Monday, September 24, 2007

Clean up!

That's right, this past Sunday was the annual Vermillion River Cleanup. Nora did a great job organizing it and it really went well. Not sure how many people showed up, but I've got to think it was at least 20. What was really nice was that a bunch of the people were High School students from Hastings. Not only did they really pull their own weight and then some, but it's nice to get some local people involved in cleaning up the river. Maybe it will have a bit of a trickle-down to all of the bike-throwing punks that make the cleanup necessary every year.

Like last year, Nora organized the event and managed to snag some sweet swag from a whole bunch of sponsors. I'm pretty sure that everybody that volunteered got something, which is pretty cool. I spent my day in the water with Ivan, Dennis, and three high school seniors dragging bikes, scooters, railroad tracks, a steel staircase, and more over to shore where the dry volunteers carried, roped, and dragged it up the cliffs. Everybody worked hard and I was amazed at how much big heavy stuff they got up to the trash pile. It was a good time, there were good people, and the river is that much cleaner and safer.

Check Nora's blog for the pictures and some more info.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


These are some pics from Waconia yesterday. Notice the shot of Tighe on the jetski with a student holding the kite (upside down) on the back. It's a great system that allows you to move back upwind pretty easily. In addition to the pics, I got to meet a bunch of local kiters and got some good beta on everything from launch techniques to kite models. David was kind enough to spend about an hour with me giving me some tips and helping me learn to water launch my kite (I was using one of Tighe's kites last time). The problem was that my ATL reverse-launch somehow got strung incorrectly, so my kite would only turn right once it was up. It took a long time to find the problem, but we eventually got it sorted. Then, Tighe was good enough to drive me out to the middle of the lake on the jetski so that I could practice without worrying about being dragged onto shore or into a dock. Unfortunately, I totally wasted Tighe's time because I failed to notice that one of my kite's wingtips was dragging in water the whole way out. The lines coming off that tip created a tangle like you wouldn't believe. To make matters worse, when I was untangling that knot I dropped my control bar into the lake. I dove in after that while Tighe worked on the original knot. By this time, however, there were more tangles in the lines that I had to try to undo from the bar. All the while, I was keeping Tighe from getting back to the lesson that he was supposed to be teaching. Finally, I just called it, got back on the jetski, and caught a ride to shore so that at least my line issues didn't have to take up any more of Tighe's time. The lines got even more messed up riding back, and it took me about 40 minutes to finally get them straightened out. At that point I just packed it in, took a few pics, and headed out.
Despite all of the line issues, the real problem wasn't with the gear, it was with me. I hate to admit it, but all of these issues were a direct result of the fact that I'm just not comfortable kiting yet. To be painfully honest, I'm scared of my kite. There's no logical reason for it, and I can't even say what I'm scared about, but there was a level of apprehension that was causing me to do everything only 1/2 heartedly. That's how all of the mistakes happened. I've had similar spells kayaking, and I've found that normally what I need to do is just go out and throw myself into what I'm worried about, get thrashed, and roll up. After that, my confidence shoots back up and I can get back to thinking about the things I need to. So, I've decided that my next kiting day will be different. I'm going to head up to Mille Lacs and just work all of the fear and uncertainty out of me. I might not even bring the board - just go out and put the kite and myself through every imaginable scenario until that one part of my brain is finally satisfied and I can actually start devoting my thoughts to what I need to do to kite well instead of what I'm afraid might happen if I don't.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Kite Lesson!

Well, the impossible has occurred. Today I actually became waterlogged beyond comfort. As someone who is most comfortable when up to my eyeballs in splashing water, I never thought I'd see the day. After kiting twice in a row without noseplugs, however, I think I've finally found my limit. I had water up my nose, in my ears, down my throat, and just about everywhere else. Despite that, it was an awesome day. I took a 1.5 hour kiteboard lesson with Tighe from Lakawa. It was great, Tighe was really helpful, and I wound up scooting around Lake Waconia on my board. Using a jetski and an in-helmet communication system, we headed out to the middle of the lake to work on water launching, drift launching, body dragging. and actually boarding. It was great. I was really suprised by the body dragging - I had assumed it was a fairly leisurely activity in which I would sort of be gently towed along the lake by a kite that was depowered and in the neutral zone. That was definitely not what Tighe had me doing. I was skimming across the waves at about 15 mph, signing the kite for more power, and all the while trying to keep my swimsuit from falling off. It was really fun. Then we got the board out and started to work on that. There's a lot more to water kiting than snow and I had some trouble keeping both the kite and board doing what they were supposed to. Twice I completely nosedived the kite while cruising along because I was trying to get the board to edge and couldn't concentrate on both things at once. I'm looking forward to the day when it just becomes automatic. Speaking of automatic, I'm totally in love with the Slingshot T2. Whenever you let go of the bar, it automatically flys to the edge of the window and just hangs out there. WAY better than the TD's that would overfly the window and crash. Also, this kite doesn't seem to invert like the TD's do. The coolest thing, though, was that once the kite was on the water it would automatically turn on its side and scoot out to the edge of the wind window. Then it would just sit there waiting to be launched. I could crash and let go of the bar, the kite would move itself into launch position, then I could put on my board before even launching it. Pretty cool. Plus, they finally moved the safety loop down below the bar so your leash doesn't get twisted around it. Tighe also took some pics, which was really cool of him. With my life jacket riding up over the harness and the incredibly functional (but not so fashionable) com helmet I know I've never looked cooler, but at least its proof that I wasn't just floundering in the water all day.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Kim and I headed down to lake Pepin today to meet up with Nora for some kiting. We tried Maiden Rock this time, which was better for a South Breeze than the beach we were at last time. The wind was better than last time, but still not consistently strong enough to pull us on the boards (I was busy or out town for the good wind days, so we had to deal with borderline winds today). Also, I'm wishing that my kite had more struts on it. When it would sit on its trailing edge in the water the struts wouldn't be able to support the kite, fold, and the kite would load up with water. That made it tough to re-launch. Nora's bow kite, which is smaller but actually has more struts, held its shape and re-launched pretty easily. We did have both kites in the air quite a bit, and each managed to get up on our boards. I actually had about a 3 minute session of up-down-up-down continuously as I would get up on the board, wipe out but not come off the board, then get right back up again. It's a little more tricky than using the board behind a boat. We wound up spending three hours in the water while Kim was getting scorched on the beach. It was a fun day, but I think next time I'm going to try heading up to Mille Lacs for some consistent winds. Thanks to Nora for bringing the camera - I shamelessly copied these pics from her blog. She has even more posted there, though, so check it out!