed to average 7.2mph for the first 14 miles and then when the river got wide and flat with a slight headwind, my overall pace dropped to a 7.1mph average, but I was happy to maintain a steady, brisk pace throughout the race with no signs of fatigue.

Screenshot_20180811-210822_Mi FitScreenshot_20180811-210920_Mi FitScreenshot_20180811-211017_Mi FitScreenshot_20180812-180953_Mi FitGPS tracks from  my Amazfit Bip wristband along with pace data

I don’t recall my official time and I overshot the finish line a little bit before I turned off my GPS, but I think I finished at ~2:25:00 which was good enough for 2nd place, about 4 minutes behind Paddling Buddy Dave.  {Official time was 2:23:44 which was more than 12 minutes faster than every other kayak/ski that was not a carbon/Kevlar ski longer than 19′.  I believe there was also a fiberglass Prijon Expedition in that mix.}

I was quite happy with that.

And this is a real testament to the Nelo 510 since we know the paddlers are about even and the Stellar SR is far superior in terms of weight and speed, so kudos to Nelo for designing a plastic ski that smokes the V7 and any plastic competition!

jrr2018medal2nd place, Men’s Solo Kayak

FB_IMG_1534380559130Me and Paddling Buddy Dave

The best part about this race, though, was the fact that it seemed like a homecoming for former participants of the James River Rundown.  It was great to see and visit with Mike, Salli and Joe from 10th Life Kayaking and also Justin from JRA.

We finished at the same pavilion we had two years ago when I crossed the finish line pretty tired at midnight and Mike was in ill health and had to drop out that year, so we had a much more pleasant experience at the finish line this year and I felt like I was part of a very cool fraternity.  It was great to hang out with friends.



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My video from the Richmond Paddle Cup 2018

Salli also agreed to an interview so I could ask her about her very recent completion of the Yukon 1000 race.   She is a true paddling rock star!

My interview with Salli O’Donnell

My nutrition for the race was typical.  2 side orders of eggs and 2 side orders of bacon from Burger King along with ample black coffee.

Before the race I also took 3 Cellucor NO3 Chrome capsules.  This is a nitric oxide/vasodilator product that I find helps open up my nasal passages due to chronic allergies and sinus congestion.

I did, however, try something new in my water bladder this time.  I added 1/2 scoop of BodyLogix BCAA’s powder with salts, which has about the cleanest (i.e. no sugar, but it does have Sucralose listed as an ingredient, which is probably just as bad, hence only 1/2 scoop in more than 40 ounces of water) profile I’ve been able to find in a BCAA product.  I’ve used this product for other, strenuous workouts but never for a kayak race.  It seemed to work well.



My experiment with BCAA’s and electrolytes

I was feeling good today and got in a workout with fairly heavy volume this afternoon at Planet Fitness.

Screenshot_20180812-203912_AtlasToday’s workout, tracked with my Atlas Wearables 2 workout tracker

As I was working out, I thought about my next boat and it is probably going to be a high-end surfski.  If you’ve been paying any attention at all then you know I typically buy a boat that hasn’t been done yet in my paddling circles.  I like to try something a little different and/or unusual.

So I’m open to talking with any surfski companies who think they have something for me to consider, but I’ll have to sell off some of my existing boat inventory first to make room both with the finances and in the garage.

Boats that will probably soon be up for sale include:

  1. Phoenix Match II downriver racer
  2. Prijon Interceptor downriver racer
  3. Wenonah Orion, K1 flatwater sprint boat
  4. Prijon Beluga
  5. Phoenix Mini Slipper

Let me know if you have an interest in any of these boats.

PS – I know I dropped several brand names in this post so I therefore want to remind you:  I am not sponsored by anyone and don’t have any incentive to promote or mention any of the brands I just talked about.  I merely share those products and brands I use and like.  People often write me to ask about the details of the gear and gadgets I use so I thought I’d share the details in advance this time.

If you choose to check out these products I encourage you to do so via my affiliate links below:

What I use and recommend:
Amazfit Bip Fitness Tracker by Huami
Cellucor NO3 Chrome Nitric Oxide Pump Amplifier, 90 Capsules
Bodylogix Ultra BCAA Powder
Atlas Wristband 2: Digital Trainer + Heart Rate Band

Products mentioned by Mike and Salli (I have no experience with either product):
TUF-FOOT Liquid Foot, Hoof and Paw Protection – 7 oz
Infinit Nutrition GO FAR Nutritional Drink


On to Richmond


This Saturday, August 11 is the Richmond Paddle Cup race with 2.5, 5 and 17-mile options to meet the skill and experience level of just about any paddler.  This race is the replacement for the James River Rundown.

I’ll be racing in the 17-mile race with my Nelo 510 and already know it will be no match for Paddling Buddy Dave’s Stellar SR, so I’m hoping to compete favorably with the other plastic skis that show up.

I got in a few paddling miles this evening after work on the S. Rivanna Reservoir but storms rolled in while I was out on the water so I got cut short a little bit.  That’s OK though, because I did not want to overdue it.  But I did get in 5.6 miles on an out-and-back.

8-8-18_GPSShort, 5.6m mile workout on S. Rivanna Reservoir and Ivy Creek

We’ve had a lot of rain here this summer so there were a lot of leaves on the water and I got tired of watching the normal splash of my Nelo 510 amplified by the leaves that continuously got stuck on the bow so I took matters into my own hands when I got home.  Armed with a heat gun, some scrap wood pieces and a couple clamps, I sharpened the bow of my boat a little bit.  I hope to make it at least a little bit less splashy up front.

Modifying the bow of my Nelo 510

I hit the gym the past two nights after work for light workouts and other than a softball game tomorrow night I plan on taking it easy and resting until Saturday.

Come on out and paddle on the James with us on Saturday!

The Pittsburgh Paddlesport Championships at the Three Rivers Regatta, 2018


I took some vacation time with the family last week and managed to get on the water 3 times.

The first couple outings were in and around Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA where I explored Misery Bay and the nearby lagoons and then out into Presque Isle Bay in my Nelo 510.

I paddled 8-10 miles each time keeping up a brisk pace in order to get in some quality training miles.  Presque Isle Bay also provided me some bigger waves and chop than I’m used to so I gained some experience and confidence with boat wakes and waves hitting me from different directions.

Presque Isle, Erie, PA and a GPS trace of my actual out-and-back

Then at the end of the week I shifted gears and and got ready for the main event: The Pittsburgh Paddlesport Championships, a kayak, canoe and SUP race in downtown Pittsburgh.

Once again our friends at Performance Kayak, Inc. organized the race in coordination with the American Cancer Society and the EQT Three Rivers Regatta.  The organizers did a fantastic job with this first-time event and I have full faith and confidence the event will get bigger and even better in the future.

I grew up north of Pittsburgh, about 20 miles north on the Allegheny River, so it was a bit ironic that my issued race number was #28 as my hometown is ~ 20 miles away–north on PA Route 28.

This race was especially exciting to me since I was back home racing downtown in the city I love.

Racers preparing at the starting line right next to Heinz Field

I raced in my Thunderbolt-X kayak and as such, was placed in a category with some elite paddlers and surf skis.

The racers took off from a starting line near the fountain at Point State Park and we paddled two laps on a 3-mile course, laid out to paddle upstream on the Allegheny, then down to the Ohio, up the Monongahela and then back down to the Allegheny River at Point State Park.

Rinse and repeat.

20180806_022125The race course, launching from Heinz Field and starting at Point State Park

Before the race I was chatting with spectators on land and was unaware of the time so the actual start of the race caught me a little off guard and I once again started near the back of the pack but worked my way through the main pack fairly quickly and made good progress by the time we hit the Ohio River and I was passing some of the top 10 near the USS Requin submarine.

The biggest challenge of the race, in my opinion, was crossing the Ohio River because the wind was blowing slightly and it created upriver chop that hit the right side of our boats, so I was forced to take shorter, choppier strokes than I would have preferred in order to brace and steady myself.  But then once we got to the other side and paddled upstream, I found I was able to actually catch and surf a few waves.

I was very excited the whole race and tried to look up and appreciate the beauty of the city.  Spectators were gathered at Point State Park and cheered us as we paddled by and that gave my spirits a huge lift.  There was another cheering section at Heinz Field so yet another boost from the crowd, which is an environment I’ve never experienced during a race.

It was great!

I managed to take 5th place overall amongst solo paddlers, and 3rd in my division which was one notch down from the ultra-elite, Unlimited division.  I was very happy with this performance.  I was the first true kayak across the finish line with nothing but surf skis ahead of me.

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Overall it was a great experience and I’m able to share my video with you below.

But before I do that, I must thank everyone who supported me through sponsorships/donations for the American Cancer Society.  Together we raised $551 for ACS.

I especially want to thank 10th Life Kayaking and Paul Luc for very generous donations.  What they did was inspirational.

So check out my video below and enjoy the ride!

PS – And my nutrition for the race?  I ate the Meat Omlette from the Gateway Grill at 7am, had nothing but water during the race, and did not need to eat anything until my drive home at 8pm.