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Old 10-08-2013   #1
BV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 131
How to improve over the winter?

Next year, I'd like to step it up a little bit more. Over the winter, I plan on getting in better shape and practicing my rescue and rope skills. Anyone have some tips to help me be a better boater come next spring?

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Old 10-09-2013   #2
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 481
Playboat in the pool over the winter. You'll gain a lot of strength and finesse, and there will be almost no period of readjustment at the beginning of next season.

The one thing that's really hard to practice flatwater are the pirouetting loop moves; the mcnasty and the fonix monkey. For those, I recommend just working on basic looping and really pulling through the stern. Everything else is the same. You'll be amazed at the skill increases.

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Old 10-09-2013   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 311
Join me in January for a 25 day trip down the Grand. I can show you the rope skills you're looking for. You'll come off the river a new person.
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Old 10-09-2013   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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If you can't make it I'd be happy to work on rope skills here in the Fort. Shot me a PM.
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Old 10-09-2013   #5
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Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 347
I set up up zip lines for my kids with ropes between trees in the back yard with a Z Drag adding tension on one end. Playing with all your rescue gear lets you know what's what and what you really need out there. Being the gear junkie I am, I have way too much stuff. I find that you don't really need as much gear with you as you think.
"We're gonna need a bigger boat"
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Old 10-09-2013   #6
Hood River, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2163
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 295
I agree with Leif...pPlayboat, playboat, playboat. It will improve core strength, boat awareness, and your roll. Bringing your creek boat to a pool session is pretty useless once you have a basic roll.

Hard to practice rescue skills not on the river. You can practice throwing a rope for accuracy and re-coiling well for second throws. It's also possible to practice z-drags but they are largely useless for most kayak rescues anyhow.
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Old 10-09-2013   #7
BV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 131
Thanks for the info guys. Anyone know of pool time in Fort Collins? I'd love to go on the grand with you, but I don't think my parents would be too stoked if I took a month off of school to do it.
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Old 10-09-2013   #8
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bc, CA
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 316
I suggest if you are practicing rope throwing - do it on uneven ground. In a rescue course I did I could hit anything while throwing it in a field. Once on the side of a river (slippery rocks) and slopes...that was a different story.
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Old 10-09-2013   #9
Denver via GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 333
A simple thing I use to practice was just sitting in my boat in the living room or garage and rocking it up on edge from side to side and trying to balance it as best I could. Making effort to reach from bow to stern or vise versa while maintaining my balance on a steep edge (using the paddle from time to time to help me out of course).

It may seem silly but I feel like it helped my comfort on edge, and in holes as well as it's good for the abs, range of motion and muscle memory. It may also indicate adjustments you may want to make to your outfitting such as hip padding and thigh braces.
"I plan to leisurely advance through my existence" - Terry Fuhrman 1991
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Old 10-09-2013   #10
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Man it's rough around here trying to paddle in the winter. A number of years ago I had the pool session epiphany when I took a swim where I was upside down, getting pounded by rocks and just couldn't seem to roll up. I spent the winter strengthening my roll and learning how to backdeck roll. Inevitably that leads to working on bow stalls, cartwheels and flatwater loops. I'm a bit chagrined to admit it, but I've found myself having quite a bit of fun working on these skills in the pool. Chase (who has passed on to heaven, where rivers always flow), said they would do drills in the pool where they'd flip, do 20-30 sit ups, and then roll back up to get comfortable being oxygen deprived upside down. Not a bad idea - just don't pass out alone.

I think Ft. Fun guys have kayak polo which would be a great winter training activity. I wish Boulder places weren't so overly anal about their pools so we could get that going here. Maybe now that all their water is contaminated it won't matter if plastic boats touch the water.

That said, my experience is that getting out on the water for real is still a bit of a shock. Paddling around in flat water isn't the same, but can definitely dial in some skills. Speaking of paddling around in flat water, it can be hard to do in the dead of winter. I was trying to get some paddle strokes in before S.A. trip last winter and I simply couldn't find an unfrozen body of water to paddle on within a 3 hour drive. But, if the weather pattern is amicable, getting out on a lake and doing some flatwater training is a good idea. It's an opportunity to really focus on stroke technique and it will get those paddling muscles in shape.

I bookmarked an entry from the late great Jeff West with some drills. I haven't tried it because I found it last spring, but plan to try some of these out this year in the off season.
40 Minute, 20 Drill, Flatwater Workout for Whitewater Kayaking - Jackson Kayak - Whitewater Kayaks, Fishing Kayaks, Recreational Kayaks Jackson Kayak – Whitewater Kayaks, Fishing Kayaks, Recreational Kayaks

EJ also has a book with some flatwater drills and will give you some things to focus on:
Whitewater Paddling: Strokes & Concepts (Kayaking with Eric Jackson): Eric Jackson: 9780811729970: Books

Out here in Colorado things tend to go from 0 to 100 in a hurry during the spring runoff so being prepped for it is key.

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