Following the water
After such an amazing summer of hopping all over the US, I have come full circle to my winter home of Chattanooga TN. The spring started off with competitions on the east in Connecticut and North Carolina, then rallying the RV all the way to Reno and back to Colorado for the summer Circuit. After Teva Mountain Games I traveled to Germany to compete in Worlds which was a huge highlight of the year. After jumping off the plane and going to the OBX for a quick surf vacation, I traveled to Iowa to sell smoothies for a road biking tour and then headed out to the OR show in Utah to check out the new products for 2012. As soon as the show ended, it was back to Salida, CO to finish up season on the Arkansas river. When the water started to run out in Colorado the Gauley was calling with warm weather and good friends. The Gauley is an awesome place for relaxing and getting to paddle world class whitewater.

To kick off our time at the Gauley, we hit the New River Gorge at 6 ft and 9ft. At 6ft, upper and Lower Railroad had great potential to throw wave moves and it was a great level to run the whole river and catch a ton of waves on the fly. Although 6ft was a great level, 9ft was better. Listening to local beta, we heard that the play was not the best, but we hit the jackpot when we arrived at Greyhound bus wave. The wave was big, glassy, and surgy and allowed for any big wave tricks. The river left side of the wave formed a monster hole, but the shape of the wave kept paddlers from getting kicked into the meat. Getting the opportunity to paddle the New was a great way to warm up for our month in West Virginia.

The Thursday before Gauley fest, we got the chance to compete in the first ever SUP event on the New River Gorge. It consisted of an attainment race up river about a mile above Fayette station and back to the beach, as well as a 3 mile downriver race to Teays landing. Paddling down Fayette station was defiantly the most exciting part of the race because I got to work on my whitewater swimming with about 20 other people swimming at the same time. It was awesome to paddle with so many people that are excited about SUP on the river. Look for a bigger and better event there next year. Check out the video of the race SUP WAZOO

The Gauley River is a magnet for all of our friends from around the US and is a great time for us to paddle big water with good friends. With extra water releases this year, I was able to get in a bit more training than I have in previous years. I playboated for 6 about hours each day working every playspot until I was exhausted. One highlight of Gauley Fest weekend is the Upper Gauley Animal River Race. This year I had the opportunity to paddle my “new” dancer and had the chance to get in multiple practice runs in the week before. The race starts at the put-in and continues about 9 miles down to sweets fall, where racers looked both exhausted and happy to finish the grueling race. My dancer treated me well through both the big rapids and the long flat water stretches. This was another great way for me to broaden my paddling skills and I look forward to being even fasted next year. Heres a quick video of the awesome play on the Gauley.

2011 has been a great year in kayaking and I am excited to see what 2012 holds. I have been able to push my boundaries as a kayaker and broaden my horizons in the outdoor industry. Now that I am in Chattanooga, Tn, there will be plenty of paddling left in 2011, but I have my sights set high for 2012.

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