Secret Lake SUP and BIG Surprise

Glacial blue lake hidden among scree and Broken Top peaks

Glacial blue lake hidden among scree and Broken Top peaks

The very first time we drove the gnarly rock-rutted, puddle pitted 5 1/2 miles from the Todd Lake parking to the Broken Top trail head we feared for our car chassis. The hike was so incredible and the views spectacular enough that we returned several times every summer. The first time we scrambled up the scree that framed the waterfall  cascading from the snow-fed “glacial” lake we called, Secret Lake, we were hooked.

At that time in 2002, we hadn’t discovered standup paddling so our only venture into the lake was a tentative wading. Immediate frozen feet made that a short-lived experience.  By 2006 we were avid SUP athletes. That lake became our holy grail of “coolest place to grab a photo paddling.”

It wasn’t long afterward that we saw this photo of Eli Odegaard landing in the June issue of Men’s Journal. Professional photographer, Tyler Roemer shot this up on the backside of Broken Top sometime late in the summer of 2012. According to Roemer, “It was a mission getting that clunky SUP board back there but somehow we managed it.

We hesitated about hiking in with our standup boards until we finally had the answer to every SUP-adventurer’s dreams. We purchased two Naish ONE inflatable boards. The boards come in their own backpack, with a great pump – ready to be packed into almost any place you might dream of paddling.

btnaishOnce racing season was coming to an end, Ed and I took the drive in to the broken Top trailhead and on a stellar October Saturday we hiked with our Naish ONEs up to the “secret lake” by Broken Top.  The short video below documents the trip and the BIG SURPRISE we found at the end of our 2.5 mile trek to the lake. Where will YOU adventure with YOUR Naish ONE (or other inflatable from Naish?)

65 – Medicare and Water Athletes

My seventh decade - bring it!

My seventh decade – bring it!

Imagine the 65 year old woman on Medicare – and then throw away the image that is most often visualized.  Unless you “saw” a lean, strong, bold, fit, focused and fun-loving athlete you missed a trend that’s fueling many athletes above a certain age.  Runners, cyclists, skiers and “sporty”-women build more than hard abs or a toned butt. They build resilience by working through pain, pushing onward and knowing the hard work will pay off. They gain a social network and optimistic perspective on life and potential. Water athletes have another aspect to their active passion – water! Water in lakes, oceans, rivers and bays add a non-jarring celebration of the senses.

Each athletic endeavor enjoyed by the 65+ year-old can deliver amazing benefits when training and practice are balanced with good coaching, listening to one’s own body and a respect for current abilities. This is true for all athletes, but leaps in importance as we journey into those upper decades. But – WOW! – the benefits rock our world.

My primary sport of choice (when I am not skiing, hiking, cycling or playing outside) is standup paddling and surfing. In the course of meeting plenty of my peers at races, at the surf break and simply paddling in beautiful places I have heard so many stories of survivors – survivors of accident, disease, loss, life disappointments and challenges beyond measure. These stories were most often shared without a whine, but rather with a smile and sense of serenity. We water athletes know that regular and consistent exercise fights anxiety and depression better than drugs. The ability to cope with the stress is directly related to the endorphins we have in our body. Because we regularly tap those endorphins we are able to do it when stress hits. Research shows that highly stressful emotional events (which seem to come in quick succession as we age and simply live those extra decades) can result in a permanent suppression of endorphin levels. It just makes sense – stimulate those endorphins with fun on whatever incredible body of water you can find. Get the SUP Perspective instead of what the pharmacy can provide.

Who the heck is THAT in the mirror? Have you ever been shocked by the wrinkles and sags that are the inevitable surprise of aging? Plastic is not the route to increasing our self-esteem. Self-esteem is defined as being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness. Grab your paddle and fuel a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients to your brain to improve functioning. After a downwind cruise with friends or a training paddle across a mountain lake you feel ready to take on the world. As we gain those decades we need our self-esteem. No matter where you live there are professionals, clubs, groups and water that you can tap into as you develop into a water athlete. Watch that self esteem soar!

Getting older is not for sissies – you’ve heard that one and I bet you’re nodding “oh yeah!” right now. There’s a world of freedom in the journey.  I recently threw my inflatable Naish ONE 12’6″ raceboard in a duffel bag and headed to Lake Las Vegas for the N1SCO World Championships. Was it because I am an elite racer and super -speedy? Heck, no.  I write and tell stories. Did I compete with the rest of the wonderful water athletes aged 10 and teens through all the decades? You bet. My trophy? I finished the races, often in last place. I had trained and practiced. I AM a water athlete and i had FUN! (catch the video below and on the Elder SUP YouTUbe channel)

Sweet paddle - and thanks for the gear Sweet Waterwear

Sweet paddle – and thanks for the gear Sweet Waterwear

Racing is not the only way to feed your inner water athlete and suer-charge attitude and well-being. Just being out in nature, balancing on your board and paddling with your entire being is a treasure. Check out a recent Fall paddle in Central Oregon – then go find your stoke! This article is dedicated to so many who have inspired me – to name a few Peggy K, Suzie M, Nansee B, Dagmar E, Steve G, Ed S, Randall B, Dennis O, Gerry L … and the list goes on!

Share your stories by e-mailing me at Elder SUP

SUP for Everyone: Naish ONE

Giving it my all in the OPEN Course race - so much fun!

Giving it my all in the OPEN Course race – so much fun!

Last weekend I competed in the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. Compete is not the right word. Let’s just say that I was on my board and paddling in both the downwind and course OPEN class races and having a blast. Energy was high, the elite paddlers were exciting to watch and meet and the wind conditions kept us all on our toes.  The paddlers from the BigWinds JET team were inspirational, and true ambassadors for both our sport and their coach, Steve Gates.

bonnoe

Bonnie Fromm leading our OPEN Women’s Course Race

If I had to think of one disappointing part of the weekend, it was that I won both a first and second place award.  I had paddled hard and enjoyed catching glide after glide on the Saturday downwind event – and then because there were only two of us in the age 50+ category riding a 14′ board I was fortunate to win (out of two??). Then on Sunday’s course race the real  “win” was showing up and participating. The wind cranked furiously  through the Gorge and made our 4 laps  on the upwind leg and turning at the downwind buoy a mega-challenge.  I remembered to have fun – and I charged out of the water at the end of the event pretty darn stoked!  But placing second out of two (YAY! Bonnie Fromm rocks with the win) in the 50+ age group was no cause for celebration. The participation was the prize.

I was puzzled as to why there weren’t more women in our OPEN classes. What could be done to turn the avid SUP paddlers on shore into participants rather than spectators? How could all the organization, effort and energy of the race management team be shared among more OPEN athletes?  The elite classes were full of amazing, world-class competitors.  What about the rest of us? What sort of race event could generate entries and participation across a more broad bunch of paddlers?

I didn’t have to wait long for the answer.  Steve Gates and the team from Naish had a super-cool event planned.  They had a fleet of Naish ONEs (12’6″ inflatable one-design boards) on the beach and ready for a team relay event – with rules that leveled the playing field for any participants. The Team Relay was a fun four person relay race  contested on a short course right in front of the spectator viewing area at the Waterfront Park (Hood River, OR) . Each Team was required to have at least one athlete under age 16 and one female. The young paddler and the female couldn’t be the same person. Elite athleteswere placed onto teams by the Race Director, Steve Gates of BigWinds. The Relay Race was run all on Naish One boards,

As he announced the rules, Steve Gates explained the fun-factor of the “race, “Go out and have a blast with the Naish ONE boards. They are inflatable and forgiving if you run into each other or fall off. They’re just right for any size or skill-level. This is a fun a event, be prepared to get wet and laugh.” Well, that is exactly what happened.

Elite racer (and overall women's winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

Elite racer (and overall women’s winner) Fiona Wylde and friend ready for Naish ONE fun

The elite athletes, as you can see from the photos. were having as much fun as the 10-year-old kids.  Even though the elites had just completed 5 loops in a gnarly, windy course they were back to play. The spectators loved watching. One of the coolest things for me was to see people lining up to have a chance to demo the Naish ONEs once the event was over.  The “have-fun” spirit of the relay event seemed to last. People were paddling, sharing tips, bumping into each other, practicing tail-turns and buoy turns and generally sharing a hefty portion of aloha. And isn’t that what it’s all about? (Click on each image for a larger image)

naishrelay2 naishrelay3 naishrelay4 naishrelay5 naishrelay6

I am looking forward to seeing more events like the Naish ONE team relays. I expect as people gain experience and confidence in that laid-back race venue they will take a chance with an OPEN event or two. Racing, like life, is a lot more fun when we focus on the experience more than the outcome. The next place I know of in which there will be Naish ONE fun will be in Las Vegas in early October – read more here.

Naish ONE: Fun!

In about 6 weeks I’ll be leaving on a jet plane for Battle of the Paddle. I missed it last year and cannot wait to be part of the biggest SUP celebration around. Nearly six MONTHS ago I started looking for a 12’6″ race board to rent. The initial quest was quite specific – and within a few months I was regretting the purchase of a plane ticket and the long long drive was starting to seem like the best bet. There were no boards of any kind, any size to rent (beg or borrow) for the event.  I was thinking of dumping the plane ticket and strapping my surfboard to the car and heading south to be a part of the OPEN Surfboard class.

Then I had the chance to talk with Steve Gates at Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon.  He had the answer for me – and for many others, most likely.  He invited me to come on up to take the Big Winds shuttle and give his demo/rental Naish ONE a try on my favorite down wind run from Viento to the Hood River event site.  Better yet, I thought I’d buy one – but these inflatable one-design standup 12’6″ boards are so popular that they’ll be sold out for another week or so.  I will have to wait until I arrive in Hood River for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge to get two Naish ONEs – one for me and one for hubby, Ed. We travel a lot by air – I think these Naish ONES will get more air miles than even water miles!

naishone1I carry way more baggage than what’s in the cool carry case for the Naish ONE. Rather than fill in the back story of the board specifications here, you can find out everything on the website.

What really has me jazzed is the opportunity for one-design racing, youth racing, family activities, and travel adventure and exploration that the Naish ONE can drive. (Follow Naish on Facebook)

One early entry in hosting a one-design event was the Weymouth Ecover Blue Mile, held at the 2012 Olympic water sports venue. It proved a resounding success with an amazing 467 people taking part in the Naish N1SCO One design SUP races and free taster sessions.  Naish UK put up £1,000 in prize money for a series of races, in which all riders used the Naish ONE 12‘6” N1SCO Inflatable board. The event included an intermediate race (400m), sprint races (100m), and a 1,500m course – the Ecover Blue Mile. Watch a recap of the event here: http://vimeo.com/71723598

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

Hundreds take part in Ecover Blue MIle Weymouth 2013

Alex Tobutt, a representative of Naish UK, said the weekend had introduced SUP to brand new enthusiasts,  “The really nice thing was that the SUP racing wasn’t elitist; anyone could take part. “We had people of all ages and experience and some people had never done it before – and all of them were able to do it.  Another great thing was that although everyone was competing, they were also helping each other and supporting each other. ”

pramI grew up sailing and surfing, doing the juniors one-design sailing back in the 50’s. Then as our family grew up enjoying swimming and one-design sailing in a yacht club setting, the extensive value, family connection, sportsmanship and camaraderie around wind and water sports was priceless.  As yacht and sailing clubs begin to adopt standup paddling as a youth and family program option for sport and fitness, it’s important that the same careful consideration put into selecting one-design sailing craft is invested into the SUP purchase.

I have talked with a good number of sailing coaches and program managers who have bought a small fleet of standup boards based on the “flavor of the month” suggested by an eager retailer. It’s a real shame to miss the “boat,” so to speak on the powerful trend and historical value of the one-design class. If you have influence on a decision of this type, share this information and support a wise, long term investment.   It’s easy enough to locate a Naish dealer in your geographic area and get some solid information about the future of one-design and the versatility and performance of the Naish ONE.

Important, too, is to understand the organization behind this trend.  Take a look at the event home at N1SCO.  It’s exciting. Who knows, perhaps a young person you know (or you yourself) might just find themselves on the podium at an upcoming championship (Event Page)