Saturday, October 28, 2006

Magnums on Linville Gorge, North Carolina

In September I visited Linville Gorge and took my friend Nathan Silsbee for his first run on the river. It was a pleasure to be back there again after two years. I had forgotten how beautiful the place is.
Watch the Linville video

Nathan joined Riot's regional team this spring. Here's Nathan looking giddy on the way up the mountain.

Babel Tower trail heading down into the gorge.

We had a great group this particular day including Mefford Williams, Nate Elliott and Robert Peerson. Here is Mefford getting ready to make the last part of the hike down to Babel Tower, the putin.

Me at Babel Tower, an auto-boof and the first rapid. This is only a glimpse of the numerous rapids you face on the Linville. They get quite a bit harder after this and the rocks are very undercut.

Nathan boofs at Babel Tower.

Nathan is pictured here at one of many unnamed rapids.

You go through countless class III-V rapids in an 8-9 mile stretch. The thing to keep in mind on the Linville is that the class II & III is just as dangerous as the class V, it's all sieved out. I call this one A-Frame.

Cave rapid is the largest overall drop on the entire run.

The Conley Cove takeout trail is just after Cathedral Gorge. Here is the entrance to Cathedral Falls, a tight line.

Cathedral Falls itself is a nice rolling 12-13 foot drop from top to bottom.

If you opt to take out at Conley Cove you'll enjoy a couple steep miles straight up out of the gorge. If not then you have a few more miles of fun rapids, but at this point you've done the meat of the run. If you paddle the Linville you'll have to agree that it's a beautiful place to be.

Watch the Linville video

See you later,

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot

Check out my newest kayaking DVD, "Enter The Donkey"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tutorial: How to Clean Cartwheel...

Tutorial: How to Clean Cartwheel

How To Clean Cartwheel Full Video (10.6mb)

This is a tutorial of how to do a bow and/or stern clean cartwheel.

Prerequisites: You need to have at least somewhat of a grasp on how to do a normal cartwheel. The clean cartwheel is a maneuver where the bow or stern goes through the water without help from the paddle. In order for it to “count” the end has to be at least 45 degrees in angle, and the paddle can not come into contact with the water at any time during the clean end.
Click HERE to reference a .2 mb video of a stern and bow clean while reading.
How to Clean the Stern:

Step 1: Get setup for a normal cartwheel in a hole. Preferably, this hole should be small and controlled to start to learn the clean cartwheel. You should put your bow at 12 o’clock, facing directly upstream. You should have little or no upstream momentum during this setup.

Step 2: Throw down the bow.

Step 3: Once the bow is under you and your boat is on its way to the stern end, be aggressive and rotate very early around to get into the position for a stern clean. This rotation should happen either just before your bow is directly under you or when the boat is dead vertical. Rotate to a position where the paddle would be in an exaggerated position for the stern end. In other words, your body, paddle, and head should be rotated and looking back, up at the seam of the hole. If all three of these (body, paddle, and head) are not rotated, then the clean will flop. Remember not to touch the water with your paddle at this step, however tempting it may be (unless you are off balance and know that the clean will not happen; this is usually due to a poor setup).

Step 4: Keep your weight balanced and over the kayak. At this point (you are not yet vertical on your stern), the water is going to have much of the control over your kayak. Make sure that your weight is balanced over your lower edge (the edge that is in the water). Additionally, your body should be in a neutral position or possibly leaning slightly back, depending on the hole.

Step 5: Stay ahead of the kayak. Once your bow is in the air, and your kayak is vertical, your weight should be aggressively forward, and your body should be rotated and ready for the illusive third end. This step is much like any typical third end, where you must be ahead of the kayak and ready to throw down the bow.

Step 6: Throw down the bow. Congratulations, you just completed a stern clean cartwheel.

How to Clean the Bow:

The bow clean is much like the stern clean and involves the same prerequisite techniques to do the maneuver. Be sure to reference the stern clean tutorial for more information.

Step 1: Setup, Throw down the bow, then pull the stern though (or start backwards, then pull the stern though).

Step 2: Make sure to look at the seam of the hole and lean forward. Instead of placing the stroke in the water for the third end, lift the paddle high out of the water, somewhere around the height of your chin. At this point in the maneuver, your bow should be just hitting the water, your paddle should be in the air, and your edge should be engaged, just like it would be for a normal bow end.

Step 3: Keep watching the seam of the hole with your eyes and stand up on your bulkhead. The act of standing on your foot-pegs helps put the bow down further into the water and engage the green water. This, in turn, will magically let the bow pass under you without a stroke.

Step 4: Rotate your head, body, and paddle to get ready to pull the stern though. Congratulations, you just completed a bow clean cartwheel.

Personally, I favor the bow clean over the stern clean due to the fact that I believe it is much easier to lean forward and stay balanced than rotate and lean slightly back. This is personal preference to many paddlers, so try both and decide what you prefer.

Once you have both of them down, you can go for the ever-illusive SUPER clean (two cleans, bow and stern, linked together to do an entire clean cartwheel).


Problem: My stern/bow clean goes through, but, when I go for my next end, my boat is over vertical and I fall on my head.
Solution: When you are doing your stern/bow end, your boat is most likely vertical or close to vertical. This means that you will have to rotate and reach waaaay ahead and grab the water with your paddle for your next end. IF you grab the water early enough with your paddle, this will help flatten out that next end and keep you from falling on your head.
Problem: When I go for my stern/bow clean, my boat hits the water and stops and I usually fall on a brace or flip over.
Solution: This generally means that you need to rotate your body, head, and paddle more aggressively. Your head needs to be rotated and your eyes need to be actively seeing the seam of the hole when you start the clean. Another possible solution could be to do with balance. Make sure your weight is balanced over your kayak and your kayak is entering the water at around a 45 degree angle (more edge for a more vertical clean, less for a less vertical clean).
Problem: My clean end looks more like a clean spin.
Solution: This has to do with your setup. 1) You are either doing the first end too flat or too vertical. Find a balance between those two and the clean will obtain some elevation or, 2) you are rotating too aggressively (very unlikely). If this is the case, just go for another end and re-do the clean on the next wack around.

How To Clean Cartwheel Full Video (10.6mb)
How to Clean Cartwheel Tutorial (Dial-Up Users Only)

If you have both the bow and the stern clean down and want to link the two together, just: start with a really good setup, do a balanced (and generally lower angle) first end. When your boat comes around for that next end, get ahead of your boat and throw down that end just like you would normally do. The trick to super-cleans is where the second and succeeding ends engage the water. If they engage in the right spot (11 or 12 o’clock), then, theoretically, you could go forever. Alas, this is what makes kayaking fun—whitewater is unpredictable.

I hope this helps people get a sense for how to clean cartwheel. Please check out the video for visual reference. If there are any questions, post them in the “Comments” page at the end of this text and your questions will be answered.

Good luck and see you on the water,

-Adam Johnson

Monday, October 23, 2006

Low Water Creeking in VA

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Allen Speering saying that Nelson County, VA had recieved over four inches of rain, and we best get down there. At 10 pm, I grabbed my magnum and jumped in the car to make my way to Staunton.

Nelson County sure is purdy...

We woke up the next morning and checked the gauges only to see that everything had already begun to drop out and was plummeting quickly. Our first stop was the South Fork of the Rockfish. This was a very steep, micro creek, and it reminded me more of a ditch than a proper creek. But since we were already there, we decided to give'er. That was a bad idea. We did more deflecting off the rocks with our elbow pads than paddling, and in one hour I think I put six months worth of wear onto my boat. There was, however, one good slide that was video worthy.

After that disaster we went to Statons creek, which was also too low. Our desperation continued to cloud our judgement, and we put on Statons. The flow was probably around 2o cfs (no lie). We hit a lot of rocks, I chested a tree, and Saunders fell down a lot. It was a good time.

Even though everything was super, super low, we had a good day. There is some really fun creeking in Nelson County, and if anyone gets the chance I recommend you take the trip. Maybe you'll have better luck than we did.

Here's a video from the day.

Dave Finney

And a few more pictures from Statons...

Saunders styling in the Inferno

Allen Speering on the lip

Dave dropping in

A slide on Statons

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Moose Fest 2006


Its not crystal, it's crystahl like, the drink that rappers talk about

It is October once again and the Moose Fest is right around the corner. Moose Fest is the one and only festival that closes the paddling season here in the northeastern United States. This year’s Moose Fest is guaranteed to be better than ever. The organizers have set up a full weekend of events for paddlers. On Friday the 13th there is the Bar-Crawl. The Bar-Crawl is a bunch of parties that are sponsored by different manufacturers I think these parties will live up to their name.

Riot Kayaks is sponsoring a party Friday night at the Trail's End Bar and Grill in Old Forge New York. Stop in and meet some of the team. We will be more than willing to share paddling stories and help with any questions you have about Riot Kayaks.

On Saturday there will be the extreme race, which will be a mass start, above Augers Falls all the way down to Crystal (a.k.a crystahl). I guarantee there will be tons of carnage. Later that night we will set up our booth and show off the new boats for 2007. Also we will be donating a Riot Magnum creek boat to the auction to help raise money for American Whitewater affiliation.

Sunday will be left for boating if there is any one that is not hung over from the nights before. So come on up to Moose Fest 2006 there is something for everyone from mild class two sections to heart pounding class five pool-drop runs. Moose Fest and the river will be a definite classic good time, so come on by our party and our booth and meet the team, we will be more than happy to help out in anyway we can.

For more info check out these sites

Moose Fest Information

Team Special Ed

also I included a video from Student Loan Productions to give you an idea of what the river is like. Just click on the moose. Also the art work is borrowed from Team Sped.

See you at the Moose Riot Paul Twist

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New Riot Thunder, and new outfitting changes

Lots of you have been asking about our new boats, so I figured this might be interesting to some folks.
We have 2 new whitewater boats this year, the Astro 58 (larger cut Astro) and the Thunder 65 (river-runer).

We just got some Thunders in, so here are some photos from various angles of a shiny new one, plus some info on how the boat paddles.

I paddled the Thunder prototype a lot this summer, mostly using it to instruct out of. I really enjoyed teaching in it. It has enough space to carry lots of gear, and enough volume to be effective when rescuing. Also the playful hull makes it able to surf well, and carve on a wave. Although the boat is very playful, it still retains a good amount of speed for making moves. I like the manuverability of the boat, it does not feel bulky at all, it is very responsive, but very stable. It surfaces well off of drops, and boofs nicely.

Here are a few shots of the deck.

The lines on the deck look really cool

and here is a shot of the hull, notice the stepped rail.
Heres a shot of the rail, made to help the boat be forgiving and playful.

This angle gives an idea of the rocker profile.Here is a shot of the stern

One thing I really like about the boat is that the deck is relatively low on it. This will be helpful to people who feel like they can't "see over the deck" of big creek boats, particularly shorter and or smaller folks.

This boat is going to be great for a variety of paddlers....someone who wants a forgiving river runner thats more playful and less bulky than a full-on creeker....smaller paddlers who want a responsive creek-able boat.....beginners all the way up to advanced paddlers looking for an all around good boat.......instructional programs looking for a good fleet boat.....and many more.

Here are some shots of me on the Green in the Thunder proto.

Heres a shot of the cockpit, see the new blue thigh braces?

Also new in the outfitting department this year are the redesigned hip pads.

These are easily adjusted. They are attached to the seat by webbing attachment points, undo the webbing and you can flip the hip pad up and add foam behind it. You can raise and lower the plate that backs the hip pads by simply losening some screws. The webbing attachment points are firmly attached to the seat, so theres no worries about having to fiddle with them when readjusting the hip pads.
The boats are still shipping with a nice fit kit, including the following:
Bulkhead pads that are scored to be easily trimmed for your setup
Padding for the knees with super sticky backing
And knee wedges. These should go underneath your knees to give you something to rest them on. These are really helpful to gain more control of the boat. Make sure they do not impede your exit from the boat though.
It helps to put a little contact cement on these before sticking them, and I suggest installing these and then putting the other knee pads on top of them.

The Thunder 65 and the Astro 58 are available now. Check with your local dealer to demo. Soon we will have a full report on the Astro 58.

If you'd like to check out the Thunder in action, visit Ken Driscoll's site where he has posted his own review with photos.

--Joey Hall