Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sea Kayaking Mendocino Video

My favorite part of the Paddle Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium is that it gets paddlers to Northern California and some take the time to come paddle in Mendocino with Jeff and I.  This year, we had a whitewater crew the first day for the Stoutside Ball.
Jeff Laxier getting a nice pour over ride in our Stoutside Ball Session. #stoutside
Then we had several East Coast paddlers join us for 3 days of sea kayaking (and a sunset and moonrise surf session).
Sunset - super moonrise surf session. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Day one was a coastal exploration with some rock gardening.  Day two was coastal exploration in sporty conditions with some sea kayak surfing.  Day three was sea kayak surfing.  Paddlers in the video are Snowy Robertson - Dagger Kayaks, Matt Kane - Prime Paddlesports, Chris Audet - Committed 2 the Core, Luke Rovner - Kayak Hipster, and of course Jeff Laxier and Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaking.
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Cate Hawthorne reviews the forecast. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Luke Rovner - aka The Kayak Hipster - made a video sharing these 3 days of sea kayaking.  Here's the video - If it doesn't show up in the blog post, here is a link to it on YouTube.  The sea kayaks that were used in the video were the Dagger Stratos - our go-to for rock garden and coastal play.  Snowy and I paddled whitewater kayaks for our sunset and moonrise surf session including the Dagger Axiom

I hope you enjoy it.  If it gets you interested in sea kayaking on the Mendocino Coast, check out Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Art of Sea Kayaking Mendocino Series and 3-5 Day Adventures.
Sea kayaking and rock gardening on California's Mendocino Coast

Friday, March 16, 2018

Drying Out

Even water people need to dry out from time to time.  Jeff and I had a few days free and decided to meet up with some friends in the Sonoran Desert for some mountain biking and camping.

On our journey to the Sonoran Desert, we stopped in the Mojave Desert.  I am always fascinated by the desert landscape and geology.  Someday, I am going to delve back into studying geology - especially geomorphology. 

We stopped at a place called Hole in the Wall.  The holes in the wall are formed by air pockets in volcanic ash.  When the ash cooled, these holes were left in the rocks.

The area where we were camping and mountain biking had lots of interesting geology and scenery.  It also had interesting plant and wildlife and fun mountain biking. 

We camped among the gigantic Saguaro cactus.  In one of the cactus, we found a great horned owl nest.

A place called Jackass Junction we met an interesting fellow. 

Jackass Junction is not an oasis but a shady spot for good times.

I am continuing to shop for a new mountain bike.  I of course was eyeing what everyone else was riding and stopped in a couple of shops on our journey.  Some of the bike shops were helpful and some were not.  I would like to give a shout-out to McDowell Mountain Cycles in Fountain Hills, Arizona.  Jeff stopped in to buy brake pads.  The owner was extremely helpful.  We stopped in a second time with some friends who wanted to check out the shop.  The woman who answered our questions was very knowledgeable and helpful.  She is a shorter rider and her insight into what might be a good bike for me was invaluable.

We are now back home, and it is raining.  We are going to have great flows for our Precision River Running Class this weekend.  Next week's forecast looks wet too so it is time to hang up the mountain bike and get wet!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Coming Up Short

This blog post is a bit of a rant about being short.  If you would like some perspective on the challenges that those of us under 5'5" have, please read on.  If you are a smaller person and have thoughts and advice, please post in the comments.  I especially would love to hear about companies that are offering quality outdoor gear for people of all sizes.

I realize that everyone at some point falls in between sizes - something is just a little too big or just a little too small or along those lines.  However, I feel that those of us on the shorter end or taller end experience these challenges more often especially when it comes to finding performance oriented outdoor gear.

I am 5'4".  A google search tells me that 5'4" is average for American women.  So really, I'm not that short.  I wish this would be the case when I am shopping for outdoor gear.  I have ranted about whitewater kayak companies not making kayaks for smaller paddlers (a huge shout out to Jackson Kayak who continues to produce top designs for smaller paddlers).  I understand that they don't believe that the market is there.  I think the market is there and believe that if you build it, it will come.

I have been simmering on this topic for a bit but 2 recent slights have brought about this not so short blog post about being short.

I am shopping for a new mountain bike.  Understandably selection is limited in my small community.  My local shops are willing to order a bike for me.  Given the price of modern day mountain bikes, I am not willing to order a bike without trying it - or at least throwing a leg over it and taking it for a spin around a parking lot.

Last week, we journeyed to the bay area to visit Jeff's family and do some bike shopping.  Of 17 bike shops that I visited or called, only 4 had a size small full suspension 29er mountain bike in stock.  (About 50% of these shops had small 27.5 bikes which I am finding out are more popular among shorter riders - or are they just more available).  These were not small shops and most of these shops had a significant inventory.

One of the shops told me to come to their demo day.  They would have a trailer load of bikes available to demo.  At this point, I was frustrated about not finding anything and was willing to drive 2 hours one way to demo a bike.  I arrived at the demo, and they didn't have any bikes in size small.  FRUSTRATING!

My other beef is one that continues to resurface. It is frustrating when well meaning, big, strong individuals make kayak or gear recommendations to petite women.  Size does matter.  What works for a 6'2 200 pound man is not necessarily going to work for a 5'2 115 pound woman.  Too often, women show up for our classes with paddles that are too big or long, kayaks that aren't appropriate, and quoting techniques taught by stronger paddlers that work if you have lots of strength and mass.  Ladies - reach out to industry professionals that are in your size range for recommendations.  There are quite a few of us out here.  We are an email or phone call away.

Instructors and outdoor professionals, please be sensitive to size issues when making recommendations.  When in doubt, it is ok to say that you don't know or refer questions to other instructors.  Whitewater instructors - Mary and Phil Deriemer are excellent at accommodating and instructing paddlers of all sizes.  Jeff Laxier of Liquid Fusion Kayaking also works well with paddlers of all sizes in sea, whitewater, and surf kayaking (I admit to a bit of bias but ask anyone who has worked with him).  I am sure that there are others out there but have worked with these 3 and highly recommend them!

I am still shopping for a full suspension 29er trail bike.  If you have any recommendations, PLEASE share them.