Kayak – surfski Wing Paddle Stroke Analyzer

Looking to analyze your wing paddle stroke but you don’t have a self-following drone or a friend with a power boat and video camera? Try this DIY kayak ergometer to analyze your stroke on land and indoors.

All it takes is a homemade ergometer and a video camera with tripod.

Learn more at: https://bit.ly/2t7m5Ew

Actofit: Take II, Actofit Rise review

Actofit just notified me that they are sending a replacement unit for my original device, the Gen 1 Actofit fitness tracker.

The new device is called the Actofit Rise and it looks good on paper with continuous heart rate, GPS and is IP67 waterproof.

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The thing I liked most about this device in its first incarnation was its ability to track reps and sets in the gym along with the ability to train new exercises, such as kayak paddle strokes.  Unfortunately, the first release of this product was buggy and not quite ready for prime time.

If this new device delivers on gym tracking abilities and is a reasonable all-day, every day fitness tracker then it might displace the Amazfit Bip as my main device.

We shall see.

Update 9/24/18: The device arrived in the mail today.

I was expecting to set it up through the app on the phone but it took me a while to realize the device itself runs a full version of Android and all setup of Bluetooth, Wifi, etc. happens through the device itself.

As you can imagine, my reading glasses were required once the keyboard popped up on the device and inputting things likes my Gmail user name and password and wifi password should qualify me as a world-class surgeon.  And, no, a stylus did not work, so it took me several attempts.

The device is large compared to the Amazfit Bip, the Atlas Wearables 2 and the first generation of the Actofit, yet the virtual keyboard on the device is very, very small.

I’m reserving judgement until my first gym workout, but I have visions of wearing reading glasses to the gym and fighting with sweaty fingers to input numbers for amount of weight used and correcting the number of reps in case it gets it wrong.

I can’t imagine battery life will be very good considering it is running a full version of Android, but the device is so big they might have a big battery packed in there.

I think the key is going to be keeping BLE and wifi turned off until I need to upload my workouts to the cloud to then be able to pull into the app on the phone.

Reserving judgement, but it is not at all what I expected.

20180924_155440Out of the box

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Size vs. the Amazfit Bip

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Size vs. the Atlas Wearable 2 (well worn!)

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Size vs. the Gen 1 Actofit


Actofit Rise first impressions and early review video – Part I

Update 9/26/18:

I was unable to get the device to track workouts and then Actofit informed me that freestyle mode is not available yet and will come in a future update, so for now you have to follow guided routines.  The good news, though, is that you can create your own, custom guided workouts.

Well, that didn’t exactly work at first either, until a new app update came via Play Store overnight last night.

So I updated the app today, created 3 different guided workouts, and when I hit the gym to start the workouts and track them, the Actofit Rise failed to recognize even a single rep of any of the 4 different exercises.

So for now, the product is useless and falls short on promises.  I’m shocked they took so long to develop the gen 2 tracker and it still has so far to go.

I’ll re-review it if and when they do any major upgrades or improvements, but it is going in a drawer until then.

I’d really like to hear from other users of the new device to see if their experience is any different from mine.  I suppose it is possible I got a faulty device.


Actofit Rise review, Day 2 after app update

 


Final, composite review after 2 weeks

My next kayak

I’m developing the short list for my next boat. Think Evo 2, Epic (gasp) V8 Pro, Stellar SEL and Nelo 550. What else belongs in the consideration mix?

Let me know if you are interested in buying my: Phoenix Mini Slipper, Prijon Interceptor, Wenonah Orion, Phoenix Match II or, possibly even my Cobra Viper.

I need to free-up some cash.

The Thunderbolt-X now becomes my winter trainer, which is weird because not too many years ago I bought a winter trainer as an alternative to her.

Race report: Richmond Paddle Cup 2018

2018 8-11 Paddle Cup-492-bhdr

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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

sponsor1

Homemade DIY compact kayak ergometer

A customer who purchased the video plans for my kayak ergometer was nice enough to send me a photo of the finished product and I think it looks fantastic!

finishederg
Completed compact kayaker ergometer built by Alan M. using my plans

Alan took the time to sand and stain the device and it truly looks beautiful.  He also reports the device paddles much smoother than he imagined it would.

Getting feedback like this is great.  Thanks, Alan!

Buy your video plans and part list for only $20 USD.

Read more:

Homemade kayak ergometer from Nordic Track ski machine
Buy the video plans and part list now for $20 USD.
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PS – And now I just found his YouTube video!

The Oscar Chalupsky interview on the Vinnie Tortorich podcast

Absolutely fascinating interview combining several of my passions, diet, exercise and kayaking.

OCVT

Update on the Prijon Interceptor project

You may recall me bringing home an old-school, Hyperform Prijon Interceptor last summer. https://davethekayaker.com/2017/08/10/a-vintage-downriver-racer/

I finally finished her restoration in between the thunderstorms and decided to make her pretty rough and ugly.

Here’s the back story.

Since the James River Rundown (JRR) is no longer, a new outfit, The Crosswind Paddle Co., is hosting a new race in August, The Richmond Paddle Cup. Rumor has it they added a 17-mile race to try to attract the JRR long-distance crowd.

Well, I have news for them.

It is going to work.

In fact, it is going to work so well that the elite JRR paddlers have agreed to enter the race but we will all compete with kayaks and canoes we purchase from Craigslist for $200 or less. It is known as the Craigslist Challenge and will be a race within the race.

I finished the restoring the old Prijon Interceptor (purchased for $90 from Craigslist) and took her out for a paddle this evening.

She is the most uncomfortable boat I’ve ever paddled and the cockpit opening is so small it is hard for me to get in and out of.

Nonetheless, she will be my boat and I painted her up nice and ugly so nobody in their right mind would ever think of stealing her.

The boat is now a cross between a Swiss Army knife and a candy cane.

I hope her integrity and my lower back will be able to survive those 17 miles on August 11 on the James River.

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Nelo 510 surfski first impressions

This was originally going to be my James River Rundown boat for 2018 until the James River Association discontinued the event.

Now it is a boat in search of a race.

I’m waiting for the back-ordered, over-stern rudder to arrive before I can do any downriver distance with it, but as it stands, it is a very fast boat for a plastic design.  I do not yet know how it compares to the Epic V7, but hope to have that verdict to you soon.

Initial impressions?

I wish it was sharper in the bow to cut through the water rather than splash and push a bit of water (I felt like it always had a leaf stuck on the front) and wish it had a reasonable space for a water bottle within easy reach, but overall I like this ski.

I’ve got only 14 miles into it over the weekend so a full review will be coming once I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces.

I have to say, the difference between under-stern and over-stern rudder is huge. The shorter ‘wheelbase’ of an under-stern rudder makes turning much more efficient such that it takes very little movement of the peddles to turn the boat significantly.

I’ll explore this more fully in a future review, but once I got everything setup and adjusted I found that if I found myself thinking about using the rudder I was already overthinking it.  Only the slightest press of the foot with a toe involved achieved the desired effect.

And Ben not too many years ago…

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New river race in Central Virginia?

I’ve been pondering a new race on my local river for a few years now and have made the first steps toward making it a reality.

First, I asked East Coast paddlers if they’d have an interest in a 44-mile race and they overwhelmingly replied, “yes!”

Second, I went ahead and reserved a domain name this evening.

What are your thoughts?

Are you interested in a 44-mile race–the full length of the Rivanna River–in Central Virginia?

If so head on over to www.RunOfTheRivanna.org and fill out the form so we can determine if there is enough interest.

RR44_b

My apology to Planet Fitness

Dear Planet Fitness,

I owe you an apology.

I made assumptions about you based on what some haters have said online.

I’ve been on the road for a couple weeks and a colleague of mine has a Planet Fitness Black Card membership and took me as his guest to your Marlborough, MA location 3 or 4 times over the past couple weeks.

My pre-conceived ideas about you were wrong.

You are a real gym.

I saw people in there trying their hardest to get in shape. You are a full gym with everything needed for anyone to get in shape. And you provide it at a very affordable price.

Sure, you don’t have the free weights that a hard-core power lifting gym would have, but that’s the point. You are trying to get the average person in the door and take their fitness seriously. A completely different mindset and different monster altogether.

I get it. I’ve seen both sides.

I was able to fly 75lb. dumbbells last week and your Smith machines, although not squat racks with barbells, are definitely good enough to get the job done. Your dumbbells went even higher in weight but I did not look to see how high because those were beyond me.

As a recovering Gold’s Gym member, I was quite surprised to find such a well-equipped gym.

It is not your fault that the current U.S. dietary guidelines are based on faulty science.

We feed grains to livestock to fatten them up and the removal of healthy fats from our foods has caused producers to replace that fat with sugar to make foods taste good. All that added sugar has led to an alarming rise in diabetes and insulin resistance. We might disagree on the snacks you serve at your gym, but every one of your members has the responsibility to do their own research and decide what to put in their mouths.

That’s on them, not you.

I encourage your members to look into a Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF) or No Sugars, No Grains (NSNG) lifestyle. I believe they would get greatly improved results from their investment.

But in the meantime I don’t blame you for widespread confusion about what healthy eating looks like.

Most of what the “health authorities” have been telling us is wrong and most people have no idea what to believe.

Your members are trying hard and putting in the work and you provide them a bona fide gym at a fair price.

I applaud you and I apologize for unfairly judging you.

If my local Planet Fitness was not on the most inconvenience, opposite side of my own town I would join tomorrow.

So I’ll wait for a deal on your Black Card membership so I have a gym to call home when I travel.

Kindest regards,
Dave The Kayaker

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PS – I went ahead and joined.

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