G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Friday, June 10, 2011

Training Paddle #1 & Gear Review

Friday June 10. 2011

Today I did my first longer distance training paddle. I didn't have a specific distance in mind but I wanted it to be longer by a lot than any of my other paddles. (The longest to date was about 3.5 miles.) I solicited advice and mana'o from several paddlers and friends who had passed on info in conversation. Paul, Big Dave, Robert, Sam, Andy and others all added to my neophyte's reservoir of knowledge.

Paul was the first to tell me about the buoys, which I could use as way points for different paddle routes. Big Dave followed up with reinforcing info and some specifics that helped out in today's paddle. He told me about following the edge of the kelp beds and following the fishing boats, then turning seaward and making for the buoy named SC3 when I was abeam of Jack's house. And Robert gave me the hot tip about the Every Trail tracking app.

The Every Trail free app enabled me to track exactly the distance, time and mph of my paddle. At this stage of my development it will enable me to establish different training routes, based upon distance and degree of difficulty. As it turns out, 6.5 miles was a perfect distance for me to not only gauge how I would hold up over the route, but how long it would take me to paddle it given the investment in energy it would take. This is valuable info in preparing a training regimen suited to my age and fitness level. It also let me know that I'm going to easily be able to paddle the July 16th Covewater Classic 7-mile Open race, and that I'm not really ready for the Jay 12-miler on June 25....this year that is.

Training Paddle #1

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

In addition to gauging my physical condition and readiness for ocean paddling, I was able to test some new gear that I bought specifically for safety, and to enhance the distance/fitness SUP paddling experience.

Until today I didn't really think I would need the Nathan HPL #008 Hydration Vest for the majority of my training paddles. But I was wrong. I filled the 1.5 liter water bladder halfway just to add some weight to the garment, primarily so I could test it for fit and comfort. I ended up drinking most of it. This Nathan hydration pack was not specifically designed for SUP paddlers, rather for foot racers but it's Spartan yet utilitarian design as well as the materials used and quality construction drew me to it. It is light, seemingly durable (only time will tell) and extremely comfortable to wear. It comes with enough storage in front and in back to hold everything I will need now and in the foreseeable future. The small, compact and secure pocket on the back easily holds my dry case and phone and while I haven't yet used the music playback feature of my phone while paddling, the waterproof ear buds can be configured to be out of my way should I choose to listen to music. Thanks to Sam for showing me the logic of that configuration on his hydration pack.

I was convinced about the Dry Case waterproof case for my phone after an "out in the ocean" conversation I had with a SUP surfer as I was paddling through a surf spot about a month ago. He was out for a surf and was listening to music (I thought) on his headphones. Since I was doing research on a waterproof case, I paddled up and asked what he had and how he liked it. He asked me to hang on for a second, said a few words into his "headphones," and then turned to me. He'd just gotten off the phone. He was attending a company board meeting. How cool is that! He had a Dry Case, said he loved it, it worked great, had no complaints and had originally purchased it in Hawaii. He'd had it a while and no problems. Done deal.

Using the Dry Case today went as planned. My Android LG Vortex fits in the bag with room to spare. The case comes with a squeeze bulb that pumps the air out of the case when sealed. If you don't do this I found that the touch screen on the phone won't always respond. Creating a vacuum sucks the plastic skin of the face to the phone for a smooth seal and the phone works like it should. The #1 reason for having the phone with me is safety, the mp3 player is secondary, at this point anyway.

The video is about eight minutes. In it I take a look at the Nathan HPL #008 Hydration Vest and the Dry Case waterproof case for my smart phone in addition to my usual comments from the ocean. The Kodak Playsport Zx3 is in Illinois for repair. This vid was shot using the Olympus Stylus Tough 6000.

When I launched, I had a rough idea of my route. I set out from New Brighton and took the low route, next to the cliffs, to what I call the Capitola Gap. From there I looked at the voluminous kelp bed and for the fishing boats Big Dave told me about. Since a straight line is the shortest distance between two points I did my best to keep my course straight (to the fishing boats) but out of the kelp as well. When I arrived at the outermost fishing boat I looked into shore to see where I was in relation to Jack's house. Then I looked out to sea for the buoy. This little teeny dot on the horizon I spied waaaaaay out there. Was that a buoy? Why not? I paddled for it and it became clear after not too long that it was, in fact, a buoy.

Conditions today were probably about perfect. There was a light southwest wind blowing in my face that wasn't troublesome. Seas were light and smooth for the most part, especially near the kelp beds. Once I cleared the fishing boats and turned towards the buoy the deeper water ground swell became more evident but it was rolling and gentle. The Bark 12-6 Competitor had no difficulty handling it. I felt at home.

As I neared the buoy I was getting curious. Which of the buoys Big Dave told me about was this one? It turned out to be SC3. It felt like an adventure to be out there on my board, by myself, surrounded by wilderness. Paddling up to the buoy to ID it was a lot like finding the markers atop the high sierra mountains I'd climbed. As I rounded the buoy and plotted a straight line course back to New Brighton I heard the startling and familiar sounds of an exhaling mammal behind me. I turned back to see what I'd hoped was a whale but no, only two curious sea lions. Always good for an adrenaline jolt when you're not expecting it.

This leg of the paddle was the straightest and most uneventful. I found myself paying more attention to my fatigue and continuously working muscles than I should. This made the paddle seem tedious and strenuous. I found it helpful on the first and shorter legs of the route to set small goals. Get to the gap, paddle for the edge of the kelp just past the pier, make it past the fishing boats, head for the buoy. On a longer stretch, with few markers, setting goals became more difficult. But I forced my mind away from the tedium and concentrated on the graceful forms the water took as it pealed off the bow of my paddle powered vessel, or at the vast expanse of watery real estate all around me and the powerful rolling swells relentlessly enduring my presence, or at the shore which was an arc of cliff, sea and mountains reaching up thousands of feet into the sky from which their Creator's Spirit was no doubt gazing down upon this eternally loved speck of me. Not a bad distraction.

Tomorrow the Boyz and I have planned our second Nat'l Bridge to the Harbor downwinder. I wasn't sure how ready my body would be after today's workout. But as I write this five hours after the paddle, I feel good. Long, evenly paced and moderate distance paddling feels less tiring than a three or four hour surf. The difference is in standing. When surfing you get off your feet all the time. Today I stood for nearly two-hours, taking no rest stops to get off my feet. That may be one of the reasons my glutes were aching near the end of the paddle. I may have to plan some rest stops on the longer paddles.

The take-out was uneventful although it is always a bit tenuous to hit dry land while negotiating the incoming waves, grabbing on to a big board and managing the paddle too. I was tired, happy and my head was buzzing with the addiction of new experience.

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