Sunday, May 28, 2006

Consumer review on the Riot Orbit - by Craig Crouse

Here is a consumer review of the Orbit that came to us from Craig Crouse of Washington DC.

" The Riot Orbit is an awesome playboat for just about everything, IMHO. I'm 5'9 145 lbs, size 9.5 feet. Designed primarily for Holes it still seems to hold it's own on a nice wave, it carves very aggressively and has some really great bouncing action. Bow stalling, for me, is just a little bit harder than other boats but that's because this boat is designed to go BIG and it can catch absolutely HUGE air on even little holes. Something about the way the volume is distributed I think. Once I found my balance point the Orbit seemed to hang out fine on end, if my flatwater loop was there this thing would be a cinch to throw around like that. As far as river running is concerned this boat is pretty good, at least I think so, I've had it down the New River Gorge, Upper Gauley, Lower Gauley, the Upper and Lower Yough pretty much most of the runs in the Mid-Atlantic, I'm not saying it's made for this stuff (especially the creeky stuff and other technical runs) but I managed to get down and hold my lines pretty well sometimes on high water runs it can feel like you're bobbing around, but I think that's the case with most spud boats. Most of all I think this boat has really helped me out with alot of skills and it's a great boat to boost your hole play, every little hole is pretty awesome in this." - Craig Crouse

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quebec Creeking Part Deux

Hey sports fans, just checking in from the great white north, or the province of Quebec more specifically. I love coming back to Canada every summer, and the past three weeks have not disappointed, its been sick around here.

Max enjoying the hospitality!

Unfortunately I was not able to get up in time for the infamous BusEater wave on the Ottawa River, High Tension on the Gatineau, and other classic big water play, Spencer and I were neck deep in editing for our new video, Enter the Donkey… however, my friends Benny Marr and Max Kniewasser showed me some of their footage from these waves, and trust me they’re destroying it, check out LVM #19 for a look into the future of aireal playboating!

Anyways… Many people don’t know this, but Quebec is actually a completely untapped creeking mecca. The Laurentian Mountains offer plenty of gradient, and with the nonstop rain and the recent snow melt everything was going off. In addition to Max, Ben and myself, we were joined by a fellow Riot Team member, Adam Johnson. Adam’s never been anywhere in Canada but Lachines and the Ottawa, so it was cool to show him around to some really incredible creekboating.

So this week started off rather inauspiciously. We all woke up at Max’s house on Monday and Max and I did a “stealth” mission on a large waterfall in downtown Ottawa called Rideau Falls. It’s an awesome drop, somewhere around 30-40 ft. of freefall or so, really tough to judge. It’s got an 8 foot lead in drop into a slide and then off the big drop, and the horizon line is pretty scary at the top! Anyways, long story short, it would be a fun 45-60 degree landing, but I’ve been jonesing to practice my big waterfall technique whenever I can, so I tried to land completely vertical.

Max rolling off Rideau.

When I landed, my left blade caught the pool and pulled out of my tuck and slammed the shaft squarely into my face. I popped up at the bottom and realized I had a sizeable cut in my nose, and after Max came off and stuck the landing at like 60 degrees we agreed I needed some stitches. Dammit! I tend to overanalyze my paddling and it bugs me for a long time when I make mistakes, so going to the hospital was just adding insult to injury. Anyways, I got stitched up and took a couple days off while Adam and Max did some cool runs that I’m sure he’ll update on soon.

This weekend we headed out to Quebec City to beta that everything was at a perfect level. After a fun but bony run on the Talayarde on Friday, we showed up at the Basse Cachee Race on Saturday. This creek is absolutely incredible and Dominic Chaput and Dominic Lavallee were cool enough to put their time into organizing an event here. For those of you from the Southeast, think Big Creek meets Horsepasture, and roadside! Anyways, the river was at a high flow, and we immediately heard a bunch of practice run horror stories from Steve Fischer, Tyler Curtis and Shannon Carroll about their first run… Fischer pitoned and front flipped, Tyler surfed and almost swam, and Shannon fell on her head on a rock! When those three paddlers are getting worked, I gotta say anyone should be nervous! So since the race is a team event, Max and I decided to race together in our Magnums, and put on for a couple practice runs. The level was incredible! We all had smooth lines through the 2 km or so of class IV-V whitewater and rarely had time to duck into an eddy… it was definitely seat of the pants pray that you’re going to skip over that ledge hole style creeking.

So things got underway quickly and 6 teams got ready to race at five minute intervals. Fischer and Tyler lined up and went first, followed by David Laroche and friend, Dom and Dom, and Shannon and Vincent. Max and I were last to take off, and we had a sweet run until the big double drop rapid, where I plugged a big hole and took a sharp hit on the eyebrow with my paddle. Not super painful and I resurfaced thinking that better not have broken the skin. Well as it turned out, it did, and after finishing the race with a decent time, I had yet another cut on my face, from a rapid that I generally wouldn’t be too concerned about. Pretty humbling for sure… more stitches and this time without the advantage of the English language! Through my hand gestures and Max’s goofy German accented French I was able to tell the people at the hospital what had happened and how to charge it to my Ontario health card, even though I live in the United States.

So, to recap the Quebec experience, we collectively paddled a half dozen or so incredible new runs, put around 2500 kilometres on our cars, paddled and placed 3rd in one of the best extreme races I’ve ever done, got seven stitches, and almost got a whole lot more when Max and I nearly got into a huge bar fight with the locals in St. Raymond! Not a bad pseudo-international experience if I do say so myself…

Catch you clowns next time, hope you enjoy the video, California here I come!

Download Quebec Creeking video HERE (17 MB)
*Some foul language from Max, the crazy German.*

Chris Gragtmans (aka FRANKENSTEIN)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quebec Creeking Part One

Quebec Creeking Video Part One

Directly after school let out, I had plans to head north to the vast, strange land known as Quebec. So, after logging in a couple days of work prior to leaving, I headed to the Cheat River Festival to spend the weekend in West 'by god' Virginia. Due to the extreme low water on the Cheat, I ended up avoiding the Cheat altogether, along with many other insightful individuals who paddled the Upper Yough.

Later that night, I talked to a friend who did the downriver race on the Cheat the day before (10 miles). He said it was exhausting, a lot like following trickles of water into lakes that separated rapids. It sounded like more grueling endurance than anything else.

That night there was a party. All of the Albright, WV local hell raisers, as well as paddlers from all over the east coast enjoyed beer, some quality West Virginia music, and good times as the night slowly turned into the wee hours of the morning.

The next day was punctuated with hour after hour of sitting in the car, monotonously driving up Interstate-81; then, passing into Canada, arriving in the Ottawa Valley at around midnight. I think that, after I got off of Rt. 401, I saw about 6 cars in the three hour trek on the two lane road that led to Beechburg. Kinda creepy in the middle of the night...

I arrived at around 1 AM and scared the crap out of Chris Gragtmans (who didn’t know if I was River Run security coming to oust him or myself). We ended up staying at the Ottawa for three days, narrowly missing the Bus Eater wave, which was "in" two days before. After that, we went to Ben Marr's house to drop off cars, organize, then set out for some quality Quebec creeking.

After a day at Lachine, we got a phone call from Team Riot paddler Dominic Fournier saying that the creeking was going off and we should head to his home stomping grounds, the city of Trois-Rivières. Dom was nice enough to let us crash at his Climbing gym, an organization he runs known as Adrenergie.

Over the course of the next few days, we paddled the Blanche River (which means 'white' in English for us non-Frenchies), the Doncaster, and the Nelson, A section. We actually ran the Blanche twice, then decided to go run the A section of the Nelson--putting on at 7:15 pm (near dusk), paddling the 20 kilometers, and taking off at around 8:30. A great day of paddling. Big thanks to Dom for showing us the lines and being able to bomb down the run with four in tow.

To see the video of the Blanche and the Doncaster helmet cam, go here:

Quebec Creeking Video Part One

Quebec Creeking Video (Dial Up Users Only)

Thank you's go out to: Ben and Carol Marr for letting us crash at your apartment in Brock-vegas, Kelsey for driving and good times, Dominic F for letting us crash and taking us down the river, Dominic C for the race, David for the good times at the Cactus bar, Max for being Max and letting us crash, Max's mom for hanging up my jacket, Jeff Rivest for Riot factory refuge, Yann for the place to stay, the St. Raymond locals for being rowdy, and all the rest of the French Canadian locals just for being French Canadian-- to everyone, thank you!

Don't forget to check out Chris's "Part Deux" of the Canadian Expedition. Enjoy!

-Adam Johnson

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

James River Riot Demo with Appomattox River Co.

Joey and I blazed up to Richmond VA last week to see our friends at Appomattox River Company and paddle some Riot kayaks on the James River. First let us thank Vickki, Mary and Daniel for helping us out with shuttles and huge thanks to Vickki for shooting the photos and video at Z-Dam with her digital camera.

Richmond's paddling scene is weird. They have river gangs. We had the privilege of meeting the Corn Youth Alliance (We have no idea, don't ask us. It's a group of boaters) and Team WAV. We don't know what the Corn Youth Whatever does. We think they might be throwing star experts or something. We have some people looking in to it. Team WAV are a bunch of bigshots too. They pulled up in this luxury, paddle sports, battle wagon, short bus thing and like fifty dudes got out of the van with their gear on and boats in hand. It was like a circus where that little car has like ten clowns in it. Well anyway, we got to paddle with four or five of those guys. The rest of them scattered into the jungle as soon as we saw them.

So, I paddled at ZDam with Doug, I think they call him Fat Doug, and this other guy... well, Guy. We played there for half an hour or so. Everyone kept saying how low the river was for ZDam. I think it was around 4'6"? I've played there several times before and I must say that this was by far the best level I've been in that hole. Loops are better and bigger and the hole is way stickier but friendly. And you can paddle out easily on players right.
This was Fat Doug in the hole in the Flair 47.

And Guy in the Turbo 52 going for a loop.

This was me going for a loop.

Right hya is a video that Vickki shot of a short ride of mine. click here to see it Qucktime format 4.2mb

Then we paddled the downtown section with a large group. This section is always fun and on the same token it's always strange for me to see sky scrapers in the background of class III or any class whitewater. There was a small hole above Hollywood Rapid. I forget the name but it was a tiny little pocket that you could go left and right in.
Here is Joey enjoying it.

and myself enjoying it

and this is later when boy did I ever pull a crazy joke on Joey. Those rabbit ears are a hoot. Whooh! He was sooo upset.

Come paddle with us on June 3rd on maybe the Ocoee or Chattooga. We're doing a demo with The Outside World in Dawsonville Georgia. I think we'll be meeting at the store that morning and leaving from there.

Then, the next Appomattox demo is July 22nd. You can call either store to find out details.

Thanks and have a great day.

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot

Friday, May 12, 2006

Cali Dreamin and new location in Tahoe to Demo and learn from the pros!!

It was a somewhat slow begining and late start for winter snow here in Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mt. range. Thankfully we have welcomed over 25 feet of snow since the begining of March. Needless to say, the energy around the paddling community here is very high. Everyone around here was glad to exchange their skis or snowboards for their still wet paddling gear and head to Reno or the American basin for some spring training. There is a buzz in the air that the snowmelt this year is going to be more than exceptional. Since the winter came late, the creekin season will be a little later on the nicest warmest days of the year. This also means the sun will be melting the snow faster making for good high water runs. There are plenty of good warm-up runs around here like the Yuba's and the unknown Weber Creek, but the real goods are still cutting through walls of snow. Don't worry, it's been getting very warm here so all these runs will be good-to-go soon!! For now I'm content with playboating at the Reno Whitewater Park. And as far as playboating goes, the park at Reno is a breeding ground for new tricks and evolution in the sport of freestyle kayaking. Many Pros as well as the former World Champ live and train here full time pushing each other and the sport constantly. These days you need to be throwing combos of 2,3 or even 4 big tricks in a row. Soon competition rides in smaller features are going to consist of back-to-back big trick combos from the begining of the run to the end of the run. Where will the sport go from here? What I would like to see is a big wave riding Global Tour. Take the paddlers and the cameras to the biggest best spots in the world and have a points series competition just like in the sport of surfing. Keep all the regional competitions like they have now to earn points toward making the World Tour. This would make for more exciting competitions, bring out a higher level of paddling, and benefit the sport of kayaking all around. We also need someone to head up the charge to get Boater-X and Freestyle in the X-Games(hint,hint Riot).
Also thanks to High Sierra Adventure Sports(530)542-2565 in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Look there for the new line of whitewater and recreational kayaks. And soon, lessons from the pros.
All this daydreaming... I'm going boating!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Riot whitewater demo in Richmond VA - May 4th

Please join Joey Hall and I at the James River in Richmond VA on Thursday, May 4th. We'll have a bunch of Riot demo whitewater boats and will be paddling either at Z-Dam or the downtown section. Try a Riot boat or paddle your own. We're meeting at 4pm, at the river I think. Call Appomattox River Company to get specifics 804-897-1556.

See you there,

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot