JHydro Surf Sheaths

 

20160903_120727I needed a bag for my new Slotstik 330 XXL Skimboard that I bought for kiteboarding.  I wanted something compact that would offer some protection, not too bulky, and could still allow the board to dry.  I couldn’t find any skimboard bags online that would fit this XXL board, so I figured I’d just make my own.  I was pretty decent at sewing back in 9th grade Home Economics so how hard can it be??

I found a sewing machine at Goodwill but due to a lower bobbin tension issue, I had a thread bind up that killed the gears and rendered the machine useless.  Luckily my sister, Amy, let me use hers to complete my bag.  The fabric I found was a beautiful sweater fleece, and I chose some “Gator Skin” vinyl for the tip.

After tracing the board onto the fabric, I cut it and the vinyl, then aded a zig zag accent stitch to hold the vinyl.  Then proceeded to sew a couple laps around the perimiter, keeping in mind the words or my teacher, “Don’t forget to Back Stitch!”.  I cut off the excess, and flipped the bag right side out to take a look.  I instantly loved it, and it fit the board like a glove.

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A couple people commented on it at the lake and asked me to make one for them.  I traced out their boards and had a couple bags made just days later.  A couple other kiteboarders asked me to make one for them and even offered to pay for materials and time.  I let them know that I accept “Interesting Trades”, Cases of Beer, and twenty dollar bills!  Thus, JHydro Softgoods was born.

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So far I’ve just been making them for a few friends and recently had some interest on my Etsy Page, a woman ordered a skimboard bag for her granddaughter.  I can make any shape and size and even have an imaging process that can take dimensions and a picture and turn it into a life sized paper pattern, I can print.

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I found a few colors that really looked good and bought out the bolts at a fabric store that was going out of business.

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I’m making the bags for Surfboards, Skimboards, Kiteboards, and Wakesurfing boards.  Each bag gets a little bit better.  If there’s something you need, hit me up or check out what I have on Etsy.

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Ride Engine Hex Core Harness Review

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I bought my Ride Engine harness about 3 months ago at the beginning of the Minnesota summer season but just getting around to writing the review now.  Oh well, at least it’s a solid review of heavy usage rather than just a first ride impression.

The idea is this that a hard harness will not flex, causing the dreaded ride up to the armpits of most waist harnesses and no pinching of the hips and rib cage causing pain and fatigue.  I had heard great things but wondered how much of it was just hype.  Nevertheless, I put in an order after trying on a friend’s Ride Engine.

Fit: I normally wear an XL but his was Large and it fit me perfectly so that’s what I got and would not want it any bigger.  It fits my waist perfectly just below my rib cage.  The padding is very thick and comfortable so it does not feel like the hard plastic harness that it is.

There is a slider rope option which allows you to connect your chicken loop and be able to slide further to the side for more comfortable toe side riding or surfing.  I decided on the hook instead because it’s what I’m used to and want the option of unhooking or doing surface handle passes when snowkiting.    To test the ride up factor, I decided that I would not touch or pull the harness back down at all just to make sure it did stay in place.  I must say I was impressed that it worked, and if it did slide up a bit, I was able to make it come back down by sucking in my stomach and letting it move back down from my ribs, or by simply leaning way back while edging hard on the water.

Design: There’s a handle pass slider on the back or a ring on each side for your leash.  The spreader bar is attached by pulling a loop over one side of the spreader bar.  One side is closed and the other is the one that opens.  I’m able to get in and out of the harness without ever loosening or tightening the side straps.  Just by pulling the hook to the side and sucking in your stomach slightly it will open, but there’s no chance of it coming open wile riding.  A small detail but huge time saver and so simple.

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I feel this is a huge improvement over traditional waist harnesses.  I have used ProLimit, Liquid Force, and Slingshot Ballistic but this is my favorite by far.  Whether or not it would replace a seat harness I cannot say but do know a couple people who have done it this year and didn’t look back.

Wear:  A whole summer of heavy usage and there is no change in the look, no frayed thread, rips, or holes, it’s still in perfect condition.

Drawbacks:  I can honestly say there isn’t anything I don’t like about this harness.  I can ride for hours without getting that squeezed feeling and tired back and abs.  The price is higher than many waist harnesses but it’s arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment, connecting the rider to the kite so it has to be strong, comfortable, and last a long time.

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If you’re on the fence about it, many stores offer a Love it or Leave it guarantee so there’s nothing to loose.  All in all, I would highly recommend this harness to anyone looking for a comfortable and high performance harness.  I was going to switch back to my former harness just for comparison but I just don’t even want to do that even for a day.  I would guess we’ll be seeing more manufacturers making rigid harnesses but Ride Engine was the first and seems to be the most popular.  My friends who have them and I all agree we’d never go back.

 

Slotstik Skimboard for Kiteboarding

I thought I’d write a quick review on my new skimboard that I’ve been using for kiteboarding.  After riding my homemade skimboard for a couple months I decided to buy a production skim to use for kiting.  I did a lot of research and eventually ordered a custom Slotstik 330 Skimboard from Slotstik in Oxnard, CA.  Skimboards are meant to be used in the ocean, running on the sand, throwing the board down on the water and gliding out on the ocean.  Advanced riders are able to skim out, turn around quickly, and ride a wave back to shore.  My intent is to use it for kiteboarding though.

Slotstik’s motto is “The World’s Finest Skimboard”.  I ordered my colors and waited for the board to be built and shipped.  I’d like to say patiently but I was getting very anxious to get it and put it on the water with my kites.  When it arrived, I was really blown away with the finish.  The green swirl bottom looked amazing and the whole board just looked perfect, not a flaw on it.  Rails were nice and sharp for carving, the bottom rocker was flat with a nice upturn at the nose to prevent from diving under when you hit choppy water.  I ordered the largest skimboard I could find which was an XXL 58.25″ x 21.50 which is made for riders over 205 lbs like myself.

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Swirl Base on the Bottom of Board

 

The rails are boxy for added volume and float, nose rocker 1.30″ and tail rocker 0.25 so you can easily ride it forward or backwards.  The finless design of skimboards make them extremely efficient in lightwind.  I didn’t realize how much drag the fins add but when I switch back to surfboard, I feel like I’m dragging and anchor and need a lot of wind to get the surfboard moving compared to the skimboard.

I didn’t want to use wax since it’s messy and not as soft for riding choppy water.  I ordered traction pads for skimboard and stand up paddle board and cut them to fit.  Since you’re riding the whole board, flipping it around and riding back wards, I gripped the whole deck.

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The board is super lightweight and literally felt like holding a piece of styrofoam in your hand.

On my first ride, I rigged up my 12 meter Slingshot RPM kite and took it out on a windy day.  Since it’s so much lighter than my plywood board, at first it felt a bit squirrelly.  Bending the knees a bit more helped to keep the board on the water.  Going upwind was no problem at all, and soon I was in the middle of the lake ready to start surfing some waves.  The sharp rails and upturned nose made it carve amazingly well.  You still need to set your edge hard to avoid the board slipping out but the carving ability and the size of the fan you can throw is unreal.

There was no issue with holding down tons of power from the kite during gusts, and when there was a lull, I just flattened out the board, and it would just stay on top of the water gliding effortlessly.  Then when the wind resumed, edge the board and ride upwind again.

The added float made tacks and transitions super easy.  I’ve even been landing shove-its consistently, which is where you flick the board with your heel or toe and it slides around 180 degrees on the water.  Skimboards are very popular for kiting in super shallow water since they have no fins.  Many people here are staring to use Foil boards for kiting but there is a clear disadvantage to foils when riding in very shallow water or weedy water.

I can’t say enough how much I love this board and find myself riding it the majority of the time, over twin tips and surfboard.  I look forward to trying some larger waves on it and learning how to catch a little air off waves.  If you get a chance to try a skimboard at your local spot, I’d highly recommend it.  Super fun to change it up a bit and learn something new.  I’ve also found that it increased my balance and agility for twin tip riding.  Too fun!

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WMFG 1.0 T Kite Pump Review

My new kite pump arrived this week and I got a chance to try it out yesterday at Lake Waconia.  My old pump had a leaky hose taped on with electrical tape, and extensive wear such that it would only pump air on the downstroke rather than up and down stroke.

The pump I got is called the WMFG 1.0 T Pump which stands for Waterman’s Manufacturing 1.0 “Tall”pump.  The idea is that the taller pump is easier on the back and easier to apply downward pressure without having to bend knees and back as much, as well as the added air volume of the larger chamber.

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At first glance, the pump isn’t that much larger, the diameter is the same but the height is about 6 inches taller.

I rolled out my 12 meter and attached the pump.  It seemed like only about 30 seconds and my kite was fully pumped up.  I had hardly put any effort into it but my kite was fully pumped and the gauge was showing 7 PSI, kite was firm and ready to go.  Later, I pumped up my 17 Meter kite with ease and even let a friend pump up his 15 Meter Turbine in record time.

There’s a relief valve on the side that you can uncap if you want to only do downstrokes.  This can come in handy when you reach high pressure and don’t want to put strain on your back on the upstroke.  The ergonomic hand grips were easy on the palms as well.

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Pressure Gauge, Ergonomic grip, and Upstroke Release Valve, Oh My!

There was an extra bag of nozzle attachments that should fit every kite ever produced.  The hose screws on like a garden hose which eliminates the hose popping off after the tabs break off on conventional kite pumps.  WMFG really did their homework on this and it shows.  The pump is an often overlooked piece of equipment but it’s one of the most important.  Even the pump leash has a special hook that doesn’t fall off when it’s windy.  It’s as if WMFG interviewed every kiter and put the results into this perfect pump.

I guess I should talk about the Bad, but there really isn’t any other than it’s huge and might be difficult to fit in a travel bag, but all in all, I’m very happy with this pump.  I got mine from Mac Kiteboarding for $60 and it’s worth every penny.  If you’re in need of a new pump or want to increase your time on the water, this pump will get you there.

 

 

DIY Skimboard for Kiteboarding

With the early Spring warmup, we’ve been having an amazing kiteboarding season here in Minnesota.  Who would have ever thought we’d have open water in March and warm water by April?  I’ve been wanting to try a finless strapless Skimboard with the kite for a long time.  I started in on the construction last summer when a broken foot left me with a lot of time on my hands.  I had a scrap of maple plywood in the garage and decided to mock it up and start construction.

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For the shape I just kind of winged it with a piece of cardboard, marker, and scissors.  I made a template of 1/4 of the shape and then drew a cross to mark the center of the board.  Then I flipped the same template to make the left and right side, then flipped it again to make the bottom half so the sidecut was totally symmetrical left/right and top to bottom.

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I cut a notch in the back to make it a “Fish” shape.  My Dad got me a nice Router for Christmas so I used that to round the edge on top, and left a sharp rail for the bottom.  Skimboards are typically almost totally flat except for the nose.  I wet the front half of the plywood and left the nose propped up 2 inches with weights on it for a week or so.  This gave it just the slightest upturn at the nose.

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I sanded the board to get rid of most of the imperfections, then gave it a nice coat of marine paint in Shark Grey.  The only money I spent on this board was the marine paint and skimboard traction pad I ordered.

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With the pads on it looked pretty decent if I do say so myself.  But would it Ride?

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There was only one way to find out.  I took it to Lake Waconia on a nice windy day.  After riding my twin tip for a while I came in to shore to grab the Skim.  Getting up on it wasn’t too hard, I just moved the kite back and fourth to create a little foot pressure on the board, then gave the kite a dive and popped right up.  Once I got up on the water, the board felt extremely slippery and unstable until I set an edge and it just took off.

I was really amazed how well the board went upwind, even with no fins.  There was definitely a lot less resistance than a board with fins.  My tacks and jibes were not good at all to begin with.  I would either sit down and flip the board, or attempt a shove-it transition.  I later ended up doing some smooth shove-it transitions but it was just luck, and the next attempts ended with a Splash.

I later realized I could ride the toe-side or even with the board backwards.  What a trip!  You could do anything on this board.  I loved the very loose feel and slippery nature of the board and found it very challenging just to stay on it.

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Added decking on the sides for extra traction

As the wind died, this board proved to be a light-wind superstar, taking me upwind even with a smaller kite.  I’ve never ridden a production skimboard but as far as I could tell, I wouldn’t change anything about this shape except for perhaps making it longer but that’s the piece of plywood I had and it worked.  I found this board to be a total blast and look forward to trying some surface spin handle passes, as well as small hop and grab jumps.

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J-Hydro Design

This little board has earned a place on my board anchor and has changed up my kiting game.  I really enjoy the slower, more soul carving ride especially to end the day.  Will I trade up for a production kite skimboard at some point?  That’s hard to say but this board was easy to make, works great, and is a heck of a lot of fun.  The slightest change in foot positioning totally changed the way the board planed and held an edge.  I took my booties off and was able to tell where the board was on my feet much better and got less splash than the booties.  What a pure feel, just gliding on the water, with nothing keeping my feet on the board and nothing keeping the board from skipping out like a wet bar of soap, but the slightest edge pressure.  If you’ve been on the fence about Skims, give one a try or build your own!

 

 

2016 SAILOR’S LOG BOOK – SUMMER KITEBOARDING SESSIONS

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  1. Lake Waconia North Launch. Tuesday March 29th 2016 .  12 meter Slingshot RPM and Flysurfer Flydoor 170 cm board.  First water kiteboarding of the season.  This was the second earliest ice-out on lake Minnetonka.  The last one was 1878  Great day, 65 degree air, 45 degree water and wind 20+mph.  Not a bad start to the summer kiteboarding season.
  2. Lake Waconia DNR Launch.  Sunday April 3rd.  12 meter Slingshot RPM.  Great wind and waves, big jumps and some spins.  Wind died down a bit and I switched to 17 meter Best Waroo.  Then the wind clocked to offshore, luckily everyone made it in except one guy who luckily got picked up by a boat.  Flysurfer Flydoor 170 cm board and Flysurfer Radical5 boards.  Water temp 50 degrees, air temp 60, no gloves needed.  5/4 NPX wetsuit and booties.
  3. Lake Waconia DNR Launch.  Sunday April 10th.  12 Meter Slingshot RPM and both Flysurfer boards.  Wind picked up to the point of being way overpowered on 12 M and eventually came in, legs were tired.  Great day but gusty.  Water cold again about 45 degrees.  Wind kept building and when I left, Jim W. was fully powered up on a 7 M and surfboard.  Fun day, lots of friends on the water.
  4. Lake Waconia, North Launch Thursday April 14th.  Very windy out in the middle, so rigged 9 meter Slingshot RPM and Flysurfer Radical 5 board.  Fully powered up, riding with Mark S. and Chris A.  Chris took some good pics I hope to see soon.  Air temp was 75 degrees and water is about 50 so won’t need booties too much longer.  Only 3 people on the North side, no boats, just ripping the whole lake.
  5. Lake Waconia, North Launch Friday April 15th.  12 Meter RPM.  Maiden voyage on my homemade Skimboard, no fins or straps.  Super fun ride.
  6. Lake Waconia, North Launch Saturday April 16th.  RPM 12 Meter with Flysurfer boards and Skim.
  7. Lake Waconia, North Launch.  Lightwind day, Jerry, Mike, Kevin and I were able to ride with big boards.  Had to wait out a couple of lulls then the wind picked up again and had a great ride.  Tired and sore after 4 days in a row on the water.  Mike got his kite stuck way up in a tree but was somehow able to fly it out unharmed.  Great weekend of wind and warm weather.  Water is 60 degrees, no longer need gloves or booties and will most likely be in a shortie or thin wetsuit next time.
  8. Lake Waconia, North Launch.  Saturdaay April 23rd.  The wind appeared to be picking up so I rigged my 12Meter but was struggling to get upwind so eventually switched to my 17 Meter Waroo which is what I should have gone with in the beginning.  Fun day and lots of kites in the sky.  Ended up the evening with a couple brews and beautiful views at Schram Vineyards in Waconia.
  9. Buffalo Lake, Buffalo Minnesota.  Sunday April 24th.  Rainy in the morning but managed to get a ride in with Jerry and Bill.  Underpowered on 12 meter but had fun anyhow.  Nice grassy rigging area.  Lots of carp jumping out of the water.
  10. Lake Washington, April 30th.  20 mph + wind.  Very powered up on 12 meter RPM.  Rode the skimboard most of the day, fun wave riding.
  11. Lake Washington, Ellsworth Launch. Sunday May 1st. Wind a bit too light.  Should have arrived a bit earlier and rigged 17 meter rather than 12 but was able to get a few rides in with Jerry and Chris.  Tuesday forecast looking good.
  12. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch.  Tuesday May 3rd.  Super windy all day then died when I got off work and got there.  Was able to get a couple hours in on 17 meter and Flydoor 170cm.  Had a brew with Jesse and Mark afterward.   Nice jumps, very warm day.
  13. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch.  May 6th.  Botched session at North side, then moved to DNR and put up the 17 meter Waroo and Flydoor 170 cm.  Awesome session.  Someone put their kite in the very top of a tree and could not get it down.
  14. Pelican Lake, May 7th.  17 meter Waroo, Flydoor, Radical 5, and Skimboard.  Light but steady wind and nice rollers for the skim.
  15. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch.  Thursday 5/12.  Windy all day, then died as soon as I got on the water with 17M Waroo and Flydoor.  I was able to make a few runs back and fourth but could have used more wind.
  16. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch Friday 5/13.  Extremely cold, windy and gusty.  Way overpowered on 12 meter RPM.
  17. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch Saturday 5/14.  Strapless Saturday.  Rode all day on T-Rex Surfboard and Skimboard.  Huge rollers.  Got a few jibes down on surfboard.
  18. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch Sunday 5/15.  17 meter Waroo and Flydoor 170.  Wind too light and patchy to really get upwind.  Had a few good tacks but otherwise it was a losing battle.
  19. Lake Waconia, North Side Sunday 5/22.  80 degrees, warm and windy.  12 Meter RPM and mainly skimboard and some Flysurfer Radical 5 at the end.  Got to try out new Ride Engine Harness, review to follow.  Fantastic day, lots of kites in the sky, perfect Summer day.
  20. Pelican Lake 5/27.  17 meter Waroo and Flydoor.   Kiting with my cousin, Justin.   Wind somewhat unstable but had a great day.  Rode skimboard at the end.
  21. Lake Wacoina 6/1 12 meter RPM and skimboard.  Smooth steady wind, cloudy sky.  Warm water and lots of big rolling waves.
  22. Lake Waconia 6/4 DNR Launch.  Stormy and gusty.  17 meter.  Wind too puffy for jump timing, rode skimboard at the end and had a blast.
  23. Lake Waconia 6/5 DNR Launch.  Crazy day, tons of boats, kiters and windsurfers.  Powered up on 12 Meter RPM then grossly overpowered.  Got a parking ticket for parking in the ditch because parking lot was full.  Skimboard and Radical 5.
  24. Lake Waconia 6/6 DNR Launch.  Very powered up on 17 Meter Waroo and Flydoor.  Huge floaty jumps.  No chance to ride skimboard, wind died very suddenly and everyone had trouble getting to shore.
  25. Lake Waconia 6/9 North Launch.  Wind came up, not forecasted.  Wind was smooth and because of direction water was very flat.  Everything seemed easy, jumps, spins, tricks.  Switched to skimboard and worked on tacks and shove-its.  Feeling really dialed in.  For some reason I was the only kiter or windsurfer on the lake but plenty of swimmers and fishermen.
  26. Lake Waconia 6/12 Sunday.  Well powered on 17 meter Waroo.  Rode radical 5 and then skimboard most of the day.  Several hours of perfect wind.  Great day.  Jerry tried my skimboard.  Super fun day.
  27. Lake Waconia 6/15 Wednesday.  12 meter RPM and skimboard.  Nice rollers, fun carving.
  28. Pelican Lake 6/19 Sunday.  Big wind, big rolling waves.  Carving and riding waves on the Slotstik skimboard and 12 meter RPM.
  29. Lake Waconia 6/25 Saturday.  Powered up on 9 meter RPM, Slotstik Skimboard, and Flysurfer Radical 5.  Huge waves, steady wind.
  30. Lake Washington 6/26 Sunday.  9 meter Slingshot RPM, Slotstik Skimboard, and Radical 5.  Amazing day, slashing waves, working on transitions and shove-it transitions.  Great time riding with Jerry, Bill, Mike, and Nathan.
  31. Lake Waconia 6/30 Thursday.  North wind, DNR Launch.  Fun day wind a bit swirly at the launch but great to get out there.
  32. Lake Mille Lacs, Reddy Creek.  Monday July 4th.  17 meter kite.  Nice to get a kite session and mountain biking on same day.  Great 4th of July weekend.
  33. Lake Waconia, Friday July 8th.  Windy when I arrived after work but dropped quickly.  Should have rigged the 17 meter, but had a little fun on the 12 meter.
  34. Lake Waconia 7/12 Tuesday.  RPM 12 meter and Slotstik Skimboard.  Warm and windy.
  35. Lake Waconia 7/13 Wednesday.  RPM 12 meter and Slotstik Skim.  Chris tried my skimboard and really enjoyed it.
  36. Lake Waconia North 7/16 lightwind
  37. Lake Waconia DNR Launch 7/17.  Much higher wind than forecast.  Great day on Slotstik Skimboard and 12 meter RPM.
  38. North Launch Waconia 7/19 Tuesday.  Light wind but got a few rides.
  39. Pelican Lake 7/24 Sunday.  12 meter RPM and Slotstik Skimboard.  Could have used more power but fun in the beginning.
  40. Lake Waconia North Launch 7/31 Sunday.  Lightwind session 17 meter Waroo and Flydoor.
  41. Lake Waconia North Launch 8/1 Monday.  Awesome day on 17 meter Waroo and Slotstik Skimboard.  Lots of people there and many foil boards.
  42. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/3 Wednesday.  Surprise session not forecasted.  Ended up riding for a few hours powered up and no other kiters were there.  Tighe showed up later with his foil board but the wind had died.
  43. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch 8/4.  Rigged big and then the wind came up and got crazy.  Managed to hold it down until it started coming down again.  Fun day slashing waves and throwing the skimboard around.
  44. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/8.  Powered day on Best Waroo 17 meter and Slotstik Skimboard.  Riding with Chris, Mark, Bill, and Scott D.
  45. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/10 Wednesday.  Finally able to use a smaller kite again, powered up on 12 meter Slingshot RPM and Slotstik skimboard.  Sweet day, nice wind and 90 degrees all day.  Wind shut down with approaching storms.
  46. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/22 Monday.  Fully powered on 9 meter Slingshot RPM.  One of the best days of the season tearing it up on skimboard until sunset.
  47. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/23 Tuesday.  First ride on my Alaia board.  It worked amazingly well and I was able to ride it with my 9 meter RPM and get way upwind.  Nice addition to the board quiver.
  48. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch 8/25.  Took the day off work and got some nice kiting.  17 meter Waroo, Alaia and Slotstik Skimboard.  Jump tacks dialed in.
  49. Lake Waconia, North Launch 8/28 Sunday.  Waroo 17 meter and Alaia board.  Light wind session.
  50. Lake Waconia, North Launch 9/2 Friday.  17 meter Waroo, Alaia and Slotstik Skimboard.
  51. Lake Mille Lacs, Reddy Creek, 9/3 Saturday.  12 Meter RPM, Skim, Alaia, and Flysurfer Radical 5.  Lots of people there, waves were great early then got choppy.  Great day.
  52. Pelican Lake, Breezy Point 9/4.  Powered up on 12 Meter RPM, enjoying smooth waves, popping shove its on the Skimboard, working on hard carves, and Butter Slides.  Enjoyed a couple brews at Gull Dam Brewing with my relatives afterwards.
  53. Lake Pepin, Hok Si La Campground 9/10 Saturday.  Nice launch, wind direction not the best but fun to check out  a new spot.
  54. Lake Waconia, North Launch 9/12 Sunday.  Epic day, started on 12 meter at 10 am, then took a break and switched to 9 meter RPM.  Learned carving Jibes on the Alaia, shove-its on a wave with skimboard and some strapless airs.  Killer time.
  55. Lake Waconia, North Launch Saturday 9/24 RPM 14 meter, Alaia and Radical 5 boards.  Great day, steady wind.
  56. Lake Washinton, 9/25 Sunday.  Slingshot RPM 9 meter, Alaia, Slotstik Skimboard, and Flysurfer Radical 5.  Very windy, big rollers for surfing.
  57. Lake Waconia, North Launch Monday 10/3 Slingshot PRM 14 meter and Alaia.  Wind stayed up longer than expected, was able to ride until sunset.
  58. Lake Waconia, North Launch Tuesday 10/4 Slingshot RPM 9 meter and Slotstik Skimboard.  Unreal day, steady wind, some on and off rain, really nice waves to slash.  Worked on strapless hop 180’s, 360 shove-its, ollie over waves.  One of the top days of the year, still windy at sunset.
  59. Lake Waconia, North Launch Wed 10/5.  RPM 14m and Radical 5.
  60. Lake Waconia, North Launch Sunday 10/9.  Light wind but fun, Slingshot RPM 14 meter and Alaia.
  61. Lake Waconia, North Launch Sunday 10/10.  12 meter RPM and Slotstik skimboard.  Super gusty and not fun.   Better than nothing I guess.
  62. Lake Waconia, North Launch Friday 10/14.  9 meter RPM and Slotstik Skimboard.  Fun waves, big wind.
  63. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch Saturday 10/15.  14 meter RPM and Alaia board.
  64. Lake Waconia, North Launch Sunday 10/16.  14 meter RPM lightwind day.
  65. Lake Waconia, DNR Launch Sunday 10/23.  9 meter Slingshot RPM, surfboard, skimboard, and Radical 5.  Very windy, awesome time.
  66. Lake Waconia, North Launch.  Saturday 11/13 Unseasonably warm and windy day.  Overpowered on 14 meter RPM.
  67. Lake Waconia, North Launch.  Should have gotten there earlier and rigged the 17 meter but got a few rides anyhow.

More Snowkiting (Silver Lake, MN)

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It was another picture perfect snowkiting day down there at the lake then in Minnesota!  All of the usual suspects made the drive out to Silver Lake to make use of the great snow, wind, and sunshine.

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Jerry, “The Legend” was the first on the scene leading the way in parking backward on a one way.  Everyone followed suit and soon there were 8 cars parked the wrong way ready to get parking tickets but luckily a local let us know and we all moved the cars before the authorities arrived.

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The snow was still in great condition although very tracked up from all the snowkiting.  Jesse arrived on the scene and Cory got out for his first run of the winter season.

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I rigged up my 12 Meter RPM.  The wind was up and down, at one point it was 16 to 20 mph and the rest of the time it was light but steady, great for just cruising and working on tricks.

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On a perfect day like this you ride until the sun goes down or your body can’t take it anymore.

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We packed up the gear, hungry and thirsty, and proceeded to Hollywood Roadhouse in Hollywood, MN for dinner and a couple brews.  They have a very large list of rotating beers and fantastic food.  I had the Smoked IPA from Hammerheart Brewing Company which was very good, and a burger topped with Saurkraut, bacon, and smoked Gouda cheese.  We will definitely be back and I would highly recommend it.  Another successful kiting day is in the bag, time to rest up the bones and muscles for the  next time.

Snowkiting Silver Lake, Minnesota

It’s been a pretty dismal winter for snow and cold weather so far, but the day after Christmas we were blessed with a solid 4 inches of fresh, fluffy, white powder.  Many of the larger lakes are still open water, but after a few cold nights the ice is starting to get strong on the smaller lakes and other friends have been kiting with ice skates and various bladed devices on Silver Lake for the last month.  It typically takes a few days to a week for the snow to bond to the ice but we were desperate for a session so decided to give it a go.  During the 45 minute drive to the lake, Jerry called me with the disappointing news that the snow had all melted, and it was a total bust.  Luckily that was just some kite humor and he was just calling to inform me that the conditions were “Epic”.

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The wind was about 10-15 mph and with a fresh waxing of my snowboard, the snow seemed very fast.  I decided to rig up my 12 Meter Slingshot RPM, a kite that’s been my favorite since they came out in 2009.  With only slight tweaks and modifications each year, Slingshot decided not to mess with perfection, and continue to produce this quick turning, top notch kite.

The snow had not yet bonded which means the lake ice is frozen smooth and just has a coat of fluffy, loose powder sitting on it that can easily be scraped off, or blown bare by a heavy wind.  Boots still slip and slide on the ice below, and edging has to be done carefully or you slide right out and fall on your butt.

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Jon was also there giving his girlfriend a snowkiting lesson and she seemed to be picking it up quickly.  Jesse arrived a bit later and launched is Ozone Frenzy foil kite.

It felt great to be flying across an open untracked lake.  When you’re moving fast on dead smooth powder with no tracks, sticks, leaves, or anything on the snow you get a strange vertigo type sensation of not being able to tell you’re moving, or how fast you’re going until you see some frame of reference on the snow.

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Although the ice boats had been riding every inch of the lake, ice thickness can vary so I decided to stick fairly close to shore and kept my ice picks around my neck in case I needed to climb my way out of a hole in the ice.  Luckily this has never happened but it’s better to have them than not.  We’ve also hypothesized that you could loop the kite and generate enough power to pull yourself out of the water, but I’d really rather not ever have to test that theory.  The ice was about 4 inches thick which is generally safe for walking and ice fishing on foot.

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I put in a good 4 hours on the snow and practiced a few surface handle passes as the sun was setting.  We rolled up the kites and packed up the gear and decided to look for a greasy spoon type restaurant in the very small and sleepy town of Silver Lake, MN.

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It was quiet at Molly’s Cafe so they were able to devote their full attention to making our sandwiches, a delicious Ruben for me, fries, and and Alaskan IPA.  Not a bad season opener, and more snow on the way.

Snowkiting is a great way to embrace and enjoy winter and is not as difficult or expensive as you might think.  Gear can be purchased at closeout prices or used, and with a qualified instructor you can be enjoying the sport on the first day.  Skis and snowboards work and if you already have this, all you need is a harness and at least one kite.  The kites range in size and you use a small kite in high wind and larger kite in light wind.  The best part about it, is the wind is Free!  No lift tickets needed!

Gear:

  • 2010 Slingshot RPM 12 Meter Kite
  • Snowboard – GNU Carbon Credit BTX 162 cm with Magne-Traction
  • Slingshot Ballistic waist harness
  • Bern snowboarding helmet
  • Dragon Goggles
  • Kinco Gloves
  • Ride Lasso Boa Boots

 

Rolling Fat in Duluth, Minnesota

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Winter in Minnesota, brings to mind freezing cold temperatures and huge puffy drifts of low moisture content powder perfect for snowboarding and fat biking.  Unfortunately this winter has been off to a slow start.  Temps in the 40s and 50s, rain and thunderstorms in December!

I was not in the market for a new fat bike but opportunity knocked one day while I was perusing Craigslist at work, and I found a deal too good to pass up.  The only catch, it was located up in Duluth, about two and a half hour drive north of Minneapolis, MN.  After confirming the bike was still available, I made arrangements to drive up on Saturday morning to check it out.  If nothing else it would be a good chance to get up to one of my favorite cities and enjoy nature.  My friend Brent was going to ride up with me but had to cancel out last minute due to getting robbed, losing his wallet, car keys, and house keys.

Everything checked out, and I gladly handed over the cash for a 2016 Specialized FatBoy, the bike that’s been on my mind since they came out last year.  What appealed to me about this bike is the light weight, carbon fork, hydraulic brakes, 1 x 10 shifting, and wide 5 inch tires.  I had a nice chat with the owner and he informed me that he’s owned 13 different fat bikes and felt that Specialized really had it right with the geometry and components on their fat bikes.

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I loaded up the bike and drove to Lester Creek to test this bad boy out.  While there was no real snow, the trails were dry and  offered a variety of challenging terrain, and of course the beauty of the river, rocks, and forest.

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I rode the trails for a couple hours and then decided to parlay that ride into a boardwalk ride to check out the Canal Park area of Duluth, a sliver of land separated from downtown by an aerial bridge.  A lot has changed in Duluth since my college days, and now there’s a nice paved trail that runs from Lester Creek to the boardwalk, about 6.5 miles.

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With no ice on Lake Superior, I was able to see the huge freight ships coming in and out of the harbor.  This is always a popular tourist attraction.  No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I always enjoy seeing the bridge raise up to full height to allow a 100 foot long plus ship to pass underneath it and bring their freight in and out of the Port of Duluth-Superior.

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I really wanted to stop in and grab a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company but opted out since I didn’t have my U lock along.  It’s great to see new breweries popping up all over Duluth and the surrounding areas.

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With the sun sitting low in the sky, I decided to bike back to my truck and hit the road, stopping off for a burger and white IPA at Clyde Iron Works.  Overall, a very relaxing and worthwhile trip.  No snow in the forecast for December but hopefully January will make up for the late start to winter.

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