Absolutely fascinating interview combining several of my passions, diet, exercise and kayaking.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Update March 2, 2018:
The “How to build” video is now ready for purchase!
I am not making any announcements, but my friendly UPS delivery man dropped off a new book from Amazon so I can now begin some “research.” I’m looking forward to reading it and when I’m done I’ll post a review.
Missouri River 340 by the Jacksons
I also happened across an interesting article, “Technique: Does Wash-riding Help?” that discusses drafting or wash riding behind another kayaker.
We seem to instinctively know this is a more efficient way to paddle, but Brett McDonald found a way to quantify the gains in efficiency by monitoring his heart rate at two different positions behind the lead boat and while he himself was the lead boat.
It is a short yet interesting read, but this one figure from the article summarizes it perfectly.
There are many types of kayak paddling just as there are many different types of kayaks.
The two videos below cover the most basic types of paddling, mostly applied to flat water kayaking. Of course, these strokes are every bit adaptable to flowing streams and rivers, but whitewater kayaking is almost a different sport requiring its own special blend of unique strokes and nuanced maneuvers.
These, however are the basics.
Recreational or fitness paddling with a flat bladed paddle
Fitness paddling or racing with a wing paddle
See also: The kayak wing paddle
I had the day off today for Good Friday and after waiting a bit to see if it was going to rain (it was very overcast with some sprinkles this morning,) I decided to head out to get in some base miles in preparation for the James River Rundown 100 mile race.
I got up and ate about 4 strips of bacon and 3 eggs and by the time I hit the water it was noon.
I skipped lunch.
I should also point out that I got myself into a state of dietary ketosis this past week. (I’m never more than 2 or 3 days away from being in ketosis.)
I hit the water with my Thunderbolt-X kayak (my go-to flat water training boat) and new custom wing paddle and made the conscious decision to paddle for 20 or so miles rather than my typical workout which is geared toward maintaining relatively high speeds for 10 or 12 miles, with an all-out sprint for the first 5.
This was a huge mental shift.
It was very windy and the water was choppy. I had to force myself to start out at a much slower pace than what I’m used to on my training runs. I normally like to start out sprinting for 5 miles but today I wanted to paddle more miles to build calluses and log some base miles for my ultra-marathon in June.
I logged more miles on my local reservoir today than I ever have in one day before, and the wind was definitely a factor. At one point when I was paddling directly into a brisk wind I remembered the words of one of my paddling heroes, Oscar Chulupsky, in a interview in some article when he stated, “You have to shift gears.” He was talking about adjusting his wing paddle due to changing or different conditions on the water.
So with Oscar’s words reverberating in my head, I started playing with my paddle.
I normally paddle with a 30 degree offset but I tried different settings and found that a 50 degree offset seems to work well for me in windy conditions and seemed to favor a better stroke for a marathon pace.
I ended up paddling 20.7 miles and averaged 5.5mph. That was slower than I thought it would be, but not unexpected given the windy conditions.
The only nutrition I had with me on the outing was a 25 ounce water bottle with water and BCAA’s.
I was fine.
In fact, I didn’t need to eat again until a few hours after I got home at around 7pm. That’s a full day with 21 miles of paddling on 3 eggs and 4 strips of bacon.
Being fat adapted is great!
I learned a few things as take-aways for my upcoming James River Rundown adventure.
- I need to paddle a boat with a bit more stability that will allow me to lean back, twist my torso, and stretch my back without fear of overturning. My back isn’t going to be able to handle a tippy kayak for 100 miles. I’ll need to move around and fidget more.
- I’m going to have to remind myself to start out at a steady, slower, marathon pace which is counter to all the training I’ve ever done. Marathon not a sprint…marathon not a sprint. I’ll be repeating this mantra for 90-95 miles.
- I need to continue to experiment with different offsets and lengths with my wing paddle to figure out what might be the best starting settings for race day. I’m so used to the same settings that it is going to take me a while to play around and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
- Loose hand grip on the paddle shaft will be essential
- I need to be in dietary ketosis on race day.
It was a great day on the water and I have an early season sunburn on my arms and shoulders now.
Let the training continue.
Feeling a little grizzled after 21 miles