Friday, July 1, 2016

Kayaking Big Bear Lake

I have been to Big Bear a handful of times now, but this is first time I have every spent any time on the lake itself. This was also a good chance to see just how low the lakes water level was.

I got on the lake in town and decided to head east over to the dam. The wind was in my face so I hugged the shoreline and checked out a few of the harbors along the way. I was curious to see the effects of the low water on Big Bear Lake Cable Wake Park, because every time I go to Big Bear this is one of the things I want to do that never seems to work out.

The next place I went to was China Islands, where I did some cliff jumping last summer. I debated jumping again but decided against it, based on the lower water levels and because there was nobody else there. At China Islands I was pretty much at the dam, so I went the rest of the way. From the dam I headed back through the straitest route, strait through the middle of the lake. This was pretty easy with the wind at my back.


Mountain-bike Fern Trail, Big Bear, CA

My first downhill ride in Big Bear was a little loop near my camp site. I followed somebody's Strava Segment that lead across Bristlecone and down Fern trail.

My legs were still sore from the race, so my up hill was slow and painful. The little downhill down Fern trail was enough of an award for pushing myself up the hill.


Camp Tahquitz 6 hour Challenge 2014

Having been a recreational Mountain Biker for a few year, I decided to go all out for my first Mountain Bike race. I signed up for a solo 6 hour endurance race with hopes I could find some friends to join me. Because I had spent most of the year leading up to the race traveling over seas, I was a little under prepared for the race. In all I had about a month of riding in the summer heat of Arizona, and for about half of this time my bike was in the shop for various repairs. To include a last minute replacing of the crank, two days before I departed for the race, because I stripped out a pedal because I didn't realize it was coming loose on a trail ride.

I arrived at BSA Camp Tahquitz early Friday evening, shortly after registration opened. I quickly set up my camp and then took off for a pre ride of the course. Upon hearing that this would be my first race, one of the event organizers offered this advice. "Start slow, and then slow down." On the pre ride, I started to understand how unprepared I was. The course was a loop of around 6 miles, that included a 1,200 foot climb and a loose and dusty down hill of switch backs through the pines. Also the camp lay at around 7,000 feet ASL, much higher elevation than my flat training grounds in Yuma (200 feet ASL). Despite its difficulty the ride was undoubtably beautiful. Riding through pine and sunny meadows in near perfect weather.

When I returned to camp, the rest of the campers had arrived. Most of them from Jenson USA, a title sponsor of the event, riding in the team event and running a maintenance tent for the race. The combination of a ban on alcohol from being on a BSA camp and the early race start in the morning made it an early night in camp.

With my registration done and my bike already set up, I was able to stay in my tent until the race was about to start. When I pulled back my tent flap, I was surprised by all the activity. A few hundred people were now buzzing around ready to race. I grabbed a light breakfast and prepared my aid station.

I took my place at the back of the pack for the mass start. I held no illusions of competing against any of the riders beside myself. The first lap felt pretty good. I kept up with the pack on the flats and even passed a few people on the down hill. At the bottom of the hill I dropped back to the rear of the pack. The second lap went a lot like the first. By the climb of my second lap, many of the leaders were working on their third, I gave way to the leaders as they easily passed me. I made a stop at my aid station to grab some food and top up on water. Once I got started on the third lap exhaustion was already setting in. I took advantage of the Aid station at the base of the climb drinking a few cups of HEED electrolyte and cookies. Once I started the climb my legs were spent and I found myself having to dismount to allow people to pass, especially in the technical sections. The fourth lap even the down hills were a struggle when my legs began to cramp. I made an even longer stop at the Aid Station at the bottom of the hill. Laying down while eating cookies and drinking more HEED, in hopes of curing the cramps before the climb. I crawled up the climb and made it back to the start, suffering the worst of the leg cramps within site of the finish line. I crossed the line at 5:33, relieved that I could stop without worrying that I could still finish one more lap. This race had a hard finish at 6 hours, so any lap that doesn't cross the finish before that time doesn't count, as opposed to races where any lap started before that time will count. I finished 6th of 7 in my age group.

Obstacle at the bottom of the Ravine

Lower Meadow

After grabbing a snack I crashed in my hammock to recover while waiting for the award ceremony. Laying around was exactly what I needed right then. I spent the rest of the day lounging around camp with the Jenson USA guys. Many of them were competing in day two of racing, the inaugural Endure race. In retrospect this is the race I should have done, and if I had anything left in my legs I would have signed up.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Niagara River drift S.C.U.B.A. dive

After a few years of missing this dive, I took part in a favorite summer shore dive in Buffalo. Many Buffalo divers are familiar with this, Wednesday evening Niagara River Drift dive. I managed to make it twice this year. You get in the water at the west end of Isle View Park and drift east to the boat launches at the other end of the park

My first dive kept to the shallower waters where the grass and fish lurk. I even managed to find a fin that somebody from the dive shop had lost earlier in the week. The visibility was was above average for this dive at about 15-20 feet. This was also my first attempt at using the GoPro for diving. Unfortunately it froze up right after I went under.

 Post dive gear pile
Post dive Hotdog BBQ

The second time I did this dive we went a little deeper where the water runs faster. The rain leading up to this dive made the visibility much lower than the previous Wednesday. There was less life to see but about the same trash. The GoPro worked better this time, but the poor visibility and lack of fish made for poorer video quality that I would gotten had the camera worked the previous week.


Hiking Niagara Gorge

My favorite cardio hike in Western New York, the Niagara River Gorge is a mini Grand Canyon. From Whirlpool State Park down to the rocks along the Whirlpool is a mile and a half with a 1,500 foot elevation change. The majority of that elevation change occurs in about a tenth of a mile.

Other than its cardio benefits the up close views of the Niagara River and it's Class V rapids are pretty amazing. You get a real sense of how much power the river has.


Buffalo Wing Fest 2013

I was lucky enough to attend the 2013 Buffalo Wing Festival in my home town of Buffalo. It was a good opportunity to spend too much to sample a variety of wings, most of them from the local area.
We happened to be there for the Competitive Eating Championship Buffalo wing eating contest. Watched a bunch of large men get their buts kicked by some little girls. Miki Sudo destroyed everyone with 178 wings in 12 minutes.
It just so happened that she was leaving at the same time I was so she stopped for this photo.


SUP Buffalo River

BFLO Harbor Kayak has made Stand Up Paddle Boards available in Buffalo's Inner Harbor. This means that without dragging my board across the country I was able to get some SUP in Buffalo over the summer.

The day I rented my SUP their was some crazy wind about 12mph, so the lake was not looking very inviting. This was fine with me because I was more interested in the river. The river had little wind and has little current so it made for easy paddling. From the rental dock under the skyway, I made my way about a mile and a half upstream just past Ohio St.

Setting off from BFLO Harbor Kayak with the Little Rock in the background
 Buffalo Skyline from the river
Turn around point
On the way back down stream I was facing the wind. Hugging the shore helped avoid the worst of it in my face but standing on the board was making a sail out of my body. Near the Naval Park the wind was strong enough to make some good size rolling waves, maybe a one to two feet. The was were just a little two small and not breaking for me to surf them upstream to the dock.

I'm not sure if it is legal but I think it would be fun to ride a SUP down the Niagara river. There is a whole lot of current and no shortage of place to get out. Maybe next time.