The Kwan of Wakeboarding
This week was a crazy one, but it blessed me with two of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced. One of them happened on Thursday and was only slightly wake related. I don't usually drive the WakeWorld truck for much other than pulling the boat or traveling to the river, but on this particular morning the big Chevy 3500 was working carpool duty. I had forgotten to take the trash out the night before, so the truck was called into action to get all our refuse down to the end of the driveway on the way to school. Little did I know how fortuitous my forgetfulness would be.
With five junior high and high school students on board, including my two daughters next to me in the front seat, I made my way down the two lane road that leads to the school. We usually play a game where we put the iPod on shuffle and see who can guess the name of the artist first. Then we switch to the next song. I remember Eminem's "8 Mile" coming up on the shuffle, but I can't remember who guessed it first. The sound felt right, so I told my daughter to pause the game so that we could listen to the whole song. I remember thinking about Eminem in the Chrysler Superbowl commercial with that infectious beat going in the background. That's when all hell broke loose.
There are only two ways in and out of my neighborhood and both of them are curvy, two-lane roads (yes, I live in the sticks). The road we were traveling on never felt that dangerous to me, but it seems like there's an accident on it almost every week. In fact, I later found out that just eight hours before our ill-fated trip a 22-year-old had lost his life on that road only 1/2 a mile from where we were.
I was rounding a blind curve with a sharp embankment on my right and a guard rail protecting a drop off on the other side of the road. I was going about 35 and, from what I can figure, I must have had less than a second to react after a vehicle coming from the other direction came into view around the turn. A lot went on during that short span. I know that I spent some of that time trying to comprehend what was coming at me. The accident report said it was a black Chevy Monte Carlo, but since it was coming at me at a slight angle, it took some time just to realize it was a car. Then I spent some time comprehending the fact that he was in my lane and coming right at me. With nowhere to go and no time to turn even if I did have an out, my final thought was how much this was going to hurt.
I was wrong. It didn't really hurt that bad! In fact, I was amazed at how soft the impact felt. I have to hand it to car safety technology because between the air bag and the seatbelt, I felt like I was lovingly swaddled in bubble wrap and I completely demolished the car that trespassed on my side of the road. Perhaps I should give some credit to the WakeWorld rig, which is a 1-ton, crew cab, long bed, 4WD that probably weighs about as much as two Monte Carlos.
This is where I experienced one of the best feelings in my life. I turned to look at my passengers to see five kids with eyes wide and jaws hanging, but they all appeared to be in relatively good shape. I asked if everybody was ok and four of them replied with something resembling a surprised, "I think so!" My youngest daughter drew the short straw and got the middle front sit with only a lap belt and no airbag. She hit the dashboard with her face and was bleeding from above the eye as she asked, "Is this real?" Ok, so she was knocked a little koo-koo, but they all walked away (even the other driver wasn't injured too badly) and three of them even made it to school that day! That makes it one of the best days of my life despite the loss of the WakeWorld rig that I loved.
It almost seems unfair that I had another great moment earlier in the week. This one involved a river, a Wakesetter, my brand new customized CWB Transcend and the first day of spring! I don't know what it is about that first ride of the season without a drysuit, wetsuit, heater top or anything else but boardshorts. It's just magical. The freedom you feel by finally shedding the constraints imposed by cold weather adds so much to the on-water experience. Sometimes I just want to skip the rest of the season because it's tough to beat that first ride.
The Maliview dash told me that the air and water were pretty close, coming in at 75 and 74 respectively. Despite the warm conditions it seems there's always some apprehension about getting into the water this early in the year. The dock start is a no-brainer, just on the outside chance that the temp gauge is off and the water is really hovering around 60 degrees. I welcomed the tug of the rope that told me it was time to jump onto the buttery surface and get my season started.
Despite how many times I've done it, I'm always worried about screwing up my launch off the dock and starting my ride with an embarrassing splash, so I was happy to land safely and start things out with a hard cut on my heelside edge. There were no sounds other than the boat and my wakeboard and I had already shut out the boat noise. I love carving up the glass and listening to the water come off the board. I turned my head to hear the gurgle of the wake I was creating behind me while glancing and the smooth waters I had disturbed with my opening stanza.
I can't help but to spend a few seconds admiring my new board as it cuts through the water surface. It's a CWB Transcend, but it's sporting a customized WakeWorld graphic, courtesy of their My CWB program, and it looks spankin' against the green of the river. It's a very different shape from the Lyman I had been riding before, but Andrew Adkison had talked me into giving it a try. After looking at the extreme rocker as it sat on my living room floor, I was sure it wasn't going to work for my riding style. However, this was my fourth ride on it and I'm still loving it.
A couple of simple wake jumps always help me to gauge where I'm at physically. They felt good. I headed back across on my heelside, this time adding in a poke back in the direction from whence I came. In my mind it felt and looked like the most Twelker-esque poke imaginable, but my daughter, looking on from the boat, seemed unimpressed. It did not dissuade me from the toeside task before me. I hit the wake and pulled the board up close to get my indy grab on. Sure, it could have been tindy, but in my mind it felt "legit" and that's all that matters. I held it tight as I spun the board around 180 degrees and started my decent. Again, my mind's eye viewed one of the longest grabs on record before I finally had to release the board and relinquish it to the water. Considering my imagination had clocked that grab in at somewhere north of six seconds, I was slightly confused by the "grab it, don't slap it" look on my daughter's face. But this wasn't her ride...it was mine...all mine, and I was going to interpret it as I saw fit.
I'd continue at this level of nauseating detail explaining the successful completion of the other four or five tricks that I know, but I'm sure your interest is waning at this point. Suffice it to say that I nailed just about everything that I'm capable of nailing before I took my first fall. The one exception was a lazy ollie blind 180 that somehow pulled me under for my first meeting with water.
It was my first 2011 contact with the water that didn't send a shock of cold through my body. That was just part of the feeling. Combine that with a solid first ride, warm air, dialed gear, winter changing to spring, people wearing boardshorts and bikinis and the realization that another season of wakeboarding has begun and you've got the "kwan" of wakeboarding (yes, Jerry Maguire was on TV yesterday)...the entire package.
Get 2011 started right. Grab YOUR package!