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Other Sports for Paddlers

Other Sports for Paddlers
Heading out with your kayak onto a river is simply fantastic, it’s hard to beat the feeling and most of us cannot get enough of it. However, no one just kayaks, or just does one thing. Conditions change, opportunities arise and we find ourselves doing alternative sports. So what do other kayakers do? We headed out and asked a few people what they do for fun or exercise when they’re not paddling.

Chris Gragtmans
Co-Owner, TerraVida
Chris at Windrock Mountain, TN

Other sports: Downhill Mountain Biking

Main Paddling Discipline: Whitewater Kayaking... mostly creeking and racing; some big wave surfing.

Non-paddling sports: Mostly downhill mountain biking, some skiing and sailing Hobies.

I’ll focus on mountain biking, because that is what I do year round.

I love riding downhill because it is the perfect sport to complement paddling. It is exactly the same mentality. You use the same concepts of line choice, physics and commitment. Peeling out of the eddy above a big rapid elicits the same emotions as pedaling into a big jump, gnarly rock garden, or drop. You’re scared! But then the same flood of endorphins and adrenaline exists when you stick the line. The two sports are extremely similar.

Another reason that they make such good complimentary sports is the fact that you go kayaking when it rains, and the riding is better in dry weather. It makes perfect sense! It’s also pretty cool to explore the bowels of the earth deep in the river gorges, and then the higher country on the trails. A day of kayaking and then riding here in Asheville is affectionately referred to as a "Surf-n-Turf" day.

As far as the danger factor of both sports goes, I would say that you are more likely to get hurt on your mountain bike, but more likely to die in your kayak. Mountain bike crashes happen faster than the blink of an eye, whereas you generally know that you have made a mistake for a few seconds in your kayak before the consequences arrive. However, when you crash your bike, you just lie there and stare up at the trees and the sky… you don’t get swept downstream! It’s certainly important to make good, level-headed decisions in both, and not allow your ego to get involved.

Another thing that I love about biking is the fact that to go faster, all you have to do is pull your finger off the brakes. With kayaking, the river only moves so fast, so you need to train like an animal to gain a couple of seconds on your competitors. In biking, smooth is fast, moreso than any other sport.

I have competed in collegiate DH races as well as regional races in the Amateur class and sometimes Pro class. I will spend this August and September in Whistler, splitting my time between kayaking and biking.

I have also always dreamed of competing in the Ski/DH Mountain Bike/Class V Extreme Race triathlon in Voss, Norway. Maybe next summer! Need to work on the skiing a bit.

Adrian Tregoning
Playak Admin, General Waterman

Keep me in the water

My main kayaking focus is whitewater and probably equal to surf kayaking too.

Sometimes I wonder what my ‘main’ sport really is. Is it kayaking? I don’t know. It seems that as long as I’m in the water somewhere I’m quite content. Although kayaking has consumed a lot of my time and I absolutely love it, the rivers here are unfortunately seasonal and during the summer when the wind blows you’ll usually find me at the beach, windsurfing, or else bodyboarding, sometimes fishing too.

I started windsurfing 12 years ago, so quite a bit longer than paddling, and love it probably even more than when I first began. The feeling is quite unlike any other sport and the best part about it, is that as long as you live in a windy place, you can have a great day every time. It’s unlike many other sports where the better you get the harder it is to get that good day, like bodyboarding. Waves need not be perfect and you can still zip through the impact zone at full tilt, do some jumps and charge down the line, getting ahead of sections which surfers can never do, because of the awesome speed – fantastic!

When conditions are really big, or too little wind then I like to scramble onto my bodyboard and let my legs get a good workout. Riding barrels is one of the simple pleasures of life, or perhaps it’s just the pure joy of being in the ocean.

Anthony Yap
Owner, Titan Kayaks

A chilled aproach to crosstraining - Ashtanga Yoga

In the past my cross training to kayaking has always been simply to try to keep up my background in gymnastics close with small exercises that really focused on keeping up skills in body/spacial awareness, flexibility, and core strength.

My cross-training workouts however rarely maintained any structure and just consisted of exercises I use to preform at the gym with slight tweaks so they could be performed anywhere while I was on the road.

Over the last year however I have been introduced to Ashtanga Yoga and this has brought everything together, plus more.

Ashtanga Yoga is a slightly more up beat style of yoga that moves through the various positions at a faster rate then the typical styles of Yoga people usually envision. The routines and movements focus on breathing which surprisingly help a lot in building stamina when on the water along with being more aware of your breathing when on the water instead of wearing yourself out with inefficient pants and gasps.

The movements and postures used in Ashtanga yoga build on flexibility and core strength and unlike the common perspective of yoga being a slow moving almost lethargic like activity I assure you that within 5 minutes of a good Ashtanga workout your muscles will be loose, the sweat will be dripping from your brow and until you condition your body to it your muscles will definitely be sore the next morning from the work out.

If you're someone who's looking for a well rounded work out that leaves you feeling great, builds strength along with flexibility and balance, and can be done if needed in the comfort of your own living room then I strongly suggest you look into Ashtanga Yoga!

Chris Spelius
Owner, Expediciones Chile

Daily Workouts

I work out at least every day:

• Swimming, 2000 yards, 5 X per week
• Yoga, twice a week
• Weights, twice a week
• Flatwater kayak, 40 minutes, twice a week
• Hiking, once a week

At my age it is essential for paddling and essential for feeling good. The Yoga is as important as any of the other workouts if not more so.

Jeroen Houttuin
Mr Playak

SUP, Ergometer, MTB

I originally come from whitewater paddling, but ever since I started running Playak as a full time job, I found that real paddling trips are extremely time consuming. And so I paddle mostly upstream on my back yard river (WW 0-1) these days, just to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors, without having to invest loads of time.

If have done loads of other sports in my life: judo, trampoline, tennis, golf, jiu-jitsu, aikido, tennis, speed skating and rowing. Paddling is the one that made the most lasting impact though, probably because it's close to nature, close to the water (keeps you cool on hot days), and because it's so easy to do whenever you feel like it.

I started SUPing this year because it makes me use very different muscles, it's more tiring than kayaking, and it comes with even more of the same advantages.

I also do a little bit of mountain biking, swimming and play some tennis occasionally - nothing serious. If I was a lot younger, I'd probably start running parcours - looks like great fun!

Finally, I also use the paddling ergometer occasionally, typically when the weather is really bad, or when I want to save even more time by not having to walk to the river :)

Jochen Lettmann
Lettmann Kayaks

Skiing, Biking, Children

On the water, I mostly paddle whitewater and more and more sea kayaking as well.

I do love alpine skiing in winter for fun and because it´s nearly as free as kayaking.

Mountain biking all year around if there is time for training.

And then I have two little daughters (3 and 1 year old)... OK I now you think it´s no sport but then you haven´t got a kid. They provide for full day cross training as there is: running, jumping, crawling, weight lifting etc :)

Nigel Foster
Sea Kayak Guru
Anything that floats...

I don't like to practice, I prefer to do

My main paddling discipline is sea kayaking, but for fun I paddle anything that floats.

And I love to canoe and I stand-up-paddle in both sea kayaks and canoes but not at the same time (I don't stand when I surf-kayak).

I also enjoy walking, when I have somewhere to go... other outdoor sports that I used to do a lot, I do less, and I spend more time with my guitar!

Olli Grau
Kayak teacher, watersport agent

Olli Grau Cross training

My disciplines are white water and freestyle kayaking.
Through out the year I try to keep my endurance up with 2-4 training sessions per week. This is MTB, running and roadbike during the summer and running and crosscountry skiing (skating) during the winter. 1-2 times per week I combine them with a longer stretching programm. In the offseason I add 2 sessions (during season 1 session) of strength training (usually only using the body weight) for body tension, the old back and the antagonists of my main sports.

During winter I ski and snowboard approx 3 times a week depending on weather and snow conditions. I get to about 30-50 days per season, but often only ride 2-3 hours before or after work.
During summer I race motocross. From April to Oktober I try to train on the bike twice a week. These days are intensive/ max heart rate and riding technique training followed by a stretching programm.

Most beneficial for kayaking is to have a good endurance for a quick recovery and actively training the antagonists of paddling in order to maintain an healthy muscular balance. The perfect cross sport for kayaking has to be a "standing up sport" (for me motocross, but ballet being the ultimate addition). Ah, one rest day/ active recovery day per week should be on every schedule...

Olly Sanders
Sea kayaker, Mountain Climber and Owner of Rock & Sea Adventures

Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Winter climbing, Surfing

I rock climb and ice climb and also surf.

I try to combine the climbing and sea kayaking on expedition and try and visit remote places and do new climbs, this combines my love of both sports. I like the variation of the sports so i don't get bored with doing one all the time.

Shane Benedict
Designer Liquid Logic

I have been a whitewater paddler for the past 30+ years

I have to say that kayaking is the thing that I do. Kayaking really is the center of my life and it has been for a long time, however I do dabble in a few other things. When ever possible I love to get out in the surf. I am a terminal beginner surfer because I don't do it enough but I love it. When I go on a surf trip I surf until I can't move any more and then take a nap and repeat. I skateboarded a lot when I was a young punk and still cruise on a longboard and occasionally jump in a park again, which usually leads to me crashing and then not skating in a park for a while. Our customer service guru at Liquidlogic, Obie, got me into a sweet mountain bike that is far more advanced than my biking skills. My mountain biking career is much like my skating career. I love it and want to do it more but it always leads to me hurting, throwing up, or just plain embarrassing, myself. The other thing that I love to do is play basketball. Usually I play a few times a week and its probably the best thing I have done for myself as far as staying in some kind of shape.

The other activities that I pursue bring me a lot of pleasure in different ways. Mountain biking and surfing are fun for me because I really don't know much about them so I get to enjoy them with the eyes of a beginner. I get to laugh at myself for the stupid things I do. I have no expectations of how I surf or bike so its just for fun. Its a great place to be and it reminds me to be the same in anything that I pursue. Skateboarding and Basketball have taught me how to transition through my skills and see different ways to enjoy the sport. There is a fluidity and balance on a skateboard that I haven't found in any other sport. Basketball to me is much like paddling with a group of people. We each have our skills and weaknesses and it is up to us as a team to work within those boundaries and find a good flow that we can all take part in. Its also a great avenue for me to express my competitive drive that I still like to stay in touch with. I really do want to kick your ass on the basketball court. :)

Simon Westgarth
Owner, Gene17

Biking and Cross Country Skiing

On the water, my main thing is whitewater paddling.

Off the water, I both road bike and ride my freeride bike a lot, especially now that I live at the bottom of Hafjell Ski Area, which is a great Summer Bike Park.

I got into Road Biking, after I broke my leg last year, and if the rivers are dry or there is no snow in the hills, it's great to bike on the road.

In the cold months, I cross country ski, both styles, and lots of it in fact, most days in February and March.

Tao Berman
Extreme Kayaker
Red Bull Canal Crashers

Lots of other sports

My main paddling discipline obviously is whitewater kayaking.

There are a lot of other sports that I do on a frequent basis. They are mountain biking, motocross, skiing, windsurfing, road biking, and golf, well, the last one is more of a game than a sport.

I love paddling but after having been doing it for 18 years I find that the only way I feel challenged in the sport is if I'm taking huge risks. I love the risks, but it's difficult to find falls and rapids on a daily basis that give me that challenge. In all of the other sports that I do I can tell that the learning curve is still steep, and I'm constantly being challenged because there is so much more to learn.

These sports certainly help keep me mentally sharp, and to some degree physically fit, which both help with my kayaking. But at the end of the day, nothing is more important to being a great kayaker that the number of days actually spent in your boat.

So there we have it. A very wide variety of different sports and many of them not very wet. Mountain biking stills seems to be very popular with paddlers worldwide, and a growing number of yoga fans. The alternatives are really only limited by money and usually the biggest factor, time. Time spent outdoors is always time well spent. As Will Rogers said, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save”



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