Monday 29 October 2018

Ultimate Frisbee fun in Parys

We've got a new fun activity in Parys: Ultimate Frisbee.

I'd heard of the game but I had never played until two Fridays ago. What fun! It is an absolute blast.

Absolute Frisbee is a bit like netball. When you have the frisbee, you're not allowed to run with it. You have to stop in your tracks, look for a teammate and try to make a successful pass. If my team throws the frisbee and it lands on the ground (is not caught), it goes to the other team to pick it up. If one of the other team catches it, well, it's theirs to throw. If your teammate catches it, it stays yours.

As a result, the game is fast and dynamic, with lots of sprints and direction changes as the frisbee changes hands constantly. It is not easy to catch, especially when the wind blows the frisbee off course and hasty tosses see the frisbee flying off track. Many catch attempts are a good demonstration of butter fingers.

We get together on the informal soccer field near the library and fire station at 17h00 on Friday evenings and assemble teams from whoever is around. Teams are assigned according to tee-shirt colour. We had our second game this past Friday and were somewhat more together in terms of how the game works.

Here are some photos from last Friday's game (I'm in blue). If you're in the 'hood, pull in on Friday.

Thanks and recognition to Taryn and Hugh for getting this going.

Catching a time trial by chance

Long story short is that my mom went adventuring to Morocco to climb up Mt Toubkal, a 4,200m summit in the Atlas Mountains. A non-technical climb, this was perfect for my mom. Unfortunately she took a fall on a scree slope on their first afternoon, fractured her ankle and had to sit out the rest of the climb. We got her back on a flight a day early. I fetched her from the airport on Thursday last week and we spent the night with my uncle to go to her Friday morning orthopaedic surgeon appointment.

On Thursday evening I took Rusty for a run in the gated suburb near my uncle's place. I've run there often, when ever I stay over. We must have been about 1km in when I saw a bunch of runners and figured that it must be a time trial - and it was. So I hitched a ride and followed their route, which turned out to be fabulous. As luck would have it I'd joined the Rand Road Warriors about 300m from their start!

I know that neighbourhood quite well but as there are so many road closures there are a number of roads that I haven't gone near. This was a merry jaunt through the suburb.

I was back in the area on Sunday evening - to get mom to hospital today for an 8am operation on her ankle (it went well and the road to recovery begins).

I decided to run the time trial route again, following the arrow markings on the ground. Paying more attention to my surroundings than keeping an eye on the runner ahead of me, I took great pleasure in the purple flowers of the jacaranda trees and the deep colours of the bouganvillea in full bloom. Rusty's pose wasn't very good, but you can see why this one caught my eye.

We're in JHB again tonight so that mom can sleep off the effects of the anaesthetic and pain meds. Rusty and I ran a different gated suburb and found this pretty display.

Towards the end of November the Pride of India (Crepe Myrtle) trees should get their flowers - they are magnificent and they turn Parys colourful. Time for me to work on Rusty's photo poses.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Likkewaan's two-day Vaal kayak event

I had an AWESOME weekend. I haven't had the whole weekend off for way too long and as this one was spent outside and active, it was just perfect.

My paddling club, Likkewaan Canoe Club, presented a two-day event on the Vaal River. It started upstream from Parys just below the Barrage wall in Vanderbijlpark and finished at our clubhouse in Parys; split in two two stages.

The first stage was 18km in distance and Celliers paddled with me. We were paddling our Mazowe double and we'd volunteered to sweep at the back of the race. Paddling a double, plastic sit-on-top vs fibreglass K1 and K1 kayaks, meant that we would be at the back anyway.

This section is mostly flatwater with only two features: the 'Benoude Boude' (nervous bottom) rapid, which is very rocky at the current low water level, and the Goosebay Canyon weir, which has an awesome slippy-slide chute.

You can watch the video of me and Celliers sliding down the chute on Facebook.

We had excellent sightings of a goliath heron (I haven't seen one for a while) and a giant kingfisher. And lots of other geese, darters and the like. After the extensive pollution of recent months, it is good to see the waterbirds returning.

Celliers struggled with his shoulder (due for an op in January) but even so we still made good time. We covered the distance in 2h18 at a moderate effort level (approx 8km/hr) and finished within 30-minutes of the last K1.

For Day 2's 24km stage it was girl power all the way. My friend Martie joined me and Karen and Cindy took the second kayak. This was the longest paddle by far for both Martie and Cindy and they totally rocked it.

Setting off.
This was superb section with many more features. There are numerous rapids along the way and a good number of braids and islands so the 'terrain' is interesting.

With Martie, my paddle mate.
Water is very low so the rapids were less rapid and more rocky. I enjoy picking channels and routes so I thoroughly enjoyed it; although another 10 cumec of water would make a big difference. I definitely plan to come out to paddle this again when the water comes up.

A brilliant sighting was that of two fish eagles in the trees right next to us. We even saw one effortlessly catch a small fish. 

Cindy & Karen

Our paddle was a bit more leisurely than the day before - but still smooth and solid. We finished about 30 minutes behind the last K1.

My shoulders and back definitely felt worked and my hands were tired by the end of 42km of paddling over two days. That is more paddling than I've probably done this whole year! I loved it and I can't wait to get back on the river, especially that Day 2 section (with more water).

When I got home on each day, I didn't even turn on my computer and instead I chilled in my garden and indulged in afternoon naps (on both days!). What a treat! I definitely need more weekends like this.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Zippy roadtrip from East London to Cape Town

In the last week of September, Celliers and I did a zippy roadtrip from East London to Cape Town to visit dealers along the way. It really was a whistles-stop trip as we needed to squeeze it in between factory demands at home and leaving for PaddleExpo in Germany. We had three nights between trips.

Totally styling ;) Leaving our factory.
A trailer full of kayaks is a wonderful sight.
We headed first to East London and then along the coast, staying with friends in towns along the way. It was a crazy trip covering a bit over 3,500km in seven days with about 25 stops.

Canola flowers on the way to Stilbaai.
I didn't take many photos and I didn't see that much of the scenery. I spent most of every drive calling ahead to confirm our ETA and making arrangements. It was hectic.
East London visit. These trees are magnificent.

One of our best days was the Friday spent in Cape Town. We stayed with my dear friend Ray and were up early Friday morning for a paddle shoot at Zandvlei. It was also a combo 'demo session' and we invited some people along. Ray took stunning photos from his camera and drone. What a magnificent morning!

Paddling our Mazowe with Celliers

Paddling with Terrence from The Paddle Mag.

Standing up on our Stand-up Platform is a fun Vagabond 'party trick'. Our kayaks are this stable! And once one person stands up, everyone gives it a try.

Celliers paddling a Kasai. That's a kids Kwando in the background.

Standing up is contagious.

Our kids Kwando is the best children's kayak in the world.
We then headed to Fishhoek and then over Chapmans Peak to Hout Bay. It was one of those absolutely perfect Cape Town days where the incredible beauty of this area shines.

On the Chapman's Peak road, heading to Hout Bay (in the background).
We love our kayaks.
We got home, had 2.5 days in the factory and then left for PaddleExpo in Germany. Phew!

PaddleExpo tradeshow in Germany

I got back on Tuesday after a few days in Germany for PaddleExpo, a paddlesports-focused tradeshow held annual in Nuremberg. This was my first time in Germany and although it was an in-and-out trip, much like our tradeshow trip to Oklahoma in late August, it gave me a brief taste of the place. Being there in autumn, the outside temperature was just perfect.

We had a superbly busy show and is was a treat to encounter so many people from all over Europe - from Greece to Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Norway as well as Singapore and India. The variety in accented English was charming.

Now that we're back, we (I!) have a ton of work to do to convert interest to orders in preparation for the European season next year.

PaddleExpo showcases everything from SUP, rafting and whitewater to high-end Olympic sprint and marathon kayaks. Plus every accessory imaginable. 
Our stand. We arrived late-morning on the Thursday. I stayed at the show to wait for our kayaks to be delivered (they missed their connecting flight in Luxembourg and only landed that morning - still had to go through customs clearance) and to get the wall panels up to hang our large banners. Celliers and James went to a hardware store to buy lengths of wood to build our stands. They came out beautifully.
Our team. Celliers, me, James, Wendy and Marius. Wendy came through from the Netherlands to join us for a day and a bit. She has a lot of experience in the paddlesports industry and she has worked with Celliers in the past. It really was a treat to have her with us. She knows so many people and understands all the ins-and-outs of this industry. 
I am very proud to be part of creating this company and brand.
Every one of our fittings have been custom-designed by Celliers. Nothing generic for us! From top, L-R: Clip rings, 8" screw hatch, scupper venturi system, multifit, footrest system, handles (this is anodised aluminium on our whitewater kayaks; we have orange plastic handles on our recreational kayaks).
I'm so over sweet bars. This one was fabulous -  a savoury bar.
On Monday, before we had to leave for the airport, we went walkabout. I found a super incredible pet store. The boys left me to it. These are all dog treats! And they have dozens of brands of dog food and snacks and treats in so many incredible flavours. Of course I bought a couple for Rusty. Very well priced and actually cheaper than packets of treats at home.
One of the treats I bought for Rusty. I thought that these balls would be medium softness but they are actually quite hard and great for a good chew. She loves them.
A quick lunch before heading to the airport.

Weekly road running time trial in Parys

A few months ago, a chap - Pierre - started a new multisport club in Parys. He has affiliated to a bunch of unions, like road running and cycling, so that people can get licences within one club - much like my old Adventure Racing Club.

He has also set up a weekly time trial, starting from the Parkie on Cilliers/Olienhout Streets. It is on Wednesday evenings at 17h30 and has 1.5km, 4km and 8km (two laps of 4km) routes. Coming out of a winter start, there are not yet that many people who participate, but this is sure to change in the coming weeks. I was delighted to see a good number of children taking part.

Rusty and I went along for the first time this past Wednesday. It is about a 2km run from home to the park. It was pretty warm on Wednesday so Rusty took a bit of strain. I've been away a lot over the past two months. When I'm away, Rusty stays with her granny. Needless to say, she has put on a bit of weight.

We took the run easy, walking in places. I even let her walk in one of the roadside canals to cool her legs, while I poured some water over her neck. We jogged gently back home in slightly cooler temperatures.

This is a nice fixture to do each week. Social and scenic. Thank you to Pierre for getting this started and I wish him growth in number both for the time trial and his club.