The beginning

At 47 most would regard you over the hill as an athlete, hopefully I can prove that's not always the case, and Ive got a few more puffs of steam left yet.

Ive chosen the fantastic sport of K1 Kayak marathon racing for my last ditched attempt of a physical endurance sport before I fall the wrong side of the hill.

The last time I did any Kayaking was well over 20 years ago, technology has made vast improvements in construction and weight saving, paddle technology too has gone a long way in deign and efficiency, but the overall concept has changed very little.

I have chosen to enter the Devizes to Westminster race Easter 2011, raced in a solo K1 its a race against the clock over 125miles of the Thames river, with 77 portages (get out of your boat and carry it around locks etc) over a period of 4 days,

if raced in a K2 (2 man) then its a race non stop from start to finish inc. through the night, advertised as one of the worlds toughest Kayaking races it not only tests your fitness and stamina, but your mental endurance as well together with the help of a good ground crew providing support with food and water.

Have a look at the posted YOU TUBE 6 part documentary to get a better idea of how tough this race can be, and for a laugh there's a couple of videos showing how difficult it can be trying out a K1 kayak for the first time.

I'm planning to enter one of the winter 6 race series starting on the 7th November to help towards the Devize race, my general fitness is OK and quite reasonable for endurance, perhaps bordering insane to take this on, got a feeling I'm going to be feeling some pain along the way.

I am smoking but that has another 7 days before I stop, aghhhh I have to :( I'm getting so much grief from my boys so all in all it'll be a good thing and a few more coins in my pocket.

Technique does play a major part in this sport, but fitness and training can't be ignored, so much to achieve in a short time, where to start I haven't a scooby yet or what other training away from Kayaking will help, another whole ball game to look at and plan.

The K1 Kayaks have a stability rating of 1 to 10, 1 being the least stable, the less stable they are the faster they go, that is if youre staying in the boat that is.

I'm comfortable on a 5, but the difference between the 5 and 4 seem a big step, the width (beam) is even narrower, if you can imagine trying to keep upright on a uni cycle for the first time then you're getting near how difficult it can be, once you're moving it's a little more stable, well that is until your co-ordination goes haywire then it seems to remind you you're on a tight rope and the ejection seat is getting ready to dump you overboard,

I keep being told its like learning to ride a bike all over again, mmmmm seems a lot harder than I remembered, so looks like practice and more practice will be the order of the day,

the club have told me as soon as I'm comfortable with the current boat ill be put on the next faster boat, heck the one I'm on is like balancing on an ice skate, the next one was like balancing on a knife blade aaaagghhhh

Im going to use this blog as a diary entry to show how I get on and some useful information about the K1 & K2 kayak marathon and sprint racing as I go, and my preparation for the Devizes to Westminster race, it should be a laugh and hopefully some may find it useful starting the sport themselves, or perhaps what not to do!!.

Feel free to add comments and any advise on any of the subjects I may be failing on, that'll be ALL to start with !!! lol

Tip's and hints will continually be added to entry 18

Saturday, 11 June 2011

ENTRY 29 Pull Bars

Pull Bars!!!!! none of the club boats were fitted with pull bars so I never got introduced to them when I first started, most of the faster guys had them fitted, mmmmm must be a reason. 

They are not as their name suggests, first thoughts were you pushed with one leg and pulled with the other against the bar, same as you do with cycling, I was adamant they would work with the same principle, after a few conversations and trying it out my self, any pulling energy exerted on the pull is wasted and can quite quickly result in toe cramp, and thats horrible, looking into the bio mechanics it does confirm theres no benefit in pulling.

Ok!!! so why have a pull bar!!!! whats the advantage's,  what I have found is comfort, the feet (toes) fit snuggly, keeps the feet in the same place, guess you could call it that locked in feeling, especially when youre sprinting hard the feet are kept on the foot plate and reduces your foot lolling around, but saying that they dont trap your feet in so if you fall out your feet still slide out with ease.

The main advantage I have found is with stability, when youre pushing your paddle stroke hard theres a little more body movement and leg extension, the tendency for the boat or yourself is you can become a little more unbalanced on your left and right, more so when youre starting out in a  wobbly boat and still trying to get to grips with balance, what I have found is on the full leg extension side I tend to feel a little tippy to that side, I find that if I do pull (just enough force to keep up-right) with the opposite leg I can keep my body more upright and oppose the wobble direction and result in keeping my core more upright.
I defiantly feel more stable overall and has been quite helpful when Ive got my self in a spot of bother with balance.

Disadvantage, is on your steering, your feet movement is restricted for when full rudder is need on a slow turn as the support bolts restrict your left and right movement, I tend to take my left foot away when doing a left turn, not ideal but the best solution I have found is to change your rudder wheel to a smaller diameter, this reduces the tiller input for more responsive steering, also prefer this by miles when wash hanging and  have to keep playing with the steering to keep on track, nothing worse than having to Keep playing the tiller bar full left and right just to keep on track which results in a lack of getting leg extension and torso twist.

Available from Marsport
After wanting one I couldnt find a supplier that was selling the pull bar, Marsport were doing one but only with a foot plate assembly priced at £65.
The one in the above pictures I made myself using aluminium tubing and stainless steel threaded rod, to buy the items needed it worked out expensive for a one off. 

Now I have full workshop facilities available I can offer the Pull bar under 
CEDAR RACING PRODUCTS  or  for £25 inc p&p or fitted for the same price if local, just drop me a line with your requirements, hopefully coming soon will be custom made aluminium/steel V bars and a new web site for Cedar Racing with shop should appear over the next few months

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