One Man, One Row Boat, and 2,485 Miles of Ocean: The Colin Sanders Interview

Posted by Dave Taylor

Oct 19, 2018 1:32:04 PM

Nite Ize Field Team member Colin Sanders accomplished a feat most would consider impossible when he rowed for 83 days straight to cross the Atlantic, alone, in a rowboat. We were able to talk to him about his adventures, struggles, and triumphs -- and about how this massive goal was fueled by wanting to help others.

 

Q: Hi Colin! First off, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into ultra long distance rowing?

About four years ago I decided I needed a grand adventure, something that would challenge me physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially. I spent a lot of time skiing in the mountains when I was younger and always suffered from the altitude. Climbing Everest was out. To be honest, climbing Everest seemed mundane in some ways anyway, since thousands of people have summited at this point.


Solo rowing the Atlantic was different and definitely more unusual. Few have done it and it fit my personality better. When people ask me why I rowed across the Atlantic Ocean my answer is typically “ego and self-gratification”. Sometimes I wish there was a more profound motivation but at age 64 I think I had something to prove to myself, that I could take on something incredibly tough and succeed.

Q: How does a multi-week rowing journey work? Do you row for 8+ hours a day and rest the other 16? Heck, don’t you drift while you're not rowing? 

I rowed for 10-14 hours each day. At the beginning of the trip I had a routine where I rowed for three hours then took 15 minutes off. Again and again. As I got further across the ocean and started to wear down physically I had to shorten the shifts and take more frequent breaks.

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I would usually start just as the sun was rising because rowing in the dark just isn’t fun, particularly when the seas are rough.

When I stowed the oars at night I just drifted. Depending on how big and steep the waves were that evening, I had to decide whether to drift free, put a warp off the stern or para anchor.

Note: A “warp” is a thick line that provides drag and some directional stability downwind and a para anchor, also called a drogue, is about the size of a bushel basket and gives the boat enough drag to produce excellent downwind stability.

It was always a fine line because I always wanted to pick up as much free distance as possible by drifting and the MRE drag I had, the less I would drift. Insufficient directional stability downwind could end up turning the boat sideways to the wind and waves and even end up with the boat capsizing.

And capsize it did. New Year’s Eve while the boat was on the warp. She got hit by a large wave as it broke and ended up rolling over and over several times. Anything not locked down flew everywhere, including a liter of olive oil!

The boat righted itself but after composing myself I had to go on deck in the pitch dark - in a really choppy sea with big waves - to pull the warp in and set the drogue. Setting the drogue isn’t easy even in the smoothest of waters because it uses a bridle attached to each side of the stern, but in big waves, high wind and darkness? It was very tough.

Q: How do you train for a rowing marathon like you did? You just rowed across the Atlantic Ocean! How on Earth did you prep for that?

I had a really great trainer. It was a partly strength in the upper body, but a lot more about core strength and flexibility. We spent a lot of time on stretching to ensure that my back and core were the strongest possible. I actually spent very little time with an indoor rowing machine because it has little in common with ocean rowing when you often only have one oar in the water at any given time. 

Q: Your Trans-Atlantic journey was from Puerto de Mogan in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua. How did you choose that route and did you ever run afoul of whales, sharks or enormous cargo ships en route?

Actually, that particular route is the classic course to get across the Atlantic Ocean. Originally, I was going to head for Barbados, but I just couldn’t get far enough south to make that a viable destination. Halfway across Stokey my UK-based navigator said, “You’re going to Antigua, mate!”.

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I did see the odd cargo ship but really not that many ships at all. Part of that is the vastness of the ocean: They could have been passing within five miles and I would have never known. In terms of wildlife, I remember seeing one pilot whale, lots of dolphins and several swordfish but no sharks at all.

Q: What’s one aspect of the row that was the toughest?

The emotional and mental side of the journey was the most difficult. Being completely alone for 83 days was hard, especially in tough sea conditions. The loss of my music 28 days out was a real blow to my emotional state too: I had spent a year curating downloads on Spotify, never realizing that you have to sign in every 30 days to keep the downloads active. I didn’t know that and one month into the trip suddenly had no music at all. I ended up giving monologues and speeches on a wide variety of subjects that I knew something about, singing songs, coming up with thought experiments, and trying not to go crazy out there in the middle of the ocean. It wasn’t easy, but I made it! 

Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

I started out with a lot of Nite Ize gear, but to be honest, it wasn’t until I was doing the actual row that I realized the excellent quality of all the products. The Gear Ties I used every single day. It was typically so rough at sea that it was critical that they quickly and easily secured equipment on the deck. I also used the S-Biner Marine to secure equipment that I viewed as “mission critical”, including my multitools and water bottles. They were on deck every single day and at the end of the journey none of them had a single spot of rust. I could hardly believe it, because so many other tools or pieces of my kit rusted or corroded with the constant salt water exposure. The Nite Ize equipment never, ever corroded!

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Q: Are you ready to circumnavigate the entire Earth in your boat now? What is your next grand adventure?

Ummmm no. The Atlantic was enough at 4000 km (2485 miles). Not sure what my next adventure will be, but it’ll be something. I have lots of living to do yet!

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your charity A Million Possibilities?

I raised about $150K for Community Living Ontario. Community Living supports people like my son Jeff, who has intellectual disabilities. We came up with the name “A Million Possibilities” hoping to raise $1 for each stroke I took crossing the Atlantic. Ultimately, we didn’t raise a million dollars but we were still very happy with the results. 

Congrats on your remarkable achievement, Colin. We look forward to hearing about your next adventure!

 

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Topics: Adventure, Field Team, outdoors

Bow Hunting with Field Team Member John Mulligan

Posted by Dave Taylor

Sep 24, 2018 4:19:01 PM

Q: Tell us all about yourself, first off. How did you get into hunting and fishing and what are your earliest hunting memories?

Although I grew up in central Kentucky, I wasn’t a hunter as a kid. My parents and I had cattle and horses. The first time I even saw a deer near my home was when I was 16. I didn’t start actually hunting until I was in my early 20s. A buddy of mine at the police department where I worked came up with the idea. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing and a camera crew should’ve been with to film a comedy show.

I stuck with it and after I had harvested a few deer, I decided to switch exclusively to archery equipment. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the fall now!

I did grow up fishing in farm ponds, mostly catfish and bluegill. Quite frankly, that was a little slow for me or maybe the reward isn’t as big? But in the end, I don’t have the time to take on another hobby, because anything I do, it's FULL TILT, and I simply can’t do anything half-cocked. It’s gotta be all or nothing!

Q: What's your favorite weapon for a hunt?

100% - just a bow. Although I did start out hunting with rifles and muzzleloaders, I have gone to exclusively archery gear for the last decade. It’s more of a challenge because typically your shots are within 30 yards. Part of the fun of the hunt is also me seeing how close I can get to the deer while remaining undetected.

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My thinking is that if I use a rifle and shoot a deer at 200-400 yards, that animal will never even know I existed. But at 30 yards, stand placement, sounds and scent all come into play. Obviously, there are some hunts that are extremely tough with a bow, but it has just become my style of hunting.

Q: What specific things are on your list when you're preparing for hunting season?

Preparation is key for hunting. Scouting and looking for sign in the woods is a lot of fun. I study the topography of the areas where I will be hunting and the surrounding areas. I plant food plots (beans, turnips, oats, wheat, corn) for the deer and other wildlife. Trail cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years and do a fantastic job of letting you track what’s moving through and at what times.

Shooting my bow is really important to me. The goal is to always make an ethical shot. It’s hunting and it’s violent, there is no way around that. So, the practice I do ensures that when I take that shot, every effort has been put into making sure its the best shot I can take, the placement is accurate and the animal dies quickly.

Q: Where's the most exotic place you've gone hunting or fishing?

Montana! For a Midwest boy, going out west was awesome! The mountains and terrain are absolutely gorgeous. I have been hunting there twice for antelope with archery equipment. I was able to harvest a solid antelope on public land this past fall and spread awareness about state and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) ground too. BLM land in recent years has become subject to debate with the government trying to take away some public lands. I believe we are all public land owners, whether we are hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, or enjoying national/state parks. In a nutshell, public lands should stay in public hands.

Q: What's Arrow Wild TV and who would want to watch it?

Arrow Wild TV is a photography/media content company that has a web show. Instead of the traditional hunting shows that are on cable networks, we do more “real time” as the season unfolds. We show the shed season.

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Note: Deer shed, or drop, their antlers each year and it’s like an Easter egg hunt to try and find them. It’s especially cool when it’s a deer you’re familiar with or with whom you’ve had some history.

Then we go into turkey hunting season, planting food plots, scouting, hanging tree stands or blinds, setting trail cameras, then finally the actual hunt. Its all 100% bow hunting only.

We try to educate a little, show the ups/downs, the effort and the conservation side of hunting in lieu of just the harvesting side of hunting. The entire year as a whole is much more involved and intimate than most people who are unfamiliar with hunting would expect.

Q: If you could travel anywhere on Earth for your next adventure, where would you head?

I would have to say Alaska, New Zealand, Russia! Moose, Bear, Red Stag! I could go on and on. But there is so much of North America that I want to see and experience, I think I will stick to that for a while. Finances also keep me in the lower 48. So much of where/what I do is driven by this… I don’t have a fear of dying, that part went away during my 15 years as a police officer. I only have a genuine fear of dying before I accomplish everything I want to see and do.

Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product and why?

My favorite Nite Ize products are the flashlights, mainly headlamps, the Steelie line, and CamJam straps. I’m very active and always on the go, so to see where I’m going when it’s dark, and with social media work/maps on my phone, a Steelie to throw my phone onto and keep rolling, it’s all really important. Cinching down equipment and camera tripods so they aren’t rattling around is a plus too, and I think that’s the Nite Ize secret sauce, solving problems, one small gadget at a time.

Q: “Solving problems, one gadget at a time.” Very nice. What else do you want to share?

I have gained so much from hunting and met so many great, passionate people that I wanted to give back. I reached out to my local DNR (Department of Natural Resources) officer and became an Iowa Hunter Safety Instructor. It has been so awesome to teach safety to new hunters and, to steal a line from my DNR buddy, we are staying to teach about incidents too.

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Accidents happen and can’t be avoided. But incidents can! So, if we can teach the importance of wearing a harness when climbing into trees and teaching gun safety to hunters young and old, then maybe we can prevent these incidents from happening.

I also have organized some donations to Quality Deer Management Association by designing a shirt I sold through Arrow Wild TV. The shirt said “#conservation / because simply buying a license isn’t enough” I gave 100% of the profits of the sales to the QDMA. What’s the old saying? Leave it better than you found it. That’s what I try to do every day, even if it’s just walking the public lands and picking up trash, or teaching hunter safety to groups.

Q: Great stuff. Thanks. How do people find you online if they want to follow your adventures?

My personal Instagram is @johnny.utah.hunt and Arrow Wild TV is @arrowwildtv I do have some short films and episodes on YouTube under Arrow Wild TV as well.

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Adventure, Fun & Games

Reinvent Your Golf Experience with Nite Ize

Posted by Dave Taylor

Sep 17, 2018 10:49:00 AM

 

Whether you’re a pro golfer or a weekend duffer, there’s just something compelling about hitting a little white ball onto the green and then rolling it into the hole. But golf isn’t the same game your grandpa played: Club technology has improved dramatically and even golf balls are carefully engineered for maximum loft and distance. Golf bags, scoring systems, tools to analyze the lie of the shot and distance to the green, they’re all new and can be darn helpful in the quest to better your game.

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Modern golfers also end up accumulating lots of gear, which means that there’s an inherent challenge for every player: how to keep it all neat and organized? That’s where Nite Ize can help with a wide range of products perfect for golfers, whether you’re on the links every day or just once or twice a month when you can fit it into your busy schedule.

IP2-11-R7_F_2184b_SQRGBOne of the most helpful tools is a device that’s all too easy to lose: a pen. Sure, you can keep score with your smartphone, but it’s so nice to just turn off that pesky digital leash and enjoy a few rounds with your friends. Enter the Inka® Key Chain Pen. It’s perfect for every outdoor activity with its compact size, reliable ink system, and keychain-style loop that can be easily attached to a golf bag. Smart golfers also have a second hooked to their keys, because if you’re landing those double eagles, you definitely want to be keeping score!

Nite Ize has a lot of other useful gear for the inveterate golfer. S-Biners® are a splendid way to attach bigger items to your golf bag - like your golf towel or that white flag you want to wave when you’re ready to surrender to the green! - and Gear Ties® can ensure that your golf bag stays put in the back your car en route too.

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If you like to save money on greens fees by golfing early into the evening, a few Glowsticks and a Radiant® 3-in-1 LED Flashlight can help you keep track of all your gear. Or get an early start on the post-game festivities as you’re heading back after getting an eagle on the 18th hole.

The best Nite Ize product for most golfers, however, is one that is all about practicality: the Traveler™ Drink Holster. After all, who wants to spend a day on the golf course without some sort of refreshment along the way?

However you play golf and whatever level of gear you have, Nite Ize can enhance your time on the course with our wide variety of different solutions. Check them out, you’ll be improving your game in no time!

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Topics: Adventure, Fun & Games

Nighttime Flying Disc Adventures with Flashflight

Posted by Dave Taylor

Jul 31, 2018 2:32:12 PM

Growing up in Southern California, many of my best childhood memories are tied to being at the beach. Whether it was Santa Monica beach, if we wanted to be down by the pier, or Zuma and Malibu beaches, which were the two just down the canyon from our neighborhood.

FFD_Feature_01_lIf you’ve never grown up near a beach community, you don’t know that high schools have designated lifeguard stations, too. On Zuma beach, my local high school had our station and it was a fun way both to find friends and avoid the kids from the rival cross-town school. 

While we occasionally just lay on our towels and listened to music on our boom boxes, mostly everyone was up and about, walking around, playing football, body surfing, splashing in the water, or swimming. Hands down one of the most popular activities, though, was throwing a flying disc back and forth. For hours and hours.

Back then, flying discs were just lumps of plastic without much going for them. So we all had a stack in our cars, so that the loss of a disc in the surf wasn’t going to stop the show. Still, once the sun started to set, that game was over because you can’t play when you can’t see the disc zipping towards you!

That’s why the Flashflight from Nite Ize is so incredibly fun: It’s a well balanced and easy to throw flying disc that lights up, making it perfect for nighttime play! For those of you that measure discs by weight, it’s a 185g disc, so it’s got some heft to it. This means you can throw it further and catch it easily as it has a nice, deep lip.

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But it’s the colors that make the Flashflight so darn fun. When I headed out to the street one evening with my kids to try out the color-changing Disc-O Flashflight, we all instantly became fans of this great flying disc. You can watch it transition from one color of the rainbow to another, even as it’s zipping from person to person. 

The tech is also a lot more sophisticated than it appears at first glance: the Flashflight is built around a patented LED and fiber optic system that makes the light-up disc look somewhat like a psychedelic jellyfish. It’s also quite durable - skittering along the road didn’t ding or scratch up the disc - and it’s also water resistant and floats!

Where was this when I was on the beach every day? My kids have been playing with the Flashflight quite a bit and now are insistent that it travel with them to Hawaii for their summer vacation. There’s no doubt about it, the Flashflight will be absolutely perfect for play on the beach once one of those glorious Hawaiian sunsets wrap up.

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Nite Ize Flashflight

Extremely durable 185g plastic flying disc
LED + Fiber Optic illumination system, with user-replaceable batteries
Available in a rainbow of fun colors

Learn-More

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Topics: Adventure, Fun & Games, Flashflight, outdoors, Flying Disc

Road Team Tested: The Fun Doesn't Stop When the Sun Goes Down

Posted by Live Outside & Play Road Team

Jul 12, 2018 9:54:41 AM

When you live in a van in Colorado and the sun dips below the horizon, you have two options: Get in and enjoy that claustrophobic feeling of being in the same small space for far too many hours, or grab some Nite Ize products and keep the fun going. With the fire ban stretching across the state, it’s easy to get discouraged after sunset in the backcountry. Without a fire to base evening debauchery around, what’s an outdoor enthusiast to do? Luckily, Nite Ize has plenty of products to help keep you entertained. Check out some fun post-sunset products perfect for both humans and furry friends alike.

Fun for Humans

SPOKELIT® LED WHEEL LIGHT – DISC-O SELECT™

 

Nothing says “I’m keeping myself safe, but I’m here to party” quite like the SpokeLit LED Wheel Light from Nite Ize. The SpokeLit is an LED lighting accessory for all occasions. And we mean ALL OCCASIONS. You can select between six colors or leave it on the color changing Disc-O mode to keep you seen and safe with perfect side visibility while riding your bike. Biking home from work? SpokeLit. Biking to the bar on a Saturday night? SpokeLit. Biking across the desert at Burning Man? Definitely SpokeLit. This shock and weather-resistant light is super efficient and has a battery life of 20 hours (roughly the length of one REALLY GOOD party). In all honesty, it just makes riding your bike more fun. We’ve even used ours along with a headlamp while mountain biking at night. We usually select our color based on our mood… Which is almost always Disc-O mode.

FLASHFLIGHT® LED LIGHT-UP FLYING DISC

When we’re backpacking we choose food with a high nutrition-to-weight ratio. When we’re in the van, we choose our toys with a high fun-to-size ratio. The Flashflight LED LightUp Flying Disc always makes the cut. The Flashflight is a LED Light Up flying disc designed by an Ultimate player to perform as beautifully as it looks. Weighing in at 185 grams, the Flashflight is our go-to for fun, whether we’re in the van or spending a night in the backcountry. The Flashflight is not only water-resistant but it floats, too! Nite Ize incorporated fiber optics as well as long-life LED lights into the Flashflight to make sure you can see it from every angle.  Obviously, it’s great at night, but it was designed to fly like a high-quality flying disc and you’ll be reaching for it even during the day.

Fun for Dogs

HUCK ‘N TUCK™ GLOWSTREAK® COLLAPSIBLE THROWER + LED BALL

We often play fetch with our van pooch after dark, and before the Huck ‘N Tuck Glowstreak Collapsible Thrower and LED Ball, we lost count of all of the tennis balls that were lost to the night. With the LED ball, and easy to store thrower, we can tire our puppy out every night after finding camp. The Huck ‘N Tuck thrower extends to two-feet long for long arching throws, and collapses down to 12 inches so it’s easy to store in the van. The motion-activated LED ball comes to life with a bounce against the ground or the first throw, and keeps glowing until it’s stationary for five minutes. You get five more minutes of the LED’s blinking before it turns off. This ensures you can find the ball even when your pup is done running. That strong little LED has 35 hours of glow time so you can play throughout the entire summer. The LED ball is molded, shockproof AND waterproof (and it floats!). This means if you have a pup that likes to swim, you can keep the water games going all night. The ball has ridges so it won’t slip as he makes his way back for another throw. It is also the same size as a tennis ball so it’s compatible with all throwers! Our dog has put this ball to the test, and it’s stood up to his slobber, chewing and his incredible ability to hide the ball from us when we’re done playing.

NITEHOWL® LED SAFETY NECKLACE

We have an adventure dog. He sprints along as we bike down singletrack, secures the perimeter every time we arrive at a new campsite, and scrambles up rock fields as we make our way to summits. This dog knows freedom and yearns to roam like the rest of us. When we arrive at camp, we instantly reach for the NiteHowl LED Safety Necklace. The collar is made up of flexible polymer which you trim down to fit your pup’s neck exactly. It comes in three different colors so you can easily distinguish between other dogs wearing the same collar. The button on the weather-resistant battery pack cycles you through solid lights, flashing and off. We use the flashing mode when walking through crowds at festivals to make sure our pup is seen, and so everyone else knows he’s ready to party. At campsites, we use the solid option so we can always spot him (and he’s still ready to party). Sometimes it’s catching glimpses of him sprinting through the trees around us, or as a glow reminder he’s curled up next to our camp chair snoozing once he’s partied out.

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Topics: Adventure, Organization, DIY, "travel"

Cycling Croatia With the Field Team

Posted by Field Team Member Heidi Kumm

Apr 11, 2018 1:24:03 PM

I am a trail runner, not a cyclist or mountain biker. The one time I did own a bike it was a mountain bike + it lived on the trails with me. Riding a bicycle in traffic is terrifying to me -- I don’t trust that the people behind the wheels of all the cars will be paying enough attention to guarantee my safety. Not to mention the fact I don’t necessarily trust myself atop a bike. I’m far more comfortable in my running shoes with only thin rubber between me + the ground.

All of these fun facts were ignored when I decided to cycle the coast of Croatia...in July...for nearly a month...on a cobbled together bike...with my life strapped to the frame.

My game plan was to cycle from northern Croatia to southern Croatia over the course of about four weeks. I needed to venture out of the Schengen Region of Europe to stay within the regulations of my visitor visa + I wasn’t about to just hang out on a beach. I wanted something more, something exciting + something hard. So when it was suggested I cycle the coast of Croatia I jumped all over the chance to take on adventure.

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Instead of thinking about how much was stacked against me I focused on how much fun it was going to be. Not to mention how miserable it was going to be. I was looking at about 400 miles of cycling in the heat of a coastal country’s humid summer sunshine. Needless to say, I’ve had better ideas.

 

Nite Ize to the Rescue!

I mentioned this idea to the crew at Nite Ize about two months before I took off + they were even more stoked about it than I was! They asked how they could support my crazy. Nite Ize specializes in outdoor gear gadgets + some pretty spiffy bicycle accessories. Of course I wanted their help + support! It was a perfect fit! They supplied me with some awesome gear that came in incredibly handy when I was packing up my gear + decking out my new-to-me bike.

The bike lights were amazing + made my bike incredibly visible, which alleviated a lot of my stress about being visible on the highways. I strapped the INOVA STS Reachargable Headlamp to the front of the bike + the LED TwistLit to my back fender. This covered the basic requirements for bike safety, but I wanted more. I love color + what’s more colorful than multi-colored SpokeLits to spice things up?! Yea, no one was going to miss me on the road! But for good measure I packed along bright colors + reflective gear, because safety first!

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Another great product that Nite Ize has created for cyclists is the HandleBand mount for your GPS/phone. It straps to your handlebars + keeps your phone right in your view. I quite literally depended upon this gadget! Since my route was created as I went it was integral to have my phone with Google Maps in front of me at all times. I even rigged up some Gear Ties to hold a battery pack to my bike frame so I’d always be able to check my route.

The Gear Ties also came in handy to strap my tent poles to my bike frame + keep all of my cords intact [yup, I took along electronics -- that’s the life of a digital nomad!]. I also found nearly a million uses for the CamJam XT Cord Tightener, which could be paired up with paracord to become a bungee or clothesline or...whatever else you could possibly need with adjustable paracord. We washed our clothes in campground sinks, so we put the CamJam clothesline to good use!

They were also kind enough to send along a cycling jersey to make me feel legit! I am not a cycling short convert, but the jerseys are rather incredible with their back pockets! It’s the little things in life I tell ya.

Adventure Bound // Cycling Coastal Croatia

I arrived in Rovinj, Croatia via bus after more than 24 hours of travel. I drug my bagged up bike over to a tiny park near the bus station, unpacked it + put it all together. Within about 30 minutes of getting off the bus I was on the road, following my phone’s GPS toward a campsite about 10km away. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I arrived at the campground + managed to set up camp without incident was glorious. I did it! I rode a touring bike + didn’t fall over [at least not entirely!]. I had remembered enough of my gear to at least set up my tent. Boom...I had this! I was going to do this!

This all changed the next day when I spent the entire afternoon sprawled out in the shade, willing myself not to vomit everywhere. In my excitement to ride I had forgotten to eat or drink for the entirety of a very hot, very sunny 20km/13mi jaunt. By the time I arrived at camp I was trashed. My ego was crushed...I am an ultra trail runner, I was supposed to be smarter than this!

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Later that day my friend, Sophie, arrived via plane with her touring bike in tow. We were planning to spend the next few weeks cycling together. She knew cycling, I knew suffering. It seemed fool proof.

It definitely wasn’t a fool proof plan. It was a plan made by fools. We knew we were pushing our limits, but we were optimistic. Over the next few days we learned exactly what our limits are + how unprepared we were. Phew. Did you know Croatia is crazy hot + insanely humid in mid-July?! Well, it is. Heat + humidity are brutal, especially for a mountain girl [me!] + a girl from the United Kingdom [Sophie!]. The conditions ate us alive + eventually we gave in. Or, in my mind at the time, we gave up. We rented a car.

 

The car was barely large enough to fit our tire-less bikes into it, but it came with air conditioning + a motor. That’s exactly what we needed in that moment. It took some time for me to accept the feeling of failure that came with this tiny European car, but in the end it was definitely a worthy decision. The car took us inland where we were able to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park + Krka National Park. Both were incredible + would not have been possible with our bikes + schedule.

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We spent a week in the car, then returned it for a few more days of cycling once we arrived in southern Croatia. It actually felt good to get back on my bike as I rode along a nearly empty road leading from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Hercig Novi, Montenegro. It was freeing + calming. I loved it more with every pedal turn. After a few too many days of wishing my bike tires would just fall off I was now plotting how I would take it back home with me.

 

I will always identify as a trail runner first...but at my core I am happy to get outside, however I can. Even atop a bicycle that I learned how to put together in the days before a four week adventure.

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Between the bikes + the rental car we were able to visit Pula, Zadar, Split, Makarska, Plitvice Lake NP, Krka NP + Dubrovnik in Croatia. From Dubrovnik I head to Herceg Novi + Kotor, Montenegro while Sophie ventured north to Munich, Germany. I closed out my Croatian adventure with a stop in Zagreb, then met up with Sophie before we both returned to the mountains of Switzerland.

You can read up on more of the adventure over on my website: Heidi Kumm // Oversharing Life. You’ll find the full story, a run down of the logistics + the details of how I packed my life into a few pannier bags. I learned a lot while roaming + exploring on a bike...so much so that I’m fairly certain I will be acquiring a new bike this summer. While the bike I used in Croatia did come back to Colorado with me there’s a very high chance I’ll be popping my colorful SpokeLits on another new-to-me bike. One created for trails, to mesh a bit more with my trail running ways.

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Topics: Bike, Adventure, Commuting, Visibility and Safety, Field Team, "travel"

Do You Believe In Luck?

Posted by Field Team Member Gareth Leah

Mar 17, 2017 10:56:01 AM

Photo Credit Cut Media/Adidas TerrexWe've all heard the phrase, "Good Luck!" It's the message delivered by friends and loved ones when you set out to try something new. The dictionary defines it as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions," but I don't agree. I think luck is made.

Learning from everyday events, we discover things about our environment and the nuances that contribute to both success, and failure in our life. Whether it's winning big on race day or watching someone slip on ice, we increase our success probability through knowledge and experience. 

Whenever i'm climbing big walls, I try to think of every possible turn of events that could unfold before I even leave the ground. This is the experience gained through such events as continuously falling off a ledge in the night, trying to poop into a small brown paper bag without a headlamp, and catching a large rock with my face, amongst many others. These events have taught me that being prepared, rather than fortuitous, leaves the odds stacked in your favor. 

For me, being prepared often comes down to what I pack. With big wall climbing, I must take with me everything I will need to survive on a wall for extended periods of time. It could be for a night, a week, or much longer. Once off the ground, I will need food, water, cooking equipment, sleeping equipment, a portaledge (packable hanging bed), a first aid kit, climbing equipment and of course, a backup plan. 

Photo Credit Cut Media/Adidas TerrexPhoto Credit Cut Media/Adidas Terrex

With so much gear to cram into such a small space, I often take dual purpose items. A simple change from a standard 3 piece cutlery set to a plastic spork will only save me a few grams, and switching out my inflatable sleeping mat for a foam one only saves a little space, but it soon adds up when you apply this critical thinking to all of your preparations. One of the pieces of gear that I took with me to Pico Cão Grande which came in particularly useful was the Gear Line. Due to the tropical storms that pounded the island, keeping everything dry was a daily battle. With limited anchor points and space on the ledge, I would use the gear line to help organize our gear and to keep it out of the rain. When it wasn't being used as a drying rack, I would use the Gear Line to hang solar panels from the cliff wall or to organize our gear rack. 

These micro adjustments in packing can make or break the outcome of a big wall climb. So rather than "hoping" something might work out, plan ahead. With a little preparation and forethought you'll be able to create your own "luck."

Gareth (Gaz) Leah is a British adventurer, climbing developer, writer and photographer who has been obsessed with climbing since 1987. Gaz has been a Nite Ize Ambassador since 2016 and also works with Adidas OutdoorAdventure Medical KitsRevo SunglassesMad Rock ClimbingHanchorDMM ClimbingMaxim RopesVoltaic SystemsClimbers Against CancerEscalando FronterasPro Climbers International (PCI), Acceso PanAm, and Adventure 4 Good.  

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Topics: Emergency Preparedness, Adventure, outdoors

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