Kayaker progression? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-25-2009   #1
 
fids11's Avatar
 
Rifle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
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Kayaker progression?

Hey everyone, I'm new to kayaking (and mountain buzz), am taking a beginning kayaking course thru CMC this spring and am getting super jacked for the spring and summer of 2010 to come (even tho winter is almost here and i'm big into skiing too, mind you)to get on the water!

Just curious, can anyone give me an idea of the natural progression on a beginning kayaker. I see all the sick youtube clips of people running high gradient creeks, dropping waterfalls, etc.. and was wondering, how long does it take to get to that point?

I understand that i'm a beginner and i don't plan on doing any ww that i wouldn't feel completely comfortbale running but at what point do you get the balls to say, 'screw it, i'm running my first III today!'. Like, do get comfortable with rolling and edge control and you're good to go? Do you have to go with someone experienced before you try something like that?

For instance, I see something like Shoshone in the Glenwood Canyon (Class III's in the late summer) and see that as a goal by the end of the summer... Is that insane or is that about right for the progression of someone new to the sport. All of you doing that crazy sh&% make it look so easy (and know it's not that way).

Like I said, I'm taking my FIRST kayaking courses this spring, I consider myself a very good swimmer, not afraid of being in and around water, plan on kayaking as much as possible in the summer (i'm a teacher so i have lots of time to practice in the summer), and would consider myself 'adventurous'.

Any suggestions or comments would be much welcomed.

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Old 11-25-2009   #2
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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Welcome to the best sport around!
2010 is going to be a lot of fun for you.
Progression will come through river days, more than it will through years or seasons; If you're on the water 70 times between March and September, you can come a long damn way in one season.
If you get out about twice a month, you may never become a class 3 boater.
But if you have any natural ability and you get after it at least once a week, you could well be running class 4 by late season. If you're a strong swimmer and you go with the right people, I have no qualms about putting beginners on solid class 3 runs.
Learn to roll in the pool, get some good people to take you, and go hit Shoshone. Swim a few times, figure stuff out; it's all good on a class 3 run.
Just make sure you're with solid people who will look after you, and that you have the right gear.
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Old 11-25-2009   #3
 
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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On the flip side of what Id725 said, make sure that you don't scare yourself out of the sport or slow down your progression by biting off more than you can chew and then being a timid boater for the next season. If you can find a really good boater that you absolutely trust sometimes they can be a better gauge of your ability level than you are, knowing when to push you and when to tell you to take it easy. Remember, the goal of the sport is to have fun and not to necessarily become a class V kayaker as quickly as you can. Getting a really bad beatdown before you have the skills and experience to completely understand whats going on will scare the shit out of you and might turn you off to what is a great mental and physical sport.
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Old 11-25-2009   #4
 
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
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I would recommend spending as much time as possible in a playpark to dial in your roll. The Glenwood park is not ideal due to the lack of eddies there, but I don't know of any others near you. Avon would probably be the closest? Shoshone will probably be the third river run you do, after Grizzly Creek and Cemetary. It's a super fun and relatively safe section. As long as you get out quite a bit and put in a lot of pool time this winter, you can probably paddle it before runoff.

Have fun learning! It is a life-changing sport. Demo ain't lyin' though. If you try to progress too quickly you can easily scare yourself right out of the sport. Everyone knows someone that's done it. It's not like skiing in that regard; it's much, much more mental. The head games are way more challenging than paddling form.
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Old 11-26-2009   #5
 
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I totally agree with the play park. get your roll on flat water then hit up a play park. I have a creek boat and i hit up the golden park 2-3 times a week just to get trashed and work on the roll.... then hit the river runs on the weekend. The more comfortable you are with your roll the more confident you will be on the river. Practice on-side rolls then get your off-side.... then get your hand roll....then keep practicing all of them.

Have fun.
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Old 11-26-2009   #6
 
travelling, around
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The river days thing is super true (and so is losing your mojo on a long swim) since what you are really developing are the ability to see the lines and the body reflexes to stay on them and react to water dynamics without thinking.
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Old 11-27-2009   #7
 
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Eagle, Idaho
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Just depends on what you're comfortable with. I mean, if you don't mind taking a swim and bouncing off a few rocks you can run shoshone right away....I don't necessarily believe it has to be an end of the year goal or anything. NOT scaring the shit out of yourself in your first season is important....if you're not totally comfortable with what MIGHT happen....don't push it and scare yourself away from the sport.

I'd never even been in a kayak on water before and my first run was on a class III section of the Poudre (bridges).....I swam my ass off....about 5 times in half a mile. But I wasn't scared of swimming.....and I knew the river well because I raft guided it (which made a HUGE difference). I don't believe you have to have a bomb proof roll before you even hit the river/play park....does it help?? sure...but if you're itching to get on the water, learning your roll while paddling the river and/or play park is the best place anyway. I can tell you this....learning to roll in a pool and learning to roll in the river makes a big difference in your progression.....

The stuff you see in videos????? I'm know everyone has their opinion on stepping it up to that level. Personally I believe you have to have A LOT of experiences under your belt (not necessarily years....depends on how much time you spend on the water each season). I've known guys step it up to V in their second season (did I agree with it??? Not necessarily, but they had the balls to do it). It also comes down to finding the right crew.....those willing to help your progression and save your ass when needed (and vice versa).

My .02
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Old 11-28-2009   #8
 
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Newport, Oregon
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I think all this is the right track. The thing to remember is that there is no ONE way to progress in the sport. I started out not knowing how to roll and swam my ass off on class III for a while. So I learned to work on my edging and braces. Once I did learn to roll I was better at staying upright than my friends.

As people have said, it is 99% mental. Even still I have bad days that I swear I am only a class III boater. The way you train for this is by getting out on the water. Seeing rivers as much as possible and paddling them is the only way to get better. All the youtube in the world can't train you. I will watch way too many vids and then get on the same rivers and wonder why I'm not as good as Jesse Coombs.

I recently took my girlfriend on a class II+ run and had to spend some time on the shore talking her down from crying. I realized then that when I looked at the river and was describing the line, I was seeing only water and good places to be and she was only seeing rocks and bad places to be. Only time spent on the water can teach you how to see the difference.

I have learned a lot about my kayaking by teaching others. For the longest time I was always the rookie of the groups I paddled with and so depended on others. Once I started being the leader I started paddling WAY differently and saw a lot of things about the river and my technique I hadn't noticed before. It is good to get out on the river and share your experience.


Bottom line: put time in on the water. I was paddling IV+ in my first year (I'm not gonna say I styled it....) because I quit my job and kayaked every day for a while.

Also though, something I wish I had done first was buy good gear. Good gear will make you safer and more comfortable and thus get you out more and ultimately make you a better kayaker. I just recently got a drysuit and, like everyone else that has one, am wondering what took me so long! There are some sports where gear is mainly a status symbol. Kayaking is not like that. Good gear keeps you alive.


Have fun, get out there and remember to keep your head down when you roll!
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Old 11-28-2009   #9
 
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Rifle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redpaddle View Post
I think all this is the right track. The thing to remember is that there is no ONE way to progress in the sport. I started out not knowing how to roll and swam my ass off on class III for a while. So I learned to work on my edging and braces. Once I did learn to roll I was better at staying upright than my friends.

As people have said, it is 99% mental. Even still I have bad days that I swear I am only a class III boater. The way you train for this is by getting out on the water. Seeing rivers as much as possible and paddling them is the only way to get better. All the youtube in the world can't train you. I will watch way too many vids and then get on the same rivers and wonder why I'm not as good as Jesse Coombs.

I recently took my girlfriend on a class II+ run and had to spend some time on the shore talking her down from crying. I realized then that when I looked at the river and was describing the line, I was seeing only water and good places to be and she was only seeing rocks and bad places to be. Only time spent on the water can teach you how to see the difference.

I have learned a lot about my kayaking by teaching others. For the longest time I was always the rookie of the groups I paddled with and so depended on others. Once I started being the leader I started paddling WAY differently and saw a lot of things about the river and my technique I hadn't noticed before. It is good to get out on the river and share your experience.


Bottom line: put time in on the water. I was paddling IV+ in my first year (I'm not gonna say I styled it....) because I quit my job and kayaked every day for a while.

Also though, something I wish I had done first was buy good gear. Good gear will make you safer and more comfortable and thus get you out more and ultimately make you a better kayaker. I just recently got a drysuit and, like everyone else that has one, am wondering what took me so long! There are some sports where gear is mainly a status symbol. Kayaking is not like that. Good gear keeps you alive.


Have fun, get out there and remember to keep your head down when you roll!
Thanks everyone who has replied so far, keep em comin! I think i was a bit misleading with my first post - i don't think i will ever get to the point of doing things that are seen on youtube, i just see them make it look so EASY and was just curious to see HOW they get to that point. I appreciate all of you sharing you personal experiences though, it helps build confidence even though i haven't been on the river at all yet. The main thing i love to see is how everyone is saying that it's 'the best sport' and telling me to 'have fun'. That says alot about how much people think of the sport! I don't suppose there is anything you can do practice in the winter when i'm bored? (my girlfriend bought me a used piranha m3 kayak to get started on as an 'early christmas present'. I know everyone says to demo, demo, demo before you buy but i'm not definitely not returning that christmas present!) - short of having a pool to go paddle around in! Keep the great responses coming!
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Old 11-28-2009   #10
 
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Rifle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
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Also, redpaddle talks of getting great gear.... What all gear should i get? I know i will probably learn this in the class but i think i should be keeping a look out all winter in case i come across some good deals...

So i'll need: spray skirt, helmet, pfd, spray jacket, paddle, .... what else?

Any suggestions and additions would be great help. Also, if you could give names and brands of gear you think is the bomb, that would great too

Thanks!
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