Bouncy Pink: Cyril Burguiere Talks Story

When I invited one of my favorite Pacific Northwest SUP competitors to answer a few questions about SUP and his life, I expected a short response mostly focused on his very cool training routine. Instead, Cyril responded with a treasure of a story.  It’s a fascinating read filled with insights and suggestions easily woven into a family’s experience. Please enjoy every word – all the way to the powerful final lines. cyrilpnk1

Cyril Burguiere "sees pink" across a handful of sports enjoyed with the whole family

Cyril Burguiere “sees pink” across a handful of sports enjoyed with the whole family

Family is my priority, my love, and my passion; however, sports and the outdoors are right up there as well playing a big role in every decision, every dream and aspiration. The great thing is I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. They can all be combined together – they are all part of a lifestyle, and the more I explore this lifestyle, the further I get pulled into it. I credit the Northwest and watersports communities for helping us see the way along this journey.

My wife and I standup paddle (SUP) and ski, so our kids do it as well. We don’t watch any cable television, so our kids don’t either. We realize that our children will get more and more influenced by mainstream culture, but we believe they will naturally gravitate to this lifestyle because it is so good.

Cyril and his wife, Tiffany, share the family-sports stoke!

Cyril and his wife, Tiffany,  share the family-sports stoke!

I always played sports as a child, but nothing close to what my children are getting. I did get to explore the world, its cultures and landscapes and always had a love for travel and the outdoors. It wasn’t until my early teen years that I started my near obsessive relationship with sports, but they were all indoors or on artificial fields. I competed in NCAA Div I track and field and learned a lot about training discipline and the importance of technique and repetition. I even wrote an essay about the benefits of sports for children (my now wife was a classmate of mine). In my 20s, I finally started experiencing outdoor sports. I also became a proud father of two girls, Erica and Isabel.

cyril9Now a father of two daughters, I have learned so much from them. I’ll be honest, when I first found out we were having a girl, we were living temporarily in Texas, and my then old-world (‘traditional’) way of thinking, had me thinking sports as a family were going to be lower priority, probably something I’d have to go and do alone. I was visualizing Barbie dolls and pink stuff everywhere. I was only partly right: the pink stuff became Erica’s ski jacket and goggles following behind me on steep ski runs and hucking off a 4ft jump when she was 3 feet tall, the pink KIALOA sticker on her Keiki paddle, and my daughters’ pink gymnastics leotards bouncing up and down almost daily on our backyard trampoline.

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A pink blur = great fun

A pink blur = great fun

Some of the rules we live by:

  1. Fun. Keep it fun. This is not the time to get an adult workout in. Build a snowman, stop to check out the wildlife, enjoy the large tree roots and caves on the mile long trail down to the surf spot. Show your passion and fun – bring out that inner child that is so easy to do with sports. On our many trips to summer SUP races, we try to mix sightseeing to keep it fun for the kids. My fellow KIALOA paddles teammate, Karen, is really good at this as well – our families actually met up at a wildlife safari park on route to the same SUP race last year.
  2. Explore, diversify. As I mentioned, we are a ski and paddle family, but we also mix in other activities, such as gymnastics, swimming, slackline, trampoline, bike rides, playpark, beach. We learned from this after we put Erica in a full weekend, all winter, ski race program at 5 years old: she loved it and excelled at it, but she burned out and wanted to do other things. We’ve since dialed back and now try to diversify the activities more. For example, we will not do more than two days of the activity our children are requesting. Living in the Northwest makes diversity easy – I’m writing in the Spring, when we can literally do every sport mentioned above and there is a whole community behind each sport wanting us to be a part of it.
  3. Balance, agility, suppleness. I’ve read several studies that examine what is most important in a child’s development at different ages. For youth under 8 years old, these three skills seem to be the most important for development. Endurance and strength come in the later years. For this reason, our cross country ski loops and paddles are short. Most events we have been to organize short kids races, which is great. We spend more time jumping, turning and showing off. Gymnastics, the playpark, our basement trapeze and the trampoline have all been great for our girls – they gravitate to these sports on a daily basis to use up every bit of energy they have.
  4. Rainy days rock! As parents, we model that rainy days don’t stop the lifestyle. We’ll still walk to the supermarket, I still paddle and bike to work regardless, we never say “oh no, it’s raining!”. Actually, SUP in the rain is amazing when the water is calm – I love the way the rain drops hit the water, and I still paddle just as fast! Rain in the winter also means it is snowing in the mountains, which is great for our ski season. Our family is always watching weather and planning our next adventure and for that reason we get more sun than anybody else. I have many stories of friends complaining about a rainy weekend, when it was actually sunny an hour away at the coast or mountain.
  5.  TV is for family movies.
  6. Provide kid’s gear. It doesn’t have to be high end; it doesn’t need to be waxed. Our kids love knowing they have their own gear – whether it is a paddle to take dad’s board around, or some hand-me-down skis from big sister or friend. This can be the most challenging for finances, especially when trying to diversify and explore many activities. We found an incredible combo in our kids’ board, the Tahoe SUP Grom and paddle, the KIALOA Keiki adjustable paddle. Both pieces of gear should last them from age 2 to 12!
  7. Listen – and HEAR. It gets old hearing “great job!” and “you were awesome!”. Those are obviously very important, but having been on the receiving end as a young athlete, I know the importance of getting honest feedback and encouragement. I forever thankful to my mother for having always stopped to listen to me talk about my sport and what went right or wrong. We ry to let our kids communicate and think through what they have done, and I believe it does them a lot of good to discuss specific examples of what was a ‘great job’ and what was not so awesome.
  8. Healthy eating. Last, but definitely not least. This obviously starts with the parents and is truly a lifestyle. We don’t claim to be experts, but we enjoy learning and talking about food. We try to talk to our kids about the benefits of different foods and how to combine foods. Erica’s top 5 foods: 1. Red lentils, 2. Spaghetti, 3. Tomato soup, 4. Pizza, 5. Raw peppers.

cyrilpnk1There are many more things, such as sleep, that could make the list. The main one – have FUN! Get out there regardless of the weather – you might surprise yourself and your kids won’t even know the difference. To them, nothing beats being outside with mom and dad!

SUP MUSE: Karen Wrenn

There are many meaning of “muse” – both as a noun and as a verb. One meaning I like is describing a muse as an inspiration, a catalyst for change. We can have many muses on our journey in life, in sport and adventure. Karen Wrenn inspires many  – an active “verb” of a person. She’s also a true catalyst for change. Do you want to be better at something and reach new goals? I know I do, and I know that I can do it better when a muse helps along the way. Karen, Naish team rider, seems to always be on the move sharing her spirit and aloha for standup paddling.

KIALOA captured the determination and drive that Karen Wrenn harnesses during winter training

KIALOA captured the determination and drive that Karen Wrenn harnesses during winter training

Ask a busy person! I did, and Karen generously shared some time and insights. First, some background: Few are more busy than Karen – wife, mother, friend, athlete, teacher and SUP superwoman. We all know that honing our skills and keeping whatever our personal “athletic edge” might be is a full-time effort. In the cold and wet Pacific Northwest, staying trained and motivated takes a bit more psyching up. The recent photo used in a cool ad for KIALOA paddles captures that “brace yourself for a cold an challenging training run” moment perfectly.

I have been less determined to brave the wet and cold through January and February – then March arrived with a few days that shouted “SPRING” with abundant sun and little wind. No question! It was time to head to the Deschutes River and take a few loops. No one else was out that day. It was a visual and sensory wonderland to be gliding up-current and getting cobwebs out of arms, trunk and legs. Luckily, I had my GoPro with the board suction mount. It stayed on solidly and could be shifted from front view to back view easily.

The next day was full of OUCH! I watched the video of my paddle (see above) noticing a strange inward rotation of my knees and a waggle of the hips that seemed out of place. I had just gone through my first of three series of knee injections (yup, the old meniscus has apparently vanished). The last thing I want to do is annoy my knee further. So I sent off the video to Karen for some insights. We had connected at the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge last year when she encouraged me as I tried the fast and sleek Naish Glide for the first time.

You may want to have your own technique guide do what Karen suggested, film from behind for a better view of body mechanics. The second suggestion was to adjust my stance from time to time. Karen explains, ” One thing I do all the time when something is bothering me is to play around with my stance. I think with a bit of a narrower stance you might not be able to lean the knee in so much Or, possibly a slightly staggered stance might help to. If you haven’t already… play around with that. Try a narrow, try a wider than usual and a slightly staggered stance and see what happens.”

Karen’s next suggestion reinforced my commitment to the twists and stretches of yoga, “Try to also focus on the torso rotation being a little higher making it happen through the rib cage instead of  by your hips. When I am paddling really hard and efficiently I feel sore through my the sides of my ribcage. If the rotation is happening a little higher you might find that your hips stay a little more fixed and that would cause less inward knee movement. It would give you the torso rotation and take it out of so much arms.”

There is no doubt that I will take these few suggestions to the river and to my indoor TRX training. Motivated even more – it’s only 56 days until Ed and I head to Maui, get our Naish 14′ Glides and prep for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a Maliko Run. Yipppeee! And thanks so much for your suggestions, Karen!

What is Elite SUP?

A great athlete is more than just the sum of their attributes. A great athlete brings something beyond the average to their sport. Not too long ago I wrote an article about Steve Gates Of Big Winds, a top notch shop in Hood River , OregonEstablished in the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River, Oregon in 1987, Big Winds is one of the largest windsurfingkiteboarding and stand up paddleboarding product and accessory stores in the United States. Their staff members are experienced players who are passionate about their sports and equipment and ready to offer expert advice. In addition to an enormous rental/demo fleet for all skill levels, ourwindsurfing and stand up paddleboarding school is one of the best in the Pacific Northwest and our lesson programs include kids camps, junior camps, and private and group lessons for men and women of all ages.

One of the JET-Big Winds Junior Elite Team pleased with her race!

One thing not mentioned in a description of Big Winds is the passionate and inspiring, Steve Gates. There were many incredible moments at the 2012 Columbia River Gorge Challenge, but among my favorites were moments watching Steve interact with his JET- Junior Elite Team  members. Even though circumstances kept Steve on shore instead of out on the river for the event, he was an integral part of every aspect from start to finish. Each time I spotted on of the JET signature orange shirt (see picture at right) Steve was usually who they sought out.

One of the jet athletes in particular had just finished the course race on Saturday. He raced from the water and through the finish line, made a hard left and jogged down to the beach where Steve was watching the event. High fives and smiles, hands actively pointing out something on the course, the two were immersed in an exciting recount of an event that was obviously cool and meaningful to both. This sort of connection was clear throughout the entire event. Steve’s commitment to the teens’ development through SUP was heart warming to observe.

If you didn’t know who Steve was as he quietly supported every aspect of the event through both days, you might have missed him as he wasn’t decked in the bright orange of his team.  

Steve Gates engaged is all aspects of the Gorge Paddle Challenge from start to finish and months of training for his JET athletes.

Steve Gates who realized an idea for the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge into a great happening is a terrific example of an elite athlete in the sport. No matter what his expertise and abilities have generated as far as his own athletic accomplishments, his commitment to developing the youth of Hood River toward their best potential inspires the word, “elite” as one description of Steve.

We’ve written before about the “grinnin’ and giving” among SUP leaders, Steve is right there with them. His ready smile and endless bounty of commitment to the sport we love inspires.

What inspires Steve you might ask, “I am inspired by everyone who is trying to make our planet a better place for everybody.”

Teach a newbie to SUP if you have a chance, notice who’s giving time and coaching to your local younger athletes. There’s something for all of us to contribute toward making our planet a better place – one gesture at a time.