I completed a 117-mile solo paddle of Michigan’s Keewenaw Peninsula in August 2019. While my four-day paddle pales in comparison to some of the epic journeys completed by other paddlers this summer, it was a fantastic experience and my longest solo to date.
Going in, I was wondering how I would do on a multi-day solo. I never had a reason to doubt my fitness, but rather my ability to stand being alone inside my head with no other distractions for several days. I was pleasantly relieved at how well it went and I look forward to the next trip. In fact, I think the world needs a few more solos to find out what we’re capable of doing.
Now, from a fitness standpoint, I paddled some big distance each day with a loaded boat. My shortest mileage day clocked in at a lazy 21 miles. The longest was a whopping 11 hours with 9-1/2 hours on the move, putting 37 miles on the board.
After the trip, people kept asking if my arms and shoulders ached. The answer? Actually, not at all.
Where did I feel it?
My abs and obliques. And that’s how I knew I was doing it right. Endurance paddling requires proper technique and efficiency to last and for a distance paddler, that means torso rotation. For many paddlers, identifying that you’re rotating can be a challenge. It’s more than getting the shoulders moving. Here are a few ways either I’ve used or heard other instructors cue students:
Watch the zipper line on your PFD. If you see the middle of the zipper rotating from side to side, your torso is rotating as well.
Imagine that you have a baby or a large bag of potato chips, whichever you value more, strapped to your chest. Make sure you keep your arms extended enough so that you don’t bring your hands close enough to your body that you crush the precious cargo.
Imagine that the cockpit of your boat is a large clock face, with 12 at the top, 9 at your left hip, and 3 at your right hip. As you’re paddling and rotating your torso, be sure your right hand crosses over to reach the 11 position and your left had crosses over to reach the 1 position.
It’s been a while since I’ve put up a straight fitness post so it’s time to get back to my roots.
Once you’ve developed a solid and stable core and your low back can support you effectively, you’re ready to begin building core strength. Core strength exercises are characterized by adding movement through the spine as well as using the core to resist rotational forces.
There are many different ways to work on your core without doing sit ups and today I’m going to introduce you to one of those options.
Today’s exercise is the stability ball pass. Enjoy!
I am pleased to be a member of the Pro Paddler Team for Bishop Boards. I am honored to be affiliated with this small, family-owned and paddler-run business and look forward to introducing more paddlers to the Bishop Boards line up.
Beautiful craftsmanship, great quality, and a wide variety of boards for every skill level means whether you are SUP fishing, touring, surfing, racing, or doing SUP yoga, Bishop Boards has a ride for you.
If you want to experience the Bishop Honu or Luna boards firsthand, contact me.
A proper warm up is key to staying healthy and strong as a paddler. If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France, you’ve probably seen the riders warming up for an hour or more before the race, only to them get in their bikes and ride for 6+ hours at speeds you and I can only imagine. Then, after finishing the stage they cool down for another hour.
They know something.
They know that jumping on the bike cold doesn’t lead to their best performance. They know that riding cold, or failing to cool down properly, can lead to injury.
Why should you be any different?
Just because you’re not riding in Le Tour doesn’t mean you should treat your body with the same care.
One experience every paddler should have at some point is an up-close view of the annual dyeing of the Chicago River.
Since 1962 the river has been dyed green at 9:00 am on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. The Plumbers Union Local 130 adds an orange biodegradable vegetable dye to the water to create the fluorescent shade of green. For those who say “why dye it, the river is always green”, you’ve never seen green water quite like this.
The paddle is not for the faint of heart. It’s a raucous affair with every tour boat coming out for the event. Add in private power boats, numerous police and Coast Guard boats, and many kayaks in an environment with sheer walls and no easy bailout points and you’ve got to be on your toes the entire time.
The actual dyeing takes about 45 minutes and is performed by several small boats running up and down a 2 block stretch of the river starting at Michigan Avenue and progressing inland. The vibrant green dye job lasts only about 5 hours.
I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Canoecopia and I have to say that this year was the best ever.
I am fortunate to have been selected as a speaker on several topics this year. I had the pleasure of speaking with five separate audiences on topics, including a fitness session based on Power to the Paddle, leadership principles for day trips, and how to pack a kayak for a multi-day trip.
The best part of the weekend was something that I will never grow tired of experiencing. Throughout the weekend, I had paddlers seek me out on the show floor and before and after speaking to tell me how much the book and DVD, Power to the Paddle, helped them.
One gentlemen is down 25 pounds and continuing to lose more as a result of getting off the couch and focusing on himself. He is moving more now than ever and living life to the fullest.
Another paddler has incorporated the exercises in the book into his programming three days a week and has increased his mobility considerably. As a result, he is back to enjoying long paddles without feeling exhausted at the end of the day.
Another, who was working at the bookstore, purchased the book two years ago, well before working the show, and was recommending it to others for the benefits she gained.
Your stories are exactly why I wrote the book and produced the DVD. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve made a difference and helped someone enjoy their passion. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of pride when I noticed this sitting on a chair on Saturday afternoon. I truly hope that this paddler gains the same benefits.
Thank you to everyone who is using the book and DVD. Keep telling me your stories. I am truly honored.
The majestic and wild beauty. The history of the place, it’s people and their stories, and wildlife. The incredible sunrises and unforgettable sunsets. The thimbleberry and blueberry picking (and the resulting blueberry pancakes). In 2019 I have the opportunity to share this special island with others.
I am stoked to be guiding a trip for Uncommon Adventures in 2019. Our group will explore the island that is the nation’s second least visited National Park, but which also holds the distinction of being the park with the highest return visit rate. There’s a very good reason for that high return rate. Once you’ve been there, you’ll be counting the days before you’re back!