Help me get ready for this season! - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-11-2013   #1
Parker, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 8
Help me get ready for this season!

So I took some classes last year and went out on the river a few times. I loved it but I felt VERY uncomfortable physically and mentally on easy class 3 and 2. My roll is pretty lame on flat water and non existent in moving water. Ive been using a older Dagger RPM that feels very unstable and I think that was contributing to my uneasiness on the water.

Should I take another class? New boat? I'm will to spend some money on something that will make me comfortable.

I want to get into it, but its kinda haunted me all winter. What do you guy think?

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Old 03-11-2013   #2
GoodTimes's Avatar
Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 795
You're going to get a bunch of mixed responses on this one...two schools of thought will become apparent.

New school - lessons lessons lessons and the "right" boat for your size, ambitions, swift water rescue, etc etc etc...

Old school - just go kayaking

I tend to be from the old school of thought because it's how I learned. You definitely need to be able to assess risk....then just ask yourself how much you're willing to deal with. Either way you look at'll be swimming a lot, there's just no way around it. Even if you get good at rolling in a pool (i.e. lessons) you'll still be swimming in a "combat" situation in the river for awhile anyway.

So, go paddling, take a few swims, your roll will progress. Go to a play park (if available)....there isn't a better place to dial in the roll. Swims will be "friendly" and you'll get a LOT of practice.

The RPM is a sweet boat!! But newer technology does provide more comfortable and stable may help.

Just my .02
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Old 03-11-2013   #3
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
Get in the pool with some other paddlers, try some different boats and see what you might like. A more stable boat could help a lot. Classes will always help with confidence.

Start on the 2's, practice eddying behind everything, peeling out, roll in some class 2's, get super confident on them and then repeat on class 3. No point in rushing into it on a 3, scaring the crap out of yourself and taking two steps back with comfort and up to it slow and steady.

that's all I got cause I need to do the same thing really since I have been on the rubber more than the plastic lately...

I think most importantly, have fun doing it!
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Old 03-11-2013   #4
smauk2's Avatar
Near water (hopefully), Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 770
RPM is a fine boat to paddle in as long as the outfitting fits you properly, I doubt the rpm is the main cause for your uneasiness. Sounds like you could use some pool sessions. This is a safe enviroment to paddle around in, and you can practice your roll until you're dizzy.

Having a solid roll makes kayaking on a river much more enjoyable, I'd recommand working on that, and then see if you still have the lack of confidance that is bothering you.
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Old 03-11-2013   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,107
I'd look to upgrade on the rpm. How much do you weigh? If you are heavier than the sweet spot fir the boat it will make it way harder on you.

Ditto pool sessions to dial a flatwater roll. Get ej's rolling DVD, and or take a rolling class.

Old school just paddle works but my guess is that a lot higher % of folks doing the old school flail and swim drop out due to frustration and fear. I'm an advocate of taking lessons to get a decent roll and basic 2-3 river skills and then you are set to have fun.

Good luck.
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Old 03-11-2013   #6
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,505
Dial your roll in flat water--pool, pond, or lake.

I agree on the play park advice.

Find a crew who is just a little bit better than you. Not every crew is in their 20's and running ClassV creeks. Find a crew who loves your easy local class III, and uses your local II as a warmup.

If its way over your skill set, you go into survival mode and won't learn. You just need to push yourself "a little" beyond your comfort range to learn and grow.
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Old 03-11-2013   #7
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,505
A flat water roll =\= a whitewater roll, but the river is not the place to learn it. Do it in flat water until its boring, then dial it in moving water.

A flip shouldn't equal an immediate sprayskirt pull, either. If you can get in 2-3 solid attempts, even if you don't get up, it should give your paddling partners time to get to you to give you a t-rescue instead of having to rescue you from a swim.

Again, work on developing that presence of mind and underwater patience in flat water and translate it to moving water.

Then again, it's probably this calm attitude underwater that makes me comfortable in big III-IV and shitty in bony class V!
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Old 03-11-2013   #8
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
Evaluate your boat and make sure it's right for you--comfort, volume, and stability. My nerves were a wreck and my 'skill' (term used loosely) sucked until I got a boat that fits me, has the stability and response I want, and rolls like a fat chick. This helped my confidence IMMENSELY, so to me, that is #1.

Pool sessions are second to me. My son and I go down to Pueblo on Tuesday night and there's a guy down there who is an absolutely AWESOME instructor (it's $6 to get in and includes all the gear you need, plus instruction). Get there (or any other location), get your roll down and practice your strokes and braces. Control/direction strokes are just absolutely critical (for me) to be comfortable.
After that, go to the play parks (Confluence, Golden, and BV) and just practice, practice, practice.

Oh yeah...get a quality vest. This is one item you don't want to go thrifty on. Get one with high buoyancy and is comfortable for you (I recommend the Kokatat Ronin Rescue). I don't know about you, but having this helped me relax a bit more (knowing I wouldn't necessarily drown every time I punched out) and allowed me to focus on just paddling.

/Generic stuff, I know, but these are things I had to learn. See you out there!
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Old 03-11-2013   #9
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 568
I'm sort of old school or maybe I'm just 'old', but I'd take some lessons. Some paddling clubs have pool sessions and members often volunteer to help newbies learn to roll. That how I learned to roll a kayak. However, just because someone can roll, doesn't mean thay can teach someone else to roll.

Case in point. Me. I had a couple of years of open boat WW experience, but wanted to kayak so I could run higher class rivers. I went to a session of the local canoe club and the first instructor asked if i was right hand or left. He proceeded to show the basics of the roll, but it was a little frustrating that evening. The next session with a different instructor, this guy asked me what side I paddled on. Which was different than what I write with. This guy had me doing a solid pool roll by the end of that session. I had a another 6 weeks to perfect the pool roll before hitting the river for the first time in a kayak where I rolled about 4 different times. So, when my GF wanted to learn to roll a kayak, we went to the pool session of a local club and just watched which instructor seemed to have the best success with teaching a newby to roll and that's the guy we worked with. She had a solid pool roll after two sessions.

Number one thing when learning to roll.....keep your head down, chin sort of on the shoulder. Ask someone to watch you as you roll. Most often someone learning to roll raise their head first and that cause the paddle to dive. Oh, and another thing to keep in mind. Hip snap is just as critical as keeping your head down. If an instructor hasn't got you successfully rolling (at least a decent percentage of the attempts) in a few sessions, switch. It may not be that he's a bad instructor, but someone else might have different method or technique that clicks with you. Having a good pool or flatwater roll just give you so much more confidence that you'll pick up that river roll in no time.

I agree that some boats are easier to roll than other when you're just starting out.

Sorry for such a long post.
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Old 03-11-2013   #10
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,108
One more vote for more pool time. Sounds like more pool instruction will be useful, but remember that a large part of it is putting in the practice on your own. Taking a class in and of itself will not give you a bomber roll. Get your roll 100% in the pool, learn the offside, finish forward, finish back, start your roll with the paddle shallow and deep, hand roll, roll with your paddle backwards, starting with one hand on the blade, etc. Count your rolls and don't leave until you've tried at least 100 times each session. I'd really focus on that roll though and once you're a master at that in the pool, confidence in moving water will quickly follow. RPM is easy to roll, so not much of factor there, but if you've got the means, an upgrade to something modern is a good idea.
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