Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pack Raft Test Run

Part of our upcoming adventure race involves pack rafting, so on Saturday we headed over to Horseshoe Lake to give them a test run.

We each purchased the Sevylor one-person trail boat. It has a unique bag that doubles as a pump. The bag pump works, but it's a little cumbersome. It also comes with two small paddles, one for each hand - or that can be joined together to form a kayak paddle.

The only problem I had with it during our short test run was the position of the floor valve, which sat directly under my left calve. We were only on the water for 30 minutes or so and it was starting to become a little irritating. Of course, you could shift your leg around, but this was the natural position in which my leg rested, so I could see this being a problem on a longer trip.

The site has a good review of the Sevylor Trail Boat and talks about some of the additional issues they found.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Madison County Bikeway

This evening I was introduced to the Madison County Bikeway across the river in IL. Lisa was kind enough to let me tag a long on a ride.

I was a little hesitant because I'm not a big fan of "mixed-use" trails/paths. You can spend a lot of time dodging little kids, strollers, and dog walkers. Trails like Grant's Trail and Creve Coeur Park, while nice, are generally on my boycott list for all but the most leisurely rides. However, I was surprised to find a really amazing network of paved trails with relatively little pedestrian traffic.

Lake Saint Louis Practice Swim

Attended the Lake Saint Louis Triathlon practice swim this morning. I definitely need to work on my sighting. I was zig-zagging way too much. I'm going to have to start forcing myself to take fewer strokes between when I sight. I need to keep under 10 strokes per sight. I was probably hitting 20 or more before I would sight. has a good article on improving your open water swim.

After the swim practice TrainingBible Coach, Sally Drake, is putting on a "training camp". She's taking people out on the bike and run courses. You can sign up here until 8/22/2008. Looks like it could be a lot of fun. I think it's only 25 bucks and they're having a barbecue afterwards.

Below is a map of the 1500m swim course.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Night Orienteering at Rockwoods Range

Last night I laquered myself in bug spray and went out to Rockwoods Range Conservation Area for some practice at night orienteering. We're competing in a 24 hour adventure race next month, so our dauntless team captain Lisa (whom we borrowed from team Sisu) thought it would be a good idea to get some nighttime work in. I'm fairly comfortable orienteering during the day, but this was my first night attempt.

One interesting experience was the momentary blindness that occurs when you look up from your map to survey the surround. After staring at the white map with a bright headlamp you are momentarily "blind" when you look into the dark woods.

The temporary blindness occurs because it takes time for your eyes to fully dark-adapt and for you to regain your night vision. In short, this phenomenon is due a transitioning between the different types of photoreceptor in your eye: the rods and the cones.

The commonly said remedy is to use a dim red light, which has a wavelength that mutes this transition. That's what I remember from my neuro classes anyway. However, I found some debate about the value of the red light advice. So I'm going to have to do a little more book research and then a few "in situ" experiments on our next practice run.

The 1400 acre Rockwoods Range is home to one of the only permanent orienteering courses in the St. Louis area. You can get a map of the Rockwoods course from the St. Louis Orienteering Club for a few bucks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Meramec River Kayak Trip: Sullivan to St. Louis

This weekend I kayaked with some friends from Meramec State Park in Sullivan, MO to Castlewood State Park in St. Louis. In two days we travelled a distance of roughly 81 miles, starting at mile marker 88 and taking out at marker 169.

On Saturday night we planned to camp at Robertsville State Park. About 5 miles up river from the park we stopped in at Old Cove Canoe and Kayak to see if they had some cold drinks we could purchase. We met Darryl, one of the owners, down at the river where he was greeting people as they finished their float trips.

After a talking with him briefly about our adventure he allowed us to camp there for the night. Even better he generously provided us with cold drinks and all the barbecue we could eat! After 11 hours of paddling it was heaven. To top it off one of the Old Cove customers handed us a round of cold Bud Lights.

While staying there instead of the state park caused us to miss our mile target for the day, it was well worth it to hang out with the great people at Old Cove. Thanks to Darryl, Kathy and Phil!

We finished the trip at about 5pm on Sunday, sun-beaten and smelling like river rats - but mostly ecstatic that we didn't have to paddle anymore. 11 hours of padding per day, for 2 days. Who knows, with a little more practice maybe we'll take on the Missouri 340 next year.

Very special thanks to Skip and his crew at Green's Canoe Rental in Steelville who helped us out a great deal. Skip may be one of the most knowledgeable floating outfitters I've had the pleasure of meeting - with an absolutely great personality. If you're ever looking to rent canoes or equipment up near Steelville, MO, then I highly recommend Green's Canoe Rental.

Jason, Nick, Erin, and me at Old Cove.

Our 81 mile route down the Meramec River.