Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Go with your gut and Oct RKC pics

Go with your gut
As you know from my last blog, I just got back from kiteboarding in S Padre Texas. For those of you who do not know what kiteboarding is, imagine attaching yourself via 100 foot long, razor sharp lines to a kite that can range from a small 8m (so about 24 feet across) up to 16M (about 50 feet across) or even larger. These are not your typical Charlie Brown kites and can create enough power to rip you across the water or up into the air. Amazingly, they have extremely fine control since the lines connect into a control bar that allows you to harness the power of the kite. The mainpower of the kite attaches into a harness at your hips to keep some stress off of your arms. All of this makes for a unique learning experience, but incredibly fun and extremely addictive too after just a few sessions.

The weather in S Padre TX is normally beautiful this time of year. Each Fall there is a big crew from Minnesota (and other locations) that heads down. This past Wed everyone was riding in sunny 87 F days with a nice 15-20+ mph wind. Perfect. The weather while I was there--not so perfect. Cold, overcast and rain as I arrived late Wed night.

The first day out I froze and I was the only nut out there kiteboarding at that time. The wind was super strong and it was a good session. I was frozen by the time I got out. Who would have ever thought that I needed a dry suit for S Padre!

The next day it was cold and raining again. Drat. We sat around and could not take it anymore and drove out to see if anyone was kiteboarding at the nearby beach. Honestly, the though of going back out was not sounding great to me since it was blowing at about 20-25 mph and the air temp alone was 47F. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr. Pretty cold for a 3/2 light wetsuit that I just bought the day before. But we came to kiteboard, so back home to get our gear and we were back out there.

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got. -Art Buchwald

I was having a hard time keeping my fingers working inflating a "new to me" kite, but finally got it up. I was nervous since this was the first time I have ever flown this kite or this design (Cabrinaha X bow 2006 12 M). I got a launch from my buddy and was promptly dragged down the beach before I could get control of it. Yikes! There was no one in the line of the kite, so I knew I could always pull the safety to kill the power in the kite with no problems or fear of hitting anyone. Now that I had control of the kite, I picked up my board and back out in the water I went. .....and it was freezing cold. That first drop in was very very cold as a wetsuit keep you warm by circulating a layer of warmer water next to your body. The thicker the wetsuit neoprene, the less exchange there is of this warm water layer next to your body with the colder outside water. The bugger is that during that first drop in, the water has not been warned by your body yet (hindsight would have told me to flood my westuit with warm water BEFORE going in, but I saved warm water for after I got out). So now I was really starting to think again that this was going to be a disaster, but figured I went through this much effort I might as well try to ride a bit.

The kite had tons of power and I got ripped off my board as I depowered the kite and it slammed into the water as I promptly supermanned through the air onto my stomach. Ouch. Crap. Tried again and this time I was up and riding. Wow, the wind was extremely strong and I had the kite on depower as much as I could. I dug my heals in on my board and off I shot upwind. Whoooooooooo ha. This was actually fun now and after a few rides I was really loving the kite and getting used to it. 2 hours passed by and even though I was cold I still did not want to come in. I was getting some very nice transitions and I was riding fully extending with my butt and shoulders only a few inches off the water. Whoooo ha!!! Even though it was super windy, the surrounding land masses block most of the waves, so the water is relatively flat.

I noticed all the cars parked on the beach had backed way up and I saw our rental car now parked way back on higher ground. My buddy was flagging me in, so I called it a day after riding for 2 hours and headed back in. As I undid my kite I was starting to get really cold. The water was now up to about 3 inches on the car and still rising and we were out of dry land. We made it out there via some mud bogging in a small Chevy 4 door compact car (if you are the rental car company reading this, the car is just fine and don't worry). Back at the condo I took the best hot "waterfall style" shower of my life.

Why you may care
So sometimes when you don't want to do something, you need to listen to your gut feeling. I knew in my gut that I wanted to go ride, even though I thought of every possible reason why I should not go. The conditions were safe, but far far from ideal. I trusted my gut and it turned into one of the best sessions I have ever head kiteboarding as everything felt just right.

The moral of this story is to trust your gut feelings and test it. If after a few rides I felt unsafe or it was not right, I could just bail and go back home with no regrets and the satisfaction that I tried. Sometimes it turns into much more.

Congrats in order
A huge congratulations to Brett Jones and Andrea DuCane on becoming Master Instructors and to Jeff O'Conner, Geoff Neupert and David Whitley on becoming Senior RKCs. Way to go everyone!

October RKC pictures
Better late than never!

2 "Jeffs" Brett Jones and Sandy
It's me

Brad "Top Notch" working hard
The cops were even on hand to make sure it did not get too unruly!