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Old 09-25-2013   #1
SW, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 120
Do you fear you'll never reach your potential?


After four plus years of falling in love with kayaking (and still generally sucking), I'm realizing that I'm advancing in age, yet I'm still so far from where I want to be in the sport.

Further, I'm realizing that in other sports (skiing, climbing, motorcycling, etc.) I'm hitting that point where I no longer have the balls to push myself to a particularly high level in those activities.

My passion now is with boating, and I hope that this hobby will inspire my travels and lifestyle, as other sports have in the past. Yet I regularly worry that I will not progress to the level necessary to enjoy the classic rivers of the country and the world. Or even to further experience the joy of progression and personal improvement.

Anyone else experiencing/experienced this type of retarded kayaking crisis?
How was it overcome (other than quitting the sport)??

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Old 09-25-2013   #2
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 504
Where are you now and where do you want to be?

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Old 09-25-2013   #3
Nessy's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 255
I've been at it for four years and I swam out of my boat yesterday in Golden. The boat went down into the Coors megaplex and I fear it may be lost for good. So humiliating, and a big financial ding, after a lot of work and dedication to the sport. I'm not giving up though, and neither should you. Get back out there on the water and find out what you can do. It's what you've got.
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
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Old 09-25-2013   #4
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
Yup...in the same boat. My main problem is simply lack of boating--never enough time combined with a lack of skill (due to lack of time) is setting me back. My investment in this is substantial so I'm not about to back out. Gonna do some more as I can this fall, hit the pools in winter, and try again next summer. If I don't get where I want to be next summer, I'll be having a HUGE sale.
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Old 09-25-2013   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,012
The key to getting awesome at kayaking is to do it before you develop a frontal lobe. After your brain develops an ability to accurately assess risk, you're screwed.

But really, I find myself at the point that I'm not boating the harder stuff that I use to. But I find myself wanting to still tick off a few runs still, Upper Cherry Creek being the main one. To get back to that level, I know it just takes training like anything else. You just have to boat a lot to get that awareness and be able to take the next step. Find where your weakness is and work on it. One difficult thing with kayaking that I found is that I do have to push beyond my comfort zone to make my normal runs feel comfortable. Like when I need to boat a Class V+ occasionally to make Class V seem manageable. A less threatening way to do that is make your normal run harder. If you're a class IV boater, hit every eddy in a drop that you normally run straight through. Or find a tricky line and stick it. I've also found that the people that progress fastest are not afraid to swim. They sometimes swim more in one season than I have in my entire career. Maybe swim some rapids on purpose if that is what is holding you back. Purposefully jump into big holes and try to get out. If you get out... good hole riding practice. If you don't... valuable swim practice.
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Old 09-25-2013   #6
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
Originally Posted by blutzski View Post
If you get out...

You're not helping.
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Old 09-25-2013   #7
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
The catch to most sports is it takes more practice with age to train your mind. When you're young, you don't question your ability. The older you get, more questions. The cure: kayak constantly. Find a local run and pound it. Get to know every line, boof and rock. It will be huge for your confidence.

Also, I've found ritual is huge for my mental game: walk down to the river, pour a helmet full of water over my head, thank God that I'm in such a beautiful spot, about to have such a fun time, get in my boat, check that everything's tight, splash water in my face, peal out...

Another mental trick is to decide what type of kayaker you want to be each season. For me, that's Class IV, V, when my head space is right. I think it was my third season, I decided to just become a really good Class III kayaker who could catch every eddy in Class III runs. It changed the game, no more pressure to step it up. By the end of that season, I was paddling lots of Class IV and just telling myself it was a handful of Class III moves.

Also, check out William Nealy's books. They have a way of giving you the experience of someone who has boated more than you ever will.
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Old 09-25-2013   #8
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
i know i will take a bunch of flaming for this but...

maybe it's time to buy a raft?

you still get to go on rivers (obviously not he same runs as a hardshell can )!

just a thought.

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Old 09-25-2013   #9
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 99
I have felt your pain!!!

Spent my younger years riding bulls, racing motocross, and rock climbing. I liked the comment from blutzski that made the reference to get good before developing a frontal lobe. I started kayaking about the age of 48 and almost left the sport after the first two years mostly because I was having a hard time finding people willing to spend time with a newbie on the western slope. The next several years was spent trying to hone skills on class 3 without the help of a mentor. That was very time consuming and developed a potential towards bad paddling habits. I was finally fortunate enough the last two seasons to find some seasoned boaters that would spend the time with me and help develop me into a better paddler. 2013 season was finally the year that I was comfortable dabbling into class 4 runs. My advice is to seek out a seasoned kayaker willing to spend the time with you as a mentor to help develop your skills and confidence level. Hopefully you find someone patient enough to let you come along at your own pace and then knows when to push you up a notch when they see your skills advancing. Hope you get that opportunity as I did.
Grand Junction, CO.
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Old 09-25-2013   #10
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
I am a second generation boater. My Dad started kayaking in his late 20s when his friend started taking me rafting. His group was all about the same age, and after 4-5 years they were running the usual Oregon stuff and even some of the harder stuff.
That group is in their 50's now, and my Dad and his buddy that got us going are still kayaking and rafting. One of the guys in our group wrote the book "Paddling Oregon"
every once in a while one of the old group will show up for a run here and there. I am 34, almost 35. When I was 15 I bought a used Riken IK from the guy who got us started, and I started going almost every weekend until I graduated high school, and then I slowed down for a year or so.
Personally I topped out at Class III with the occasional class IV. I've run the Grand Canyon in a snout, I've done a few smaller waterfalls, and I've gotten my ass handed to me a few times. Sometimes I really want to push myself, but I don't find value in pushing all of the time.
I care for the people I boat with. My wife has been going with me since we were in high school. My kids are going now. I have enough experience that I don't feel unprepared for the rivers I run. I'm a big guy, so as an inflatable kayaker, I always felt I had a lower limit than most kayakers. Not too many people were taking inflatable kayaks down some of the weird flooded creeks I've done either.
My point is, I'd give some real thought to what you want from this lifestyle. I've settled my mind, I am satisfied with taking my kids on summer low flows, taking inexperienced friends on some rivers, and running some harder stuff when I get the chance. I don't care who's better, I don't miss out on trips because my skill level isn't there, and I almost always have a great time.
If your last trip on the river was fun, then keep going. After all of these years, I've learned that my river running is dynamic. I missed a few trips for 5 years after my son was born, and in the last summer I feel like I've made up for it. Who knows what next year will bring.

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