I’ve been going full-throttle for so long that it’s hard to believe the summer is almost over. In two weeks the tourons will go their separate ways and we’ll get our quiet little town back, for better or worse. Then in two months the rains will sock us in and even amongst us “locals” we won’t see each other until next summer.
I say “locals” because while I’ve lived here since October, and while I’ve survived one whole and two half winters here, I still remember nearly getting in a fight with a “true local” in a bar, a fellow who was born here and took offense by anyone who was not born here and called themselves “locals.” You see, it’s a polarizing issue. An issue that would never again present itself if I had my mohawk and beard, but an issue nevertheless.
As for my kiteboarding, I’m pretty much out of control by this point. I’ve got my heelside carves completely dialed, and I’m almost there with my toeside carves. I’m slashing back and forth in the swell and getting huge air off waves, and my control is such that the kite is increasingly becoming an extension of my body. I’m sure Justin, an awesome surfer hippie fellow who lives in the woods and is the only person I know who can speak entire sentences in English that I find absolutely captivating but utterly incomprehensible, would have something eloquent to say about this.
A few days ago I tried out a directional kiteboard from North Pacific Surfboards, a local custom surf shop that’s run by an awesome fellow named Art. A directional kiteboard is like a miniature surfboard, ranging in size from five to six feet long. We’ve been selling Art’s works of art at our shop all season and he’s got quite the fan club, but it wasn’t until now that I’ve been solid enough with my kiteboarding to know what all the fuss is about.
Holy. Shit. Wow.
There’s no way around it. Art’s boards are fucking incredible and they have totally changed the way I kiteboard. The day after I tried his 5’8″ round squash board I was already at his shop, placing an order for my own custom board. Sean let me borrow his 5’3″ board for the last few days, with the suggestion that the smaller board would be a better match for my size and the conditions I typically ride in.
I’ve been out on the 5’3″ the last two days in a row, and damn if he didn’t call that size perfectly! Art is off to Japan for the next two weeks, but as soon as he gets back I’m going to have him shape a 5’3″ to add to the Burgs’ ol’ quiver.
In contrast to the twin tip kiteboards that I’ve ridden since taking up kiteboarding (and the boards ridden by nearly every kiteboarder out there), directional boards have a super loose feel when you ride. You can effortlessly carve back and forth from toeside to heelside, and completely shred the hell out of swell and waves. They edge upwind like crazy, opening up an incredible third dimension to your riding.
When I was on the 5’8″ I reached the White Salmon Bridge in two reaches, completing in five minutes a trip that usually takes me half an hour. By the time I tried out the 5’3″ I was confident enough with my riding that I would do a toeside carve at the end of my normal reach, and then do an entire reach riding toeside. Toeside is typically associated with riding downwind at an incredible clip, but these boards ride so efficiently and edge so well that I can actually edge upwind while riding toeside.
What’s more, as I became increasingly comfortable with slashing the board I felt my snowboard skills start bubbling to the surface, which only enlivened my desire to push it to the limit. On a single reach I’d carve back and forth like a madman, grab some huge air off a wave, edge upwind a little it, throw into a toeside carve…
…and completely eat it. I would ride so hard that my sessions with the directional never lasted long, and I’d soon cruise back to the beach smiling but completely worked. This morning I found myself awkwardly stumbling around the house, and it dawned on me that it wasn’t because I was drunk (unlikely as my honey lager isn’t done fermenting yet) but because there was so much of the Columbia stuck in my ears that it was affecting my balance.
So really, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Loads of kiteboarding, punctuated with the occasional web design binge, a bit of writing, lots of photography, a smattering of web advertising, and personal drunkedness inventioning.