Thursday, March 29, 2007

New River Dries - Aerial Kayaking Mecca

Adam on the Bottom Right wave on Day 2
CLICK HERE to watch the New River Dries Video

There is something about the Dries of the New River. I cannot explain it. Whenever the Dries run, the decision of whether or not to go becomes almost automatic. I remember waiting on the rock for my turn on the wave, looking out at the massive amount of brown water flowing down the river, and thinking, "Wow, this place is rad."
David Finney surfing the Beast

Earlier that weekend I had been doing some creeking. On Friday, we had a mission to a *tiny* creek called Quarry Creek, which is located just outside of Morgantown WV. As of 3/15/2007, Quarry Creek is almost completely choked with wood. At about 400fpm, it would be a great creek to paddle, but, at this point, bring a chainsaw and not a boat. In four hours, we covered maybe 1 mile of whitewater and paddled a total of 6 rapids. Most of the trip consisted of hiking with boats through rhododendron hell, over, under, and around logs, trees, rocks, ice, snow--we had it all. Although not a total loss, there was one slide that was not choked with wood (it being the only rapid without any wood all day). It had a cool first part that dropped at a 30 degree angle, then it went into about a 7 foot drop, whereupon you had to boof and get right over the shallow part of the slide in order to avoid being pushed into a crack then sliced by a big, vertical flange of rock. A cool drop. Shortly afterwards, the wood choked hell ensued.
Adam Blunts on Day three @ 30 grand
Saturday we decided to paddle the North Fork of the Blackwater. The North Fork is paddling in West Virginia as the Green is paddling in North Carolina (or the Little White in Oregon, for that matter). It is consistent class V, lots of vertical and a good amount of slides. Additionally, there is even a 30 footer to make the run even more rich. A truly classic run.
Snowing and 30 degrees, a great day
After paddling the North Fork of the Blackwater, many were going to do a second lap. I had decided that I was going to check the gauges and see what was running. It was a little late, about 1 pm, but when I saw the dries gauge at 76,000 CFS, the decision was made: go to the dries.
New River Dries @ 75 G's

It took about three and some change hours to get to the dries. I arrived at 5pm, with just enough time to get a few rides in at the big level before it got dark (sorry, only a clip to show for that).
Oh yeaah!

The rest of the weekend we stayed at the Dries. The following day it was below freezing and snowing, so we built a fire that saved ourselves from being cold. All in all, a great couple of days.
Fire gives hope
Adam way out in the green.
On Saturday, Dave Finney brought my Astro 58 with him to the Dries. I have to admit that I dig that boat. Not too different from the 54, just a good bit faster, but it still has the uncanny ability to not only sail down the face of a wave, but also launch upward at the very same time. The above pic was taken with the 58 on a green, flat wave (as you can see). Truly an incredible feeling.
Clean Bluntin'
To check out the New River Dries Video, version 1, CLICK HERE (10.5mb)
Low res Here (2.9mb). Big thanks to all those who videoed and huge thanks to those who put me up over the weekend.

Back to the grind. See you on the water,
-Adam Johnson

ps- Well, I'll be humbled. The Dries came in *again* two weeks after I originally wrote this post. Stay tuned in April for "Dries: Amped Volume II -- Bigger and Better". Peaceout!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

800% Green Photos

Hello ladies and germs...
After a very long, uneventful month of desert style dryness, the skies finally opened up. A couple days went by and Toby Macdermott, Chris Gragtmans, Adam Secrest and I drove to the ravens fork which had unfortunately dropped out really quick. After seeing the low level we decided to go to the horsepasture. After a very fast run on the horsepasture, and a long hike-out I was only half an hour late to work. The next day, Gragglesmoke called me up for some highwater green. We were hoping for maybe 400%-500%. When we got to the take-out we could see pretty quickly that it was way over 500%. We estimated it to be around 800%, and decided to hike in and look at the rapids.
Posing before the steep drop-in. (Photo: Chris Gragtmans)

Groove Tube (Alas, this photo was the last color photo my camera ever took. Time for a new camera).

Deadly pocket in Nutcracker

Gragtmans in awe

Gorilla and the slides.

Scream Machine

Gorilla, aka King Kong.

The Notch. One giant seam

Chief's. No piton hazard at this level.

Two-foot high Zwick's (Photo: Chris Gragtmans)

Go Left and die.

Gotta love those goofy canadians... (Photo: Chris Gragtmans)

And some shots by Ryan Moore a week later...
Round 1

Round 2

Rock-star eddy

Scream Machine

Round 3

Scream Machine

Rapid Transit


Ryan, you da man... thanks for those pics.

Silsbee signing out,
Flow Rider

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Go ahead with the chlorophyll: Riot Karaoke Tour invades NAWF 07

In the early spring, young men and young women often turn their thoughts to life, love, and the Northern Alabama Whitewater Festival.
This year we brought the whole Riot Circus to NAWF, including our newly purchased Karaoke machine, for the first stop on the Riot Karaoke Tour 2007.

I found out on that Thursday that my shoulder is shredded, and I'm having to go to physical therapy for the next 3-6 weeks at least :( So no paddling for me, but I went along anyway to film, and participate in the jackassery. Needless to say it was still a fun weekend.

The competition went well for us, with Riot paddlers putting in a solid showing.
On the first day every team Riot paddler made finals in either the waterfall freestyle, or the race, or both.

In the Men's Expert waterfall freestyle, the "Wonder Twins", Alan Young and Andy Gates, of Columbia SC's Handsome Boy Modeling School, both made finals, and incidentally, it was their first time running a waterfall of that size. Nathan Silsbee also made finals, with some nice moves off Short Creek falls.

Columbia's Handsome Boy Modeling School



Andy Gates

Both Spencer Cooke and Chris Gragtman's made the Men's Pro waterfall freestyle, and Spencer took the crown with his multi-directional spin to freewheel trick, for which he took home 100 dollars.

The head to head races are always fun to watch at this event. The race course is really cool, with the competitors first running the falls, rounding a buoy , and then going behind the veil of the falls and out again on the other side. Spencer and Chris both made it to finals, and battled it out to finish with Spencer in 1st (another 100 dollars) and Chris in 2nd, a repeat of last year's result. Most impressive about the finish was the fact that Spencer was in the Flair 47, a much shorter boat than many of the other boats in the race, this proved to me just how fast the Flairs are.

Spencer, on his way to winning the race

With Chris hot on his heels

How cute.

Day two of competition featured the hole riding comp at the newly built "King's Hole". Water levels were not optimum, and the hole was fairly bony, but splits, phonix monkey's, tricky whu's, loops, and other tricks were still to be had by those patient enough to figure out the feature.

Dave Finney and Andy Gates put in good showings in the prelims of the Men's expert class. Alan Young, in his first hole riding competition, made finals in Juniors and finished 2nd. During one of his runs he attempted his patented "Magic Trick", and nearly pulled it off, only to be foiled by the pesky rock. He was accidentally entered into the Men's Expert class as well, and was encouraged to go out and just have fun. And that he did, linking nice ends and hitting good Space Godzillas to make finals and eventually finishing 1st, not bad for his first event. Nathan Silsbee showed off his skills in the Riot Orbit, and finished a respectable 3rd in Men's Expert. Alan won a free kayak for finishing 1st, and he gave it to his uncle who got him into kayaking, which I think was a really cool thing to do.

Alan Young

Andy Gates

Spencer had good rides in the Men's Pro class, but narrowly missed finals. Chris Gragtman's paddled the Astro 54, linking up smooth right and left cartwheels and cleans, and splits. He made the Men's Pro finals and finished 3rd.

We also racked up in the overall totals, featuring the combined results from all the events. Men's Pro Overall: Spencer Cooke - Turd place (and as a famousIrishman said, you can't polish a turd) Chris Gragt - 5th and Dave Finney - an astounding 18th. Men's Expert Overall: Alan Young - 1st Nathan Silsbee - 3rd Andy gates - 6th

Whew....and that was just the on water competition.

The real event was held at King's Bend Campground as America's top karaoke wannabes vied for domination at the first stop of the Riot Karaoke Tour 2007: Don't Quit Your Day Job.

On friday and saturday night we had a frenzy of activity at the Riot booth, as stunned onlookers were mesmerized by the song stylings of the Riot team, the organizers, and the general paddling public. Men and women of all ages butchered such classics as "Endless Love", "Like a Virgin" "Shot Through the Heart" and "The Humpty Dance". Throughout the night we gave out limited edition Riot t-shirts, and sweet prizes from Mion, Shred Ready, and Immersion Research.

One of the highlights for me was when Dave "The Gentleman" Finney took the stage to sing a sirring rendition of Marvin Gaye's classic "Sexual Healing", making many of the women and most of the men in the crowd weak in the knees. Many people don't know this, but Mr. Finney is a professional karaoke-er in his "other life", and will be traveling the country soon teaching amateur singing clinics.

Other notable performances included Nathan Silsbee's Brittany Spears cover, Wavesport's Brian Jennings singing many popular favorites, the "Smooth Criminals", The Motley Crew Girls, and I was even coerced into singing my infamous rendition of Lionel Ritchie's "Hello".

We held several competitions on saturday night, to award the biggest prizes, and the performances were fierce. Thanks to everyone who participated, and were brave enough to risk utter humiliation in front of the boating masses.

After the karaoke fiasco wrapped up on saturday night we enjoyed the entertaining site of kayakers beating each other senseless with inflatable bo staffs, and then turned our attention to the awards ceremony and raffle. Some jackasses were screaming "Proooceeeeed" and "Go on with the chlorophyll" which was very distracting. The final raffle prize was a Riot Inferno and a hug from all of the team.

Big thanks to Alabama Small Boats and the rest of the NAWF crew for putting on another great event.

Team Riot
Look for the Riot Karaoke Tour 2007, coming to pester more festivals soon!

Go ahead with the chlorophyll


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pimp My Ride: Making a Bulk Head for a Creek Boat

Spring is here in Oregon and the rivers are starting to run. I recently built a new bulkhead for my Magnum and wanted to share my ideas with everyone in cyberspace. There are two main things I look for in a bulk head, shock absorption and a comfortable shape. The style I'm using is placing little columns of foam, which serve as shock absorbers, in the bulk head. This is a variation of the popular waffle cone bulkhead. As a general rule, more mine cell foam is better than less mini cell foam. I use two solid pieces of foam in my bulkhead, like those that come with Riot kayaks. Most kayak companies now days include a piece of foam that is to be used as the bulkhead. In between the two solid pieces of foam I place many little columns of foam that will serve as the shock absorbers.

A comfortable bulkhead is shaped so that the area where one's heels are located is larger than where one's toes will go. This will create more surface area for your feet to rest against. This shape will be more comfortable and also help with performance because the entire foot will be in contact with the bulk head vs. pressing against the bulkhead with only your toes.

How do you build the bulkhead? For starters gather up all extra foam laying around. A bulk head is more about function and less about fashion. You can get away with using scrap pieces or used pieces of foam. Second, find a solid piece of foam or several smaller pieces that you can make a solid piece out of. This will be the piece that is closest to the bow of the boat. Place this piece inside the boat. Next, you will take all your scrap pieces and shape/cut them into columns 1" square shapes. I like to vary the height of the columns so I can achieve the final shape I'm looking for. For example I will cut two pieces that are three inches tall. These two pieces will go directly underneath the arch of my foot. I will cut four one inch tall pieces that will be placed in the area of my toes. Then I will cut lots of two inch pieces to take up the rest of the space. Next, it is time to glue your columns onto the solid piece of foam that is outside your boat. You will be gluing the foam columns on the opposite side of where your feet will go. After the glue has dried you are ready to place the remaining two pieces of foam inside you kayak. I prefer to shape the foam so that it fits inside the boat perfect therefore I can get away without gluing this last piece. This allows me to have access to my bow for overnight storage, or transfer the bulkhead to another boat.

Key Points:

-More foam is better.
-Think shock absorption.
-Shape the bulkhead so that it fits the entire foot not just the toes. (longer at the bottom and shorter at the top. You can sit in the floor and place your feet like you were kayaking. Find a comfortable position and give your bulk head a custom fit.)
-Make sure there is no room in between the top of the bulk head and the top of the boat. The same is true for the bottom of the bulk head and the bottom of the kayak. Making sure the bulkhead is touching the boat at the top and bottom will keep your feet from painfully sliding past the bulk head in case of a piton. This is important!

Pitoning is part of creek boating and having a properly fit and heavy duty bulk head can help prevent the chance of injury. Take the time to outfit a good bulk head and you will love it. It is more comfortable, safer, and helps with boat performance. Hope to see you on the river. If you are in the market for a creek boat you must demo the Magnum. Share your bulkhead ideas in the commments if you have a good design or concept, Thanks!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rocky Mountian Winter Transition

This is Zach Mitchell, 17 years old, from Evergreen Colorado and a new Riot Team member. While I am typing this blog it is about 35 degrees outside and will probably snow tonight and a few more times during the next few months. This is great for snowboarding but will delay paddling. During this winter season in the Rocky Mountains we got slammed with a ridiculous amount of snow. For example, in Boulder during December we got 27.5 inches of total new snow where as last year in December we only got 5.5 inches. This amount of snow will make an epic Colorado spring run off.

In a few weeks, I will take my snowboard out of the back of my Nissan truck and slide in a couple of my Riot boats and drive out to Santa Cruz, California for the U.S. Surf Kayak Team trials. If I make it on to the team then it will qualify me to compete in the World Championships in Spain in the fall. After paddling in Santa Cruz and since it has been a long cold Colorado winter, I plan on paddling some rivers on the way back home. By then the ice on my home town rivers will be melted and I will be able to go boat.