Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Ride, A Fall, and a Paddle

The weather has been great in Iowa and Minnesota! I got home on Thursday afternoon and Kathy and I took the tandem out for a spin with the Owatonna "B" group riders. The "A's" joined up with us about five miles into the ride so I guess we were the AB group. It was a great night for a ride, we did 30 miles and got back into town just before dark.

Thursday's route and data.

On Friday I worked on my Stand Up Board a bit, did some yard work, and then had a nice fall while coming down the attic stairs in the garage. I was one of those slow motion---THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HURT kind of falls, about 4 steps up right on my back on top of the CV joint and drive shaft I had taken off of the Camry a couple of weeks ago. It could have been a lot worse! but it was bad enough that Kathy and I decided it might be best if I were not steering the tandem on Saturday morning (I also hurt my thumb and my wrist). I must not have did too much damage though, because I was able to work in the yard on Saturday, and I felt good enough to plan a paddle for Sunday.

I got back down to Iowa on Saturday night. I met up with Reece and Steve on Sunday afternoon for a paddle from the downtown bridge in Cedar Falls, to the rowing club in Waterloo. If we were not the first SUP's on this river I would be surprised! We know for certain that this is the first time Steve has been on his board apart for a little time in the pool. Steve's Board is an inflatable, and I think it is harder to stand on than mine. It flexes front to back in addition to the obvious side-to-side rocking that standing up on a fairly narrow board would create. Stand Up Paddleboarding is really a balance sport!

I was able to stand up through the rapids in the play hole and through the rapids at the cutoff leading the the west channel near Waterloo. I am working on a two handled paddle that will hopefully make it easier to paddle while kneeling-- that seems to be something that will be need around here-- SUP's are really bad in a head wind. The second is a self folding fin the will fold up when it hit something in the water (like a rock or a log). I am enjoying this figuring SUP for Midwest rivers thing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Great Day For a Ride!

Today was a great day (at least this morning was-- it looks like rain at the moment). I rode with John, Kat, and Keith today. The plan was to do a 2 hour+ ride in zone 2. What that means is that John tried to stay in zone 2 and the I tried to draft enough to remain in zone 2. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't It felt like I was drifting high whenever we went up high or when I had to sprint to get back on the draft. When I checked the data, I spent most of the time at the top of zone 1 and about 55 minutes actually in zone 2., and maybe 15 minutes or so above zone 2. I thought I was riding a little too hard, but as it turned out I was not riding hard enough :-)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Mighty Wind and a Not So Windy Saturday

Mike Johnson was planning a 5 hour 15-20 mph non-stop gravel right for Good Friday morning. I was pretty sure I would not be able to hang with him at that pace for long, and I was right, but it was nice as always to reconnect with Mike! Wow he is in fine form this spring. A strong south wind and soft gravel, he just walked away from John, Kat, and me. Before long we decided that the surface was just too soft and unpredictable to ride as close as we wanted in the wind so we switched to pavement and did a loop out to Parkersburg south and back into Cedar Falls. I had some time constraints so left John and Kat and took the diagonal back into town so that I could make it out to the Good Friday Service at Hudson in time. The ride was a good effort, 42 miles for me and good company too!

Saturday Kathy and I took another try on Tom and Pat's Tandem. There was a bit of a wind out of the west, but nothing like yesterday. We are liking the tandem thing so I guess that is on my list of future wheeled vehicles.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Peddle, Paddle, and (work)

I have been getting out on the bike a bit more lately. (and on the SUP, and it is pretty surprising seeing as how it is holy week and I am really busy with the "day job (s)"). I rode 30 mile plus the last 2 day and tonight I stayed with the A group riders for about 8 miles. For me, that is a real accomplishment! The really good news is that when I was dropped, I had company-- there was this nice State Farm agent (also named Scott) with whom I was able complete the circuit.

Monday's Ride

Tuesday's Ride

This past Sunday I paddled with the Cedar Valley Paddlers. There was quite a group of them at Sweet Marsh. We saw some bird (not so many ducks), and had a nice paddle and an even nicer barbecue afterward. I put together a YouTube of the paddle:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Bicycle Built for Two

Kathy and I have been pretty sold on the idea of pedaling our own bikes but we decided to give a tandem a try today. It was harder than I thought it would be. After getting great instruction from Tom on how to stop and start, I wobbled across the street heading right for the curb on the other side pretty sure that tandem riding was for those more skilled than us. We took a few trips around the block and got a little more practice starting and stopping, and eventually we felt comfortable enough to go for a 20 miler with Tom and Pat.

Kathy is recovering from an injury, It used to be called game keepers thumb, because people who raise rabbits get it from strangling too many bunnies. When skiing got more popular than strangling rabbits, they started to call it skier's thumb from a common injury that skiers get when the fall with their hand wrapped around their ski pole. I am thinking we should rename it biker's thumb because that is how she got it-- a flat front tire on a sharp corner. Anyway she is under strict orders to stay off her bike, so we tried our friends Tom and Pat's tandem (Well it wasn't her bike and she didn't have to steer or brake).

I think we could get used to this kind of riding but I am pretty sure Kathy is not ready to trade in her road bike just yet :-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Stand Up Day on the Crooked Straight River

I got home Thursday night with enough time to ride with the Owatonna Group. I was a good ride. It was a great night for a ride but I found myself mind wanting to go a little faster than my body could deliver. (Now that I think about it, that is usually the way it works for me :-). Todd was in good form, setting the pace on his XC bike. I was trying to keep him insight on my road bike.

While we were riding, Dave asked if I wanted to paddle with him on Friday, and I decided that I would give my new SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) a try. It is possible that a 30 mile 6 1/2 hour paddle might be a little far for the first paddle of the year, but It did give me a good feel for the new board and gave me a couple of ideas for future modifications.

I also learned a couple things about SUP's on rivers. I stared out with a 4.5 inch fin but found that it did not help the tracking enough so I switched to the 6 fin still pretty small by SUP standards. It helped the tracking but it still was a little like paddling a whitewater C-1 (tends to go in a circle) My fear about using a surfboard fin turned out to be correct. The problem is that with a rigid fin sticking down below, impacts with rock throw you right off the board.

I was thrown from the board twice in rapids, and once from my general clumsiness. This is definitely going to be a helmet, shin guard, knee pads, elbow pads kind of actively.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Were Tourists

About noon today we got new of the earthquake in Concepcion, Chile. Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends there. We are in Costa Rica on this trip but the original plan was to be in Chile, and if we were there we would very likely have been in Concepcion today....

Yesterday we did some real touristy things, and I was skeptical, but the canopy tour with zip-lines in the cloud forest was a real rush! There were 14 lines and the longest one was a kilometer long. We had a guy in our group who runs a challenge course in the US and he assured us that the safety procedures here were not near as stringent as they are in Oregon, but no one fell that we saw. Take a look at this video to get an idea what it was like:

AND, if you really want to hear Kathy scream, play this one:

In the afternoon, the girls toured a coffee plantation, and had a great time with Don Juan, the founder/flirt of the plantation. They found out all about coffee production, and heard a really convincing story about why Don Juan is not a fair trade plantation (apparently there is a rather high fee for certification and is too expensive for such a small plantation -- they actually pay higher wages than required to be considered fair trade).

Today we went on a hike to a great little water fall south of Monteverde. It was a short hike, but the view was spectacular. I even went for a swim. It is hard to believe that the water can be this cold in the tropics!

This afternoon I went up into the Monteverde Biological Preserve in hopes of seeing a quetzal. I did not see one but I had a great guide and added about 10 new birds to my list.

Kathy and Linnea went to the Monteverde cheese factory (that is really how we ended up here-- Linnea is always looking for the new culinary experience.) This area was settled by Quakers who objected to registering for the draft following World War II and 4 of the founding members were sent to federal prison for one year and a day. They immigrated to this country because at the same time Costa Rica abolished their army following their civil war.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From Hot and Dry to Wet and Cold

We left the heat of the Nicoya Peninsula and headed for the cloud forest in Monteverde. We took the ferry over to Puntarenas (Ty, the ferry really wasn't all that scary, not all that different than the ones we took in the San Juan's). We had an other flat tire, but it didn't take all that long to fix. I think they are pretty common here :-)

From Puntarenas we headed up the mountins into the cloud forest around Monteverde and Santa Elena. We found a nice funky place to stay and the folks seem a lot more down to earth than the rather stiff Belgians that were our hosts at Cabuya.

Tonight we did a night hike in the cloud forest near where we are staying. It was a great hike, but we did not see all that all that much in terms of wildlife. The interesting thing about this cloud forest was how similar it is to what we know. They have the the same raccoon we have, there are raspberries, and blackberries, along with some really exotic species too like toucans, and anteaters.

Tomorrow we are going to participate in what has to be a Costa Rican tradition-- the canopy tour with zip line descest all the time innts. It is the only thing that Alysson says she will be disappointed if we don't do.

(Joel, you might notice what it missing in this picture-- hint it rains almost all the time in cloud forests too).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What a difference a day makes

It is amazing how our perception of a place can change! When we got to Cabuya, we were tired and crabby from a 12+ hour long drive on rough roads. Finding a less than wonderful place to stay, meant that we were more than ready to head further down the 4x4 path in the morning. When we found Mal Pais to be a little too touristy for us and it looked like the whole west coast was going to be pretty much the same, we came back and found a better place to stay right on the ocean and a new appreciation for Cabuya!

We found a nice beach with almost no other people on it to spend a few hours. We ate mangos with our feet in the ocean and the occasional wave splashing them with salt. It was a good afternoon with only a little bit of sunburn.

Today we drove down the end of the road on the Nicoya Peninsula and did a hike in Cabo Blanco National Park. The hike was not all that far, about 5 miles round trip, but it was steep and hot, (so yes John and Kat, I am considering this a level 4+ hill workout). We saw several blue morpho butterflies on the way. There was a nice beach at the end of the trail, so it was a nice way to cool off half-way through the hike. I was able to get a little visibility snorkeling and saw some interesting fish. This is not a coral reef area, and I was surprised how little there was in terms of aquatic life.

Tomorrow, we head over toward Monteverde and the cloud forests there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Little More Time To Blog

I have a little more time to blog now that we are not in a German coffee shop in the middle of a 400 km drive on Costa Rican roads, some of which might be considered single track, if I were on my mountain bike. We are so thankful for the recommendations that our host at Alajuela Tropical Hostel gave us. They have really made the trip! The waterfall at Baja del Toro and the lodge at Laguna del Largarta where fantastic.

I think one of my favorite photos so far was on this green basilisk. It is one of those lizards that can run across the water, but this one was doing to squirrel on the back side of the tree thing with me :-)

We have been seeing birds here that I have always wanted to see, and here they are fly right up the the perches that the folks at Laguna del Lagarta have right in front of the deck where they serve food. Yesterday's drive was a long time in the car (like 12 hours) and on these roads that was a little long even for me. When we finally got to Cabuya, the place we found on the internet was not all that great, The "junglow" felt like it was going to fall down, we had planned to stay here for several nights but decided to leave in the morning to find a better place in Mal Pais. As it turns out Mal Pais is a big surfing town like Tamarindo and it seemed a little too much like a tropical version of Hayward WI (not that we don't like Hayward, it is just that we were looking for something a little more remote, and peaceful.) We ended up back in Cabuya at a place just down the road that is run by a Belgian couple and it is just grand.

I promised a few more pictures:
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

Our guide said this was called the Red Hot Lips Flower in English but it has a different name in Spanish if you happen to know our travelling companion Alysson you might ask her, and while you are at it you could ask about some of the subtle differences between Mexican Spanish Costa Rica Spanish :-)
On the way to Cabuya we ran across a family of howler Monkeys. A different family kept us wake during the night :-)If you know Kathy very well, you know how unusual a shot like this is, but it was really hot....

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Long Way Out!

We left Alajuela early in the morning on Saturday and headed North. Talking to Alanzo, out host we decided to by-pass La Fortuna and head to Baja del Toro, a waterfall that he recommended because it did not have as many people as the one at La Fortuna. It was a gorgeous place! A 150 meter fall, and a rather aggressive hike (especially back uphill) to get there and back.

We stayed at the lodge/restaurant where the people were quite nice, Alysson met a new friend, and apart from some major sparks from the Central American shower in our room. It was a great night!

In the morning, we took a chance and headed further north almost to the Nicaraguan border to another place that Alanzo told us about. We had sent them an email to see if they had room for us but we were not able to get online so we didn't know if the 40 km drive on the road with coconut sized gravel was going to yield us a place to stay or not.

We got the last 2 rooms at La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge. We had an exceptional hike in the rain forest, seeing many poison dart frogs, a couple of species of Toucan, and OMG, a nesting Great Green Macaw! There are only about 200 left in the wild and maybe 30 breeding pairs.

That night they had a cayman feeding event. Pretty amazing, the German speaking Tico would call them out of the lagoon and up they would come for some chicken scraps.

Hopefully we will have wireless tonight so that I can say some more and post some more photos!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The View From Last Class

Well, we got our Costa Rica tickets through Cheapo Air, and I am thinking they lived up to their name, the seats were not all the inexpensive, but they were a little cheap, seeing as how two of the three flights that it took to get here we sat in the very last row of the plane (as far from first class as you can get). There advantages and disadvantages to being in the last row. On the positive side you don't have far to go to get to the restroom, but on the down side, you are right next to the restroom (if you know what I mean). On the positive side you get to see them getting the drink and snacks ready, but on the down side, you also get to see them roll that cart all the way to the front and slowly work there way back to you while you are hoping they won't run out before they get back to you.

We got to CR a little late and when we got to the car rental place, they didn't have the 4 wheel drive that we reserved, so they gave us a Prius with the assurance that they will deliver our mid-sized 4x4 in the morning. So we will see.

Tomorrow we are head up north to La Fortuna and the volcanos and hot springs!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The New Board

I have gotten the blank for the new SUP just about ready to go! I made a few modifications, over what I posted below. First of all I have been trying to get an idea how to do the rocker on a SUP and the truth is I have not been able to find all that much out, apart from a few general comments on the Stand Up Zone like the one I read that said there are some "crazy flat rockers out there." I suppose that is compared to your average surfboard. The problem for me is figuring out what the profile might look, and that is pretty hard to visualize this far from anyone else making boards. I can get an idea of overall shape, there are plenty of top views on the internet, but there are no side views like there usually are for sea kayaks. So, I decided to go with what I know. I cut the plywood stringer that runs down the center of the board with rocker close to what an Epic kayak has, 1 1/2 front and back, fairly sharp in the front and slow in the back.

While I was at it I moved the center on mass back making it more of a swede form than the fish form of the Stewart Campbell board shape I started out with. It is a good thing these boards are not as labor intensive as building a strip kayak, or I don't think I would be quite so inventive with my shaping.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Well, in usual fashion, about the time I get through with my first (insert something new that I just made), I start another, sleeker, hopefully faster version. Well, now that I have more-or-less finished my first SUP, I am starting another. This one will be 18 feet long, 4 inches narrower, have a much rounder bottom. If I am able to stand on it, hopefully it should be faster.

I am again starting with a photo of one of Stewart Campbell's boards, and then drawing it up and establishing dimensions with Illustrator, supplying the details and profile by thinking of a fast kayak. We will see how that works!

I ordered a couple of fins. It is still not clear to me what is the right way to fin a SUP for a river. Most of the rivers I would be likely to run will have shallow spots. The problem is that most SUP fins are long-- 10 to 12 inches. I think that a long fin will hit bottom and may negatively affect the kind of maneuverability that running a river will take. I ordered a 4 inch fin (designed to be a thruster) and a 4.5 inch fin. We will see, and I am sure eventually I will be making them :-)