Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Madness...


Whats up fellow outdoors enthusiasts. So this spring has been good. I just finished a 19 hour semester at UNCA, my second to last, and it feels great to be out and playing again. In spite of my courseload, this spring has been pretty awesome, and involved maximizing my time in my kayak and on my mountain bike when I wasn't in class.

I went to a couple of downhill races over the past couple of months, and it's been a blast trying to transfer my skills in a kayak into that medium. A lot of the motion, flow, and commitment are the same, but it hurts a whole lot more when you crash!

Here are a couple of pics from the Clemson DH race...

Myself hitting the last berm before the wall ride.

Photo: Zach Suggs

Me and Pat stoked about an intense day!

Photo: Ashley Woodring

Pat ripping the big sender jump near the end.

Photo: Ashley Woodring

My little bro, Nicholas, killed it at this race. This pic is amazing.

Photo: Zack Suggs

Nick placing 2nd in the Juniors, first race ever!

Photo: Ashley Woodring

I ended up 17th out of 34 in the Men's Pro class with a time of 1:35. I was happy with the time and look forward to working towards getting faster...

Windrock Mountain near Knoxville, TN was the venue for another awesome race recently. A couple of Western Canadian Pros, Robbie Bourdon and Shaums March, came out for this event. That place is gnarly!! I got two pinch flats throughout the day and then had to go back to Asheville to study and rest up for Jerry's Baddle.

Myself on the big gap.

...and entering the rowdiest series of dropoffs I've ever done.

The weekend after Windrock was the 4th annual Jerry's Baddle biathlon. This race is a memorial race for Jerry Beckwith, and a benefit for ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Jerry's letter that was read at the first race brought tears to my eyes, and I've done my best to attend ever since then. This year's race was awesome, but I was bummed to see Adam Herzog get a flat on the bike ride, and have to give up his crown as the reigning champion of the Greenman division of that race.

As far as my own day went, they let me have the pole position because I have had the fastest kayak time for the past two years. I laid down the power off the starting line and was able to keep it up through the whole course and have fast, smooth lines. I came out with a time of 40:09 and passed off to my partner Nate Wyatt.

Other highlights included driving the bike course and coming up on Corey Volt on the switchbacks right as he was puking his brains out. He drank a tallboy PBR during the kayak/bike transition, and wasn't feeling too good afterwards. We were also able to shuffle water and supplies out to bikers who needed it. Let the record show that Andrew Holcombe should have gone at least 4 or 5 minutes faster... he lent out his tubes, tools, pump, and everything else you can imagine to multiple racers in need.

Myself trying to keep it together through the last part of the race.

Photo: Sarah Brooks

Daniel Stewart killing it.

Photo: Ashley Woodring

After Jerry's Baddle, we were able to get on some good natural flow. Adam Herzog and I checked out a ridiculous drop that needs to be run sometime, but I walked away with my tail between my legs. Hopefully next time... We wrapped up the day with a sweet run on the Nolichucky at 10 grand. It was super fun paddling a creekboat in big water, and it made me daydream about hopefully in the near future getting to run the Stikine River in BC.

Adam trying to get a look at the beast.

The lip. A very scary place.

The top.

This past Saturday was the UNCA graduation, so I got to watch a bunch of my friends walk, and then my roommates Taylor Fearrington and Alex Morrow headed to Triple Falls with me. Alex graduated and ran his first waterfall, Hooker Falls on the same day! Yuh.

The next day Taylor, Ben Blake, and myself headed to the high country. The Elk was wayyyy higher than it should have been, because the Watauga was only at like 700 cfs when we put on, but with 2.5 inches of rain in the headwaters, we put on to an awesome, intense level.

Here's Ben Blake styling the 15 footer below Twisting Falls.

Taylor Fearrington doing the same.

Ben dropping Compression Falls with style.

Today I did an amazing hike with my girlfriend Ashley that I've never done before... Looking Glass Rock. It's a steady 3ish mile hike to the top of that thing, and it gives you one of the most beautiful views I've seen in the Southeast. I love Pisgah.

Ashley chilling with her dog at Looking Glass Falls.

And checking out the view from the top.

Well that's it for now. I'm pretty damn excited about a weekend at Snowshoe bike park this weekend in WV, then heading out to Colorado for the Teva Mountain Games. It will be sad not to make it out to the ultimate whitewater of California this summer, but that's ok, it'll be there...

Good lines.
Chris Gragtmans

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