Archive for February, 2009

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Rodeo roping – great skills demonstrated by both sexes

February 28, 2009

This is the third installment in a series of blogs we have been posting concerning rodeo – today we are going to look at and try to explain what is known as ‘roping’ in the very competitive world of rodeo. It has to be considered extreme as not only is there a limited number of participants but it is also dangerous, fast and very exciting to watch, as you will see in the videos below.

Roping

The three main events in roping, which are timed, are practiced by working cowboys on a daily basis for puposes of capturing and then treating the calf or steer, be it for reasons of branding the animal with the ranch logo, treating it for medicinal purposes or for some other reason such as castration. In competitive rodeo the events are divided into three classes:

  • calf roping
  • team roping
  • breakaway roping

Calf roping is when a calf is roped around its neck by the cowboy using a lasso or lariat. The cowboy’s horse must then stop and stand whilst the cowboy jumps down from his horse and runs over to the calf, turns it on its side and then ties three of the calf’s legs together. If the calf is knocked over by the horse moving then the cowboy must wait for the calf to stand again before he can turn the calf over himself – his time is therefore prolonged and as this is a timed event is is essential for the horse to stand still. Calf roping is now called tie-down roping by the PRCA.

The video below is a fine example of how one of the best in the business – Clint Cooper – practices this art – thanks to DodgeXTremeBulls for the video.

Team roping is when two people acting together lasso a fully grown steer with the ‘header’ capturing the steer over its horns and the ‘heeler’ lassoing the steer around its hind legs. The steer is then restrained and with pressure from the header and heeler will lose its balance and fall over. Both men and women can compete in the same team.

Watch brothers Brandon and Mike Beers in the video below from bpdesigns4u at the Reno Rodeo 2008 demonstrate team roping – not by any means a walk in the park.

Breakaway roping is when a calf is roped using a very short lariat or lasso which is lightly tied to the horn of the saddle with string and a flag. When the calf is roped the horse must stop, the calf will run on pulling the string and flag from the saddle which signals the end of the breakaway roping. In the US this event is primarily for women and girls of all ages and for boys of under 12 years of age.

But as you will see in the video below from Jaxxon1994 it is not only the girls who get involved. Here Mike Kline demonstrates breakaway roping.

So thats the roping element of rodeo covered, all we have left is rough stock rodeo – bull riding we have already covered, a topic worthy of its own blog, as is the other element of rough stock competition which is of course ‘bronc’ riding – apologies for the suspense!!

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Drag racer brain dead about his 280mph crash

February 27, 2009

Drag racing – the zenith of extreme sports?  And a sport we have not often talked about – something we decided to change having done a little research and watched the video below from ProModFil which shows an unbelievable and horrific crash at 280 mph from which the driver survived but suffered CRAFT.

So what is drag racing? Our friends from Wikipedia put it quite simply – a competition in which vehicles compete to be the first to cross a set finish line, usually from a dead stop, and in a straight line. In other words you go flat out!

But within the sport there is a myriad of jargon, organisations – the two major ones in North America being the  National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), classes – both professional and non professional, and a glossary that would fill a dictionary. Don’t worry guys – we’re going to keep it simple!

The fastest cars can attain terminal speeds of over 530 km/h (329 mph) while covering the quarter mile (440 yard) distance in roughly 4.45 seconds. It is often related that dragsters are the fastest accelerating vehicles on earth; quicker even than the space shuttle launch vehicle or a catapult-assisted jet fighter at launch.

Before each race each driver is allowed to perform a ‘burnout’ which heats the tires and lays rubber down at the beginning of the track, therebye improving traction, he or she then lines up, or ‘stages’, at the starting line.

Professional drag races are started electronically, with a series of vertically-arranged lights known as a Christmas Tree – in itself a performance and where racers can often be disqualified by trying to jump the gun.

The race has three measurements taken:

  • reaction time – the time from the green light illuminating to the vehicle leaving the starting line
  • elapsed time – the time from the vehicle leaving the starting line to crossing the finish line
  • speed – indicates the approximate maximum speed of the vehicle during the run and is measured by a speed gun near the finish line

The winner is the first vehicle to cross the finish line.

Now this first video of Jerry Caminito’s crash does not really show the racing element so we have decided to add another video which is a compilation of drag racing, often presumed by the uninitiated to be a preserve of North Americans – but there is now a thriving and growing following of the sport in Europe and the South Africans have long been nuts about this extreme. The video comes from mannyrego.

Oh and if you are still wondering what CRAFT is……..Can’t Remember A F……….Thing! We know what you mean Jerry.

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Rodeo timed events – barrel racing, pole bending, steer wrestling

February 26, 2009

Last week we put a blog out about the bull riding and Professional Bull Riders which attracted a lot of interest and we therefore you would like to know more about the world of rodeo which when you think about it would have to be considered an extreme sport.

History

Rodeo did of course originate from the activities of cowboys and vaqueros who on a daily basis were managing steers from horseback on the vast ranches and needed to either separate, move to different pasture, treat for illness or brand the cattle. Rodeo competition grew from these every day activities and by 1860 there were informal rodeo competitions in both Mexico and north western America. By 1910 several major rodeos were established including the Calgary Stampede, the Pendleton Round-Up and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo is now particularly popular in the province of Alberta in Canada and throughout the western United States and is the official sport of Wyoming and Texas.

The modern professional rodeo is big business with more than 7,500 cowboys competing for over $30 million prize money at 650 rodeos. The circuit concludes with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR)  held in Las Vegas, Nevada  in December.

Today rodeo encompasses three discipllines – namely timed events, roping and rough stock competition (bull riding being part of rough stock competition). Today we will look at the timed events: barrel racing, pole bending and steer wrestling.

Competition – timed events

Barrel racing – exclusively a women’s sport. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. The fastest time is the winner. Check out the action in the video below from tetah11.

Pole bending – horse and rider run the length of a line of six upright poles, turn sharply and weave through the poles, turn again and weave back and then return to the start. Fastest time wins all but it should be noted that pole bending is not a professional sport – check out how it is done in the video fromRodeoDVD

Steer wrestling – also known as “Bulldogging,” the rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a steer and ‘wrestles’ it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. Again the quickest time gets the most points and is therefore deemed the winner. It is considered the most dangerous of the timed events as the cowboy runs a risk of missing the steer and landing head first in the dirt, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first, whilst attempting to wrestle it to the ground. Again the action can be seen in the video below from easternslopepro.

One element that is not generally of concern with other extreme sports that we cover is animal rights  – we believe and respect everyones opinion but would suggest that participants are not wanting to harm their horses or the steers – all of which cost money and will only perform well if they are fit and sound. We are always interested to hear your thoughts on this and any other issue.

This brief introduction to the timed events of rodeo will be followed by a look at roping and rough stock competition in a future publication.

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Landsailing in the USA – all you need to know

February 25, 2009

We woke this morning to find the land covered by a white frost, the sky was turquoise as the sun started its daily climb from behind the black mountains on the horizon – there was not a breath of wind.

Wind, a natural element – it comes in forces such as today when you can hear the silence and then there are times when it blows so strong it will topple 200 year old trees and buildings to boot. In Provence, where we are fortunate enough to live, there is a wind that blows from the north called the Mistral – apparently there is an ancient law that states that if the Mistral blows consecutively for 21 days then a man is permitted to murder his wife. That is no doubt an old wives tale but none the less it does illustrate the point that wind can get on one’s nerves.

But what would a world without wind be like – not much fun for extreme sports enthusiasts – thats for sure! And it was at that point that we started thinking about all the different extreme sports that are so dependent on wind.

One of those extreme sports that we don’t often write or hear about is landsailing and so we thought we would give you a little background information, show you some video footage and report on some upcoming events. We have never been lucky enough to try out land sailing but it sure looks fun and when you think the speed record for landsailing is 108.8 mph or 175.5 kph, set in 1999, it sure has to be considered an extreme sport.

History

Not surprisingly it is believed the ancient Egyptians first created a vehicle that could be driven on the land and was powered by the wind. These guys were around over 3,000 years ago and it is pleasing to note that they were apparently used for leisure! The Chinese get the next mention as they mounted masts on wheelbarrows in the 6th century. Then came the Flemish, who in the 16th century were again using a wind powered land vehicle for sport but it was the Belgians and French who first started racing the land yacht in the early 1900s. The first known use of land yachts in the United States was a a mode of transport for for goods on the dried lakes in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Development of land sailing in the United States.

We are grateful to Nord Embroden for this information which first appeared in the American Landsailing Federation’s newsletter in 1998.

‘The early production designs were led by NuSport Manufacturing with the Sand Sailer from the late 60’s. This yacht was an assemblage of straight and curved pipes, a plastic seat and a mast standing almost vertically.

The next production yacht to influence the market was the Chubasco. A rugged steel frame and sail sporting a bright red stripe were trademarks of this yacht. It was about 8’ wide and came in a single seat and later a two-seat version. Many Chubasco’s are still being sailed for recreational use today a testimony to their indestructibility.

The introduction of the Friendship in 1973 made a dramatic advancement in commercial yacht technology in the United States. The Friendship was capable of sailing five to six times the speed of the wind with its efficient wing mast and sail combination. Many other homebuilt yachts followed the Friendships lead over the next 10 years.

Don Rypinski is the father of modern landsailing in the United States. Don was the first American to ever compete in Europe. From his experiences and visions he developed a blueprint for the North American Landsailing Association, an organization of landsailing clubs in America. Incorporated on May 22, 1972, NALSA joined together many individuals to work toward a common goal of promoting the sport of landsailing in America. Don affiliated NALSA with FISLY in Europe. His wisdom helped mold our racing classes and rules and coordinate them with FISLY’s. The original sail area classes were Class I , II and III from Europe and a Class IV was added from the United States.

It was in 1974 that Don organized the first America’s Landsailing Cup regatta, yachts from all areas joined together at Roach Dry Lake in Nevada.

In 1973 the Friendship, with a 25% rigid wing mast and soft sail combination lead off in a direction that has continued to date. George Olson designed and built the Pterodactyl, a 30’ long powerhouse Class II yacht. It’s enclosed body and wing mast was manufactured for land-yacht use and later as iceboats. George also developed a small version Pterodactyl II for class III and IV. The iceboaters have brought the flexible mast and sail to the landsailing world beginning in 1975.

The most successful yacht of all times was not a high performance racer but a recreational yacht. The Manta developed by Alan Dimen. The original single provided an inexpensive entry into the sport of landsailing. Easy to assemble and sail the Manta became the favorite choice in the late 70’s. The Manta Twin added more sail and the ability to carry a second person. Today there is higher participation at races from Mantas than any other production yacht.

Racing

Over the years several types of racing has been developed in America. The open sail area classes were first introduced in 1972 and have been the core of the racing for the America’s Cup over the years. One design class racing has been promoted at the Nationals beginning in 1976 and continuing today. In recent years one-design classes have been added to the America’s cup including Manta Singles and Twins, Friendships and the Fed Fives.

A unique type of racing was introduced in the 70’s with Pacific Landyacht club’s four hour Enduro. Many pilots went home with blisters and dust after miles of looped course racing. Trophies were awarded for overall distance, team trophies and new record distances from year to year.

Where to go

Most sailing is done on our West Coast dry lake beds found in California, Nevada and Eastern Oregon. Some sailing is done on the beaches of central California, Oregon, Washington, South Carolina and Florida. One of the most unique sailing sites was Randy Harmon’s Iowa cornfields. After the crop was trimmed the corn stubble provided an adequate but bumpy surface.

Several airstrips and parking lots have been used over the years. Half Mile Square in Fountain Valley is probably the most notorious. Originally the three triangularly placed ½ mile long runways provided a unique sailing experience and was occupied every weekend. As time went on other activities limited the landsailing area to only one single strip. The crush of other users eventually forced the full size yachts from the area.

Current clubs

  • North American Landsailing Association ~N.A.L.S.A. continues today as the governing body of landsailing in America controlling classes, U.S. numbers and racing rules with seven member clubs.
  • Heart of America ~ Iceboating and landsailing club from the Wisconsin area.Organization for 5 Square Meter pilots in the U.S. Landyacht Club centered around the southern Oregon area. Club from the San Francisco area hosting Manta events. setup for the promotion of landsailing in the United States.
  • American 5 Square Meter Association ~
  • Northwest Landyacht Club ~
  • Bay Area Landsailing Association ~
  • American Landsailing Federation ~
  • Sierra Area Landsailing Association, SALA ~ Provides racing and recreational activities in the Reno Area. One of the original N.A.L.S.A. clubs still in existence. Hosts recreational events on the full moon weekends. A unique group of individualists who ebb and flow with the travels of time. SASSASS continues today with sponsored events on the Black Rock desert. An active group in the high desert of southern California. Wind Wizards meet every other weekend during the year with some time off in winter. This club provides activities for a wide variety of yachts. Organization for the Manta fleets. Provides Manta fleet regulations.
  • Lunar Landyacht Club ~
  • Sunny Acres Sipping, Sailing and Soaring Society, SASSASS ~
  • Wind Wizards ~
  • United States Manta Association ~

Upcoming events

America’s Cup And PAC Rim Championships at Ivanpah,
March, 2009 (March 20-28. Racing days March 22-27)
Race Notice, Schedule, Entry Form (PDF) (Word .doc)

Spring Small Boat Rally
April 25/26, 2009 Ivanpah Dry Lake

Cow to Cow at Smith Creek,
Late May 2009 or more or less.

Nord Nationals at Superior #3,
late May 2009

Holy Gale
June 17th to 21th 2009 Smith Creek Dry Lake, NV

Fall Small Boat Rally
September 5/6/7, 2009—Del Mar Dry Lake

Well there is not a lot more to say for the time being except if you want more details can we suggest you visit NALSA’s website the link for which follows: http://www.nalsa.org/index.htm

Oh and err perhaps we should add – thank the good Lord for wind!

The video below shows some excellent action from Ivanpah dry lake where the upcoming America’s Cup will be held. The video is by us64328.

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Should a fear of heights put you off rock climbing?

February 24, 2009

“You’re born, you live, and then you die. Unfortunately, too many people miss that middle part,” Chris Ferro

What a wonderful quote – so apt for so many of us. Which is why we love extreme sport … pushing your limits gives you the sense of living life to the full, and it doesn’t mean to say you have to be dangerously stupid about it.

And rock climbing is an extreme sport that has a bit of everything – adrenaline kick, the great outdoors, exercise, personal challenge, mental endurance … I could go on for ever.

A fear of heights (acrophobia) need not be a deterrent to starting this sport. A lot of rock climbers have a fear of heights, but they have subsequently discovered that their fear of heights was more a fear of falling.

“I have always been afraid of heights, but as most climbers seem to find, it is really a fear of falling. Learning to trust the security of the rope has allowed me to get up high without freaking out. But still, the knowledge of hundreds of feet of air below you stays in the back of your mind, and gravity is unforgiving,” says Steve Branam.

It comes down to practice and repetition. You have to learn to trust the equipment and yourself. So practice, practice, practice, indoors and out. You can boulder to develop climbing ability without feeling acrophobia, and then this confidence will help fight the fear up high. In fact, when you are climbing you are so concentrated on the next move that you seldom have time to remember your fear of heights.

As Francis Devonshire says: “Today, on the whole I’m too involved with the climb to worry about heights; if I’m trying to make a move I’m only concerned with things within the span of my arms which I may or may not be able to cling on to; the distance to the deck becomes an irrelavance. However, I have yet to complete a climb during which I don’t, at some point, curse loudly that the whole thing is a bloody stupid enterprise and I’m giving my gear away the moment I reach the top!”

As another new climber says, “I’m scared to death of heights, but I love climbing… Just concentrate on the wall in front of you, and you won’t even think about how high you are.”

To overcome your acrophobia you need to program your unconscious mind with a healthy level of wariness and then use that wariness to replace your irrational terror.

What exactly is acrophobia? It’s one of those things where if you are wondering if you experience it or not, then it’s almost certain you don’t. It is when you look out from the balcony on the second floor and feel safer close to the wall or you hold on maniacally to anything secure, or when you feel dizzy on a mountain trail and have to crawl on all fours, grabbing every blade of grass for the illusion of safety, but are pretty certain anyway that  you will fall at any moment. If you look down, the world seems to spin and sway, your stomach contracts, you forget to breathe regularly, mouth dries out, you start sweating like a pig and panic sets in and you swear that if you ever get down alive, you’ll never set foot on a hill again. That’s acrophobia!

Or, as the dictionary says, ‘a pathological fear of heights’.

Will4adventures is a company that helps people to overcome their fear of heights by climbing, if you want to know more about them you can contact them at  will@will4adventure.com. In the meantime have a look at this video from BillyLegs:

Remember, rock climbing is only as extreme as you choose to make it. Acrophobia will not be beaten overnight. It is a slow and steady process, but it can be done.

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Catskill Mountains to host 150 mile staged mountain bike race

February 24, 2009

Here in the south of France the last vestiges of what has been a long and wet winter are beginning to subside, the birds are busying themselves with nest building and the mimosa is starting to flower and as we move into spring time our thoughts are channelled to those extreme sports more often assocaited with the summer. And so we bring news of what could be a great challenge for all you mountain bikers – particularly if you are based near the Catskill Mountains in New York State.

A group of mountain bike enthusiasts want to create a four-day race in the Catskill Mountains this summer, making use of some of the most challenging rides in the region. The 150-mile stage race would be called the Wildcat Epic.

Routes would include Minnewaska State Park, Mohonk Preserve and the Hunter Mountain and Cortina ski areas. One day of riding would ascend 2,900 feet to the top of Overlook Mountain near Woodstock.

Organizers are also planning a one-day race for adults and kids who aren’t up to a four-day epic ride.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest mountain biking events of the Northeast,” said Gunter Stilhaus, one of the co-organizers. Owner of a local outdoor Web site called Adventure Junction, Stilhaus, a South Africa native who now lives in Ulster County, is a professional race organizer. He’s joined forces with a company from Connecticut called Genesis Adventures, which produces triathlons and other endurances races.

A local doctor, who took part in a stage race in British Columbia last summer, knows that the difficulty of such races are not to be underestimated. Jessica Fleishman, an ophthalmologist who practices at Lasik Plus in Albany, started training for the BC Bike Race seven months early. Before the race in late June, she rode up to 15 hours a week.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

The seven-day race involves 500 kilometers of riding, climbing thousands of feet every day. Fleishman and her partner rode for eight hours a day. The race leaders rode for half that time. “That race improved my riding 500 percent,” she said. “It was like mountain biking boot camp.”

Such races are rare in the East, where large patches of wild space that allow mountain biking are hard to find.

But the Catskills is beginning to earn a name for itself for cycling events. The region is also home to the East Coast National Mountain Bike Race, held at Windham Mountain ski area in July, and the Tour of the Catskills Pro/Am Bike Race, a road race held in September.

“It’s all something we welcome with open arms,” said Daniela Marino, director of tourism for Greene County Tourism.

The Wildcat race would begin June 18. Entry costs start at $600, and would include some meals and transportation. All riders must have partners, who must stay together during the race. The race will also be videotaped. Competitors can watch race highlights at dinner each night.Officials are estimating from 200 to 600 racers will attend.

Race organizers expect the event will also help promote Ulster and Greene counties.

“They’ll have small towns begging to be included, just like the Tour de France,” said Pete Zimmer, a local mountain biker who is working with the organizers.

Zimmer is a member of the mountain bike club Fats in the Cats. Club members have built dozens of miles of mountain bike singletrack in the past few years. Some of their work will be featured in the race.

“We’ve got some world-class resources here,” Zimmer said.

 

Upcoming events planned for the Catskills this season:

  • Race: Wildcat Epic. Bike: mountain. Venue: numerous trails in the Catskills. Dates: June 18-21
  • Race: East Coast Nationals. Bike: mountain. Venue: Windham Mountain Resort. Date: mid-July
  • Race: Tour of the Catskills Pro/Am. Bike: road. Venue: roads around the Catskills. Dates: Sept. 19-20

We are most grateful to Alan Weschler of timesunion.com for bringing us this story and to 1speeder whose video below shows what a beautiful place the Catskill Mountains are to go mountain bike riding and the trails look to be a great challenge. This Wilcat Epic is certainly going to attract the crowds. 

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Nudity comes to extreme sports

February 23, 2009

Writing about extreme sports we never imagined we would have to cover the topic of nudity – well read on folks for that is what the people of British Columbia have been doing – taking their clothes off and bearing all as they make one giant leap of faith and bungee jump – all in the name of charity.

The annual naked bungy jump fundraiser for the B.C. Schizophrenia Society at WildPlay’s Bungy Zone south of Nanaimo attracts hundreds of people from as far as New York and Wisconsin. More often than not, nudity takes a backseat to facing the fear of heights or getting an adrenaline rush.

“I have no shame,” said Olympia’s Nick Wenzel after his jump as he stood under the bridge in nothing more than his birthday suit and a pair of sneakers. Wenzel has made the six-hour commute four times to take the naked leap of faith in Nanaimo, but this time he didn’t jump solo. Girlfriend Audrey Norris clutched Wenzel for dear life as they tipped off the plank together, face-to-face, for her first-ever jump.

“It was so much fun,” said Norris, who adds she was more nervous about being cold than anything else.

By early Sunday afternoon, the Bungy Zone had registered more than 160 jumps and raised more than $5,800, beating last year’s donation tally.

Pilots Kevin Teker and Ian Johnson from Seattle brought a cheering crew with them to add to their once-in-a-lifetime experience. The duo saw the event posted on the Internet and Teker said “now that’s got to be one crazy T-shirt.” Teker’s wife painted blue wings on her husband’s upper back before he ascended to his post, where a jump master wrapped his ankles.

“This is about overcoming a personal challenge,” said Teker before he shuffled to the end of the plank, spread his arms and flew into the air.

For Steven Bobowski, WildPlay senior jump master, it was just another day at the office. He’s been helping people take the plunge for 14 years and whether they’re clothed or not, it’s all the same to him.

“It can be the most amazing experience is someone’s life. It’s empowering,” said Bobowski as another bum disappears over the edge. When asked if the nudity bothers him at all he lets out a little laugh. “My guy friends give me a little grief over being around other naked guys, but all I say is eye contact is a beautiful thing.”

Our thanks go to Krista Charke of The Daily News for bringing us this story and also to bcssprov for the video below which shows the action!

In another bungee jumping incident 49-year-old Mark Afforde survived a snapped bungee cord during a jump from a 400-foot high bridge over Canyon Creek, near Yacolt on Thursday, reports shortnews.com . He broke free just as he bottomed out and was only 25 feet over the water.

Afforde’s wife said that it was the only time he’d ever tried the extreme sport and is probably the end of her husband’s thrill-seeking days. Afforde escaped serious injury, only complaining of a sore backside.

Thankfully we can report a happy ending this this territying story but it does demonstrate why bungee jumping has to be considered an extreme sport.