How ya goin'? -Australia so far.
I am just coming up on my fourth week here in Australia and the trip so far has been action packed. I arrived on September 15th and its been non stop. I have competed in four races, two K1 and two Ocean ski races. I have been to the Snowy mountains camping and fishing, and completed a whole load of training.
On June 11th 2016 I completed a 1100km expedition around Vancouver Island with team mate Joe Leach. We made an attempt to break the current speed record of 12 days 23 hrs and 45 min, But after starting very well and averaging over 80kms a day, the weather did not offer the assistance needed to take the record.
I have been a bit quiet on this blog since the New Year, so here is an update on whats been going on for the last few months.
I am currently on a rest week after the biggest 3 week training block of my life in preparation for my next big adventure - Vannav2016.
I have teamed up with UK expedition kayaker, Joe Leach to take on a kayak expedition around Vancouver Island, Canada in late May this year. It is a 700 mile circumnavigation of what looks and sounds like one of the most incredible places in the world to kayak and adventure in the wild.
This is a project we started to work on way back in October 2015 when I was in Patagonia and our departure date is fast approaching. So for the last 6 months we have both been busy putting everything in place and preparing for the trip.
A major part of this preparation has been physical training. With us both having a desire to cover big miles each day and an incredible record of under 13 days already achieved, the physical demands of this trip will be something I have never experienced before.
Chile to Bolivia
After finishing up in Patagonia I caught a 4000km flight north from Punta Arenas to Calama on the 20th of December. I flew with Sky Airlines and luckily I had no problems with the strikes that were going on with airport workers in Chile.
Arriving in Calama the sun was baking the ground and the change in landscape was dramatic. I had a transfer organised to take me straight to San Pedro De Atacama where I hoped to get on a tour to Bolivia via the Uyuni Salt flats. Before I got to San Pedro I didn’t really have a plan as I had mixed information about getting tours on the Salt flats during Christmas. The internet was full of horror stories of drunken guides and businesses closing for Christmas.
2015 has been an amazing year for me. It is only when I start to think back over everything that I realise how much I packed in. From ultra marathon races to steep creeking and working and travelling in South America, 2015 is certainly a year I won't forget. Below is a quick review back through some of the highlights with links to individual blogs. Plans for 2016 are already well under way and it is shaping up to an equally big year. Much appreciation and thanks to my sponsors, friends and family for their incredible support as always.
As this is the time of year we take stock and think of the future I would like to share some thoughts with you. Over the last three years I have learned a few things. I have completely transformed my life from one of nights out, to many take-aways and mediocrity to one filled with great adventures, tests of physical endurance and amazing experiences. I haven't found all the answers or want to preach, but if I could offer some advice this would be it.
If you have something you want to do, make 2016 the year it happens. Don't wait for the right time, it will never come.
Be brave, make some decisions and take a few chances. Cancel your Netflix subscription! Don't use "time" as an excuse for not doing the things you want to do. If you want it, you will find a way.
Imagine yourself this time next year. Will you be looking back at what could have been and another missed opportunity or remembering an amazing year filled with achievements and great experiences?
The choice is YOURS!
I have just returned after leading a kayak trip along the Magellan Strait over the last three days with a final dash by Zodiac to Cape Froward - the end (or start) of the South American mainland. This trip also marks the end of my time in Southern Patagonia.
I am just home from a fantastic two weeks kayaking in the south of England with Sea Kayaking Cornwall. I was there as part of an Erasmus Plus work experience program with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competencies in the delivery of coaching, leading and guiding in sea kayaking among Irish kayakers. The program was put together by Landon Carver, SKC and Irish industry professionals. A group consisting of 12 kayakers from Ireland with various backgrounds and levels of experience were selected for the program and I was privileged to be offered a place.
Achill Island fast..again!
After circumnavigating Achill Island in 2014 with Tim Healy I was really keen to go back and have a go at a solo mission. I have been watching the weather all summer and it looked like it was't going to happen this year. Luckily we finally got decent high pressure over Ireland for the last few days of September. I had one free day in the diary and I knew it was my absolute last chance to have a crack for 2015.
Give your suit a new lease of life...
Here is my quick step by step guide to reproofing Goretex Dry suits or Cags. When you get a new Dry suit or any outer shell garment for that matter, it will have a DWR coating on the fabric. This coating helps to repel water by beading it on the surface. With use over time this coating will wear off and the fabric will start to "wet out". It will still be waterproof but its performance and breath-ability will be greatly reduced. So it is necessary to give you kit some maintenance now and again, to keep it at its best.
I like to wash and reproof my dry suit about once every season depending on how much use it is getting. Below are the steps I take to get it back to life.
*Note: This is the method I use and find effective. But please check with manufactures guidelines and instructions before treating your expensive garment!
I did my first crossing of the North Channel in 2013 when I piggy-backed on a group trip over on a sunny day in June. I don't know how long it took - probably about 6 hours or more. Ever since I have been wanting to go back and have a proper attempt - solo and as fast as possible.
A brief window in the weather and a clear day in my diary gave me the perfect opportunity to make for Eagle Island on the Westerly side of County Mayo. One of Ireland's most exposed and battered islands, this rocky out crop is situated only a mile from shore, but bears the brunt of the biggest Atlantic swell and ferocious storms.
The Shannon Sprint Kayak Challenge
Kayaking the longest river in your country has to be high on every kayakers list of achievements and the River Shannon has been on mine for a couple of years now. Not only is it the longest river in Ireland it is also the longest in the British Isles. For most people kayaking this mighty river is a leisurely trip, enjoying the sights and sounds that could take weeks to complete but I wanted to take a different approach. My plan was to kayak as fast as possible from start to finish and set the standard for the "Shannon Sprint".
Cycle 200k... in a day
I recently took part in my first Audax Ireland cycling event-the Around Down 200km. For anyone that doesn't know and I would say that's most people - Audax riding is a form of long distance endurance cycling where cyclists complete a course ranging from 100km to 1200km under a pre-defined time. This is generally very comfortable time frame but the real challenge is against yourself, the distance and your watch.
Last weekend May 31st saw the first running of a new kayak and canoe race in Athy, Co.Kildare. The Blueway Canoe Marathon hosted by Waterways Ireland is the first race offering an ultra distance course for kayaks in Ireland to my knowledge. With three courses on offer, 10km, 21km and an ultra 46km there was something for everyone. Starting in Athy the courses went north on the canal towards Monasterevin with portages at different points for each course and on to the River Barrow to head south again to Athy.
This river section posed a few issues with kayak choice. I was all set on using my carbon Elio Sprint for the race but the day before I got some info that the river might not be deep enough in places to accommodate the under stern rudder and that an over stern might be safer. With that I loaded up my Vantage River K1. It has an over stern rudder and is comfortable to paddle but is slower than the Elio and has the wash hanging characteristics of a bulldozer!
AT Oracle paddle review
The Oracle is the high angle, big blade touring paddle from Adventure Technology, offering more powerful stroke and stability than their other touring paddles. I was kindly sent these paddles to try out for a few weeks. This is the first time I have used AT paddles, having seen many people using AT paddles both on whitewater and the sea I was interested to try them out for myself.
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
Paddle & Pedal Blog HERE