Outdoor New England | ONE

Winnipesaukee River to challenge some of the nation's best paddlers

Abagayle McMahonComment

Concord Monitor | June 23, 2017

NORTHFIELD -- Like a ferryman methodically pulling a barge across a river, Sonny Hunt reels hand-over-hand a thin nylon cord. He's hauling striped wooden poles into place on wires stretched above the fast-flowing Winnipesaukee River.

Hunt and a group of dedicated volunteers were busy rigging a 21-gate course in the rapids across from the Tilton police station in preparation for the Winnipesaukee River Whitewater Slalom, which takes place Sunday, June 25.

"It takes strength, flexibility and a lot of boat control. There is a lot of technique," said race volunteer Michele Barbin of Snow Shoe, Pa. Her son, Alden Henrie, just completed his sophomore year of high school, and will be among the paddlers pitting themselves against the river and the clock.

"When it comes to addictions for 16-year-olds I'll take it," Barbin said. 

On Monday, Henrie is leaving for Europe to test himself against those under ages 18 and 23 in the Whitewater World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.

"It's a lifelong sport. Low impact on your body and burns a ton of calories," Barbin said. 

Keech LeClair and his wife, Ann, of Ossining, N.Y., arrived on Thursday, towing their travel-trailer, which they parked riverside on conservation land on the Northfield side of the river at the end of Granite Street. The couple has clinched the national tandem canoeing championships five times and travel throughout New England to attend whitewater paddling events.

"Whitewater is not something we do - it defines us," said LeClair. He estimates that they have paddled some 35,000 miles together.

Since Ann was sidelined after undergoing knee surgery, Keech, who is approaching 80, now competes in the open canoe master class for single paddlers age 40 and over. The American Canoeing Association is the sport's governing body.

Whitewater slalom paddling came to the U.S. in the '50s, after being developed in France. The sport combines precise boat-handling skills with speed. Each paddler gets two chances to run the course and is timed racing through a series of gates - poles dangling from wires stretched across the river. Gates are set in both directions: both downstream - with the current, and upstream - against the current.

Time penalties are added - 50 seconds for missing a gate. In the kayak and closed canoe division, a two-second time penalty is assessed per gate for touching a pole. In an open canoe, a touch is 10 seconds per gate. The better of the two runs is used in the final rankings.

A red canoe juts from the roof of LeClair's SUV. Made of Kevlar and carbon fiber, it's 15 feet long and weighs a scant 32 pounds. It has a curved or "rockered" bottom so that it can be maneuvered in whitewater through the series of gates.

"The crew here are all volunteers. Many of them take a day off from work to come help set up the course. People show up and say thanks," he said.

"It keeps me out in nature," LeClair said of his attraction to the sport. He retired from IBM, and his wife is a high school guidance counselor.

"It's a lot of fun. You can watch people (paddle) and try and emulate what they do. Most races have a potluck dinner, and there is a lot of camaraderie."

Thirty years ago, The Friends of the Winnipesaukee River, which organizes this weekend's event, started working with local communities to look at the ribbon of water with fresh eyes. They were able to convince town officials of the benefits of including recreation and conservation on the Winnipesaukee in their master plans. The Friends of the Winnipesaukee River envisioned a future when the river would again be an economic engine, but instead of powering industry, it would enhance recreational opportunities for locals and attract visitors.

The municipalities of Tilton, Northfield and Franklin were receptive and each conserved shorefront along the Winni River or developed an abutting park. Plans are also in the works to create a whitewater park in Franklin, the first of its type in New England.

Hunt, who is chairing the race with his daughter, Amy, said typically the state approves a dam release to create ideal conditions. But persistent rain already has the river running at 1,200 cubic feet per second, three to four hundred cfs more than during the four prior races.

A resident of Concord, Hunt is no stranger to the lure of whitewater. He and his daughter have claimed a national title in the open canoe mixed division.

"I enjoy bringing (the sport) to different towns and letting people see what's out there. We do lessons and beginner courses," Hunt said.

He has been organizing the Blackwater Slalom race in his hometown of Webster for the past 34 years.

Eighty to ninety boats are expected at the Winni race, which is a stop on the New England White Water Slalom series. Paddlers will compete in a variety of categories for canoes and kayaks, both men and women, combined, solo and tandem divisions. Novices are encouraged to come out and give it a try.

On Friday, after the bulk of the course gates had been set, John "Kaz" Kazimierczyk who designs and builds some of the hottest slalom open canoes right here in the Granite State, took to the river and showed why he has been Open Canoe National Champion 10 times. In addition to slalom, he is a three-time Downriver National Champion and has won a whopping 68 national titles.

"He is just playing," said LeClair as Kazimierczyk appeared to effortlessly maneuver his canoe around a giant boulder in a vortex of current. Many of the competitors are using the Winni race as a final tune-up for the nationals to be held in July.

Surges in the popularity of the sport, LeClair said, typically track the cycle of the Olympic Games. Following the Games, footage of the whitewater canoe slalom is the most requested video, according to LeClair.

White-water race to commemorate anniversary of river preservation

Whitewater, City NewsMarty ParichandComment

Concord Monitor | Lucas Masin-Moyer | June 21, 2017

Race directors Sonny and Amy Hunt take part in a previous year’s slalom race on the Winnipesaukee River. Concord Monitor Article Picture.

Race directors Sonny and Amy Hunt take part in a previous year’s slalom race on the Winnipesaukee River. Concord Monitor Article Picture.

Thirty years ago, residents of Tilton, Northfield and Franklin almost lost all access to white water on the Winnipesaukee River when a proposed a dam threatened to divert the flow of the river into a pipe to generate power.

Not wanting to lose access to the river that flowed through all three communities, activists formed the Friends of the Winnipesaukee River, which spent years advocating against construction until the dam permits for lapsed and the white-water portions of the river were preserved.

To celebrate the anniversary of preservation efforts, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the towns and conservation commissions of Northfield and Tilton, and Friends of the Winnipesaukee River created a white-water slalom race in the part of the river where the dams were supposed to be built, and it’s returning this Saturday and Sunday.

Ken Norton, who helped organize the event, said the race came together to showcase the possibility of these preserved white-water areas as hot spots for recreation.

The efforts to make the river more accessible, Norton said in a statement, had been going on long before the proposed dam construction and continue today.

“It was (about) increasing awareness events about recreational possibilities in the river,” he said.

The clean-up efforts involved “removal of rebar and dam debris from the river to make it safe for paddling and a lot of work with the communities to recognize the value of recreation and that pushed the state to agree to have some white water loops,” Norton said.

According to Norton, close to 75 racers will take advantage of the river, now in top shape for white-water recreation – an activity that has spread beyond the most avid of racers.

“People come and go and they paddle ... some people come and play on Saturdays and don’t race,” Norton said. 

In order to help organize and run the race, the organizations enlisted the help of father-daughter team Sonny and Amy Hunt, who had previous experience running slalom races in Webster.

Sonny Hunt said he believes the race will attract paddlers from all over the area.

“Racers are looking forward to this event as part of the New England White Water Slalom series and as preparation for the White Water Slalom Nationals to be held in early July,” he said in a press release.

The race will travel along the upper portion of the river through Tilton, Northfield and Franklin.

The efforts to make the river more accessible have coincided with efforts to revitalize the city of Franklin. 

Norton said the efforts to blend these efforts has been led by Marty Parichand, the owner of Outdoor New England, who is working in conjunction with PermaCityLife to revitalize the Franklin downtown.

These efforts, Norton said, will make the area a go-to for prospective paddlers and white-water enthusiasts.

“They are looking at developing a white-water park in Franklin, in the lower section and that would have a variety of attractions – a mountain bike track with it – lots of stuff going on,” he said.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/30th-white-water-tilton-northfield-10847477

Where To Hike, Bike & Raft In A Day In New Hampshire

Company News, City News, WhitewaterJason BogaczComment

If you drive 90 minutes north of Boston, you’ll reach an area that includes three traditional New England towns – Andover, Franklin and Northfield. In one day in this small area it’s easy to hike, mountain bike and raft – and then finish the day with a good meal.

The Northern Rail Trail

Between the towns of Boscawen and Lebanon on the railbed used by the Northern Railroad for over 100 years is 58 miles of multi-use trail that’s been in place since the rail line was abandoned in the 1990’s. Today it’s called the Northern Rail Trail and is used year-round by hikers, cyclists, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.

I got a taste of the trail beginning in the cute, historic village of Potter Place near Andover. It’s the site of the information kiosk and the main trailhead for Friends of the Northern Rail Trail. Right off the bat I was led by my host, Lindy Heim to the Secret Garden. Built with love and free labour all because of the vision of one man – Ken Reid, the garden sits in the cellar hole of a former farmhouse owned by Richard and Sally Potter. Back in the early 1800’s Richard was a ventriloquist and magician of some note. Their graves can be seen across from the train depot.

From the Secret Garden we wandered down the trail enjoying gorgeous stands of hardwood forest – with the occasional black fly to annoy us as the temperature climbed. Lindy pointed out a couple of things along the trail I would have seen but not understood their value.

The Secret Garden in Potter Place

The Secret Garden in Potter Place

Starting the hike at Potter Place – a really pretty historic village

Starting the hike at Potter Place – a really pretty historic village

Delightful, easy hiking on the Northern Rail Trail in New Hampshire

Delightful, easy hiking on the Northern Rail Trail in New Hampshire

Telltales – structures with wires hanging down

Telltales – structures with wires hanging down

Look for historic mileposts – this one showing that it’s 38 miles to White River Junction; the backside would show the distance to Boston

Look for historic mileposts – this one showing that it’s 38 miles to White River Junction; the backside would show the distance to Boston

Mountain Biking at Highland Mountain Bike Park

I’ve logged a lot of miles on a mountain bike BUT never a single mile on the type of mountain bike pictured below which are made for mountain bike parks. But I’m game for most everything and was happy to don a full helmet and knee pads to see what I could do.

First I had a chat with the founder of Highland Mountain Bike Park, Mark Hayes. After selling a high tech company before the stock meltdown, he had a vision to create the world’s only lift accessed mountain completely dedicated to mountain biking. Today the word is out and the park is a mecca for mountain bikers who come from all over New England and even further afield. Apart from an extensive trail network, the park boasts an indoor training facility and skill building areas. In summer Mark has expanded to include kid’s camps which he says “Have Become Very Popular.” His goal is to appeal to every type of mountain biker from newbie to elite. With the opportunity to take lessons and practice in a friendly environment, he has made the sport very approachable for all ages.

I started my adventure with a mountain biking lesson. On these bikes you rarely sit down – and it’s so hard to peddle in the sitting position you won’t want to, except when your legs are screaming at you. I had to practice keeping one finger over each brake all the time; and I was supposed to stay loose in the neutral position and keep my eyes focused ahead.

After it was decided that I wouldn’t be a liability to myself, we headed for the chairlifts. The views are fantastic especially as you climb about 700 vertical feet. At the top, large maps show all the trails ranging from beginner to double black. Needless to say I was on a beginner trail – the easiest one called Freedom Trail.

And guess what? Me – a middle-aged woman had a blast! I followed my guide down – and kept my eyes focused ahead which made a huge difference. It was about 3.5 miles long and by the end – actually well before the end, my legs were begging to have a break from their “neutral” position. But I did it and if I didn’t have to run off and raft I would have done another run or two.

The facility is truly fantastic. After biking you can sit back, take in the view of fellow bikers and enjoy beers, drinks and a meal. It’s a sweet place to visit.

I’m all outfitted and ready to go mountain biking at the Highland Mountain Bike Park

I’m all outfitted and ready to go mountain biking at the Highland Mountain Bike Park

There’s a great selection of bikes for all sizes at Highland Mountain Bike Park

There’s a great selection of bikes for all sizes at Highland Mountain Bike Park

Take the chairlift up so you can access a maze of trails to suit all level of mountain biker

Take the chairlift up so you can access a maze of trails to suit all level of mountain biker

Look for the detailed map at the top of the chairlift so you don’t end up on one that doesn’t match your skill set

Look for the detailed map at the top of the chairlift so you don’t end up on one that doesn’t match your skill set

Practice riding banked curves on the Highland Mountain bike trails

Practice riding banked curves on the Highland Mountain bike trails

Rafting the Winnipeasaukee River

If you’re looking for a supremely fun and thrilling rafting experience you can do in just 90 minutes, basically over a long lunch hour, the Winnipeausaukee River is it. I had the pleasure of rafting the river twice one afternoon with Outdoor New England.

After donning wetsuits in their store on the main street of Franklin, we had a five minute car ride to the launch site – the shortest ride ever to a put-in. Of course we were given the full safety spiel before getting into the raft and once in our guide made sure we understood his commands before heading out. Though this is the only urban rafting experience in all of New England it’s one that keeps you on your toes and delivers more thrills per mile than most.

The rafting starts off quietly enough with a few ripples but in short order our adrenaline surged as we hit Class II, III and IV rapids in quick succession. In fact over the approximate 1.5 miles we raft, there was hardly a moment of calm. We barely have time to notice the remains of mills and dams along the edge of the river before we’re commanded to paddle hard right or left or to back paddle NOW.

The last major rapid – Trestle Bridge (pictured below) is a tricky one because if you get knocked out of the raft – you need to get to shore quickly as the next obstacle downstream is a dam. Trust me that gets your attention.

One of the fellows in our boat was new to rafting and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. The same goes for me. I felt exhilarated and very much alive after both runs down the river. After the first run, when I emerged from the raft looking like a drowned rat, I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Jeanne Shaheen (previously Governor of New Hampshire). She was there along with Marty Parichand, the Founder of Outdoor New England to hear about a project “To Create A Sustainable Whitewater Park For Year Round Use On The River With The Goal Of Turning The Downtown Into A Vibrant Micro-Urban Centerpiece.” I wish Marty and the community lots of luck. Certainly my urban rafting experience – a first – was memorable.

Great fun rafting the rafting the Winnipeasaukee River with Outdoor New England (Photo credit: Outdoor New England)

Great fun rafting the rafting the Winnipeasaukee River with Outdoor New England (Photo credit: Outdoor New England)

This is the last set of rapids you have to negotiate

This is the last set of rapids you have to negotiate

If you dump in the last rapid you have to get to the side quickly so you don’t reach the dam.

If you dump in the last rapid you have to get to the side quickly so you don’t reach the dam.

Thank you to Visit New Hampshire for hosting my stay and to Lindy, Mark and Marty to taking the time to speak with me.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

Telltales are structures with wires or rope hanging down (fourth photo down). Ed Hillier notes that “They Were Placed Some 100 Feet On Either Side Of An Overhead Bridge Or Other Low-Clearance Obstacle. They Warned Any Railroad Worker Who Was Standing On Top Of A Railroad Car That He Had Only A Few Seconds To Drop Down Or Be Swept Off The Car.”

The other interesting feature along this trail are the historic mileposts. Each of these granite posts are 8.5 feet long and weigh 1,400 pounds. Not only can you see the distance to Boston or White River Junction on each marker, but back in the day engineers could judge their train speed by the time it took to travel between mile markers. Today they serve as reference points just as they did when the railroad owned it and kept track of railroad properties like bridges, culverts and train stations.

https://www.hikebiketravel.com/48133/where-to-hike-bike-raft-in-a-day-in-new-hampshire/

Whitewater Kayaking Instruction, New Hampshire

WhitewaterMarty ParichandComment
Instructor Marty Parichand of Outdoor New England gives EasternSlopes.com Editor Tim Jones some pointers on rolling a whitewater kayak. (EasternSlopes.com photo)

Instructor Marty Parichand of Outdoor New England gives EasternSlopes.com Editor Tim Jones some pointers on rolling a whitewater kayak. (EasternSlopes.com photo)

Excerpt from EasternSlopes.com | T. Jones

"Outdoor New England is now offering introductory, freestyle, and custom whitewater kayaking instruction and rolling clinics on the Winnipesaukee, Pemigewasset, and Merrimack Rivers in Central New Hampshire. EasternSlopes.com editor Tim Jones has taken a rolling clinic with owner Marty Parichand and is looking forward to another session soon."

 

http://easternslopes.com/2014/03/28/go-whitewater-kayaking-instruction-northeast/

 

Electric Toys For Big Girls and Boys

Abagayle McMahonComment

LACONIA DAILY SUN | ADAM DRAPCHO |

June 05, 2017

There are many ways to get from Point A to Point B, and, with the recent resurgence of interest in electric motors and batteries, local vendors have a couple of new options for people who want to add some zip to their locomotion.

Marty Parichand, owner of Outdoor New England, rides a Onewheel electric board on the sidewalk in front of his shop in Franklin. He said the unusual devices have been a hit with the outdoor sports crowd. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Marty Parichand, owner of Outdoor New England, rides a Onewheel electric board on the sidewalk in front of his shop in Franklin. He said the unusual devices have been a hit with the outdoor sports crowd. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Electric battery and motor technology as been around since the late 19th century, and by the end of that century there were already two patents for combining electric motors and batteries with bicycles.

Those concepts were well ahead of their time, as it took many decades of development for electric bicycles to become useful to consumers. But, that time has arrived, and Pat Bolduc, co-owner of Piche's Ski and Sports Shop in Gilford, said that just this year he has started stocking and selling a range of electric assist bicycles, made by Giant, one of the better-known bicycle manufacturing brands.

Giant's electric-assist bicycles have a battery pack and motor integrated into the frame. Employees at Piche's Ski and Sports, in Gilford, have found that the bikes are appealing to cyclists who are recovering from an injury or who want to get back into cycling shape. From left, bike technician Mark Johnson, employee Denis Zecevic, soft goods buyer Annlouise Vento Porter, bike technicians Dana Farley and Brian Stokes, and co-owner Pat Bolduc. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Giant's electric-assist bicycles have a battery pack and motor integrated into the frame. Employees at Piche's Ski and Sports, in Gilford, have found that the bikes are appealing to cyclists who are recovering from an injury or who want to get back into cycling shape. From left, bike technician Mark Johnson, employee Denis Zecevic, soft goods buyer Annlouise Vento Porter, bike technicians Dana Farley and Brian Stokes, and co-owner Pat Bolduc. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Giant uses a lithium-ion battery and motor, which are snugly fixed to the bike's aluminum frame, to supplement the pedaling power of the rider – the bike must be pedaled, the motor won't propel the bicycle on its own. Giant has applied its electric assist devices to an urban commuting bicycle, a road bike and a full-suspension mountain bike. Depending on terrain and operation mode, the battery can help power the bicycle for 100 to 120 miles. Operation modes include "eco," which conserves range, "normal" and "power," which is "like a rocket ship," said Pat Bolduc, co-owner of Piche's.

The battery and motor add a bit of weight, so the bikes weigh 40 to 50 pounds, more than other

aluminum-framed bicycles. But they more than make up for that weight when going up a steep hill, or those last few miles of a long ride. Knowing that there's help available encourages riders to be more ambitious when setting out for a training run, said Bolduc.

Dana Farley, one of the bicycle technicians at Piche's, admitted that he was leery of the electric bicycles, until he took one out for a test ride.

"Believe it or not, you do get a workout with these things. I'm pretty impressed by them," he said.

Priced between $3,000 and $7,700, depending on the model and options, the electric-assist bikes are somewhere in the middle of the price range at Piche's. They've sold competitive road bikes  up to $13,000. The electric assist bikes have already found a few customers, too. Bolduc said they appeal to people who are recovering from an injury, or who are getting back into shape after taking the winter off from cycling.

While the electric assist bicycles would be easy to confuse with a conventional bike, there's no confusing a Onewheel with anything. The Onewheel electric board is about the size of a skateboard, but has just a single broad wheel in the center of the board. An electric motor and battery is intergrated into the hub of the wheel, and the rider places his or her feet in front of and behind the wheel. The device moves forward and back based on how the rider, who stands sideways as if on a skateboard, shifts his or her weight between front and back. Marty Parichand started carrying the Onewheel as soon as he opened Outdoor New England, his store in downtown Franklin, on Jan. 1 of this year.

Parichand had tried the Onewheel before, so he knew it was an innovative, fun and high-quality product. Still, he was "a little bit" surprised at how well it has done for him.

Outdoor New England, a specialty whitewater sports store, had eight of Onewheel's first model. Six of them sold, one of the remaining serves as the store's demo model and the final one is rented out to someone who uses it to commute in Boston. Just last week, the next model, Onewheel Plus, was released, and Parichand had ten pre-orders for that model.

The Onewheel Plus, which retails for $1,499, has a range of 5 to 7 miles between charges, recharges in 20 minutes, and can travel up to 19 miles per hour. The experience of riding one is similar to other board-based pursuits, which is why Parichand thought it would appeal to his customers.

"The people who come to the shop are outdoor enthusiasts, people who take a lot of pride in having fun and getting the most out of their life, and so this really appeals to them. It's so close to surfing and snowboarding, which most of these people do, there's a lot of carryover in the customer base." Having such a novel product in stock has been a boon to his fledgling business, he said.

"To get this kind of surge of orders this spring has been extremely helpful for us, as we're just starting out and developing a customer base. The product is phenomenal, so it's understanding that it's been a draw for people," Parichand said. 

http://www.laconiadailysun.com/special-sections/business-news/104937-electric-toys-for-big-girls-and-boys-3