CKS PFest brought perfect river levels and hoards of hungry paddlers to BV to drench in the spirit of paddling on the Arkansas River. Starting on Friday the sleepy town of Buena Vista came to life as the line was out the door at 7:00AM to the local coffee shop and paddlers were eager to get their sunscreen and paddle ON. Again CKS brought paddlers from all over the World to support the spirit of paddling through their legendary Sale on the best paddling equipment on the planet. The weekend had a spattering of different events in nearly all day everyday. Stand up paddling has seen crazy growth in Colorado and there is no doubt that CKS has been a strong driver for that through, education, stewardship and competitions that they have created. As an ambassador for Starboard, a competitor, and Instructor I had my hands full, but that's how I like it.
Colorado has been hit with a proliferation of Whitewater specific boards, constructions and designs, and I am stoked to say that the Starboard Whopper Astro has become a hit for its durability, light weight and performance on the rivers of Colorado. I used one all weekend and it performed excellent. I got to run the Numbers Section a few times and get some serious South Main Play Park runs in as well as some surfing on one of the 3 epic surf waves in the play park. Saturday I offered a SUP Whitewater Strokes and Maneuvers clinic filled up faster than a Whiskey Shot at the Deerhammer (the local distillery run by a sup paddler). Ten people attended my class for a solid 4 hours of fun whitewater instruction on the Ark River. Tired but fired up I grabbed my trusty old Starboard 12.6 surface from 2009 and readied it for battle in the annual CKS SUPhill Downhill SUP cross. Trading paint was the name of the game while heats of 4 paddlers had to navigate several turns and rocks to cross the line in the top 2 to advance. I had some serious battles and close calls but managed to edge out nearly everyone for a 2nd place finish in some epic sprint battles that entertained hundred watching from the banks. We had worked the crowd and our palates into a frothing frenzy during the race and the beer was flowing at the local Eddyline Brewery just yards from the river for we made a B line to quench our dry throats with the local IPA's and delicious elixirs at the brew pub. Then we would hit the distillery and the State bar before hitting the sack at nearly 2 in morning. What they would call an appropriate and respectful bender before another big day of CKS Pfest. Sunday morning looked a bit cloudy but then I realized I was still a bit foggy from the day before but I would have to snap out of it before the Ruler of the Roost off road triathlon that combined trail running, mtn biking and a downriver paddle race for the first annual multi sport race at Pfest. After a quad shot latte I was fired up to get going and that starting whistle couldn't have sounded earlier. I don't run much so the all out sprint off the line caught me off guard and I got fought up in it until realizing I better pace myself so that I would just finish. Getting on the bike felt good for a few minutes and then we started climbing on the technical single track up the banks of the river to encounter up hill after uphill and finally making the descent I was starting to catch my competitors. One more big hill and super tech loop on the infamous "Broken Boyfriend" trail and it was a to the paddle portion of the event. Gaining one more spot while sprinting down the rio on my trusty 12.6 Starbie I managed to cross the line in just under 1 hr for a 2nd place finish in the solo category. Exhausted and sore I swear I sucked down a good half gallon of water trying to dry my mouth out from the biggest single effort of the year for me so far. I learned a lot from the race about pacing and making quick sport transitions and think I could take the win next year if I strategize just a tad better. Exhausted once again I managed to find my way to some food and a killer soak in the hot tubs of Cottonwood Hot Springs just up the road. The pain drifted away and so did my consciousness as I racked out for the night early in the evening. Monday would be the start of a 2 day Level 3 ACA Whitewater SUP Instructor certification course and a good 10 hrs of skills testing and course work. So there I was living the dream for another day and standing on my sup board in the river for a good portion of the day would leave me happy and wrecked in a good way. Proudly I passed all my skills and tests and have been approved as a Whitewater SUP instructor under the ACA. STOKED!
Finally after a week of non stop SUP activities I got a break to pump this little blog story out and take a few runs on my new Starboard Astro Whitewater Prototype for 2014 the "Stream". Super double stoked now.
out. A huge thanks for all the support from Starboard, FCS, Level 6, CKS, Pocket Fuel, and RMOC.