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Thread: When Winter sets in....

  1. #1
    Airhead GS convert...
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    When Winter sets in....

    ... a person has to find something else to do.

    Besides riding motorcycles, I really like to kayak whitewater. I sort of backed way off on the kayaking while I had a small motorcycle-related business, due to the lack of time. Now I have time again, so I've been working to regain skills that had atrophied.

    Motorcycling and kayaking actually complement each other well. If it's dry and sunny, hey! Great riding weather, I'll take the bike. If it's wet and rainy, hey! I'll get to go kayaking on local stuff in a day or so. It gives me the attitude that there is no bad weather here in NW Ohio, even though we do get a lot of rain.. It's difficult to stay down when you like *all* weather!

    A kayak is essentially a single-track vehicle, but without the gyroscopes (wheels). They lean into turns, like motorcycles. They can also slide sideways into turns, like dirtbikes, if you have a lot of speed and momentum as you turn. And I find that if I've been riding the motorcycle a lot, and then I climb into the kayak, I'll be right at home. And vice-versa. Balance practice, either way

    But, winter here in NW Ohio sucks this year. Roads are wet and in places, icy. I could normally get a single-track fix in my kayak when that happens, but I can't find anybody to go kayaking with me in the cold water. What to do?

    Kayak Polo, in an indoor pool..! I've never played it before, but have seen pictures of it being palyed in Europe. It's a cross between soccer and demolition derby, but in boats. Indestructible plastic whitewater boats... It also helps whitewater skills, as you're being rammed and tossed about and trying to do 2-3 things at once

    I was invited to the game by a Canadian friend, Jeff. Jeff runs a kayak Internet email list for kayakers in the Windsor area, and that's how I found out about the game. I'm on his list because they come down from Canada to kayak on the local rivers here, so I'm their "local guy in the know" when they come down here, able to point them to a good restaurant or a sauna. Not that they need me, as all river gauges are on the Net now But kayaking is a sport best done with friends, for safety reasons. So more friends are better...

    The game is in Ann Arbor, in the pool at Eastern Michigan University. Ann Arbor is about 100 miles from my work. Although he's Canadian, he's about as close to Ann Arbor as I am.

    Another thing that my motorcycling and kayaking have in common is that it helps if you like to travel hundreds of miles if necessary for just the right conditions.

    I pull into Powell's Pub (the rendezvous point), and look for the Canadians. I've seen photos of Canadians: Shania Twain, Ann Murray, William Shatner, Peter Jennings, and McGyver come to mind; I figure I'll know Canadians when I see them. I dont see anybody that looks Canadian, but I do find the EMU people. Something about kayak people that's indentifiable if you're "in". Let's see - polypro clothes that have quite a bit of wear? Yes, that's a clue. At least it's how I find the four EMU paddlers huddled in the parking lot. That, and the roof racks

    Eventually, Jeff "Have you driven over a PFD, lately?" Totten (the one Canadian) arrives. That's it for the Canadians..? Really? Yes, Jeff says that's it....

    We convoy over to the EMU pool from the pub, following the EMU guys. They have parking stickers, and the route is circuitous, so I stay on them.

    Everybody else gets inside the building ahead of me, so I end up lost, taking my boat through the hallways and doors of the physical education building, asking for directions to the pool. It seems to impress the women I meet, but I don't think it's impressing them in a good way. The first one I asked for directions laughed out loud, and didn't stop laughing as long as I stood there... All she could do was point the way, and then apologize for being rude between the her giggles.. If I had any pride, that would have shattered it.

    Finally I make it into the pool area. The pool is huge, perhaps 4X the size of the lap pool I'm used to. Olympic-sized, maybe. An acre in size, perhaps? I've never swam in a pool that big. I'm not sure I've ever seen an indoor pool that big.

    In one corner of the pool, the EMU Women's dive team is practicing from waaaaaaaaaay up there. The high dive scares the Hell out of me, in spite of the fact that I've done waterfalls in my kayak just as big. Waterfalls are different, the water is soft and foamy at the base of the falls. Pool water is hard water, no air bubbles in it.

    The divers have no body fat at all, not that there's anything wrong with that. They are really something to see, so ummm, graceful! Yeah, that's the word: graceful.

    And something I've never seen before: a harness while learning some dives. The harness pendulums the diver out away from the board while learning backflips. Neat!

    There's also a woman being given kayak instruction, close to where we're going to be playing polo. She's catching on, but slowly.

    We climb in our boats, loosen up, and practice our paddling skills. Sprint back and forth across the pool forward, sprint backward, paddle sideways with draw strokes. When I'm loosened up pretty well, I capsize on my right, rolling back upright maybe 15-20 times, then I do another 15-20 rolls on my left. That's one thing that's really neat about the kayak compared to the motorcycle: we can flip (crash), roll back up, and then continue on within just a few seconds, normally none the worse for the wear.

    Then I try a roll using my life-jacket instead of a paddle. With less leverage, you have to really concentrate on technique. I've done it before, but it's been a while Still works, so I pop off a dozen more with the life jacket, and then finally I try a roll with just my hands. Haven't done one that way since probably 1997 or so, and I roll upright the very first time. YEEeeeeesssss...!!!!! About like a slam-dunk in basketball. Kinda rare, and definitely very cool. I pop off a dozen more, and then I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

    A pause, and Jeff and I talk a bit, about declining numbers of people joining boating clubs. That was why he started his kayak mailing list, not enough "joiners" in his area to keep a club alive. Yes, there were enough paddlers, but not necessarily enough joiners. So he started his list so that he'd have people to go boating with.

    Continued.....

  2. #2
    Airhead GS convert...
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    ...continued.

    He used to belong to a local club, but it no longer exists. His theory is that the Net and mailing lists provide many of the same benefits that people used to join clubs for, ie, socializing and technical help and people to go along on trips when needed. I think he's right, I've seen the same thing in the motorcycle world. Probably the clubs that will survive best are the ones the embrace the Web, like this forum. Those that ignore the flight from clubs to the Net will probably wither and die.

    With the polo game about to start, the six of us get together in the middle of the pool, to discuss rules.

    Kayak polo seems a cross between basketball, hockey, soccer, and kayaking; and with lots of regional variation. There's a goal net at each side of the pool, and object is to get the ball in the net. No paddles allowed, due to concerns about injuries. No grabbing of opponents' boats, but pushing them away is OK. Can't carry the ball in your lap in the boat, it must stay in the water or be passed to your teammates. And play stops while anybody is upside down.

    Jeff explains that when they play in the summer, outside, they have paddles and if there's no blood, there's no foul. Sandy explains that in the pool, we'll skip the paddles just the same.

    It all starts off pretty tame. Myself, Jeff, and one of the EMU guys are on one team. Sandy, Michelle, and another EMU guy are on the other. Each team scores a goal here and there, and we're all having fun.

    Bit by bit, we get more enthusiastic. The game is a blast, with each team getting possession of the ball and going for it. And just like in a game of adult basketball, the rules break down over course of the evening. Eventually boats are being grabbed, people are checking and bumping, and we're having a blast!

    At one point, I reach too far for the ball, hoping to keep it away from the guy guarding me, and I go over. Great I look down (up), and can see the ball just out of my reach on the surface ot the water, blurry if I can swim to it and get it, I can use it to roll up. Shoot no can do, and I'm out of air. I roll up with my hands cupped, near the ball, just in time to see it get taken away from me. I gave ti my best, sigh.

    We continue playing with more and more gusto, until nearly 9:00 PM. At that point, I'm defending our net for all I'm worth. Sandy is about to take a shot, and I have the tail of his boat and I'm shaking it to try to dirupt his aim. He's taking aim, he's about to throw, and I'm shaking his boat harder, and Wham! I'm upside down again. It seems the tail of his boat had less buoyancy than I thought. Not a problem, I can roll up by pushing off his tail. But each time I push against the tail of his boat, it goes down deep in the water. I imagine him doing funny little "wheelies", above the water each time I push down. Well shoot, work on technique, my eyes are closed, I think I know which way is up, my internal air supply is OK. And I sure don't want to swim in front of this international group of boaters. Concentrate..!

    Then Sandy's boat seems to do a 180 degree spin underwater in my hands, with my hand is caught in the grap loop, and ouch! My finger is caught and twisted a bit I roll up just in time to see Sandy swim out of his upside down boat. Oh shoot, I didn't mean for that to happen

    Sandy climbs out of the pool, stands his boat on end, and opens the drain plug on the tail to let the water out. He calls it a night, which is cool.

    Score? Can't say that I kept track. I ask around, and nobody else did either. Doesn't really matter, I guess.

    We're all whipped, so we pack our gear and head out. I'm shown the door that I was supposed to have taken in the first place, and that makes it much easier to get out.

    I get most of my gear outside, go back inside, and the kayak student asks me if I've seen her drink, she seems to have misplaced it. Her eyes are looking right through me, and she's carrying a white cane with a red tip. Oh my gosh, I've never seen a blind person kayaking before. That explains why her instructors were talking so much to her; I had no clue what was going on right there beside me. But I haven't seen her drink around. Somebody else brings it out to her, they were worried somebody might knock it over, so they moved it. Somehow, I'm too shy and awkward to tell her that I think her kayaking is fantastic. I worry I'll offend her in some way, and the opportunity passes.

    After the student leaves, I stay another 15 minutes and talk with her instructors about teaching the blind to kayak. They tell me she's part of a college phys. ed. class, kayaking is part of that class too, and she wanted to kayak rather than sit out that part. So they have accomodated her, and she's doing fine. They have to talk to her a lot, so she knows where they are, and in my opinion she was a little slow picking up some of the stuff, but I'm splitting hairs now. She was great..!

    I have a nephew that's blind, so I have an interest in all of this. He's an infant now, but he won't stay little forever. Kayaking might be really good for him someday, just as it's been really good for his uncle Maybe someday I'll be telling little Alex about the time his uncle and his Dad had a rough swim down in West Virginia on the New River, or about taking kayak classes with his Dad.

    I realize I've just seen something very, very, very cool when I saw the blind woman kayaking. And the implications are still sinking in two nights later, as I type this.

    She (and her instructors) were awesome. Me and my buddies were just out having fun, but they were making a difference. There's times, like this, that I think I would have enjoyed being a teacher, seeing row upon row of kids that you've helped shape, hopefully for the better.

    I mention my 2-seater kayak, which was designed for driver's ed. They don't have one at EMU, but are mildly interested in the idea. They know a guy, Oren, that has one.

    Grinning... The fraternity of kayakers, much like the fraternity of Long Distance motorcyclists, is very small. Oren is a good freind of mine, and bought his 2-seater after having so much fun in mine! Imagine 2-up motocross, and you've pretty much got the concept of tandem whitewater kayaking. Oren is uniquelly qualified for 2-up adventure, as he and another friend regularly pedal a tandem mountain bike. Oren is near-sighted, so when we paddle the 2-seater I'm in charge. On the bicycle, he takes the back and doesn't steer.

    Paddling all done, I head out of the EMU parking lot and Ypsilanti via the scenic downtown route, getting lost in spite of my GPS because every road I took on the way in is one-way, and my GPS is a simple one without maps. But it's enough for me, so I eventually find my way and head to my SO's house in Dearborn for the night. Between the exercise, testtosterone, adrenaline, and the dive team, well. You might say I'm kinda hungry. And mellow, I'm actually under the speed limit the whole way into Dearborn.

    Spending the night up north leaves me with a 93 mile commute in the morning, to get to work by 7:30 AM. Done it many times on the motorcycle, but a wet December night in Michigan is no time for motorcycle cold-weather heroics.

    Like I say, it really does help if you like to travel.
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

  3. #3
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post Doug, I dont know how many Kayakers you have up there, but it seems as though the numbers are growing quickly here in southern Ohio. I had a question for you. How would you rate Ohio Rt 555 to Deal's Gap? I havent done the dragon but I like the triple nickle a lot.
    Gale Smith
    2009 Versys
    1999 R1100RT

  4. #4
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Michelle,

    Number of kayakers up here is hard to gauge. Club numbers seem down, but I don't know that is a true reflection as I think fewer people join clubs now. Number of boaters on the rivers seems up, but part of that is now the river gauges are on the web so people *know* when a river is running, and are willing to drive to it. So my answer: I don't know for sure.

    On roads:

    555 is longer than the Dragon, less predictable, and not as tight, and not as tight as the Dragon. More fun than the Dragon if you're on a big bike with lots of power, IMO.

    The Dragon is shorter, slower, has better pavement and a national reputation that draws all sorts of characters, both good and bad. I worry on the Dragon about other riders crashing into me, I worry a lot less about that on 555.

    I prefer 555, too. Though I prefer US-191 (was US-666) in eastern AZ over both of these. But not by much... all 3 are so good I have to split hairs to describe them.

    If you like any of the 3, and are comfy on any of the 3, you'll like all of them.
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

  5. #5
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    Doug,

    Michelle just echoes my taste in Christmas presents. I am a guy. I guess my nickname tends to lead people to think I am female. The roads in southern Ohio are underrated and not sought out by lots of motorcyclists, and I don't mind in the least. I enjoy the elevation changes and tight sections the general topography is good enough to provide. The level or rainfall allows a lot more vegetation, which makes showing the routes in pictures difficult. I would invite anyone from the plains to come here and check out the riding. There are lots of great places to ride, and a lot of history to discover. History that spans thousands of years of culture, as well as what those huge glaciers did with the hills and valleys that existed north of here. Just wishing I was riding instead of watching the snow.
    Gale Smith
    2009 Versys
    1999 R1100RT

  6. #6
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    From left:

    Visian, Lorazepamgirl, Lorazepam, MrsKbasa



    Everybody, meet Doug.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #7
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Lorazepam,

    Dave, thanks for the pic. I can see clearly now....

    Is Visian, Ian S. out of Atlanta area? Or is that bad Netiquettte to ask? If so, I've met him.

    I'll have to hunt up a pic myself. Basically I look as I did 20 years ago in the Schofield Pass thread, but with more muscle and a lot less hair.


    <<< Michelle just echoes my taste in Christmas presents. I am a guy. I guess my nickname tends to lead people to think I am female. >>>

    Oh gosh, that was the whole reason I even replied, I thought "Female rider!!! They're rare...."



    Just kidding, and sorry about the error. Funny thing is that from the words you used / style of writing, I didn't really think you were female. But the placement of your quote made me think "Well, maybe it's a manly female..." and I was trying to just be polite and all.

    And FWIW, I've had the same thing happen at least once, but F2F... I'm short and trim, and male. I was in my red Aeorstich, helmeted and getting gasoline in my Concours, and I had a short plump black woman ask me some questions from the next pump, mostly if I was scared to be out by myself. Talk was muffled, as my earplugs were in... so I took off the helmet, and earplugs, and my shaved head emerged, and said "What?" And I heard: "Oh my gosh.. you're a man!" Yup, for as long as I can remember....

    So L, I've BTDT. At least on the Net, it's a little less humiliating, maybe.

    On to the next:

    <<< The roads in southern Ohio are underrated and not sought out by lots of motorcyclists, and I don't mind in the least. I enjoy the elevation changes and tight sections the general topography is good enough to provide. >>>

    Agreed.

    I have a URL somewhere with a colored Topo map from the Net which shows Ohio. And yeah, the northern part is just one or two colors. But the south is awesome....

    The map clearly shows the Teays River valley in cnetral Ohio, which was buried by the last Ice Age, and forced the Teays / New / Kanawha / Ohio River into its current bed.

    Heck, and that's just one layer of history.

    <<<< The level or rainfall allows a lot more vegetation, which makes showing the routes in pictures difficult. I would invite anyone from the plains to come here and check out the riding. >>>>

    Naw, just leave well enough alone. He's kidding folks, there's no good roads in Southeastern Ohio. The road maps and topo maps are all wrong.....

    Seriously, I keep meaning to do a weeklong ride just in SE Ohio, but somehow never get around to it. It would be great...


    <<<< There are lots of great places to ride, and a lot of history to discover. History that spans thousands of years of culture, as well as what those huge glaciers did with the hills and valleys that existed north of here. Just wishing I was riding instead of watching the snow. >>>>

    I want to check out some more of the Moundbuilder sites, I've only been to Serpent Mound. A friend is an historian for the state of Ohio, and has offered to go with my 9 y/o son (Jean-Luc) and I to the local museums in the Columbus area. I'm going to take him up on that, either this winter or next summer.

    Reason: trying to make history real for my son, unlike the way it's taught in school. For the same reason, hoping to assemble a muzzle-loader maybe this year, and see a sled-dog race near Gaylord, Michigan since we're trying to work our way through "The Call of the Wild" right now.

    Doug
    Luckey, Ohio
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

  8. #8
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    That is a great book for a 9 year old. It was a Christmas present for me at that age. I must have read it 10 times that first year. I appreciate the second on the wealth of good riding the area has to offer, and I am adding a link to illustrate what the mound builders were capable of doing.

    http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/archaeol...a/serpent.html
    Gale Smith
    2009 Versys
    1999 R1100RT

  9. #9
    Airhead GS convert...
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    Photos?

    Here's one that I don't think is out there on the Net anywhere, and probably in a very appropriate pose.

    From Bike Week 2000, at Bulow.
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

  10. #10
    Airhead GS convert...
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    OOoops... guess it didn't attach.

    Try, try again....
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Best,
    Doug Grosjean
    Pemberville, Ohio
    douggrosjean@gmail.com

    Author of "Wheels"
    http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore...kid~32002.aspx

  11. #11
    Happy to be here! :) The_Veg's Avatar
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    A coupla thoughts: I was mistaken for female more than once when I had long hair, despite being 6'4".
    Mound builders: a few miles south of Tuscaloosa, AL is the town of Moundville, named for just such a site that is right on AL69 as you come into town. I recommend it if you're ever down that way. It's a fairly large site and has been archeologically active since about 1930- they're *still* cataloguing stuff dug up back then, and the digging continues. Informative museum and recreations of Mississppian village life.
    Bikeless for now...but not forever!

    "If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's electrical." -somebody's dad

  12. #12
    On the Road MAGOO's Avatar
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    When winter sets in...

    Ok guys, I'm biting...... wheres OH 555?
    There sure are some good secrets here in Ohio, on my way to an airhead get together I Stubenville last fall, I stopped at Mathias BMW in New Philly. One of the techs there whom I met at the national told me that my planned route was all wrong, and that there was a better way to get there (wink). It ended up taking about 20 mins more than the other route but you couldn't smack the grin off my face.

    Doug Mc Gee

    81 R100
    84 R100RS
    59 JAWA 354

  13. #13
    leave my monkey alone LORAZEPAM's Avatar
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    Ohio 555, or the triple nickel runs from Zanesville to the Ohio River at Little Hocking. It is east of Athens, and in some rugged and beautiful country. I haven't seen the January issue of Roadrunner Magazine, but I understand they rode out of Marietta OH. If that is the case, 555 will be one of the roads they will take. I live in SW Ohio, and there are some awesome roads to ride heading east. I can't complain about the roads that are in Southern Indiana either. Guess I should keep my trap shut, it isnt unusual to do a hundred mile loop in the country, and see 10 cars once you are in the prime riding areas.
    Gale Smith
    2009 Versys
    1999 R1100RT

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