It’s not about adrenaline

Posted: April 19, 2014 by kirisyko in SykOtic

Originally posted on In Pursuit of Exploration:

Matthes Crest

Matthes Crest

I started by climbing trees. Then I got into climbing rocks. There were buildings and towers too. At some point falling out of planes came into the mix, but it was kind of expensive and dug into my climbing time, so I stopped.

Between all of the climbing I managed to do a bit of work. There was Bolivia, where I lived with awesome people, dodged the occasional tear gas canister, and tried to avoid the miners with dynamite and the Germans with coke. Then there was the embassy in Europe which got anthraxed, albeit fake anthrax, but we didn’t know that in the moment. Then there was the café where I had mint tea. It got blown up a few months later, which was senseless.

Then I started climbing trees again, but I got paid to wear a harness and strap a chainsaw to it.

I surfed Class…

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How do I become a good IDC Staff instructor?

Posted: April 17, 2014 by kirisyko in Scuba diving, Water

Originally posted on

After the IDC every Course Director is telling you to go up the PADI ladder and become MSDT.  You are still thinking about passing the IE and like the sales pitch, you listen but you don’t register,  and are nervous enough to become an OWSI.  Then the IE is there, you realize your Course Director was right by saying IE stands for “It’s Easy”!  9 out of 10 candidates exit the room with a feeling of euphoria and relief.  The IDC was way more intense than this! 

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10 Things I love about Ski Holidays

Posted: April 17, 2014 by kirisyko in Skiing, Winter

Originally posted on Blissfulblurbs:

1.The snow

Those magical fluffy drops from heaven that turns the landscape into a picture-perfect, winter wonderland.  I love watching the snow as comes swirling down gently through the air, it has a romantic feeling to it.


2. The silence

Have you noticed how when you are up on the mountain you often experience moments of perfect silence? This is because snow absorbs sound waves. Those silent moments makes one feel totally relaxed and closer to God.

3. The beauty

The scenery is stunning and simply breathtaking. And what’s even better is you are right there able to savour it with all your senses, the sights, the smells and the cold crisp air. You feel as if you are on top of the world. It is surreal and timeless.

4.The exercise

To enjoy ski holidays, you need to be relatively fit as you experience a full body workout. But being…

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Originally posted on Turquoise Compass:


Waiting for the wave

As I mentioned in a previous post, Australia’s East Coast is a place where I completed countless bucket list items and adventure sports. Visiting Australia’s East Coast is a dream come true for me. Exploring the Eastern region of Australia for 6 weeks allowed me to complete countless items on my bucket list. From hang-gliding to sand-boarding I tried to do it all. I like to think I am an adventurous person, although not fearless, I am open to experiencing anything unique and out of the ordinary.

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Gallery  —  Posted: April 17, 2014 by kirisyko in Adventure Travel, SykOtic

Alysa Rabel

Alysa Rabel, 29, is a little too hard-core for simple marathons or triathlons. The Buffalo hair dresser has discovered a new and exciting style of extreme sports that utilizes her love for exercise and sense of adventure.

“I get to get muddy and run around – how do you beat that?” she said. “I love to work out. I feel like this is a way for me to use a lot of different workouts. I love to run, but I love strength as well. This is a way for me to get both, and I might as well get something for all of the work that I do.”

Rabel competed in her second Spartan Race in Las Vegas on April 5, finishing first out of 568 women in her age group and in the top 1 percent of all competitors – male and female – with a time of 1 hour, 52 minutes, 19 seconds. The Vegas competition, known as a “Super Spartan,” is an 8-10 mile race and includes more difficult obstacles, normally only attempted by experienced competitors.

Spartan racing is not like normal races. There are not set trails, only rugged terrain with obstacles along the way. Race organizers pick a start and end location, then place climbing ropes, wall climbs, tire flips and pulls, sandbag carries and seemingly any barrier imaginable. The Vegas race even included a fire pit the competitors leaped over.

Races like the “tough mudder” allow participants to chose whether to complete the obstacle or simply bypass it. Spartan races require all participants attempt each obstacle, and failure to complete one results in 30 burpees – a type of jumping jack, pushup combination.

“I didn’t play in sports in high school,” Rabel said. “After my son was born, I really got into exercising to lose weight and just get into shape. And then it just became an obsession.”

Rabel began her fitness campaign eight years ago. Along the way, she’s competed in various cardio events. Four years ago, she attempted to incorporate strength into her training and began seeking alternatives to 5Ks and half-marathons.

Her first Spartan Race was the Utah Spartan Beast June 2013, finishing the 13-mile race in 3:31:30.

“I wasn’t really happy with my time,” Rabel said. “I was working way too hard and wasn’t listening to my body. I started eating better and listening to my body, and it worked. When I set this one in Vegas I just set a time – 2 hours – that I wanted to beat.

“I didn’t realize I was going to do that well. I just felt amazing that day, and I knew I was passing a lot of other runners, but I was shocked when I saw the results.”

Surrounded by tired, dirty exhausted faces, her husband, Matt found a beaming but equally dirty one.

 “After the race I looked like the happiest person in the world,” she said. “I had the biggest smile on my face, and you could tell I just loved it. I was sore, but I just wanted to do it again – run it again. It just felt that good.

“I usually take a little time off to relax and recover. But I’m ready to get going again.”

Rabel was running six to eight miles a day last year and was dealing with a plethora of injuries from head to toe as a result. She said the change in strategy clearly worked. Her next race will be on May 10, her second of three this year. Athletes who run three Super Spartans in a calendar year, known as a trifecta, are put on a “Spartan Wall of Fame.”

“I’m going to approach it the exact same way I did this last one,” she said. “Why mess with a good thing?”

For more information on Spartan Races, check out

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Philippe Gilbert landed a confidence-boosting victory Wednesday at De Brabantse Pijl. Photo: Tim De Waele |


OVERIJSE, Belgium (VN) — Philippe Gilbert timed it to perfection. Not only did he launch an early sprint to hold off Michael Matthews and win Brabantse Pijl Wednesday, but he did so on the eve of the Ardennes classics.

“I know this race is not the same as the Ardennes classics, but a win is good for my confidence,” BMC Racing’s former world champion said. “I was second here last year, this year first. A win makes the difference and is unique.”

The win on the outskirts of Brussels marked Gilbert’s first for 2014. It came much earlier than last year, as well.

As world champion, he had to wait until the Vuelta a España in September to flash his rainbow jersey in a victory salute. With today’s win, Gilbert showed off his red and black team colors, just four days before the Amstel Gold Race, the first of the three Ardennes classics.

“Getting that first one each year is hard for him. He’s always up there, but sometimes he just misses the right moment or anticipates it a little bit,” team director Max Sciandri told VeloNews. “Getting a win will help for the Ardennes classics. It gives you that extra confidence when you got a win under your belt.”

Gilbert last scored in Overijse in 2011. That win was part of his magical season that included the Ardennes treble. After Davide Rebellin in 2004, he was only the second cyclist to win all three Ardennes classics. Gilbert stormed through the rest of the season, scoring 18 times, earning Tour de France yellow for a day, and winning the UCI WorldTour overall.

That winter, ahead of the 2012 season, he left Lotto for BMC. Other than his three Vuelta stage wins and his 2012 world title, he has struggled since (those four wins would make a career for many riders, of course). In fact, Gilbert has won only five times since that 18-race haul in 2011.

“This is a good test ahead of the Ardennes classics, but this is also a great race in its own right,” Gilbert said. “The best riders in the world, though, will be at Amstel, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On Sunday in Amstel, it’s going to be a different race.”

Gilbert could have lost Wednesday’s race with a late gamble to catch a group containing Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge). The Belgian attacked and bridged solo to Gerrans’ group, but the escape did not survive, leaving just 11.4 kilometers to recover ahead of the finish.

“It’s real impressive because we were chasing. He got antsy and attacked on his own. We were thinking, ‘what are you doing? No,’” teammate Peter Stetina told VeloNews. “I was scared at first, then once the field came back up to him, and he said, ‘I’m still ready to play,’ we just committed again. He had me ride him into the base of the second-to-last climb with three kilometers to go, into the wheels, then it’s all power from there.

“He’s finally got everything flowing and motivated for the week to come.”

Gilbert refused to blow the midweek Brabantse Pijl out of proportion. As he said, several of the big favorites that will be in Maastricht for the start of the Amstel Gold Race were not in Overijse.

“We are going to have to wait until after Liège-Bastogne-Liège finishes to draw conclusions,” Gilbert said. “I’m motivated by today’s result, but that doesn’t’ mean that we are going to work overtime in the Ardennes. We are only going to sacrifice one BMC rider at the front to control the race, not one more. I’m ready to lose upcoming races, but not ready to lead the races for my rivals.”

The rivals are many, from Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) to Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp). As Sciandri explained, though, an early win gives Gilbert confidence for the coming week.


The moment before this daredevil racer drives his bike over the steep, rock-lined cliff edge, you can hear him suck in a deep breath.

Before watching the video, I suggest you do the same.


Geoff Gulevich’s endorphin-hyped run through the Red Bull Rampage race was captured from the racer’s point of view, and the sights are just part of the amazing video.

Onlookers shout “C’mon Gully!” throughout the ride and ask the gutsy biker how the wind is treating him.

With deep, shaky breaths, he responds, “I don’t like that wind.”

How do you know he's airborne? Check the shadow. Top Right. (Image via YouTube).

But the video, and the rider, keeps going. For another full minute he slides, rolls and twists down the rocky mountain trail, at one point along a wooden bridge that seems a little less than stable.

One muttered “Whoa,” is the strongest reaction the video captures out of Gulevich during the ride; clearly he was focused on staying on top of the bike rather than narrating the scenery.

Enjoy a little subjective vertigo and watch the video below:

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To Kayak or Biyak – That is the Question

Posted: April 17, 2014 by kirisyko in Kayaking, Water
Tags: ,

To Kayak or Biyak - That is the Question

I visited recently with Aaron Baldwin (aka Biyakboats on the forums) about his innovation – the “Biyak”. I traveled to McClellanville to meet Aaron at his shop to look over the Biyak and the pedal drive component.

The Biyak is just over 12’ long. The pontoons are adjustable from 30” – 46”. This adjustment range provides the ability to transport the Biyak in the back of a van or truck. It also provides stability when you would prefer to stand while searching for tailing fish on the flats or in the grass. The Biyak weighs in at 90lbs, has a carrying capacity currently rated at 350lbs.

What makes the Biyak unique is the design of the pontoons. The first Biyak pontoons were made from wood. The second generation was made from fiberglass. Today, the pontoons are thermoformed. Front and rear hatches provide access to the interior of the pontoons for rod or other storage. Each pontoon has a flush rod holder installed, as well. A deck – the highlight of the Biyak – sits above the two pontoons, which has another storage hatch in front of a swivel chair. The Biyak can be configured for sailing, pedaling, or paddling. I can also image an option for an electronic trolling motor in the future.

Another accessory for the Biyak is the leaning post with rod holder. This is great for hunting the flats or flooded grass areas in search of the spottail. There are also the three “rocket launchers” for rod storage behind the seat. Noticeable items missing are adjustable pegs for foot placement when paddling. The Biyak has an adjustable foot rest with four positions.

We did manage to get on the water to see if we could slime “version three” of the Biyak, but we had a chance to talk a bit first.

Darrell. Aaron, please tells us a little bit about you.

Aaron. I live in McClellanville, a small fishing village north of Charleston, SC. I grew up McClellanville, went away to school at Clemson, and moved back seventeen years ago with my wife Terri so that we could be close to family. We have one child, a seventeen-year-old daughter, Marina. I’ve been teaching art and design at Charleston Southern University for fifteen years.

D. How long have you been fishing?

A. I’m 48 and have been fishing my whole life, but only fishing correctly for about ten years. I’m half joking about that, but around here we all grew up fishing with double bottom rigs and dead shrimp. I’ve gotten a lot better at fishing artificial lures and targeting species.

D. Who has been your fishing mentor?

A. I’ll catch grief for saying it, but I’ve learned a lot about fishing with my friends Bill Crouch and Wade Rhodes. You’ll never see either one of them in a kayak, but they do know how to catch fish.

D. What got you into kayaking?

A. McClellanville is situated with the Francis Marion Forest and black-water tributaries of the Santee River to the west, and saltwater tidal creeks of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge to the east. It’s the perfect town for kayaking.

D. When did you decide to start fishing from a kayak? A. I started kayak fishing about four years ago. D. What was your first kayak, and did you make any modifications to that kayak when you started to fish out of it?

A. One Christmas, seven or eight years ago, my dad bought my brother and me a used Wilderness Systems “Pamlico” tandem. He’s since taken it back for himself, but we sort of share it. It’s a great boat. I’ve hunted and fished from it. I never made any real modifications to it.

D. What is your most memorial kayak catch story?

A. I had just finished building the wooden Biyak prototype, and was anxious to test and document its “fishability”. On the first big tide, I borrowed a waterproof video camera and headed to some marsh flats. I was standing up, casting a gold D.O.A. shrimp, and hooked up on a redfish with a tail the size of my hand. I hadn’t thought through the filming part, so I bent down and put the camera between my knees. If only there could have been someone there filming me, trying to film the fish. I ended up landing the 30” spottail, but dropped the camera overboard. I found the camera. Of course, it contained nothing but a blur of blues and greens. It was, though, the first time I caught a fish on the Biyak.

D. When did you start development of the Biyak, and why?

A. The Biyak began four or five years ago with an idea for a pedal drive. I was chasing spottails around in that same Pamlico, and was frustrated by having to switch back-and-forth from paddle to rod. I knew about the Hobie “Mirage” drive, and knew that I couldn’t afford one. I was convinced I could make something myself. In time, I did. I was pitching my pedal drive to some designers from Jackson and one of them said, “This would work well on a catamaran-style kayak.” I came home and started slapping together some plywood pontoons. As I built them, it occurred to me that there was no reason why distance between the pontoons could not be adjustable. There were many technical challenges along the way, but that first boat worked so well that I decided to keep going with it. Some good friends offered to pitch in some capital, and this is where we are.

D. When is the Biyak going to be available on the market?

A. I’ve been wrong about this so many times, I’m afraid to say. My hope is that we will all be biyaking sometime this summer. It’s ready, really. I just want to paddle, sail, and fish this first plastic boat for a while this spring.

D. What does the future hold for Aaron Baldwin and the Biyak?

A. I’d like to continue teaching. I really enjoy my students. Working on the boat has made me a better designer, and I hope that makes me a better teacher. I have had nice blocks of time in the summers to focus on Biyak. Now it’s time to do something with it and the pedal drive. I’m interested in finding a company to partner with or in licensing the designs, but I’d also be happy building smaller numbers, myself, and growing the company here in McClellanville. Either way, there will be Biyaks on the water.

After the interview, it was time to hit the water. We launched the Biyak from a private spot near some shrimp boats. We paddled down Jeremy Creek toward Matthews Cut, Aaron in the Biyak and me in the Jackson Kayak “Big Tuna”. Once at the cut, we paddled to the left in the search of some redfish. The water was full of bait, and occasionally we would see a swirl indicating a spooked redfish. When we arrived to a spot on the Matthews Cut, Aaron took over the Big Tuna while I paddled the Biyak back to the launch. The first thing that I noticed was the stability of the Biyak when I launched from the bank. The next was how nicely the Biyak paddled, and its straight-as-an-arrow tracking. . When we got to a point in the cut to cross into the small creek, I decided to wait for several boats to pass us. I then paddled the Biyak into the wakes created by the boats. I was very surprised with the stability in some heavy wave action. I was surprised how easily the Biyak turned, even with the dual pontoons.

If you would like to demo the Biyak, you just might get the opportunity at the October Boondoggle – Aaron is currently planning to attend. This will give you the opportunity to provide your opinion and feedback on this wonderful innovation.

As on the previous day, Sarah Storey finished with a gold medal around her neck. The 36-year-old British girl – one of the outstanding riders in these Championships – triumphed in the scratch ahead of the Argentinian rider Mariela Analia Delgado. Storey thus came away, after four days of competition, with two wins (the 3km Pursuit and Scratch) and a bronze medal (in the 500m). The anthem of God Save the Queen set the tempo for this final day, with the successes in the tandems of Sophie Thornhill and Rachel James in the Women, and Neil Fachie and Peter Mitchell in the Men. Following on from the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Team GB and its 11 representatives logically finished these Championships in 2nd place in the country rankings, with 10 medals, of which 7 were gold.

Watch Sarah Storey in action

It was Australia, featuring Susan Powell, that came top, with 17 medals including 5 wins. China – featuring Zhou Jufang – took third place with 10 medals, including 4 rainbow jerseys, with the USA team of Allison Jones finishing just short of the podium (9 and 2).

23 new world records

Mexico, the host country, didn’t succeed in winning a medal, but the representatives of the Pan-American Cycling Confederation nevertheless performed well. In addition to the USA, Argentina (3 and 2), Canada (2) and Brazil (1) stepped on to the podium, even though they were not on the highest step, except in the case of the Brazilian Soelito Gohr in the Men Scratch on Sunday. Although the traditionally dominant countries all performed well at this crucial rendez-vous – at the halfway point between London and Rio 2016 – it is noteworthy that 18 countries shared the 83 medals, with 11 of them sharing 29 victories.

The outstanding performances delighted the crowds, who had come in droves to the Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome, reputed to be ultra-fast. No less than 23 world records were broken during these four days.

The President of the UCI Para-cycling Commission, also member of the UCI Management Committee, Mohamed Belmahi, remarked: “These World Championships have been a success both in terms of performances of the athletes. All the favourites were present, and the emerging countries achieved excellent results. The Mexican audiences were able to appreciate the increasingly demanding level of para-cycling, which is more and more popular across the world.”

Photo: Inspiring pair Matt Formston / Michael Curran bringing Australia on top of the nations rankings with 17 medals in Aguascalientes Worlds

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As was the case last year, the track at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester will welcome the world’s elite BMX riders to the first round of this season’s UCI BMX Supercross World Cup. The racing will then move on to Papendal (the Netherlands), followed by the return of a round in Berlin (Germany). The 2014 season concludes with the “classic” events at Santiago Del Estero in Argentina and Chula Vista in the USA. Last year’s round in Manchester gave British Cycling a double (wins for Reade and Phillips), while this year it heralds the introduction of new rules. 

The top 16 riders of the UCI men’s ranking (and top 8 of the women’s ranking) will qualify directly for the Super Final. Other riders will compete over three rounds, with the fastest 48 riders joining the protected riders for the motos on Saturday. This change is likely to lead to much more open racing and weekends of particularly fierce competition! 

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Last year Colombia’s Mariana Pajón and the USA’s Connor Fields were the overall winners of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup after four rounds. But who are the contenders this year? Injured before the World Championships, Shanaze Reade returns to competition in front of her home crowd and dreams of adding overall victory to her palmarès for the first time. In the men’s competition, while Fields could certainly repeat last year’s win, he will have to overcome Australia’s Sam Willoughby (2012 winner) as well as World Champion Liam Phillips and French contenders Sylvain André and Joris Daudet (2011 winner). 

Two years ahead of the Rio Olympic Games, the 2014 season also sees the return of the chase by nations to secure Olympic quotas. 

Photo: Shanaze Read on her way to victory in Manchester, in 2013