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!
I am proud to announce that I have been named a Werner Paddles Ambassador.
I am honored to be affiliated with a company like Werner, one who is committed to delivering a great product with fantastic support. I have been a proud Werner user for several years and always enjoy the opportunity to share the story with other paddlers.
If you want to experience a Werner product first hand, connect with me at an event or class.
I did a presentation at Canoecopia on March 11 where I showed how to pack a kayak for a multi-day trip.
Camping from a kayak is a great joy and one that I hope all paddlers will have an have opportunity to experience at some point in their lives. For this presentation, I had a great crowd of more than 100 guests looking for the inside secrets. We spent 45 minutes focused on what to bring, how to prepare your gear, the best ways to transport to the put-in and when arriving at your destination, and of course, how to get everything inside the boat.
We had a unique opportunity to truly show how things fit together by using a clear kayak, in addition to packing a P&H Cetus LV during the demo. A big shout out to P&H Custom Sea Kayaks and Werner Paddles for the loan of the Cetus and Shuna paddle.
I put together a handout for the participants and thought you might like a copy as well. Click the image to the right to get your copy.
Last weekend marked another outstanding Canoecopia. While some might just consider this a consumer trade show, it’s much more than that to me. Here are my top 5 reasons to love Canoecopia:
It’s the annual early season family reunion for paddlers . Friends you haven’t seen in months and some that you only see once a year come together to celebrate a new season on the water.
The speakers are amazing. More than 180 presentations from over 100 speakers showcase a vast knowledge base. The experiences they share from stunning destinations around the globe are mind-blowing. Greek Islands, the Kongakut River emptying out in the Arctic Ocean, 50 plus foot tidal range in the Bay of Fundy, and South Haven, Michigan…each has it’s own beauty and a story to tell.
While we’re on the topic, I am truly honored to have been selected as a speaker again this year. Personally, the event becomes more fun each time I attend. This year was my fifth year presenting. Friday I shared exercises from Power to the Paddle and Sunday introduced guests to ideas to perfectly pack their kayak for a multi-day trip.
Clubs, not-for-profits, symposium organizers, National Parks, small grassroots companies, and others are featured in the lobby and have a free opportunity to meet the public and spread their mission. One of the newer booths in the lobby was The Outdoor Kind. John and Jan Van Barriger founded the company whose products and programs help support safety education and provide funding to North America’s first responders in rural areas.
It’s a 250,000 square feet paddler’s toy store. Whitewater, sea kayaks, canoes, surf skis, SUPs, and all the accessories you need, and a few that you did know you needed can be found here. Because all the inventory is Rutabaga’s own and repped by the manufacturers (like Werner), every dollar spent helps keep a small, local shop in business. Online shopping is great for some things, but try stopping in at Amazon’s warehouse to check out a product or ask them to do a repair. Support your local shop, wherever they are.
If you’ve attended Canoecopia, I’m sure you will agree. If you haven’t attended yet, I hope to see you in 2019!
I am pleased to be speaking on two different topics at this year’s Canoecopia event (March 9-11, 2018).
Power to the Paddle: Exercises to Improve your Canoe and Kayak Paddling
Join my fun hands-on session where you’ll learn and practice functional exercises to help you paddle longer, faster, and stronger. Learn simple exercises requiring little or no equipment and targeting crucial muscles to be a better paddler, build endurance,and prevent injury. You’ll improve your outdoor experience and become the best paddler you can be!
Immediately following the presentation, I will be signing books and DVDs in the Authors Corner in the Main Lobby under the stairway.
Perfectly Pack your Kayak for a Multi-Day Trip
Loading your personal and shared group gear in your boat is part art and part science. This hands-on workshop will equip you with tips and tricks to pack your kit for a dry, safe and enjoyable multi-day journey without having to cut the handle off your toothbrush.
In addition to my presentations, you’ll find more than 180 presentations and pool demos and a 250,000 square foot show floor packed full of all the boats, boards, and paddling gear you could ever want. Learn more about the show at www.canoecopia.com.
The water here in the US Midwest is crunchy this time of year, making paddling a bit challenging. Sure, it’s ridiculously cold, but unfortunately here in the Chicago area we don’t have enough snow to break out the snowshoes or cross country skis and too much for anything other than a fat bike. For now, that leaves indoor workouts.
Fortunately one of the best pieces of equipment in your local fitness center is probably also one of the most lightly used in the room. The Concept 2 rower, or my new favorite flavor, the Water Rower, engages more than 80% of the body’s muscles, working them in a similar fashion to paddling.
A few keys to success:
Roughly half the work should come from the upper body and half from the lower body. Focus on using both rather than relying on the upper body.
Set the foot straps up so they come across your foot right at the base of your toes.
If you’re using the Concept 2, avoid the temptation to set the damper too high. Most people set it at the highest setting (10) because they’re not rowing properly and lower setting don’t feel challenging enough. A setting between 3-5 simulates the resistance of water and puts much less stress on the upper body while creating a smoother stroke.
Think Legs, Core, Arms…Arms, Core, Legs. When you start your drive, move the legs first. As the legs begin to straighten, engage the lats and lean the core back slightly, followed by pulling with the arms. Keep the wrists straight through the pull and have your hands meet the body right at the base of your rib cage. Begin your recovery in reverse: Straighten the arms out first. As they begin to reach your knees lean forward while keeping the core tight, and lastly bend the knees to finish.
Concept 2 has produced a few excellent videos and descriptions on proper form. Check them out and get the most from your indoor row.