Tag Archives: Sjoa

summer and the coming of the little man

Simon on Mickey Mouse

Yes, you have got it, it’s the end of year, and my blog is miles be hide, as normal, but here goes. Summer is full of fun, and the Mikey Mouse run in Valldal is a perfect moment in that summer’s fun. Since 1996, I have been coming to Norway, and now stay longer longer, moving permanently is only a matter of time. The great days of the summer, means I can really enjoy the paddling, and Valldal is a perfect destination, a little more creeking in style and a grander looking destination than Sjoa, with the fjell dropping down to the fjords. En route to runs like the Mickey Mouse, is the Ramua, mini-hucka on the upper section is a great highlight, with a simply 5m boof followed by a classic ferry and hold the line move to a late boof into a huge pool, spectacular to paddle and wonderful to watch. Once in Valldal, there is the famed Mickey Mouse run, with its great slide combos, one of which is “fight club”, and the first rule of fight club, is that you do not talk about it.

Blue angle on Mickey Mouse
Jakub on Upper Rauma

Once back in Sjoa, we work a lot on Ula, and I get to really break down the mechanics of paddlers movements and the technique needs to pull off the moves, plus I also get to paddle myself. This autumn I have started a Masters at Stirling in Scotland in Performance Coaching, interesting stuff, but more of that another time. Still the recent module on performance analysis, certainly frames the level of observation and comprehension of movement we do on the river to that academic level, as I said it’s interesting stuff.

Working on Ula
Show man

A summer highlight is the Gene17 Ula Extreme Race, during the Sjoa River Festival, and for 2013 it was a vintage year. 25˚C+, blue bird conditions and perfect water levels. We have some of the best on the world rock up to race, and some new faces too. The atmosphere on the event, and tightness of the competition, gave a heighten delight for myself. Next year is the 19th Sjoa River Festival, and this event has come a long way, I have gone to every one of them, always helped out, but for the last 5 years, have been running the event with the local kayak shop, Strie Strømmer. We moved the whole event up to Heidal from it’s normal location of the Sjoa Kayak Camp, as spring floods had knocked out the road access down there. A new mass start event, lamb BBQ and Saturday night band, gave this normal river side gather more of a festival feel.

Jakub's sister Lucie at the Ula Race
Little Haley Mills chraging at Ula
Finish line at the Gene17 Ula Race
Gene17 Ula Race 2013

I managed to get a cover shot on a Palm ad too, with the 2013 Palm Fuse Freeride top colours, that match my custom colour boat from Dagger Europe. I have always liked orange, but am taking it to much more than a banner colour. The new Palm FXr PFD for 2014 is of course Sherbet Orange too….I wonder if I have any influence on that. Also in the summer, a paddler from Devon whom I have been coaching, Tom Rainey made the front cover of Kayak Session, with a great image from Oregon. Tom required a lot of tactic input, with technique centring on his forward paddling, a typical situation, where taller paddlers often over use their arms, due to natural reach, rather than combine the movement with their torso and shoulder rotation. In the summer Tom moved to Voss and has been charging ever since, great news indeed.

Palm Equipment Fuse FreeRide top Ad summer 2013
Kayak Session Cover shot

In spite of a full spring into summer, busy, very busy indeed, the highlight of the year was the coming of the little man. Onni arrived in fine form, and has play the part of a growing baby rather well ever since. Now with a girl and a boy in the house, the siring part of fatherhood is over, 2 is surely enough. Whilst waiting for the boy, I managed to enjoy extended days out at Hafjell Bike Park, and enjoyed the free ride biking, what a great way to pass the time, life up, jump after jump, after berm after jump all the way down.

the little man's first day out

Tomorrow or next week, I’ll post about September!


Sjoa, a northern Paradise

In the new Mamba 8.6

Norway, again and again and again, paddling perfection, and at the heart of it all is Sjoa, a small hamlet at the end of the Sjoa, in fact located on the opposite side to the confluence with the Lågen, by the even smaller hamlet of Åmot. To Norwegian’s Sjoa, is known as Heidal, the principal larger village upstream, about mid point along the valley. Still here on this river, is a paddling life all Summer long, rafting, kayaking, river boarding and lots of tourists along with a local crowd and Summer blown ins just like me. My 16th Summer on the Sjoa breeze, I tend to aim to be there by mid Summer’s and look to head South by September, 12 weeks or so, a whole Summer season for one thing and one thing alone, paddling.

Over the year, strings have changed and other things have stayed the same, the river this year changed after some near 1000 cumec floods, so we have a new face to an old friend. When heading out after big floods, caution is always needed, river change, and in floods or after harsh Winter’s they can change significantly. On Skjerva, a near by run, a must run on the upper section, is now an epic portage, both Nick Horwood and Jakub Sedivy had a close call, trying to run an ugly slot. All ended well, we got everything, and now know the portage route. Moments like this reminds us that we are all but a continuum, and even those things as solid as rock, are as dynamic at times are is everything.

Micky Moose Run

Before the Sjoa events, we headed to Valldal for paddling, the Micky Mouse run is ace, steep clean slides and a small drop in there too. The grassroots event, the Valdall Summer Games, has wider appeal to the local active crowd, with a new downhill bike route cut into the hill and some north shore to enjoy too. Its a Summer field like festival. The middle Valdall river is a fun creek run, starting with boulder gardens and then some bedrock slides, all in an open river bed, 20mins of action. Out in the fjord, there is lots of fishing too, spinning for sea trout and salmon is easy I understand, myself, I’d prefer fly fishing, but it’s a later project, for myself to enjoy.

Back in Sjoa, the River Festival now in it’s 15th year, is ace, some 200+ paddlers from all over the nordic realms and others too from central Europe and the UK, descend on the Sjoa Kayak Camp, for a week of paddling, competitions, parties and fun with friends. This year Gene17 took over the running of the festival, from my wife, how now has a flu time job. With both Jakub and Nick to help, along with others, we ran the event programme, added in Gene17 clinics to expose the Nordic paddlers to our charms, plus the Gene17 Ula Extreme Race on Rondane. We had great prizes from Art, again, prefect stuff. What to say about the Sjoa Festival, I go every year, I like it, it’s an open gathering and what’s not to enjoy?

Sweet Rumble
Gene17 Ula Extreme
Liquid Logic Games

Then after Sjoa, comes the Gene17 work, this year the Progressive Trip provided much entertainment, then again it always does. It’s hard to throw the net over an intermediate course, but it’s for Class III+ paddlers looking to get ahead, or an introduction to big volume, either way, it’s a world away from the Alps. Most of what is taught is tactics for river running, as the crowd tend to be from a group where they are not leading to much, plus there is a tendency to over edge at an and all transitions. These days, you point your boat in the desired direction, and go, plane over everything if you can, but you go, always go forward, if there is a problem, there is always a forward solution. This no nonsense style, can be an issue with the paddlers from low float destinations, but given the low ceiling of tactical effectiveness the push me pull me method of boat manoeuvring has, the paddlers get on board soon enough.

man at work
camera feedback

What to say about the work, I love it, its ace, and there is always a lot to do. With many new events to run, it’s difficult to get the other projects down, especially the video efforts. This Autumn is down for this, I have a 6 week window to get this done, but I will be busy with something else…more on that later. For now, Ciao from Nordkapp, yepp the northern edge of Europe, barren, striking and yet beautiful.

Next time, Nordland, the new Summer paddling destination.