Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Vegan For Sickline

Once again I have committed to competing at the Adidas Sickline in Austria, this will be my 5th time competing at the challenging and fiercely competitive race. I’ve had some promising results over the years but last year was my worst result which was very disappointing.

After a torn meniscus in my knee, an impinged shoulder, and becoming a father all in the lead up to the race, training took a back seat, time was limited, convenient food became a habit and inevitably weight creeped on. I was hoping I could wing it and make up for it with my abilities but after nailing the lines, I totally blew out on the sprint section putting me in 90th place. Overall it could’ve been a lot worse, I knew I was capable of much more.

So here we are again in the lead up to the biggest race on my calendar and my approach has changed a bit, well… a hell of a lot.

About a month ago I decided to go Vegan, a totally plant based diet. It was time to get back in control of my diet and training and a drastic change was needed. My thinking was this new lifestyle would shave off some unwanted weight, boost my energy and health and force me to think about what I’m eating again.

At first I had a lot of negative opinions from friends and colleagues, saying I’ll get sick and lose all my muscle. But I knew that basically they didn’t know what thy were on about, and a lot of people don’t. What’s made it easier for me is that I like a lot of different foods so my diet is still really varied which is exactly what you need to stay healthy. The main challenge I’ve found is trying not to be too carb heavy. One thing that’s hard to get on a vegan diet (though not impossible) is vitamin b12, so I’m taking a supplement for this.

So one month in and I’m nearly a stone lighter, energy levels are great and training is going really well. I’ve ramped up my training for this year as I really want to go all in this year. I have a bunch of steep hills literally on my doorstep so I’ve started doing hill sprints every two days, which so far hasn’t aggravated my torn cartilage. It’s basically interval training, intense on the way up, walk down and so on.

My friend Lyndon Williams has also entered so we’ve been doing many a lap at the Cardiff white water course, pushing each other for faster times. I’ve switched my weight training from heavy with few reps to light with loads of reps to help build that stamina, rather than bulk. After some advice from former Sickline winner Joe Morley, I’m waiting for my new skipping rope to be delivered. This is fantastic cardio and also should increase stamina in my forearms which is usually what lets me down first.

So with 7 weeks to go the plan will continue to be shaving more weight, keeping building stamina and get as much boat time as possible. For anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle I highly recommend making the switch to being vegan, it’s really not that hard once you get into it. It just forces better choices out of you!

Thanks for reading and be sure to cheer on team Escape Watersports at this year Sickline!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

What's Your Next Adventure?

Are you ever sat in the office, wondering where your next adventure should be?
Sometimes, sitting and looking out of the window at the wind and rain is enough to get anyone down (other than maybe a white water kayaker).

So how about trying something different with your spare time?

Maybe you have always wanted to learn to paddle board, try kayaking on the ocean, or jump off a waterfall? Well the adventure you're dreaming of is a LOT closer than you realise...

At Escape Watersports, we believe there is nothing better than discovering a new adventure right on your own door step.
We are lucky enough to be based in South Wales, and although I may seem a little bias here, it's possibly one of the most beautiful places in the UK.

From mountains to sea within less than 30 minutes drive, you can be sure to get your fix what ever it may be.

Boofing hard over this waterfall on the Pontneddfechan.

A hidden valley in Glynneath just waiting to be found.

The BIG one on the River Hepste. (Spaniel included for scale).

At the foot of the Brecon Beacons, Pontneddfechan has waterfalls and steep creeks perfect for thrill seekers wanting to go gorge walking or kayaking, and ideal for people who simply want to have a good walk and take in the surrounding beauty.

In Cardiff, Swansea, and Camarthen you'll find gentle rivers and canals that offer a  stress free day on the water, and along the coastline you'll find some of the best surf beaches around.

The weather may not always be great, but that just means more water to play on! (River Ely, Cardiff)

Even man's best friend loves kayaking at Oxwich Bay.

Just in time for dinner! Mackerel fresh from Oxwich Bay.

Paddling between sandy bays and sleeping under the stars is a great way to relax after a week in the office!

So what will your next adventure be?

Sunset over Rhosilli Bay in the Gower.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Essentials For The Alps | Lyndon Williams

Make sure you have all the essentials when it comes to your summer trip. 

If you're like me, you will be spending time somewhere in the Alps this Summer. 

Whether you're booked on to a guided trip, being coached, or you're just planning on having a social (involving more beers than paddling), there are still things you don't want to forget. 
The rivers are very different to those in the UK, many have a lot higher volume and more continuous rapids, so it's important you catch a boat quickly when rescuing. 

You definitely want a Palm Safety Tape or Palm Snake Sling, with a Karabina at the ready. 
You can also opt to carry a Rescue Belt to make carrying all this easier.

Check your airbags are staying inflated throughout your trip. This keeps the water from filling up your boat, which can make it super heavy and makes a rescue much harder. 

Is your Buoyancy Aid up to scratch? 
You don't need me telling you the importance of having a well fitted buoyancy aid that is not falling apart, and offers plenty of flotation.

And finally my favourite. The shorty cag.
I love my Palm Zenith shorty because of the comfortable glide skin neck and arms, but currently Escape Watersports has a great deal on the Peak UK Combi cag.

So enjoy yourself!
Don't forget to drink plenty of water and wear sun cream! 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

New Website Launch

We're proud to announce that our new website is officially live!

We've kept all the best bits of the old website, and thanks to the help of our customers we've added some brand new features that will make shopping with us better than ever before.

We love to hear feedback (both good and bad). So check it out and let us know what you think!

A refreshed look for the homepage.

Discover our newest products and special offers.

Our new filter makes browsing so much easier.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My Journey to 5 Stars | Lyndon Williams

Recently I passed my 5 star white water kayak assessment, the assessment is carried out over 2 days and is based on guiding kayaking in advanced waters. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. The first day was great, we made the couple hour's drive from Cardiff to paddle the Lynn early in the morning and as I hadn't done it before, excitement took over and I seemed to forget about the pre-assessment nerves. I really had a feeling like I was just out boating for fun. This carried on to the second day where I was fortunate enough to get 2 great candidates to guide down the upper Dart. It was super relaxed, enjoyable and we all had an awesome day.

After the assessment everyone had an individual debrief, it got to my turn and In simple and short words the feedback I received was outstanding. I felt really confident within my personal paddling and leadership on the water. And the guys from Gene 17 had confirmed that. It was pretty hard not to walk out with a smile on my face, I was completely proud of myself.

After a short celebratory car park beer with the others who passed It was time to head home. The 3 hour drive back to south Wales left me with plenty of time to reflect on my journey to becoming a 5* white water leader and the person I am today!

6 years ago, nearly to the day I started kayaking, It was something fun, new to learn and actually quite difficult. I really appreciate my friend Becx for getting me on the water because I was hooked. Having a love for the sport instantly gave me inspiration to get better and teach what I've learnt to others.
Very early on I applied for a job in the Ardeche and when I had a phone call confirming my place I couldn't stop jumping around the house! I surrounded myself with paddlers. I coached, guided and learnt a lot about paddling. I made it my job, my life and hobby. Everything thing else in my life at that time was on hold, I found something I loved to do and I was spending it with the best of friends who felt the same.

After a couple of years I moved to a different company called Adventure Ardeche. The choice to move companies as far as I'm concerned turned out to be one of the most crucial decisions I have ever made. Phil the owner really cares about his staff and does what he can to help put people on the path they want to follow. It was my time with Phil and his family that gave me the tools to progress. I was given vehicles to go kayaking on days off, he paid for trips to the French alps, qualifications were there if I wanted them and most importantly I was able to gain heaps of experience.
I really have a soft spot for the Ardeche, It's a beautiful place with beautiful people. Most of my closest friends have come from being out there and I probably wouldn't have met my girlfriend, Beckii if it wasn't for working there. Although I decided enough was enough and I really wanted to travel and paddle in different places around the world.

Beckii and I left France, we headed to the UK, then off to Canada, back to Wales to save up then travelled and kayaked in New Zealand for a year. During this time I started to dial in my boat skills and run some of the biggest rapids I've ever seen. It was great to have a range of rivers from huge volume with big waves to tight twisting, steep and technical creeks. But towards the end of the trip I slightly lost sight of my own goal, I had sold my boat and kit knowing I was heading home and was really frustrated that I wasn't kayaking. I must have been really awful to be around at times.
At the time I was so focused on getting better, fitter and wanting to run bigger rapids, I almost forgot why I fell in love with the sport. It wasn't all about just having fun with those who matter the most. I wanted to see what I was capable of. Sometimes I would go out on the lake to do sprint fitness sessions because I felt like I had to Even though I had nothing to train for. Its really difficult to explain how I felt then because I didn't really understand myself.

The time between not having a kayak in New Zealand to collecting everything new back home felt like a decade. I remember how excited I was to get back in a boat and I made everyone around me aware of that! I quite possibly posted on social media every time I looked at a kayak and definitely every time I got in one. I felt so fortunate that I picked up a sponsorship with Escape Watersports while I was in New Zealand. It allowed me to go 4 months without having to find a job as the less I spent on replacing my kit meant the more I could put my funds elsewhere. A few months in a UK winter to just paddle with friends, have fun and really enjoy my kayaking again.

A trip to Scotland for a week just after new year was just what I needed to confirm what I already knew. Kayaking is made so much better with friends around to have fun with. I still have the same drive to do the best I can and test myself but its great days on the water with great friends that leave me smiling more.

Not long after this, a group of us decided to run a night descent on a South Wales classic run. By day, possibly the best river in the south and by night It didn't disappoint. Between everyone involved there was so much experience, it was an honour to be part of the team. Although we joked around a lot we had safety set on absolutely everything! I really enjoyed the run, not so much for it being dark, although It's something I will never forget; but once again I was out on the river having a great time with friends.

So when my assessment arrived, I was more looking forward to being on the river with my friends and sharing my experiences that I felt there was no pressure. Unaware, I was completely ready for it and It leaves me humbled. 

I can only thank everyone who has helped me achieve that. The support I have received from coaches, friends, family, bosses, companies, people I have met on rivers and asked for the line, people who have inspired me to still be motivated at 5am and most importantly Beckii. At some point everyone I have met over the last 6 Years has helped me achieve my goal in some way or another and I'm truly grateful. Finding people who I can share my love for kayaking with will continue to be high on my priorities. But now I see myself at the end of a chapter and I can't wait to carry on writing the next one!

Photography: Adam Heason, Beckii Waters.