Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coming Home

A long, long time ago a little company called Riot took a chance on sponsoring a no-name kayaker who had no money, no real prospects, and no paddling resume to speak of. Actually, in the beginning I owed Riot a boat because I demolished a demo boat on Eagle Creek.

I realize that no matter what I say, people will write this off as a completely biased review. For those neigh-sayers, skip to the video for proof that the boats actually perform. For everyone else that's curious about how the boats perform, read on.

Astro 54: I'll be honest, at first I looked at the Astro's kick rocker and assumed the boat was going to be a pig on the wave. Usually the more rocker on a boat the slower it's going to be on the big wave. I had seen Fisher paddle the Astro 58, but that man could Air Blunt a dugout canoe.

So to give the boat a real test I shoved it into the back on my trusty Subaru and headed up to Skookumchuck for some big wave testing.

Once I had the Astro out on the wave I absolutely fell in love with it. It's surprisingly fast. I'm not saying it's a rocket ship, but I was really surprised that I could stay on the wave even when it completely greened out. It also holds speed so you have a better chance of doing combo moves - like bread and butters or KY's - without getting dragged off the wave.

The big flat area under the seat also makes for a really large landing pad for big blunts and airscrews. I had a lot of fun doing past verts and landing in a green grind without catching my edge and getting completely destroyed. The biggest down side to the Astro is that with the bow rocker you really have to pump the boat to do Flashbacks.

In all I was really stoked with how the boat handles on a big wave, and I only thing I regret is leaving Skook.

Magnum 72:
The plan was originally go to Skook for a few days and then go creeking in the Squamish area. Unfortunately we were banking on cold weather keeping the snow melt to a minimum. What we got were warm sunny days at Skook, and nothing but ridiculously high water for the rest of the trip.

Shut down on Plan A, we switched to Plan B which involved paddling anything remotely doable so I could finally get some time in my Magnum. I ended up paddling Icicle Creek, and another creek that I can't remember in, Washington with my nomadic friend Morgan Koons.

The Magnum handled everything like Muhamed Ali; "Float like a butterfly, and punch through everything that stands in your way." Even without properly outfitting the boat I was stoked with how nimble it was on the water. It turned easy and still held it's line through a hole. I didn't get a proper chance to run the Magnum through it's paces so I'll just reiterate what Spencer said to me. "This things the sh!t"

I'll post more when I get the chance to take the Magnum back out on the water, but for now it feels good to be home.

Check out the video of Skook at Rapid Transit.


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Backwheel in a Riot Magnum

The Backwheel. The Backwards Freewheel. A Reverse Freewheel. The Switchwheel...No actually the Switchwheel might be a splitwheel freewheeled, now that I think about it. Yes, that's what a Switchwheel would be. This is a Backwheel.

My good buddy BK, as in Bryan Kirk, not Booger King, took these outrageous shots of me last summer (N. Hemisphere summer that is.) The stage is set at Pummel Falls on the Potomac River at last year's Po-toe-Mac-n-Cheese Fest. (No baked potatoes smothered and covered with Mac-n-Cheese were actually served at the Fest, although it was quite a good time!) I received them recently, and thought some of you cowboys and cowgirls out there might be keen on viewing them. So before we begin I'll say THANKS to Bryan for being hot on the trigger, as well as shooting them down under to me! Chur bro!

It is a common misconception about the Backwheel that it is what you do when you are scared and don't want to look as you go off a waterfall. That is what freewheeling is for. If you think about it, when you freewheel, you look down at the lip as you go off, and then look never have to look down! Backwheeling is quite different.

This Backwheel was done out of anger, spontinuity, and curiosity. When I got back up to the top after hucking, Bryan was like..."Bro I got a picture of you doing that where you can see the whites of your eyes!" If people on the bank can't see the whites of your eyes while you are backwheeling drops, you probably aren't going to land them. Spot yer landing ya'll!!!

Patience is an invaluable tool while kayaking. The Backwheel requires much patience. At this point though, fluidity kicks in, your body un-winds and you raise the roof because just for a split second all is good and well in life.

Take that, rewind it back, the Magnum got the beat to make yo booty go CLAP!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mc Coy Creek Wa.

Its true, the best creeking in Oregon is in Washington!

McCoy Creeks is a bitty trib of the Cispus near Randle Washing. Bennet calls for 150-600 cfs at 5-15% of the Cispus at Randle. We had about 3K there giving us a calculated 150-450cfs but I swear it was more than that. Its been a banner snow pack year in the Northwest so getting with almost all the water coming from up top our own visual estimates were more along the 600cfs range. You can look at the photos and make up your own mind though.

McCoy is a fairly rarely run and often over looked high quality creek that is probably over shadowed by close by runs, the Upper Upper Cispus , the Ohanepecosh and the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz. While it may not have the draw of the other better known runs, its packed with fun ledges and some big slides and combo drops. There’s even a good sized waterfall just to round out the experience.

Casey, Rick, Jame, Richard and I met the bridge over the Cispus on FR 23 at 9:45AM. Rick and I met up in the morning, the other three had camped up there the night before for a shake down cruise in his new EuroVan.

Put on grins

Rick and I had done this one once, about a year before the other three were new to the run. McCoy Cr on Oregon Kayaking.
It looked a bit higher than last time and there were few eddies in sight. There was a nervous pause at the put in and a brief hesitant conversation then ended with us putting on happily but nervously but that could have had something to do with the miners with guns and a stuck pickup truck down the put in path.

As it turned out Rick and I had forgotten most of the run which is a real shame considering the number of quality drops that are in there. I was constantly anticipating the pothole drop around every bend fearing wood in the narrow channel allowing you to skirt the pothole.

Richard finishing up the drop with the pothole. We all ran left.

Rain forced me to put the camera away after a few misty photos of the first big slide. We all ran down the right skirting the pocket hole on the left. The next major drop is a tight double drop with a log filled bouldery s-turn lead in. The line is clear but the potential for carnage is obvious.

Richard below the tight double drop.

The next big drop is Chinook Falls, or as the Bennet Guide calls it. BUD (Backwards and Upside Down). The lead in to Chinook lurks around a tight right hand turn that currently has wood most of the way across guarding the normal scout eddy. It’s a little bit of a scramble to make it, but there are other eddies available before being committed to this 50ft + three tiered slide.

Chinook starts with a twisty, boily lead in to a 6-8 ledge that you want to boof with left angle. The right side is ugly and will probably result in a quick and unexpected trip down the center of the last slide, into a nasty hole.. that is, if you make it through the crack there. Out of the 5 of us, we had on walker. The 4 that ran it, nobody had exactly a clean line of this ledge. The eddy between the last two drops is swift.

Me on the entrance to Chinook from an earlier trip. Photo by Rick Cooley

James halfway through Chinook Falls workin to stay in the eddy

The last part of the drop is a wide slide, clean down the right and nasty down the middle to left. There’s some video floating around of a Portland boater getting sucked back into that hole. It seemed to flush more at our flows though, and a good thing too as James, who didn’t quite make the line, gutted the bottom hole but came out upright and just fine.

Richard finishing up the bottom slide of Chinook Falls

After bombing down through some fun and clean ledges you eventually make it to the big runnable falls. The book calls it 20ft. They also suggest a portage.
Silly books. The falls is super fun and we had runs down the right for a plug and doen the middle for a boof. I recommend strong left to center momentum as the left wall hooks in and the current will push you into it. I ended up again the wall rolling and getting pulled back in. Not fun when a 40' un-runnable drop is just downstream.

The right line at the 20ft falls. Photo by Rick Cooley.

Richard really hit the boof on the '20ft' falls.

The big portage was next up and though I've heard of a better way, we instead went up and around and roped the boats down a couple hundred feet before 'schwacking down to river level. Once down there and after a short breather, Rick paddled across and looked upstream at the clear path down to the river.

Shortly after that, the confluence of Yellowjacket and a mile or so of read and run class IV followed by a couple more miles of annoying class II.

Unfortunately, my shoulder was too sore in the morning to paddle on Sunday but we spent the better part of it driving around anyway. We found out that the road to the Super Slides run on the Cispus still has plenty of snow miles from the take out and that the put in for Smith Creek is REALLY steep.

Check out more photos here.

Till next time!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Magnum 80 video

For those who were interested, here is a video of Riot's new, big creeker, the Magnum 80. Perhaps this will give you an idea of how the boat performs. All the footage is of Daniel Windham on the Green.

View and/or Download video in much higher quality HERE.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New Videos on Rapid Transit Video!

Hey this is Andy Gates from Rapid Transit Video, I have posted two new videos under my library. Here is a link to my library on Rapid Transit Video.
The first video is a kayaking instructional video, showing how to loop, called Bag-0-Tricks.  This is the first of many instructional videos.  If you have any suggestions on new tricks for me to instruct just leave a comment and I will try to get to it as soon as possible.
The second video I have posted is of Spencer Cooke, Alan Young, Jason Aytes, and myself, paddling Eternity hole on the Tuck., 1/4 mile hole on the Noli., Green river play, and Wilson's creek.  

Heres a link to my library at Rapid Transit Video.
Remember to check out all the libraries while your there.

Until next time,

Andy Gates

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Raven's Update

Yes, it's time for another Raven's fork update. A few weeks back we got enough rain for the ultra-classic Raven's to run at a good level. The team: Will Lyons, the sickest creekboating c1-er I've met... Clayton Gaar, an up and coming young jedi who attends UNCA with me. I'm sure you'll see some cool footage from him this fall, as he's out in california right now. Lastly, the infamous Saunders Southecorvo. Saunders and I started kayaking together 5 years ago. It's been cool progressing together from the flatwater of the french broad to the raven's fork 5 years later. Saunders paddles the Riot Magnum as well and loves it almost as much as he loves fried chicken. Anyways, here are some pics of the Magnum in action:

Yours truly at Mike Tyson's (photo Will Lyons)

Getting cuddly with the cave at Headless (photo Clayton Gaar)

Wet Willlllyyy (photo Clayton Gaar)

Saunders keeping it steady on Mike T. (photo Will Lyons)

Saunders: BIG BOOF at Cave. (photo Clayton Gaar)

Thanks to Will and Clayton for shooting pics. Hope to get out there again soon.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

South Silver Goodness

After a heat wave and some high levels, flows have dropped off a bit here the the northern Sierra.  No worries though, because when most runs are too low South Silver is perfect! My old paddling parter Tim Robinson recently returned from a two year hiatus in Australia, and was all too happy to brush the black widows out of his familiar Magnum and join me for a run down a 700' per mile whitewater theme park.

Tim Robinson and Ben Zuppo demonstrate their blue angel style of paddling

What happens when you run Boof, Boof, Slide without a Magnum

And Boof, Boof, Slide with a Magnum

Tim Robinson running Skyscraper

Yours truly running Skyscraper.  Photos courtesy of Ben Zuppo.

After Skyscraper and Off Ramp we were all happy and relieved.  Most everyone's lines were really good, and while the rapid isn't really that difficult, being a little off line can turn bad here rather quickly.  

But even with that notable challenge behind us, several impressive rapids like Ankle Breaker and Plastic Surgery were still waiting for us downstream.

Tim Robinson on one of the drops above Ankle Breaker

Tim fires up Plastic Surgery

Yours truly on Plastic Surgery for the crowd.  Photos courtesy of Ben Zuppo.

Fun times for all!  It sure is nice to have a gem like this in my back yard.  

Thanks to Joe Bosquin for the good beta, Ben Zuppo for helping out with pics, and the Sacramento paddling community for setting lots of safety.

How Tim likes to unwinds after a good day of paddling:

Yours truly (junior) testing out some new outfitting

Thanks for stopping in, see you on the water!

Dan Glauser