Friday, January 30, 2009

Substitute for the real thing?

Ice makes kayaking around Woerden impossible since more than a month now. As an alternative for the "Friday-morning paddle" 4 members of Kayakclub Wyrda (and 2 special guests) put on the ice-skates for a tour in the polder.

But this isn't exactly what it looks like... The ice is too thick to paddle and too thin too skate. That's why we moved to an artificial ice rink: the track of FlevOnice in the Flevopolder. Unique in the world: a 5 km long the track in the middle of the polder.

It's fake but it gives an outdoor experience quit close to skating on natural ice in the polder. Different from other rinks you're not only making little rounds ona racetrack, but you are skating serious distances in a widespread landscape with head winds and following winds.

Almost every landscape in the Netherlands is man-made and artificial. Paddling in a seakayak in the Waddensea is one of the very few outdoor-activities left to experience "real" nature. Most other outdoor-activities we do in man-made landscapes. But it's something of the last decades that deliberately artifical constructions and landscapes are made for just one purpose: to create an outdoor experience. The constructions are getting bigger and better every year.
Twenty years ago, I went to the Rhur in the Eifel for white water kayaking, to the rocks of Freyr in Belgium to climb, to the Alpes to ski and to the Taunus in Germany for mountainbiking. And now I can do all this right on my doorstep:

WW-kayaking on the white water track of Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer.
Climbing on Monte Cervino, the climbing wall at Outdoor valley in Bergschenhoek.
Snowboarding in Snowworld in Zoetermeer.
Mountainbiking on the track in my backyard in Woerden, created on an old dump, landfill.

Wat een leven...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Gekkenwerk" - just crazy!

Picture by Roel Pierik: break at the beach of Rockanje, near the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall.

Update February, 8th: René posted a personal impression of this trip on his weblog. According to the graphic of the wind peaked up to 8 Bft. when we paddled back. No wonder it was quit a struggle!

I announced a winter trip for advanced seakayakers in the Voordelta today. 5 fit paddlers took the challenge and signed in for the trip. Wind was blowing 6-7 Bft S-SE (during the whole day according to the forecasts). I warned this would become a heavy trip. It turned out to be one. First we sailed North with the wind in the back on following waves for fantastic surf-rides. We paddled 8 kilometres in 45 minutes. After a short break (seeking shelter for the wind sitting in the kayaks at the beach) we changed direction to paddle along the sand banks back to the starting point. The next 10 kilometres took us 3 hours of full power paddling. We struggled to make progress against the strong head wind: just a second not paddling and you were blown 3-4 km/h backwards!
The group performed outstanding and enjoyed the heavy work-out - I doubt if I had myself a bad day, or if the group-members were so strong, anyway: this time I had a hard job to keep up with the paddlers in my group!

OK: It's a weird idea to plan a trip that finishes with head wind force 6 during 10 km's. I wouldn't do such a crazy thing with every group! But today it was just perfect. A unique experience for all of us.

Influenza - "new" guidelines for sporters...

The Netherlands are suffering an outbreak of flu. With 131 out of 100.000 people infected it's an epidemic according to the statistics (Dutch doctors speak of an epidemic when more than 51 people out of 100.00o in two weeks are diagnosed to have the flu). With a number of 1 out of 4 the Heupink-family contributes considerably to the statistics. The poor patient himself doesn't bother about stats, he just feels miserable and is going to miss a school-day tomorrow...

The "Association for sports-medicine" has recently updated his advice and presents a new list of 10 do's en don'ts for active sporters in case of a flu . Briefly said: fever? don't sport! But I suppose you won't feel like sporting anyway when you catch a serious flu?!

Tip: the website of Sportzorg (Dutch - the Association for sports-medicine) offers very useful and accessible information on health-issues for sporters.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Werner button cover

Thursday an envelope with a bump arrived in Woerden. Sender was System-X located in Wockingham-GB. The envelope contained the Werner Button Cover I ordered via the US-Werner-Website a while ago. Obviously Werner uses their British distributor to supply European customers with the button cover. I ordered mine during the Christmas-holidays and received immediately a reply-mail from Danny Mongo in which he announced the order would be processed direct after New Year. The package arrived two weeks later - compliments for Werner's excellent customer care!

Update January, 25th: I tried out the paddle with the new button cover in winter-conditions today. Also with very cold and stiff fingers I managed quit easily to press the button to split the paddle. A bit less comfortable than without cover, but worries about Werner-paddles splitting unintended at awkward moments are definitely history!

The Danish version of this story: Helge Helligsoe's blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tegeltjeswijsheden - European elections

As a non-native writer I find figurative language difficult to translate. It's dangerous, expressions can have a totally different meaning in other cultures.

"Tegeltjeswijsheden" are Dutch aphorisms - which are often presented written on small Delftware tables. "Wie de wind zaait..." means "The person who plants the wind...". The second part of this aphorism is: "...zal storm oogsten". Which means literally "...will harvest a storm". As this is a quote from the Bible (Hosea 8:7), I suppose this is a safe one and the meaning in English will be comparable with that in Dutch.
Groen Links adapted the "Wie de wind zaait... quote" for the European elections-campaign. The message is: it's time for a change in European (and in Dutch) energy policy.

Time for a change? America is making the change tomorrow. The inauguration is covered all over the world. Just imagine similar emotions about European elections...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pool weekend

Pictures of the pool session with KV Wyrda in Woerden by Paul Linckens

Saturday I had a pool session with the kayak club in Alphen aan den Rijn (KV de Kromme Aar), Sunday in Woerden with KV Wyrda. Rob dK and Rob K of Wyrda are putting effort and enthousiasm in starting up activities for young paddlers.

Wyrda cooperates for part of the youth-activities with kayak club de Goudse Peddel. Today the kids-group of Gouda was invited to join the Wyrda-pool session. 15 kayaking kids in a swimming pool guarantee a lively event.

With the excellent help of Stein and Daan it was good fun to coach this group!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ice - a kayak-sporter's blues

Picture of Robert Bouten and (original Dutch) text of the news-item: courtesy NKB

I just stumbled across this nice little news item on the NKB-website. Here's a translation for non-Dutch web-surfers:

January 12th, 2009
Ice-blues: Slalom-kayaker Robert Bouten breaks a hole in the ice in order to train

While the Netherlands are completely mad about (skating on) ice - the ice is a burden for Olympic finalist Robert Bouten. At his training spot (Dutch Water Dreams-Zoetermeer) the water is frozen and training is getting awkward. This morning Robert made a big hole in the ice to be able to paddle.

Since a few weeks the pumps of the white water track in Zoetermeer can't operate due to the frost. Robert continued his training sessions on flat water. But that's also getting more difficult because of the thickening layer of ice. "When it keeps on freezing - I really must look out for natural white water that doesn't freeze" says Robert. "I used to train at the Brabantse Dommel. I'll go back to my good old training site for the coming days."

Bouten's discomfort is only temporary. In just over a week he leaves for Sydney. He will train for 5 weeks on the Olympic track of Sydney 2000 and finish his training stage down under with the second race of the new "World Ranking Series".

Ice-skater's blues: after a fantastic winter-weekend, thaw has set in rapidly. There is water on the ice all over. And it won't get cold in the next week. But it will take some more time before the ice is gone and paddling around Woerden and Zoetermeer is possible again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sailing on ice...

This morning in Nieuwkoop: ice skating and ice sailing. Some beautiful crafted DN - ice yachts were on the Noorderplas (DN: Designed in 1936 in a competition run by the Detroit News paper). With a good southerly wind (3-4 Bft.) they reached spectacular speed.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

On the water... a picture-report

All signs are red...
... don't even think of sailing!
It's a cliche- so picturesque! Dutch winter-landscapes inspired painters from the Golden Ages up to now: de Grecht - an old canal north of Woerden, the connection to the Nieuwkoopse Plassen.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

NKB sea calendar online

The calendar with the guided trips and courses of the NKB Sea Kayak Committee in 2009 is published on the NKB-website - click here. General information about the program and guidelines for participants can be found under the "activiteiten"-tab of the "discipline - zeevaren". Yes - all this information on the NKB-site is in Dutch only, sorry ;-)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Rolling and comparing the Tahe Greenland kayak

Pierre-Yves (a French kayak-enthusiast) kindly allowed to publish this video of his friend Pierre-Dominique demonstrating some Greenland-style rolling with the Tahe Greenland kayak. They compared the Tahe Greenland to the Valley Anas Acuta: with a similar traditional hard-chined, low-volume-design, the Tahe is much faster and easier to roll. (And from own experience I can tell the Anas Acuta is already a great kayak to roll!).

Red kayak = Valley Anas Acuta, White kayak = Tahe Greenland (pictures by Pyve)

Side to side to the Tahe kayak - the graceful Anas Acuta looks like a giant!

Thanks Pyve for video and pictures!

Icecold passion?

The timing was perfect. After a cold week and the first days of skate-able ice since years, the Dutch are totally exited about skating. Today was the première of the art-project "IJskoude Passie" on the occassion of the 100st anniversary of the "Elfstedentocht".

Alas: yesterday temperature is risen above zero, it's thawing and raining now around Woerden. But the forecast for the next few days is cold temperatures and frost again...