Last year, after the world freestyle championships and our trip through North Carolina, I felt that something was undone. United-States are so huge and American people so cool that my boyfriend Luc and I decided to do it again! But no just for a freestyle competition, NO! A road trip through Colorado to discover far more on this country and ourselves!
Step 1 : Buena Vista
After a 20 hours trip, we take the road from Denver in our Dodge Grand Caravan direction Buena Vista. It’s tough to adapt to those big American cars all automatic! After few minutes driving we begin to chill out when we saw a strange shape on the side of the road. Surprised, we slow down and here, at the glance of the front beam we saw around ten pair of eyes shining! Around thirty stags were enjoying the calm of the night to come close to the road! Stunning creatures, never seen something that massive! Once we regained our composure, we arrive at 5a.m. in the little city of Buena-Vista. There, we discover a haven of peace where life is good. We take our quarters in the Surf Chateau. Here, beautiful rooms are waiting for us. There are standing straight by the water, built and imagined by Mathieu Dumoulin’s friends, Jed and Kennley Selby. I recommend you this place, welcoming and roomy. Attracted by this soothing atmosphere and the kindness of the inhabitants we stay 5 days in Buena Vista. We take advantage of the Arkansas River to perfect our wave and roll freestyle moves. Later, we fly by upstream on the river to try out the “numbers”, ranked IV, in creekboat! The paradise!
Given the fact that the qualifiers were the Friday for the girls, I couldn’t realized the pro race but Luc Goujon is ranked 2nd for the experts and Mathieu Dumoulin 2nd for the pro.
Thanks to Jed and Kennley, Dustin and Katie Urban for this unforgettable stay!
Step 2 : Glenwood
« You can’t come to Colorado without surfing the Glenwood wave ! », the Demshitz (team Pyranah) told us, during a crazy party night. Without thinking twice, here we are travelling to northern Colorado on the road 82, to reach Glenwood. One the way, we went by Aspen where the rocky landscapes disappear little by little under the snow! Splendid! The Demshitz didn’t lie, it’s an incredible wave! Wide and fast, the stream allowed us to link easily blunt, back blunt, donkey flip and helix in an off-putting way for the most skillful of the kayakists! In Glenwood, the time stops…We string together surfing and figures with Eric, Emily, Dane Jackson or Courtney! The night is going to fall, we have been sailing for six hours and we don’t know yet where we are going to sleep. The night before, due to a lack of information we took up residence on a Walmart parking lot (a supermarket where camping-cars are allowed) but for this night, we have a better plan ;). We are sleeping above the mountain that overlooks the wave. We camp in the wild, under the stars. We are lucky to have an absolute breathtaking view on the Colorado valley! Quite a big moment.
Step 3 : Steamboat
Both competitions are standing this week-end, Lyons and Steamboat. After a little consultation between the Frenchitz (little nickname given by team Pyranha, the Demshitz) we decide to take it easy at Steamboat!
We arrive in Steamboat. No need to look very much for the freestyle spot. Without lying, you just have to go where it smells the rotten-egg. To find the wave, here, “the nose-know”. Indeed, the Yampa river is flowing through a sulfur stone. At the edge of the wave many yellow springs can be observed that are joining the main river. We had begun our practice on a powerful roller. After few pretty runs we start to share a conversation with an audience member who was standing near the water. The likable and sweet Holly tells us that her husband, Bryan, is also kayaking and that he is French! We got on well very easily and we meet together in Bryan and Holly’s livingroom around a beer, waiting for the barbecue to reach the perfect heat! The next morning we go to spot the river competition on homestake creek. The water is high and the passage that is usually ranked IV appears to be more difficult. We had the chance to appreciate a great show by Dave Fusili who won the race for the men and Martina Wegman for the ladies. The next morning we keep going on freestyle competition. The organization is for the least relaxed: 3 run for one paddler. Judges take the risk into account as much as the style. There are a lot of people on board. Spectators are waiting for the show between hotdogs and beers! Here I am on the wave, doing blunt, back blunt, loop and air guitare (as far as style is concerned!). This run allows me to won the race before Martina Wegman, ranked 2nd and Eva Luna, ranked 3rd. A big moment of sharing and giggles when Eva lost her paddle during her run. We had to get it back together, she, hanged to my boat and I paddling to try to join the riverside 150 m downstream the wave! Speaking for the boys, Bren Orton did the show and is ranked first before Mathieu Dumoulin.
Once the competition over, we hear hysterical screams and we see people running on the waterside. We believed in some young people on swimsuit, riding some rubber ring, so we came closer, laughing….The young man was shaggy…it was a huge bear that was crossing the river by swimming just on top of the freestyle spot! Unbelievable, hideous, he emerged on the opposite waterside and took long strides, climbing the mountain that was in front of us. We were speechless!
The evening went as the day begun: with good madness! Everyone went to the Steamboat’s bar where we wriggled our hips on American hellish rhythms with our new friends. The next morning, the bodies a
ching by sailing, dancing and partying, we went with both of our friends, Bryan and Holly to the hotsprings of Steamboat. These hot springs are standing in the middle of a pine tree and birch forest. Those pools are more than 30°C hot, we couldn’t dream better! A great thanks to Bryan, Holly and Eva Luna who made this step quite unforgettable!!
Step 4 : Go Pro Mountain Games at Vail
Light-hearted, we take the road 70 south to the ski resort of Vail. Here, one of the biggest sport event of Colorado is waiting for us. It’s quite a major step, internationally renowned: the Go Pro Mountain Games. The worldwide best paddlers of each discipline: climbing, freestyle kayak, slackline, stand up, creek boat are there. There is no way to play it cool because on top of the renown, the victory can bring 2000$! The atmosphere was more hard-working in Vail and we warmed up on a powerful roller, totally artificial. By the way, it is Clay Write who had succeeded, despite the changeable water level, to create a real roller, thanks to the tuning of air draft stoppers that were placed on the bottom of the river (this device cost more than 800 000 euros).
The creek boat competition stands every year in homestake creek, a strong river ranked level V, in which slides on rocks and technical falls keep coming. This river instinctively delighted me. So, I went into it ! Sage, a young American girl proposes me her Jackson Karma S…My heart beating, I get onboard in this unknown boat on this unknown river that I’ve only spotted from the side. Luckily, Mathieu shows me the path to follow…The river becomes narrower and the stream faster…Weepy fall, crossing the vicious rocky slide, done, 1rst fall, done, 2nd fall, done! My arms are hurting! Keep going on three last falls, YES!!! I did it !! Adrenaline and great feelings! ;)
Vail Go Pro USA from Marlène Devillez on Vimeo.
After that, one feels unbeatable, and a little freestyle competition cannot stress me as much as this! Well, in fact, yes! That was without counting the hundreds of spectators who came and stack together as bees around a honey pot! We were some wild beats released in an arena! For who was the victory for? For each huge loop, each huge mac nasty the crowd shouted in a single voice! I’ve never felt an atmosphere as electric as that! Loop, Space Godzilla, mac nasty, combos…each athlete had his technique, his style…Eventually Dane Jackson won the race before Dustin Urban. For the ladies, I finish in second position after Claire O’Hara (the worldwide champion)!
Step 5 : Arches parks
After 2 weeks of intensive kayak we needed to take a break and see other things! We have pushed the road far West on the road 70 to the Utah! The snow-covered peaks of Vail gave the way to an arid landscape and ochre canyons that were breathtaking! This detour to Moab, Arches Parks and Dead horse point has shown us at which point we were small things. These monumental rocks shaped by water, wind and frost/thaw for thousands years made us dreamy! We took an eyeful! I let you judge with those few pictures! And since from the beginning of our trip we had some incidents with the local fauna, we met among other at Arches desert lizards and squirrels! That was great, but the sound of a rattlesnake through the rocks beyond our feet during a little walking, froze us with fear!
Step 6 : FIBark at Salida
To finish our road trip in Colorado, we went to Salida where the Fibark event, created in 1984, takes place! We rejoined whit our kayakist friend met along our competitions in a city full of coulor and charm. The walls of the houses and the stores covered by old advertising clash with the funfair, carousel and the ice-cream stands that were set for the event. We enjoyed these last couple of days to deeply sail on an rolling-wave slow and easy. On Friday night, a country folk music band concert led by the infamous stringdusters, transported us in another time. On the lawn of the park, one could see American hippie-cowboys wiggle frenziedly on wild rhythms under curls of smoke just as proper to this city. Easily projected in this atmosphere, we’ve been overjoyed until late in the evening before we joined our wild camp located 4 miles away from the city, along the railway.
The final on Saturday was epic! Slalom race in the morning with a wide public pleased to see it, then the final of freestyle expert (unprofessional group). Luc did a pretty run and is ranked 3rd! Before the pro final we witness, amuse, the hooligans race. It is a race of unusual boats realized by competitors! Pirate boat, flowing boxing ring or soccer field, improvised rafts…A great show and an easy-going atmosphere attracted a lot of people on the riverbank. The pro finals could begin! As far as the ladies are concerned, I managed to link a loop, space Godzilla, back blunt on both sides, blunt and Felix (Yes, I did it!!!!). With an average of 380 points, I won the Fibark competition before Nathalie and Brooke, both American! For the men, the battle was also hard and eventually it’s Dustin Urban who won with 680 points before Mathieu Dumoulin and Bren Orton!
Step 7 : Back to Paris
Today, after a Denver-Washington 5 hour flight, 12 hours of call, a Washington-Boston-Geneva 10 hour flight (one emergency stop for a sick passenger) and a trip of 5 hours of train to link Geneva to Paris, I look through the window of my office thinking to the chance I had to live this amazing trip! I am already dreaming to the next one: worldwide cup in Europe from the end of June to mid-July in France and Spain!
I also wanted to thank STACCATO, LEVEL-SIX, BURGEAP, the Conseil Général de Haute-Saône and Sport Ambition 70 who had always supported me and allow me to pursuit my dreams.
Thank you Constance and Maxime for your help!