Youghness Monster 25, 2018

Friday afternoon I drove up to Pennsylvania to paddle in the inaugural running of the Youghness Monster 25, a 25-mile paddle race on the Youghiogheny River between Connellsville and West Newton, PA.

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I got to the check-in to pick up my race packet and immediately recognized some old friends and started making new ones.

First I bumped into Brian Ammon, whom you may recall I first met at the Lehigh Classic race in 2016 and then again at the Little D On The Monocacy race in 2017.  Brian hasn’t changed a bit and is never shy to share stories of paddling adventures which is part of what makes him so charming.  He is a wealth of paddling information and history.

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Me and Brian Ammon

I soon then met Hansel Lucas, owner of Performance kayaks who, along with Stellar Kayaks and others, sponsored the race.

20180504_174812Hansel Lucas, Owner of Performance Kayaks

I then also soon met Steve Bruner, who graciously agreed to an interview with me.

Shortly thereafter I headed to Uniontown where I was staying at the Holiday Inn Express.  The rain starting coming down and questions started coming to mind.

How cold would it be in the morning?
Would it rain all day for the race?
How high will the river be?
How shall I dress?
What happens if continuous Class II rapids are above my skills level in this boat?

I took one last look at my boat and then headed into the hotel for some sleep.

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I had some trepidation about this race because it was the first time I was taking my Thunderbolt-X kayak onto any moving water and I was not sure how skilled I would be with her in rapids.  I’ve only used her as a flat water training boat and the thought of rapids bigger than advertised or possibly smashing her into rocks worried me greatly.

Flipping and filling her full of water would equate to “game over” for the race as it would take long time for me to empty her out and recover.

Hansel Lucas assured me the water was at a good level and that the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to release some more water from the upstream dam so the water would come up at least 8″ overnight.  He said he and friends run carbon/Kevlar boats on that section of river regularly and that anything above 4 ft. at the Sutersville, PA gauge was fine for any construction of boat.

I looked at the gauge on my RiverFlows app one last time and saw the river was well above 4K and was already starting to rise, so I felt better about the situation.

gaugeThe water came up to a great level overnight

The alarm when off 6:30am on race morning and I quickly got ready and ate a breakfast of some scrambled eggs with 2 sausage patties and black coffee before heading back up to the starting line at Connellsville.

I grabbed another black coffee for the road for the 20 minute drive.

It should be noted I had no other food until ~7pm when I stopped for dinner on the drive home.  During the race I only had water in a CamelBak bladder and was not again hungry until well after the race.

Being fat-adapted is great. #NSNG #LCHF

People were starting to gather at the starting line and dropping boats at the ramp.  There seemed to be an inordinate amount of high-end surf skis to me, especially for this land-locked area of the country.

The weather was warming up fast so I realized minimal clothing would indeed be appropriate (even though I brought a wet suit just in case.)  I had safety clothing stowed in my dry bag, but I was not going to start with too much clothing because a body generates a lot of heat when exerting sustained energy.  It is better to get to the side of the river to add layers than it is to try to remove layers due to overheating while trying to paddle and balance a boat.  Just my opinion.

I chatted with several people before the race began and it wasn’t until I was driving home after the race I realized why one particular guy seemed very familiar.  He was Joe White, or JoeDirt22222 on YouTube.

He designed a kayak ergometer which served as the inspiration for my own do-it-yourself, DIY, kayak ergometer design.  Please, purchase one of Joe’s ergometers! Dude is amazing and is an awesome paddler.

There were skis everywhere. Primarily Stellar but Epic skis were also well represented.

 

 

We had a pre-race briefing and then the race began.

We were given ankle bracelets with timing chips and walked across a mat to start our time and then went to the water to get into our kayaks and begin paddling.

I allowed the first big wave of paddlers to start first as I hung back a while since I knew I was racing against the clock and didn’t want to be in the first giant cluster of paddlers.  Plus I thought I might get better video if many of the racers were in front of me.

I got in my boat and pushed out and quickly realized something was wrong.

I worked my rudder tiller and realized I had very little control over my kayak.  Not a good thing in a 21′ craft.

I soon surmised my rudder cable fell off my rudder so I paddled back to shore, got out of the boat, slipped the rudder cable back into its track, and then got back in and started paddling.

Already a loss of two or three minutes which didn’t sit well with me.

Oh well, you can’t change it, you just deal with it and move forward.

So I took off downstream and quickly hit the first set of Class II rapids.

The real test.

I took short, choppy, bracing strokes and essentially “floated” through the rapids trying to remain upright to get a feel for how the boat behaved,  That worked well so I decided that would be my strategy for the day.

Short bracing strokes and conservative through the rapids and give it all I have on the flats.

The strategy worked well and I found myself in 1st place amongst all kayaks at the finish, 5th overall amongst solo paddlers.  With nothing but 4 fast surf skis with elite paddlers ahead of me I felt satisfied with my performance.

 

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Crossing the finish line at Youghness Monster 2018

It felt good to pass so many surf skis!

This section of river is mostly flat water with numerous sections of Class I and Class II rapids.  The flats aren’t so long as to get boring and the rapids are not threatening and they are plentiful enough to keep you on alert the whole time.

I ran a pretty good race and took some risks in term of lines chosen and guessed right most of the time as I was often able to gain on the paddlers in front of me by taking a different path around a few islands or taking a different line through the rapids.  I paddled alongside and chatted with a few other paddlers throughout the race and it just reinforced my opinion that fellow paddlers are some of the nicest, most interesting people in the world.

What really kept me going, though, was the fact that my sister was bringing my parents to the finish line to greet me and I couldn’t wait to see them all.

DSC_1390Mom and dad meeting me at the end of the race, the first kayak race of mine they’ve ever experienced. Astute readers may recall them posing with the boat when it was brand new in 2011.

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Thanks, sis!

I neared the finish and my eyes welled as I spotted my parents at the top of the ramp.

We got in a great visit for the next few hours and then I headed back home to Central Virginia through heavy thunderstorms.

It was a long day but a wonderful day.  Physically I felt fine and felt as though I could have easily paddled another 25 miles.

The organizers of this race did an amazing job for a first time race.  The awards ceremony was a bit of a letdown since there were technically no awards, but that did not diminish a wonderful experience on a very scenic river and a very well organized event.

I look forward to paddling this race in future years.

In the meantime, come paddle our local race in Charlottesville this Saturday, May 12 with me!

DSC_1397Yinz paddle?

 

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Here is the entire race from the bow of my boat, reduced down to ~43 minutes.  Happy viewing and happy scouting to those who race in future years!

 

 

 

 

Preparing for kayak racing season

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It has been a late Spring in Central Virginia.

I’ve only paddled ~40 actual water miles so far this year so my on-water training is behind where I’d like it to be.   This is mainly due to a busy schedule and cold weather.  In fact, as recently as this past weekend we experienced snow and freezing rain here in Charlottesville.

As a result I’ve continued to hit the gym hard but will back off starting next week and have several light weeks in a row as I get back on the water to log some serious miles and get back into paddling shape.   If the weather is bad, I’ll be ramping up the miles indoors on my kayak ergometer.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve lost much of my technique as the few sessions I’ve had on the water so far with Paddling Buddy Dave have been very good workouts and my form is still there.

I sold my Pyranha Octane and ordered a new boat which will be revealed in due time. (I don’t want my competition to know what’s coming.)  Keep an eye open as a new boat with a fresh review is always exciting!

I’ve also been busy as a co-organizer for our local river race this year, The Rivanna River Regatta Canoe & Kayak Race on May 12.

I hope you will join us on May 12.  I’d love to meet you.

2018headerStart of the 2017 Rivanna River Canoe & Kayak Race

DIY Kayak Ergometer Plans now available!

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I recently completed the instructional video on how to build your own kayak ergometer from a Nordic Track ski machine. The plans and part list for this new, more compact design are available at the link below for $20 as I promised on Jan. 16, 2018:

And here is the final result:

Once you purchase, I’ll send you an email with links to the parts list and instructional video.

I’m the same guy who built and shared the original design online in 2013 and since then I’ve gone through several iterations of the design to get it as short and smooth as possible.

You will find other such DIY ergometers online but many of them are very long and look like they have bed frames attached to the front of the device which causes ropes to rub, require a lot of space, and are not really portable.

Don’t be fooled.  Buy the plans from the original designer!

Thank you!
Dave

Be sure to allow email from dave (at} cvillepaddlers.com.

Buy the parts list and video plans now for $20 USD

Kayak ergometer plans from Nordic Track ski machine almost ready

Just finished the first round of edits on my “How To Build It” video. I need to shoot a little more to fill in some gaps and then the video will be ready. Definitely before the end of the month.

Update March 2, 2018:

The plans are ready!
http://bit.ly/2t7m5Ew

Homemade kayak ergometer from Nordic Track ski machine

Some of you know that back in 2013 I shared a YouTube video that showed my design for a kayak ergometer made from a Nordic Track ski machine. It was the first such design, to my knowledge, that introduced rockers to the ergometer.

It actually combined elements from both my first kayak ergometer “bench” style design along with my balance trainer. All of which I also shared. You can see all three in the video below.

Since then I’ve been refining and redesigning the ergometer.

And also since then people have used my videos to build their own units and now some of these people are actually trying to sell the plans to MY design that I freely shared with the kayaking community.

I feel that’s not right. Maybe not illegal but certainly not right.

Toward the end of last year I built a new design for celebrity fitness trainer Vinnie Tortorich so he could do indoor training in his office in preparation for a 100-mile trip down Bayou LaFourche in Louisiana this Spring. I knew he had limited space in his office so I set out to make the ergometer much shorter in overall length.

I accomplished that mission by moving the flywheel under the paddler’s legs which also had the side benefit of making the feel of the device much smoother while paddling.

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My “kayaker’s selfie” with Vinnie Tortorich upon delivery of his ergometer

Later I heard from Vinnie that he started to have some troubles with the forward rollers. Vinnie is a legendary ultra athlete and generally an animal when it comes to training so I knew he would put wear and tear on the unit like it has never seen before.

VinnieandSerena

Vinnie Tortorich with Serena Scott Thomas sporting DTK hats

So after mulling that over in my brain for a while, I went back into my garage over the weekend with a new design for the forward rollers in mind, and built two more kayak ergometers with subtle variations in the design between the two to see which is better and/or easier to build. These happened to be the 5th and 6th units I’ve ever built. (Well, honestly, I probably built and rebuilt the first two at least 10 times each until I was happy with them!) I’ve only made a few of these for close paddling friends.

These two new units have square legs so mere mortals can paddle them, but this design allows rockers to be easily attached and detached as desired.

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The result of my weekend in the garage. 1 unit complete and the other one 90% complete

I spent hours in the garage not only building the two units but also recording video of each build so I can edit and produce a “how to” video and then make it available for sale since so many people have reached out to me over the years to inquire about either purchasing a unit or buying the instructions from me.

I’ve greatly simplified the design and now use only hardware and parts that are stock and can be bought off-the-shelf at most hardware stores. The build is much, much simpler than the first few so I feel now the design is at a point where I can effectively communicate how to build your own and you can build one from those instructions rather easily.

It is also the first design I feel is so unique and innovative in the way its built that I’m not so willing to freely share it because there is a little “secret sauce” that I’ve learned through years of trial and error.

Now for the hard part.

With hours and hours of video you can imagine it will take me a few weeks to edit, possibly re-shoot steps that weren’t clear, and then produce a final video.

When the “How to build it” video is ready I will sell it for $20 since that is the price most people have told me is reasonable and that they’d expect to pay. I believe that is a fair price based on the number of hours I’ve spent building and refining the design to make it as compact as possible, easy to build, and fun to paddle.

I’m also accepting donations and to anyone who donates at least $5 before Feb. 1, 2018, I will make the video available to them as soon as it is ready. After that initial group the price will go up to $20.

Let me know what you think and please let me know if you would like to buy one of these units (Central mid-Atlantic of the U.S. only.)

Happy paddling!

Dave

PS – The second one is now complete (1-24-18) and it will be THE design since it is easier to build and by far the best design I’ve ever devised.

FinalErgDesign
Update March 2, 2018:
The “How to build” video is now ready for purchase!

The Vinnie Tortorich FB Live where he talks about the time change, our upcoming trip, and his training on the kayak ergometer

 

Feel free to skip to 26:42 where he starts talking about our trip and the indoor kayak training ergometer I built for him, but I encourage you to watch the whole video.

Vinnie is The Man for the No Sugars, No Grains (NSNG) lifestyle and has inspired me as a trainer more than he’ll ever know.

Delivery of the Tortorich Kayak Ergometer

I was very fortunate to be able to personally deliver the Tortorich Kayak Ergometer to Vinnie himself.

There was a little bit of shipping damage but a quick trip to the local hardware store and some wooden braces and wood screws made for an effective repair.

I spent some time with Vinnie getting the device trimmed to his body and providing some basic wing stroke instruction.

The picture below is my “kayaker’s selfie” with Vinnie in his office.

VinnieErg

He now has a device to train on and I will help him work on his wing paddle stroke whilst sourcing a kayak for him and working out other logistics for the trip in the Spring down the 100 miles of the Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana.

My new design of a kayaking ergometer made from a Nordic Track ski machine

I’ve completed my new, more compact design for the kayak ergometer.  I call this model “The Tortorich Model” because this one was specifically built for Vinnie Tortorich to train on.

This design is some 15 inches shorter than the original and the flywheel is now brought much further back on the device so it resides under the knees of the paddler.  This makes it much smoother and better balanced.

In researching what it would take to ship one of these things I have decided that shipping these is simply cost prohibitive.

So now that I’ve engineered this better design, I will build another one very soon and take detailed measurements, photos, and step-by-step videos along with a part list so you will have the basic specifications needed to build your own.  I’ll then make the training video and e-book instructions available for a nominal fee.

In the meantime, here are some photos that should give you a pretty good look at how to build one for yourself.