Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mid-Winter Raft Care: 5 tips

A well taken care of raft

Were smack dab in the middle of Winter. Do you know where (how) your whitewater raft is doing? If you’re like most rafters, probably not. It’s mid-winter who wants to get out on a cold river?

Not me, but this is a good time to check in on your raft and see how it’s faring through the Winter. After all Spring is only a few short months away.

Here’s a list of mid-Winter checks you should do on your whitewater raft:

1. If your boat is deflated and rolled up, you should flip it onto the other side. Just  like humans, if it’s in the same spot for a long time, it can develop wear spots just like we develop bed sores.

 

2. Be sure the raft isn’t sitting in a wet spot (eww). Rafts love the water, but in Winter water can freeze and that can damage valves and even the raft thwarts and tubes. Wipe off any wetness with a dry towel. Wetness can breed mold which just doesn’t belong on a whitewater raft!

3. If your raft is inflated check to make sure the tubes are somewhat equal in inflation. You don’t want one a lot fuller than another, it can lead to a blown baffle. Inflate the less inflated one to match.

4. If you’re inflated raft is hanging, check to make sure there aren’t any wear spots forming. Sometimes a raft will deflate a bit and widen out as it does so; pushing up against straps and ropes.

5. If you have gear inside the boat, like coolers or dry boxes, take a look inside and make sure no mice are living there. Mice can destroy boxes as well as rafts, be sure these little beasts don’t have access to your precious baby.

If you find evidence of mice living in your raft, get rid of them. Pull your boat out, inflate it and spray it down. Put mouse traps and poison out.

Doing a mid-winter raft check shouldn’t take more than a few minutes but it’s time well spent. It could be the difference between a great whitewater rafting season and a completely missed rafting season. Neglect has killed more whitewater rafts than Blossom Bar rapid.

Have some more raft care tips? Post them in the comments section.

 

Mountain Biking with Kids in Winter: 5 Tips

Ready for a Winter ride

This Winter on the west coast has been one of the driest on record. Normally the only thing on our mind this time of year is skiing. Skiing, skiing, skiing, the more the better.

This year though, has never happened, so instead of skiing, we’ve had to change our activities a bit. Were lucky to live in a place that offers a lot of other Winter activities. The one we’ve done most is mountain biking.

Like I said the snow hasn’t fallen, which also means it hasn’t rained much. All this adds up to dry Winter mountain bike trails.

Normally this is an adults only activity, but this past summer we invested in some decent mountain bikes for our kids. Nothing fancy, just decent, used bikes. The kids are big enough to use 26 inch wheels which makes a big difference when riding mountain bike trails. They can actually keep up with us.

We’ve been mountain biking quite a bit with them and they really love it. To make it more enjoyable for them we’ve learned a few things:

1. Get them on 26 inch wheels. These bikes are bigger but they have a lot of advantages over smaller kid bikes. First of all the bigger the wheel the faster they’ll travel along the trail. Second, you can upgrade them so kids won’t grow out of them so quickly.

2. Shocks are nice. these bigger bikes also come with front suspension. This isn’t essential for kids, but it does make for a smoother more enjoyable ride. If you have the kind that are adjustable, make them as spongy soft as you can to accommodate for the kids’ light weight.

3. Keep the pedals simple. don’t throw your kids into clipless pedals. Give them the downhiller pedals. These pedals have good grippiness but all they have to do to release is lift their foot. there’s no twisting or having to think about getting out of the pedals. Hell, I still have trouble getting out of clipless pedals.

4. Winter mountain biking requires stops and fuel. To keep the kids’ comfortable be sure to stop often and eat small snacks throughout the day. You don’t want them bonking or getting too tired. You want them to come back don’t you?

5. Choose an easy to moderate trail. don’t take them to some hardcore trail you love, take them to something you know they can handle. Remember, you may love slogging up steep hills, but I sincerely doubt your kids will.

There are probably a lot more tips and tricks for making mountain biking fun for kids. If you have any be sure to post them in the comments section.