Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Mini Epic on the Snow Covered Green River

Adriene and I joined a good crew from Charlotte for an awesome mini epic on the Green during the snow storm that hit Western North Carolina last weekend. We had as much as 24" of snow in the mountains and down on the Green River we had about 10 and in all my time living in the area I had never been on the river when there was lots of snow. So even though the small roads were impassable we were determined to get out on the river. I was able to get out of my neighborhood and Adriene and I were able to meet the other folks at the exit for the takeout of the Green and run shuttle to that point. We drove back to my house and walked a couple miles down into the river and paddled out to the take out of the Narrows. The walk out was the tough part but after 1 1/2 hours we were at the top thanks to Holly delivering tasty beverages.

All totaled:
2 1/2 mile walk in.
7 miles of river
2 miles walking out straight up the mountain.

Heres the Video.

Snowy Day on the Green from Shaneslogic on Vimeo.

Have a great holidays everyone and I hope you are getting out there.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Speedloader Challenge

Woody and I put the Speedloader to the test with a challenge load against a comparable small 50' bag with the same 1/4" rope in it. Here is the video for you.

The Speedloader has had a bunch of feedback and opinions stated about it lately. Here are some of the questions that folks had about the bag along with some answers, solutions, and facts about the bag.

1. Will the rope come out of the bag after loading it into such a big opening?
Yes, I have thrown this bag hundreds of time. I have thrown on land, at the river, in the lake, underhand, overhand, sidearm. The rope has fed out fine every time. Sure you need to load it consciously just like you would any bag. I would'nt suggest grabbing a pile of rope and just stuffing it in there. I use the standard hand over hand loading technique.

2. Will a big opening bag like that with the strap and all will catch up on things?
The thing people don't understand is that you don't throw it completely open. You just open the top a little. You can leave the buckly snapped while throwing and the bag still deploys. So you have a tight little package flying through the air and pulling through the water.

3. Is it durable?
Yep and the mesh which might be the most vulnerable part is covered while stored and covered when thrown and drug through the river so its protected.

The Facts

The bag is made of a bright green polyurethane coated nylon pack cloth for durability and visibility. The mesh side vents allow water to slip thru and speed up drying. The 3/4" webbing strap with a quick release buckle is for tightening the bag to a smaller size. You don't have to undo it to throw the bag. Just when you open it up for loading. The Rope itself is pretty cool its a polypropylene sheathed high strength core rope. The Break Strength is higher than other 1/4" bags and still being analyzed at a testing facility.

The rope is bright yellow with red and reflective stripes down the length for high visibility.
The core of the bag is foam so it is very buoyant.
And its cool, and patent pending.
We had a great suggestion that it could also work very well as a beer bag at the river camp, or a great party hat when you take the rope out of the bag.

Available: January 15th
Priced $59.95

There you go.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Liquidlogic Speedloader Throwbag

So here it is... The Liquidlogic Speedloader throw bag. This has been a fun project that we have spent a fair bit of time on over the last several months. What you see here is the final prototype. It needs a little refining on the sewing aesthetics in this photo, which we have polished off now. The function is 100% there.

Woody and I were thinking about throw bags and ways that we could improve them and we came up with the idea of making it really easy to load. We both thought right away of times that we didn't want to get out bags out on the river because we didn't want to have to reload them. Even simple things like lowering your boat becomes that much more a hassle if you have to spend several minutes loading your throw rope back in its bag.

The original concept was a clam shell design that was two sided. It made for a good bag but we had some problems with excess fabric. It also didn't stand up well which is the other great benefit of this bag. When you are loading it you can put it on the ground and the bag stands up, opens up and makes it super easy to load. We tried many different protos of the clam shell design but couldn't get it to a refined refined. So just recently we went to the three sided design that opened well, closed well, and stood up like it had a tripod which it turns out it did have. The three sew sides give it much more stability while sitting on the ground, rock, boat, whatever.

The Speedloader will be shipping the beginning of the year. Right now we are doing it as a basic tag type bag. Its a 50 footer. Its smaller diameter rope like all the other bags, except they don't stand up, and load like this one. We haven't solidified the exact rope at this moment but it will be at least industry standard for this type of bag. We also hope in the future to have a full rescue version as well.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Drought Is Over... 19" on the Green


It is good to be in the "South" again. After a few years of drought the South is on the rise again. Before the Green Race Duke Power had started trying to draw down the lake so our flat water bretheren could work on their docks, and clean the algae from their foundations but we started getting rain, wetness, and we have really been enjoying a great fall and winter. As soon as they announced the draw down Duke has been behind the 8 ball. The lake has been nearly full to spilling ever since the race. Today the river was flowing over the dam at 100.5, which means there is 6" of water flowing over the damn and with the 1" plus of rain we had last night the river is cranking. When we got to the gauge it was reading a solid 19". Which is an awesome level because there are some really fun lines that open up with the higher level. There are also some holes and pushy current that come into play as well.

We had a great crew. Toby "budget" McD, Riley Cathcart, Adriene Loveconnect, Mr. Brookes, and myself. It was one of those days that if you woke up early and slightly wimpy feeling you wouldn't go kayaking. Luckily we all saw the rain and slept in to find clearing skies and high waters in the afternoon."Budget" fired up the Monkey and we all conveniently found our way down the left side of the river to "set rope" and "document" Toby firing it up.

This is what is looks like at 19"

This is what it looks like normally. Thanks original photo person.
This is Rob Rostermundt dropping in at a normal flow.

Good indicators are the rock above this guy on the left that backs up the notch eddie. Notice in Tobys shot how there is no rock. Its a little tough to tell but there is sooooo much more power in this spot when the water is high. Gorilla beomes so much more when the water is high. Not only is the Notch sort of a nightmare spot in the world but the slides below start to form large... no wait giant holes and Toby found his way into on of them. Luckily he worked his way out.

This hole not only stopped Toby it pulled him back from a good 15 feet downstream. He kept his head together and worked his way out of the hole and cleaned the second slide so that he could make his way into "the happy place".

Another fun line at high water out on the Green is the direct Sunshine line. When the water is high you don't have to worry about the rock that makes Sunshine the nighmare rapid that it can be a normal flows. Normally if you mess up the boof you could be paying with your ankles or more. But nicely at high water you can just air it out right down the middle.

After a nice day like that what more do you want than a nice dinner. So in a fine southern tradition I decided to fry me some catfish.



Monday, November 09, 2009

The Green Race Part 2: Race Day Saturday!

From Green Race Saturday

Once again the Green Race comes and once again I am blown away by how cool it is. Just think, a thousand people walked in more than an hour to watch a 130 or so paddlers giver a go for almost no prizes, no money, no chics, and very very little fame. Its all about a perfect weekend giving it everything you got, hanging with friends, and enjoying the whole thing. The weekend began with folks rolling in for the race. My house was full. Old friends, new friends, some spoke english some didn't, but everyone enjoyed a perfect November weekend in the mountains of North Carolina.

From Green Race Saturday

This event is actually becoming a full on real life tradition. Someday soon there is going to be someone that races on the Green that is younger than the race itself and in extreme racing thats a very big statement. In the photo above you see Polk Dieters (Green Race Vet) with his son Scout checking out his lines for the future.

This year we had all the action and still hardly any injuries (knock on wood). We had the classic nightmares of paddlers of the Green... Numero uno, Swimming over the drop. We also had nightmare numero dos going over upside down. Throw in a couple backwards runs and a few swims, and pitons and you have an action packed day of whitewater racing. The most severe injuries were imparted by the rocks on shore to the asses of folks trying to navigate the throngs watching the festivities, and the punishing blows to the egos of a few of us racers. Nothing a little ice, ibu, and alcohol won't take care of, as far as I know.

From Green Race Saturday

From Green Race Saturday

From Green Race Saturday

For me race day is a blurr of organizing friends and racers, making sure my spray skirt is in the van and remembering that I am actually racing. We all line up for the photo and then all of the sudden its all about you and the river. Everybody else is focused on their runs and you are left with your thoughts while you gear up and walk down to the river. The thoughts for each of us range from hopes to realities and hopes to fears. The walk to the river is quiet and a little lonely. The paddle down to the start line is focused. We are all feeling ourselves out, warming up, and trying to quiet the nerves. The funny thing is that once I got near the start line my butterflies started to go away. There were 50 paddlers fluttering around the starting rocks so the banter was quick and excited. Its a good feeling. We are all ready to go.

From Green Race Saturday

Little did we know that it would be the "Speed Trap" that would be dishing out the punishment.
It may not have been as scary or dreaded but spinning around caught in the corner of the Trap was a nightmare for all of us racers and this year it was in high form. It created a couple swims, crushed a few race dreams, and sapped the will out of a few that had to deal with its grip I know I watched several paddlers go from slight disappointment, to focus, to desperation as their attempts to exit the "trap" failed. Ross Herr even celebrated after getting past this obstacle.

From Green Race Saturday

Once you have finished your race run there is an amazing rush that goes through you. It takes a minute or two to get past the exhaustion of the race but soon the adrenaline pushes past and everyone is smiling and patting you on the back as you walk up through the crowd to Gorilla. Folks are offering you beers and all your buds are just as jacked as you are. Its a awesome feeling.

The paddle out from the race is something that is hard to explain. If you are doing the hike its like that except we are all pretty psyched to be paddling together. The loneness of paddling the race on your own is gone and everyone is just having a good time. A new tradition has been born in the last few years and thats the Southern Cross at Sunshine rapid. Pick a buddy and cross paths. One goes left and one goes right.

From there on out its all smiles, jokes, and happiness. And then theres a party.
The photos may just speak for themselves.

From Green Race Saturday

From Green Race Saturday

From Green Race Saturday

From Green Race Saturday

Congrats to all the racers. What a showing. No we have to say that on Green Race day there was somebody spanking the monkey every minute for nearly 3 hours. Wow you all rock! Andrew you are an animal. Adriene you have set a new standard for women paddlers on this river. Same goes for you Sprinkle and thanks to all the folks that paddle the LL boats. I think we are on to something. 3 out of the top 4 is damn good. Next time maybe we get that top spot in men's as well.

Thanks to Johnny Floor and the Wrong Crowd and DJ Clay? for the awesome music.

Huge huge huge thanks to Woody, Sarah, Tim, John, Jason, Chelsea, Cribbs, Perry, and many many others for making this event happen.
And thanks Boyce the Stinger is fast.

From Green Race Saturday

Here is the whole slide show of my favorite shots.

Green Race Week: Part 1: Practice and folks at the House

Wow wow wow! Once again what an event. Each year I come into the week thinking its not really gonna change every year but this year was even more incredible than I imagined. I had a full house of friends coming in for the race including a friend I haven't seen for over 20 years that I used to paddle with in a Dancer, Mirage, and Quest. I also had Team France, Team Jackson, and Team Michigan in the house. It was a great weekend. Here are a handful of shots I hope to get more up this evening.

Here is a link if you don't see a slideshow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Green Race is coming...so lets make a new Liquidlogic race boat!

With just a couple weeks before the Green Race Woody and I decided to make another version of the Remix 100.  We are calling it the Remix Stinger.  A boat designed to go as fast as possible down the Green.  I met up with a group of our fastest racers and talked about what sort of changes we would like to make.  We paddled the 100 and a few other raceboats to compare styles and performance and we came up with a plan.  The Remix 100 was arguably the fastest of the race boats in a straight line but it is a little more challenging to maintain your line.  So we decided to attack two areas of the boat.  One I wanted to make it significantly faster and see if we could handle it, and two I wanted it to track better but not limit the ability to turn as needed.

Here are the finished boats after two 14 hour days for Woody and I of molding and outfitting with the help of John Grace, and Eric "Butter Grab Handle" Hurd.  Notice 6'4" Woody Callaway standing next to the 12'5" Remix Stinger.  The stats are 12'5" long, and 23.5" wide, and somewhere around 100 gallons would be my guess.  As far as design changes go.   I added 9" inches of length in just the stern end of the boat so in reality you could say that its like adding 18" of length to the boat because usually you would add length both bow and stern for balance but what we wanted for this boat was the speed of a long stern but the maneuverability of the shorter bow moving through the drops.    I also worked on the entry of the bow through the water by tucking the chines under the bow a little more on this version of the boat.  The idea behind the pintail and tucked bow chines was to make this version track harder while moving through the cross currents and hammering across the short flat sections of the race section on the Green.  Basically we wanted to make a boat that had the potential to go faster than anything has gone before on the Green.  After some serious calculations I think this boat is 9.654% faster than anything else on the river.  :)

I really like the fact that this boat was made for one single purpose to go fast on the Green and after doing the work to make it happen the first water that all of these boats will touch is the Green. I have to tell you I was a little nervous when we first slid into the water.  I knew the boat would be fast but you never know for certain how it will perform in in the rapids.  So there were lots of questions going through my head as I slid into the water.   The questions of speed was answered immediately by how far the boat glided out away from shore.  As we moved downstream John and I smiled about the speed and got more and more confident with each rapid about how the boat handled.  By the end we all bombed off Sunshine and raced all the way out to the takeout.

Here are all the photos.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Green Race: A Micro Epic with Will Lyons

It seems like every year the extravaganza gets bigger, crazier, and just plain more, but probably its just more hype...right? I have to tell you I have been involved with several interludes that tell me that this year is bound for glory. Starting with last weekend when injuries, swims, and broken gear was a norm and continued this evening with two swims, and a catastrophic boat failure.

As usual any micro epic, or massive epic is preluded by absurd decisions. This decision was assisted by Dukes release schedule which has loosed the hounds. What you say? The river is running when I get off work? I got the call late in the afternoon. "Hey do you want to meet us at the take out at 6?" I am thinking to myself...wait I am pretty sure its getting dark at 7 now. Lets see 30 minutes to the put in, 15 minute walk in, put on gear 5-10 minutes,.....hmmmm "sounds good I'm in".

One person hadn't been in their long boat this year....One person hadn't been in their boat ever (Will), Seems like a perfect combo for a Micro Epic. We hussled down to the put in paddled and quickly down to the meat of the river, and it all started...

Here is the interview with our intrepid C-1er. Will Lyons everyone!

The Micro Epic in Preperation for the Green Race from Shaneslogic on Vimeo.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Remix XP 10 on the Gauley

 Pillow Rock

Hey I just dropped into the Gauley River with the Remix XP 10 and thought I would take a few shots and put together a little video of how well it really does handle whitewater. Much of the time when we are taking bigger boats down rivers its a bit of a challenge to deal with the larger volume, length, and width but this boat, though it is bigger, was really designed to handle rapids as well as it handles the tracking, storage, and stability needs for flatwater.

Tumbling Home Pirouettte

Cheesy Grab Boof (as opposed to Cheetos Cheezy Poof)

Check out the Video.

Liquidlogic Remix XP 10 on the Gauley River from Shaneslogic on Vimeo.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big East Fork of the West Fork of the Big Pigeon...No its not a joke.

Big East Fork!

This trip started on Monday with a classic Asheville drive session looking for something low enough to run. The funny thing is that when we left the house we knew it was going to be like that. It felt like it rained 97 inches over the weekend and it almost did in some parts of the south. Sometimes this can turn into a frustrating proposition but we had an awesome crew that was just interested in getting on the water and not worried about finding the absolute perfect thing. We focused on one watershed for the most part, the Big Pigeon area near Canton, North Carolina. We started with a quick run down the Little East Fork of the Big West Fork of the Big Pigeon. I know, I know, sounds like a joke, but its real. It's a hike up section that starts with a bang and ends with a fast paced continuous class 3-4 race back to the cars. With a closer inspection during the hike we saw lots of wood and very very high water for the top part. That's where the humility kicked in. "Wow that looks high!", we thought amongst ourselves. The word comes down from the upper reaches..."its really high!" "Hey do you guys want to put in here below the big stuff?" "Sounds good to me".


and Driving

We went on to do a short stretch of the Middle Prong of the Big West Fork of the Big Pigeon and paddled on into the Big West Fork that same day. More of the same put on below the big rapids and bounce and smile down fluffy class 3 and 4...without any eddies.

You don't necessarily ever come away from a day like that feeling like a hero but a little wood removal and some hiking with boats makes you feel like you have done something.

Put In at Skinny Dip Falls

Tuesday on the other hand was set up ideally. We knew that rivers would be dropping into perfect levels all over western North Carolina so we drove up higher into the Big Pigeon watershed to look at the Big East Fork. After a short conference with some other paddlers we decided it was a great level and off we went. I love the fact that we start this paddle off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and probably start actually paddling above 4,000 feet which in the southeast is pretty high altitude. The put in parking lot has great views of the Blue Ridge and a nice granite dome called Looking Glass. From there we hike in along a lush trail crossing a small stream and the fork at the put in Skinny Dip Falls.

The first part of the run is small and a little manky. There is a trail down to the first confluence which cuts out the shallow stuff makes the river much kinder but walking into the falls the put in are nice enough to endure the 1/4 mile of mankdom. On my first time down this part of the run was high enough that this section was moving right along. It made for an exciting but manageable day on the high side of good.

Once we gained the water of a couple side creeks the volume was enough to float most of the time and at the first significant rapids we were psyched with the water levels.

This run is a lot like other stuff in the Smokies, its very continuous, with small eddies, and fun technical rapids thrown in all the time. Throughout the run we probably scouted 5 times with lots of buddy beta scouting to keep the group moving along. The complete run from car to car was 4 1/2 - 5 hours.

Lil A Hole

Adriene had a fun little surf in this hole. I think I will call this the Lil A hole. It was a sweet little rapid. You come down from an eddie above the first drop in the background of this photo which is a little boofy boogie water then get river right for this sweet slide drop into a fairly stout hole that is pocketed out. Lil A came in angled and the drop stopped her quickly. I took time to get a couple shots at the beginning of the surf but it was looking a little rough so I reached down and pulled her out. That was fun.

Real Purty and Continuous

This place is beautiful

This is one of the cooler drops on the run. At the top of this rapid you came around a couple big rocks, big enough that you couldn't see anything and then dropped through a series of small drops and then down this technical section. Adriene had jumped out to scout and we ran on her beta so it was a fun way to roll into this rapid.

First Drop of Triple Drop

Gabriel is entering the biggest drop on the run in this shot. The rapid is called Triple Drop and comes in just after Greasy Cove Prong comes in on river left. This rapid is really sweet because of the different moves that are entailed. The first drop above is a tight bouncing drop. With a decision to follow immediately afterwards. Go left and deal with some power or nice boof on the right that is a little touchy to get to.

Second Drop of Triple Drop

This is the right side of the second drop. You can see the left side opposite of Gabe. You land in a moving pool just above the final drop which is about an 8 foot drop with major consequences over on river right which is very much in play because a good portion of the river is pushing right.

After Triple drops the run continues steeply for the next mile plus with very continuous boulder garden drops that for the most part could be run by eddie scouting and read and run but with the thoughts of all the wood we found the other day we scouted pretty much anything we couldn't clearly see completely. This section was probably my favorite of the day because the one right after the other the drops were coming at us constantly and we would take turns jumping out and giving beta, and that gave me the chance to take a bunch of photos.

Rapid Transitish Rapid

Nice entrance to Fan Rock Rapid

I call this one "In Over Your Head"

Lil' Gorilla

The Tunnel at the Take Out

I can't imagine a better day to be on this river. It takes so much water to get this thing running you pretty much have to be there when its raining but this day we had blue skies and crystal clear water because it had been running for several days.

Here is the slide show of all the shots I took that day. Later Shane

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