Calgary: Slam the Kan 10

Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop

Ever since I arrived in Calgary I've been feeling in full throttle. 

I've experienced a love for these people that floods me with so much happiness the only thing I can ever think to say is "this is amazing/awesome" and "I love it here". Not the most eloquent choice of words for someone who claims to be a writer. 

After my first day here I couldn't wait to come back and write about my experience. But the words just wouldn't come. How do I describe a place like this and really make you feel the way I'm feeling? I don't know how and as a writer that's a problem. 

Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop

My heart has been captured and taken for rides that it's never experienced before the past few days. 

These are my people. 

Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop

From the nights closing down the pub, cruising around at 2 a.m. on longboards, and wanting to watch river surfing videos until five in the morning because the shared energy and passion for surf is enough to live off of. 

We forget to eat and drink because it's a waste of precious surfing time. Legs begin to cramp, arms shut down, and even then you opt for a cold beer over a jug of water. 

Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop


Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop

What other community is as welcoming as this one? I haven’t found anything that comes close. When can you come from thousands of miles away, to a place where you “know” all but one or two people, have a place to stay with a complete stranger, and people willing to drop what their doing to make sure you’re well taken care of? 

Not only did I feel welcome but I felt like I had known these people all along, like they were family. 

This is why I do what I do. It’s why I gave up my apartment and why my bank account balance is very unimpressive. It’s these people and this community as a whole that make me feel rich, why everywhere I go feels like home, and why the struggle is absolutely worth it.

Jacob Kelly and Neil Egsgard, thank you for putting on an event that was out of this world and SO ridiculous. The picnic table fashion show, the Russian rave, the river bed dance floor, fire dancing, and sweat lodge were…well…you guys know how to party. 

Jennifer Camwell, your the epitome of beauty and strength. You’re hospitality and kindness was unreal, being around you makes me a better person. I miss you so much already. 

Photo: Robert Bishop 

Photo: Robert Bishop 

I want to thank everyone I met for making my first time in Calgary one of the most memorable trips of my life. I really do love you all. 

Support 'Surf Anywhere' http://www.surfanywhere.ca/

Photo: Robert Bishop

Photo: Robert Bishop





What it Means to be a Sponsored Athlete

It all started four, maybe five, years ago. I was stand up paddling on foam boards, with all borrowed gear; my paddle was duct taped together, my helmet too big, wearing scuba booties that could fit a 210 ld. 6’5” dude. I was a rookie or “gaper” by every definition. But, I loved it and I was out every day. 

Back in 2011. Thank you Shaine for lending me all your gear and getting me out on the water! 

Back in 2011. Thank you Shaine for lending me all your gear and getting me out on the water! 

 

After having a season of paddling under my belt I entered my first competition in Glenwood Springs. There I met Nikki Gregg, she was strong, beautiful, the only girl out there surfing, and she was living a life on the road. She had the lifestyle I didn’t know I was looking for. So, I asked her…”how do I get sponsored?”… And that’s how it all began.

2012 when I was just learning to surf...on borrowed gear. 

2012 when I was just learning to surf...on borrowed gear. 

Her advice was simple; put yourself out there…introduce yourself, show up to all the events, and show prospective sponsors how valuable you are. So, I did just that; it wasn’t easy for me. Promoting myself was as unnatural to me as riding a unicycle. I was clumsy and afraid of being overbearing and cocky. I’d do it as subtle as I knew how, I’d attend events, ask the Badfish guys if I could demo their boards, and awkwardly try to make conversation. It felt weird but eventually it worked. 

First year as a sponsored athlete 2012

First year as a sponsored athlete 2012

I was part of the Badfish family and it seemed like the world was my oyster; anything was possible. It wasn’t long until one sponsor became two and two became five. Self-promotion began to feel more like a means for something much bigger instead of an ego-centric ploy for attention. 

2012 Salida, CO Fibark SUP Cross

2012 Salida, CO Fibark SUP Cross

Becoming a sponsored athlete has been on my radar since I was a kid. It seemed thrilling and idyllic. It is both of those things, I love it and am so lucky, but it is not easy…especially in stand up paddling. There are very few of us that actually make money from just being an athlete. Free gear? You bet. A monthly paycheck? It happens, but it’s rare. 

So how do we get by? Many of us have other endeavors; whether it’s social media managing, sales rep, teaching, or team managing. There are some who always win (you know who you are) and can count on race winnings to get them from one event to the next. A lot of us work our asses off all Winter so we can scrape by all Summer. We sleep in vans, cars, tents, and eat a lot of items off the Manager Special rack while drinking PBR. 

I use to think being a sponsored athlete meant room service, free plane rides, personal trainers, personal gyms, and getting paid to do what you love. And that is real for the World’s top athletes; for a sport a little less obscure than whitewater SUP. This life isn’t glamorous: it’s gritty, inefficient, uncertain, fun as hell, and low-paying but every year is better than the next. Every year I am so happy I do what I do and every year another door opens making this lifestyle a little bit easier to maintain. 

Stop telling me you wish you had my life and get out and do it! You are never stuck and if you want it you will find a way. Life has a real funny way of working to your advantage and throwing you opportunities when you ask for them. Chase after your dreams! 

Photograph by Heather Jackson   

Photograph by Heather Jackson

 

General River Surfing Etiquette

In response to my ‘No Locals.’ post I wanted to write one based on what I’ve known to be commonly used river surfing etiquette guidelines. There are always going to be waves where beginners do not belong, but again, I believe it is no excuse to be an asshole. There aren’t many resources out there for people to refer to, such is the purpose of this post. As you can see, there’s not much too it, very basic guidelines to maintain peace and an aloha spirit at the wave.

Surf Time - Know the acceptable amount of time to stay on the wave. Nobody likes to stand in line. Everyone is anxious to get back on the wave. A commonly understood surf time is 2 minutes. Use your time to carve, have fun, and then when it’s the next persons turn try a new trick or just exit the wave. People are there to surf, not watch you surf. And no, being a local does not entitle you to take as much time as you please. If you want five minute surfs get there before everyone else. 

Throwing your paddle - Stand up paddlers after falling off the wave will sometime throw their paddles into the eddy to make sure they can swim quickly into the eddy; to avoid getting washed too far downstream. Sometimes this is ok, if there aren’t a lot of people in the eddy and you don’t risk hitting anyone. You must be confident you can retrieve it yourself. Don’t do it with the expectation of someone chasing after it for you. (Practice swimming with your paddle, my friend Nikki Gregg showed me a trick of using it as an actual aid to get you back in the eddy by reaching the blade across the eddy line or using it like a kayak paddle propelling you back into the eddy.)

The Line-up - If the line-up for the wave is crowded it can get really confusing on whose up next. Shortboarders, stand up paddlers, or body boards all can wait their turn on shore; making a very discernible line. Kayakers have to wait in the eddy. It’s up to all of us to communicate with each other on who goes next. I always try to get a visual confirmation from kayakers that it’s my turn and I’m not snaking someone in line. Everyone deserves  a fair shot and everyone’s time is valuable. 

 Pick up after Yourself. - We all enjoy snacks and  a cold beverage in-between surfs…pick up after yourselves. Respect the river and your natural surroundings. 

 If you see someone in trouble, help them. - We’re a community and we have to look out for each other. Be aware of what’s going on around you.

 Crafts Moving Downriver have the Right of Way - Get off the wave or out of the way of people moving downstream.

The river is a wild and dangerous place. It’s up to you to have the proper equipment and knowledge before getting out on the water. Being unprepared not only puts you in danger but puts your fellow surfers in danger. Take a lesson or have someone who is experienced help you. You should do the same thing when going out surfing in the ocean for the first time.