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

Monday, August 29, 2011

3 Paddles Before The Trip South

Friday August 26, 2011
Today's workout was a short 3-mile sprint from New Brighton to the Cap Pier, out the line of vessels to the end, right turn to Sponge Bob and dig for home. I got a new phone and my tracking app doesn't seem to want to work so nothing was getting timed very accurately. It was a good paddle and I was working hard. I think I clocked around 4.8 mph. All I know for sure is when I landed I felt like puking for about five minutes. Always a good sign.

Saturday August 27, 2011 - West Cliff Challenge Practice Run
The Boyz and I met at Andy's house and launched from Natural Bridges. Dan, a fellow paddler I met at New Brighton joined us. Today's mission was to recreate the September West Cliff Challenge put on by the Ghost Ryder's Watermen Club. I've never paddled this race before, but Andy and Sam have. The tricky parts of this race are: 1) The late start. At 1PM we'll be padding into a brisk headwind for the first mile or so if prevailing conditions exist. 2) The straightest lines to the waypoints are the shortest lines. If there is surf on race day, this puts one almost right in the line-up at the Lane. Not an enviable place to be caught inside on a big set. 3) Picking the best line through the copious kelp beds will be a trick, especially on the leg from the Lane back to Mitchell's Cove. The competitive paddler will have to take the inside line. A dubious track if the swell is up.

It was a fun paddle and the Hawaiians capped it off with a vigorous body surf in the 57 degree water. They are the real men, we haoles are the weenies.

Video: A little over six minutes with a new tune from Blitzer Trapper & Dawes. Kind of alternative country. Worth a listen.

Monday August 29, 2011
I was gonna take it real easy today so as not to hurt myself or do anything to screw up my trip down south Wednesday morning. But that conservative impulse passed as soon as I hit the water. Not that I burned it up, but I kept a strong, steady rhythm up for the entire 6.6 mile paddle. Once again the freakin' app didn't track so my guess is that I did the run in about one hour 27 minutes. That's a pace of about 4.5 mph over the entire distance. I'm happy with that especially since the headwind was in effect for the entire paddle up to the Channel and the water surface was as bumpy and confused as I've ever seen it that close to shore. It presented some challenges that made the paddling just a shade more difficult. Out past the kelp bed the wind died and it was glassy with about 20 feet of water depth visibility. Off the Cap Pier the south wind came up and it was sideshore to Sponge Bob. The only good news is that the wind lightened up for the one mile run into the beach and the usual backwash off the cliffs was minimal.

The Trip South
If you've just emerged from your cave or from under some flat rock, then you probably don't know about the large south swell headed our way, scheduled to make landfall near the end of the week and over Labor Day weekend. Also with the south we'll see a combo northerly ground and wind swell and the surfing should be pretty good around here for a while. The crowd over Labor Day will make it something of an over populated nightmare. So I decided to get out of town.

On the spur of the moment a few days ago, after following the SPAC storm since it's inception and chewing over all the surf and weather forecasting resources I could find, I booked a flight to Puerto Vallarta, leaving Wednesday morning early. I'm taking my SUP surfing performance board, the 8' SimmyD, a couple paddles and my backpack packed with surfing essentials. (Up early: surf, surf surf. To bed early: recover, recover, recover. Etc. etc.) I arrive Wednesday afternoon late, and hopefully can make it to Punta de Mita in time to catch an evening surf in the rising opening salvo of what hopefully will be nine days of non-stop surfing in 4-8 foot waves.

If I can post updates on my blog I'll do it, but I will probably do a big blog post sometime after I get back on September 10. Wish me luck. Your prayers are always appreciated.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday and Wednesday Workouts

I've pretty much settled into a regular paddling/workout schedule. It's four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The plan is to make Monday a minimum 7-mile hard workout where I'm on it the entire distance. Wednesday I pull back the throttle and paddle steady but not for speed, working on technique. (Actually I'm always trying to work on technique.) Friday is a short and hard anaerobic paddle in the 4-5 mile distance category. And Saturday is paddling wit da Boyz. That could end up being almost anything. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are rest days. This isn't iron clad. If I'm tired or my back hurts or whatever I'll switch things around, maybe take a couple days off. It's not a real demanding schedule but it addresses all the elements I think should be included at this stage.

Monday (August 22) Covewater Classic Replication. I want to be able to practice for the Covewater Classic so I laid out a 7-mile course divided into two parts, just like the Covewater. The first part, a 5-miler, starts and ends at New Brighton. I threw a beach run in just for grins. This covers about 25 yards and then I finished the last part, a 2-miler. From NB I sprint out to Sponge Bob, hang a u, and sprint back. It's a good course and if I want to add distance so that the course replicates the Covewater 7.5 mile elite, I can do it. Check it on the EveryTrail app below.

Covewater Classic Replication

Wednesday (August 24) 7-mile moderate but steady workout (except for all the chatting that is). New Brighton is the easiest and most convenient access for me for regular workouts. The surf is usually very small so launching and landing are a breeze. I can also pick a variety of waypoints and lay out a number of different options for courses. Today I knew I wanted to do about six or seven miles so I headed upcoast after chatting with Chris on the beach for a while. Boots and his brother-in-law Mike paddled in and we had a chat too. It was a pretty yakitty today all around. Then I launched and caught up with Suzanne on her traditional prone paddleboard. We hung out for a while off Capitola and chatted up a veritable storm. If chatting was wind we'd a blown up a hurricane. Then I headed upcoast and made a new friend with Casey (another brother firefighter) on his new 12 ft. Angulo off Privates. We paddled up to 1st Peak together and ran into Steve who was surfing some small ones on his Angulo. Chat, chat, chat.

We all parted company and I headed out the Sewers Channel while Casey took the inside route back to Tola. The rest of the paddle was uneventful, calm, light wind and a bit foggy. It was burning off in the surf zone but hanging fairly heavy further out off the kelp beds. About a mile off the Capitola Pier, even though I couldn't see him, I decided to head for Sponge Bob. I figured he'd pop into view. In another half mile, he did. I made a left shoulder turn and headed for the beach. Visibility had dropped to about a quarter mile. I couldn't see land but hey, it's only a mile away. That's when I got lost in the fog.

I swear I was paddling straight to NB, aiming for the familiar looking kelp beds and paddling wide downcoast. As the fog lifted a bit I saw that I was almost halfway back to Capitola! I was about 45 degrees off course. So I made a 90 degree turn and skirted the edge of the kelp beds back to the take out at NB. Interesting experience. I was so sure I was headed in the right direction. Food for thought. Grist for the mill, etc. etc.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back Into The August Gloom

After a brief respite, the upper level low pressure trough has reinstated itself with a vengeance. The marine layer increased from less than 1000 ft. to 1500 ft. to 2000 ft. this morning. All this accompanied by gray and gloomy skies so heavy with moisture that the drizzle drenched streets and cool temperatures give the impression it's January, not August. The effects of climate change and La Nina no doubt.

Wednesday (August 17, 2011)
was the longest paddle I've made without a rest while keeping up a steady pace. It tracked at 8.6 miles and took an hour 56 minutes. Average speed, 4.4 mph. I decided to go the extra distance on the spur of the moment a mile off Capitola. I don't usually carry water with me on the shorter (less than about seven mile) paddles. In retrospect this wasn't the end of the world but it would have been better had I had some hydration with me. The sea surface was perfect for paddling, calm with a light bump and at the end I was happy with my speed. Paddling the longer distance with more time between waypoints gave me the opportunity to really concentrate on paddling technique. This is one of the reasons I don't listen to music while I'm paddling. I want to think about and be aware of what I'm doing and what's going on around me.

NB 8192011

Contrasting the 8-miler with Friday's (August 19, 2011) 6-miler was interesting in that I was able to cover the 5.6 mile round trip from New Brighton to Sewer Peak in an hour 13 minutes at 4.6 miles per hour. This was a surprise to me because I felt more relaxed on the shorter trip, i.e. wasn't trying as hard so I thought I would be slower. It could be that my efficiency has improved, but that doesn't make sense, it had only been two days. Or it could be that I slowed way down at the end of the longer distance paddle due to fatigue, loss of form, stuff like that. That seems more likely. At any rate, it does appear that the paddling practice and time spent on the water coupled with paying attention to good technique as I understand it is improving my speed and efficiency.

8.7Mile NB-Sewers-SB-CemShipNB-RT

Jeff Ching's advice to keep your paddle in the water and your paddle shaft vertical make a lot of sense when you think about them, especially out in the water as you "watch yourself" paddle. Those two statements probably sum up the entirety of good paddling technique. Add in his third statement, "the faster you paddle the faster you'll go," and that's all you really need to be a good and fast paddler.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finally, Some Morning Summer Sun

Monday August 15, 2011
After the fog that is. But at my house it was the first morning of sunshine in almost a month. And it was a welcome sight.

I got started later than I like, and by the time I arrived at New Brighton it was after ten. I was greeted by thick, pea soup fog...visibility about 150 ft. I hesitated for a moment on the beach because of the poor visibility but the water was smooth and glassy, the wind light and swell small. What could happen?

NB Sewers Channel RT August 15, 2011

My route was determined by the poor visibility. I knew at the very least I could hug the coast up to Sewers and back. But even if it never cleared up I could always paddle out the channel and stay close to the kelp bed, following it back to the land. But it did clear up and turned into one of the best paddling days of the Summer so far.

At Sewers, I headed out the channel as the fog was rapidly clearing. Huge irregular patches of clear blue sky were emerging though the tufty billows of fog. About a mile off the Capitola Pier I headed for Sponge Bob, who soon popped into view watching over a crew of fishermen in a red rental boat.

Left turn at Bob and sprint for home. In this flat water there is plenty of time to work on my stroke. I've been watching lots of You Tube video, Danny Ching mostly (there are a few good tips in this one), and reading up on efficiency. I'm trying to get the paddle shaft as vertical as possible as I pull myself forward and making sure that the blade is in the water as I pull through. Seems obvious and the proof is in how fast you're going and how straight. My goal is to track a straight course and take an equal number of strokes on each side of the board while maintaining glide and speed. You can really work on this in flat water, whereas in bumpier seas just the act of balancing can interfere with your technique. But more on all that later.

My overall speed was probably a little faster than 4 mph as I ran into Suzanne just out of NB and we chatted for about five minutes about stuff. I really tried to pour on the coals on the final 1.1 mile leg from Bob to NB. It felt good, I hurt a little and sweated a lot.

The video is about 4:17.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 Paddles; One Surf in Mid-August

I haven't been posting after every session for a couple different reasons so this post includes my last four, three paddles and one surf session.

Wednesday the 10th I did the New Brighton to Sewers Channel round trip at a relaxed but steady pace. I figure it was about 6.5 miles or so but the GPS Essentials program didn't track it so I don't know my time, mph or the actual distance. Kind of a bummer because I find the info helpful for gauging my progress.

Friday the 12th I laid out a five mile course from New Brighton to the Capitola Pier and out to sea following the line of vessels moored there. At the last vessel a left turn to Sponge Bob and on to the Cement Ship, then back to the start at New Brighton. I've got it in my mind to replicate the Covewater Classic course and try to improve my times. I'll need to lay out a 2-mile and a 2.5 mile track cuz the Covewater has a 7-mile course and a 7.5 mile course. I'd like to do the 7.5 mile course next year and hopefully Scott will be able to pull the permits that would allow paddlers to access the creek. When I lay out the 7.5 mile course I'll add a board carrying beach run which will be easy to do (layout that is) on the long sandy stretch at New Brighton. I switched back to Everytrail today and it worked fine, recording a nice 5-miler.

New Brighton 5-Miler

Friday afternoon I realized that I hadn't been SUP surfing in about three weeks. The surf has been small and inconsistent for weeks but it's been rideable so I grabbed the SimmyD for an hour of afternoon surfing at GDubs. As per usual this summer it was packed at the main peak, around thirteen out, the vast majority beginners along with a couple of excellent and skilled surfers on noseriders. And also as usual I staged downcoast of the main peak, taking the wide ones that would be close outs for the main peak surfers. I surfed a lot of waves but only got three what I would call "good" waves, riding high and side slipping through the fast peeling sections into the deep part of the reef where the wave backs off and goes soft for an easy turn out.

Sam surfed early Saturday (13th) morning in the thick dense fog and then I joined him for a paddle after his session. He picked up a 14 ft. Bark Dominator from Joe that he'll use as an everyday board, not wanting to risk his Bark custom carbon race board. We paddled out from "Spot X" as Sam calls it, up to Sewers Channel just chatting and cruising, out the channel and back down to Capitola. The wind was light, sea surface glassy with some light bumps outside the kelp line. Just a relaxing and leisurely paddle, digging the whole Zen meditation of it.

Back at Spot X, Paul was out on his OC1 surfing the teeny little high tide bumps that were rolling over the reef and into the pocket beach. My longtime friend and brother firefighter (now retired) Calvin was out with him. Calvin was recently introduced to the OC1 scene on a trip to Hawaii and was having a ball, even though he is admittedly in the learning stages. From my perspective it's definitely not as easy as Paul makes it look. So I paddled out and had a long chat with Calvin about this and that and mostly answering his questions about the Bark SUP I was on. Calvin is a lifelong surfer, lifeguard, traditional paddler and waterman so SUP would be a natural for him. He's also got the firefighter back injury thing going so SUP would be the perfect exercise to keep his back in shape.

The weather around here has been like the movie "Groundhog Day". A persistent low pressure trough is just embedded off the coast and we awaken to gray and gloomy overcast or fog every day, over and over again. This has been going on for the last three weeks. The good thing about it is that this weather makes for perfect paddling conditions with light winds and smooth seas. But really, I'm ready for some morning color!

The video is a few shots of surfing over the last couple weeks, some clips of Sam on the "new" Bark 14 and a bit of OC1 surfing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2.9 Mile Semi-sprint

August 8, 2011

After a two-day layoff I thought I would take it easy. But after I got out on the water I felt pretty good and decided to do an accelerated paddle workout, not quite a flat out sprint, but not a conversational cruise either.

Boots was in the parking lot getting ready for his SUP workout which I think is really creative. Basically Boots is a lifelong surfer, somewhere in his 50's I would guess and still hard at work as an independent contractor/carpenter. His involvement with SUP is primarily for the cross-training benefits provided, and he has been very creative about making workouts that essentially keep him fit for surfing his longboard. I love this kind of out-of-the-box thinking/training. He mixes stand up paddling with prone paddling during his workouts. He's even added a "kelp crawl" (my words) where he prone paddles through the heavy kelp beds, grabbing thick handfuls of kelp as he propels himself over and through the dense veggies. In this way he is inventing the ways a SUP can be used to enhance and augment one's training regimen. Yeah, he's an "old guy." Yeah, he's the future.

Either I (most likely) or my Everytrail app malfunctioned and didn't optimally record the day's data. It survived on my phone but not on the upload. So here it is: 2.9 miles at 4.2 mph. That's within my target range for this kind of workout. But because of the app error I started looking around for other tracking apps.

I downloaded the free GPS Essentials app and started playing around with it. It's pretty incredible, the amount and kind of data it records. Too bad there's no user manual that goes with it. So as I play around with it, I'll either use it or stay with Everytrail or something else. The recorded tracks convert into files that can be opened, viewed and saved on Google Earth. I've added a screen shot of my first test run.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Brighton-Point-Sewers Channel RT

August 5, 2011

A 6.5 mile conversational cruise up to the point, out the channel and back down to the inside route through Capitola to New Brighton. Persistent marine layer stuck to the bay like glue. Colorless but cool, perfect for paddling.

Stopped at Trees to chat with Greg, he hadn't seen the big Bark. I gave him the full 411, then up to the channel. The raft of otters sleeps in the thick kelp beds at tip of the left turn back to NB. Had a short chat with a traditional paddler on a fully ruddered board, heading toward the channel in the opposite direction. Passed one other paddler on a big SUP surfboard as I pressed into the straightaway for Capitola. Busy today. Caught one little roller on the inside almost to NB. The 12-6 chased it down with ease.

Just another day in paradise.

NB Sewers RT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Brighton-CementShip-SpongeBob Triangle

August 3, 2011
I was thinking that this was going to be more like a 3-miler than the 4-miler it turned out to be. The wind was light but in my face on the first and second leg. Sea surface was glassy at times with a small but consistent wind swell coming in from the WSW. I just didn't have the juice to push hard this morning but it was still a good workout.

NB-Cement Ship-SB Route

New Brighton To Govies (SC3) RT

August 1, 2011

NB To Govies RT