It is important to me to live well for myself, so I can give myself away to others.     One of the most important things anyone every told me, that I hold to be true, is “You can’t give anyone anything you don’t have yourself.”

 

This is true for material and non-material possessions.     You can’t make somebody happy if you aren’t happy yourself.   You can’t give somebody confidence if you don’t have any.   You can’t give somebody financial support if you are broke.        Everyone has something of value to themselves and others and that is their strong suit, and what they can share with others.   There isn’t anyone I have ever met that isn’t living well for themselves in some area of their lives that they can’t give away to others.

 

I measure my life by my own set of parameters, on what is important to me, with the goal of always living well, and ideally, living better every day than the day before.    There are so many ways to measure that and it isn’t the same for anyone.    For me the priorities are my marriage, my kids, my paddling, and my business in that order.    There are many subcategories under each one, of course, that I do the measuring with.  Such as for paddling it includes personal fitness, competition results, fun factory, new rivers, new challenges, and I lump it into family at the same time.  (am I paddling with Dane and Emily?   Is Kristine there too?  What about Nick?  My friends?  )   For my business I measure on how we are doing in the market… are we winning?  Do we have the best product and are growing in our industry?     Behind the public scenes it is about taking care of those who are making the business fly as part of the team.    It is about making the business work for my partner, for the staff, and ultimately for the family in the long run.

 

Now I am without Kristine for two weeks as I just did a trade show in Florida, and now heading to the Ottawa.      It is a perfect time to reflect and take my own pulse and make sure I am moving in the desired direction, verses running headlong on an unknown path.

 

Since we just finished a tour of competitions and rivers my paddling is any easy place to start.     I was National Champion last year but with a 1200 point ride at Kelly’s Whitewater Park.    This year I got a 1480 point ride in finals, but got third place.     While I am not the USA National Champion in 2012 (Stephen Wright is with the new world’s record high scoring 60 second freestyle ride of 1830) I paddled very well and my score would have won 98 out of the last 100 freestyle competitions.     I am very happy with my paddling right now (Of course I want to be better and am working that direction, but…)   I can toast to a great 2012 season already and improving skills.     Physically I have really done a good job in 2012 and am ready for anything.    I am younger and harder, stronger, faster, and injury free.     The only area of my physical being that has digressed are my eyes.   I have had 20/10 eyesight my entire life.    Now I need reading glasses and it hit hard in the past 6 months.  I no longer can read a newspaper without them.  Not that I read newspapers anyhow, but if I did, I would need reading glasses.    I find it harder to focus on lines and the switch focus quickly, and I find myself not able to spot with lazer focus like before.   This fall I will go see an eye doctor when I get back to TN and see if there are any exercises or anything else I can do to either slow down or ultimately reverse that trend.   I weighed myself when I got home yesterday and after a big dinner and no paddling for a week and stuffing myself at the iCast show I was still only 158 pounds.   That puts me at 155 before iCast and by the time I am done at the Ottawa I will be at 155 again- the minimum I want to be at.   Strong but 6%-8% body fat.    This is where I want to be and am there without doing anything other than training hard to win events and running rivers, hiking, playing with the kids, and not overeating everyday.

 

Relationships-   My relationship with Kristine is very much related to how she is feeling and where she is in her life.     Luckily for me she also wants to be together all of the time and our RV tour does just that.    She loves having a little boy running around in KC, loves having Dane being the incredible 19 year old that he is, and having Emily as an adult friend and daughter at the same time and for us to be together most of the time.   Emily was gone for 6 weeks in Europe for the World Cup for slalom this year and that was non-ideal as a family, but still good to see her do that.   My relationship with my kids is that of a strong mutual respect, and my kids have recently taken to watching out for me.    Dane wishes for me to race well, run good lines on a hard creek, and compete well in freestyle, as his confidence is no longer a notch behind mine, he views himself at or above me on the water.    I would not want anything else for him and certainly would not discourage that.     I am happy to watch him run a rapid first to see if it is OK for me.    I have been doing more of that and it is the norm now.    Very cool, actually.     I have been on the other side of that for so many years with so many people.  To have my own son look at me and think to himself,  “I hope he makes that move.” And want to demonstrate it himself first is such a refreshing and proud thing for me.     Of course I can’t shrink into a lack of confidence myself and become dependent on him, but I don’t have to always be the leader with my own son any more on the water.

 

I am finished prototyping, testing my new freestyle boat, the All-Star.    David Knight and I need to do a couple of high fives when we see each other again and celebrate a new game changing kayak.     We always want to make the newest best boat of all time, but it isn’t easy to pull it off.  When everything seems to go right and everyone paddling the boat is blown away, it is pretty amazing.   As I write this the boat hasn’t been launched yet, only team members and a few lucky folks on the Ottawa have had the opportunity to try it so far.

 

My life rarely is random, if you know me, as most of what I do follows a pretty clear path that is easy to understand and predict (if you really know me).    Sometimes random opportunities come up that I can’t really pass on in good conscience.   This week is a good example.    I was asked by Toshi, my athlete manager at GoPro, if I wanted to ride a Harley from Seattle to Sturgis, South Dakota, for the Sturgis festival.   The only requirement/prerequisite is a motorcycle license.    I don’t have one, as I have  never owned a motorcycle of my own before, and don’t ride often, other than the Honda 50 I traded for a kayak in 2004 for Dane, and the Yamaha 250 dirt bike that my brother-in-law left at my house 4 years ago.    I was busy teaching clinics, testing kayaks, etc.. on the Ottawa and asked my lovely bride, Kristine to organize this whole thing for me.    I am on a plane to Nashville right now, have my written test tomorrow (will study tonight, I promise) and then my practical test the next day and then I have to fax my license to Harley Davidson before they give me the sweet Hog from their stock to ride through the mountain side.    There are four other GoPro athletes on this ride and a chase truck from GoPro doing some filming.    Since we are all athletes that walk on the wild side.. (Ashmore Bodiford, Chad Cagy, Aaron Chase, Brian Lopes) with downhill mountain bike racing, BMX Freestyle, MX freestyle, slopestyle Mountain bike,  and that all around kayaker dude.     Some of the ideas for side trips discussed include base jumping, kayaking, mountain biking, and seeing the local sites that you would see from Seattle to Sturgis (think mountains, biker bars, rivers, and other cool attractions.  J   I am skipping Outdoor Retailer Trade Show for this trip- that might seem random.    Kristine suggested that it was the best idea..

So, then the games begin…   I was asked to be one of the 5 GoPro team members to do the trip and of course the first prerequisite is, “you need to have a motorcycle license”.    They asked me that and my answer, “I can send you a scan of my license before I get there, will that be OK?”     The answer was, sure, just send it before you arrive, Harley won’t be handing out any Hogs to anyone without a license.   “Okie dokie”     I text Kristine while up on the Ottawa, about to go teach 9 students from 4 countries for 8 hours on the water, “please organize for me to get my Motorcycle license. ”   there is only one person that I know that can pull this stuff off with a smile on her face and that is my wife, Kristine, she is the bomb.     Kristine let me know the next day that I had a plane ticket to Nashville, TN on day 1, a written test planned (she reminded me that she couldn’t study for me I actually had to take the test myself) and then a practical test in Chattanooga the next day (the only available driving test appointment in TN before I was scheduled to be in Seattle picking up my Harley)   I did like all good students do and crammed for the test while waiting in line at DMV.    My score was 29 out of 30.   What did I miss?   “If you are riding 4 riders in a staggered formation and the leader passes a car, what position should the leader take when finished passing the car?”   I checked of C “center of the lane” but the answer was “whatever position he was riding in before he passed”      I figured center of the lane could never be wrong, because what if the guy was drunk and on the wrong side of the road before he passed?  then his position would not be the correct one…   Hmmm…   I was thinking too hard on that one. 🙂

The other thing Kristine, my brunet bomb of a wife (she is so sexy when she organizes stuff like this :)) organized was a motorcycle for me to take the test with.   Rita, who works for Jackson Kayak in the front office has a Harley (TN orange) and her son has a Honda Shadow.    Rita’s son offered to let me ride his motorcycle for the test.    There is one issue, of course for taking a driving test with a motorcycle.  You can’t drive it to the testing facility until you have a license.    Hmm…  Seeing that there weren’t many options presented to me,  I took the opportunity to study hard for my practical test by picking up the bike and driving it home last night, then taking it to the testing facility 2 hours away today.    Rita was out watching me mount the bike last night as I attempted to ride my first ever street bike, a Honda Shadow 1,000 cc or bigger 2 cylinder bike.   I started it fine and got it in first gear and aimed out into the thick, loose gravel driveway with cars strewn around in it and the clutch and idle were quite different than I expected and I lurched into the gravel, and stalled it and almost dropped the bike.   WHEW!   I looked over at Rita with my borrowed Skull and Crossbone german helmet, gave her the confident thumbs up and started that bad boy back up again.    This time I was not going to stall out!   I gave her some gas and let out the clutch and was out of the drive way across the street and in the neighbors yard before I could say “boo”.   Again, I stalled it out, almost dropped it, but didn’t’.    Once again, looking over at Rita, gave her a thumbs up, and started it up again before the neighbor came out and was off an running.   I was a bit nervous, as this is a beast compared to a 250 cc dirt bike, the biggest bike i have ridden.   I managed to get home, 15 miles, without incident and was getting better at each stop light, each turn, and up my gravel, eroded driveway.

this morning I woke up and began my journey to Chattanooga to the testing facility.    I wore my 1992 Olympic Leather jacket by Ralph Lauren and a yellow rain coat over it.   I wore my leather boots and safety glasses from the factory.    All of these things were in my written test and I didn’t want to show up with only black, a scull helmet but no glasses or goggles.    The ride there is an awesome ride.   Bone Cave Road to Baker Mountain Road- both long twisting, mountain roads, to 111 south, to 127 into the city.    I was becoming comfortable quickly and really enjoyed the ride.   I pulled in to a back parking spot and quickly dismounted and took off my jackets in hopes the person testing me wouldn’t notice that I drove there.   In theory they should just give you a ticket and send you on your way since I broke the law to get there.    I went in the DMV and stood in line, with my Olympic Jacket and rain coat in a corner    There was a young woman wearing a Hustler t-shirt that wouldn’t stop giving me the “smile and wink” while I was in line.    Her mom must love her sporting that shirt, and I am pretty sure she was right next to her.   That girl needs to be grounded, not given a license.     Sorry, I digress.

I was amazed at the customer service at the DMV in Chattanooga.  They give you a survey card and everything.     My appointment was for 3:30 and I got there at 2:00.   I wanted the bike to be cool when they came out so they wouldn’t ask me if I drove it there.   Anyone who knows me, knows that if I am asked a direct question, I always answer honestly.  I don’t lie.   I have no problem breaking that law, where I drive to the testing spot before I get my license, because the spirit of the thing is that I am already prepared to pass and will pass momentarily, so the piece of plastic saying I am legal is meaningless to me.

The lady asks me to get my bike ready. I said, “you want me to ride it over here?”  She says, “NO, you can’t move it until I am there!”   Okie dokie.   I get on my leather Olympic jacket and put on a yellow raincoat over it (that is what they tell you to do in the written test) and it is 95 degrees and 100% humidity.    She says, “Aren’t you hot?” and I answer, yes, but I want to be safe and legal.   She says, “you don’t have to wear that if you don’t want to” and I figured it was a trick they do to see if you succumb to peer pressure so I put them both on anyhow.   I was sweating bullets.    When I got home I set my new low weight record (except after having malaria) of 154.6 pounds.  I am normally 165.

The test was so simple.  “pull out of the parking lot, go left, up the hill, turn around, come back, and then park. ”   I did all of those things and used my turn signal every chance i could except the first turn in the parking lot (10 feet after I started) and was worried that I goofed up.  I got a perfect mark (seems that I should have used the signal in the lot too) and the nice guy with the camera took my photo with helmet hair and then gave me a license!      OK_ now to get home then to Nashville to fly to Seattle and meet the rest of the yahoos.

 

On the way home I was getting quite comfortable, being a tested and licensed motorcycle guy, and with lots of experience (relatively to the day before).   While going 70 in the 65 in Chattanooga traffic on 27 the engine just quit.    I had to change a lanes, slowing traffic, and pull over.   I checked the oil before the trip and it was 100%.  It was now down a quart.   I was now sitting in my double jackets and hot helmet in 95 degree weather and sweating like crazy.  I ran up the hill looking for a gas station, but nothing there.    Oil was the culprit,  I figured (automatic shutoff for idiots that don’t check the oil every time they stop, like me)  I turned the key off, and the gas off, and left my irreplaceable Olympic Jacket on the seat along with the helmet.   A nice man stopped after I flagged him down and took me to a BP station. I bought a 20 ounce Red Bull and a quart of oil.   I was actually getting tired driving before it stopped.    I put the oil in and it started right up!!  Awesome!    I pulled out in heavy traffic, going from zero to 70 in about 5 seconds it seemed as I am getting much better at this, and then “bam” it stopped again, like it was out of gas, again!    I stopped and tried to get under a tree as it is REALLY hot and I would lose 5 pounds of water in a few minutes it seemed.   Just when I was about to give up and try to figure out a way to get the bike home, I remembered the gas shut off and it was surely closed!  I opened it and got the bike started right up again!    I pulled out and was rallying for about 10 minutes in heavy traffic when it stopped again, in the left lane and I was going from 75 mile/hour traffic to doing 35 and coasting into the right lane.   Now I am running out of reasons why the engine quits, each time the same way (lack of gas to the engine).   I opened the fuel tank and it seemed like a fair amount of a gas, but not full.    After some contemplating I remembered that motorcycles have a reserve setting to keep you from running out of gas.   I looked at the valve and sure enough there was a reserve setting.  I put it on Reserve and choked it and it started up again!     Now, I really couldn’t think of another reason for the engine to quit that I could fix.    Lucky for me it got me all of the way back to Rita’s house.  I dropped it off and she wasn’t there.   She lives 5 minutes from the factory so I picked up a new 2013 All-Star (shoot, did I just say that out loud?) and took it to Rock Island and surfed the top waves, and the main hole and had the best time!   WOW, the new All-Star makes clean blunts, airscrews, and surfing so much easier!!! It is a rocket ship….  Uh, we are launching it tomorrow online, so you can see for yourself.. forget I said anything.

So- it is now 10:17.  I am 90 minutes from the airport and my flight leaves at 7:30am.   I am going to have to get some sleep before I go!   I can’t start a 1,400 mile Motorcycle ride 1/2 asleep!     If you want to follow what is going on with the rides, go to Twitter at #sturgisorbust or just keep an eye on legacy.jacksonkayak.com and www.gopro.com

There is going to be some sick riding happening from Seattle to Sturgis!   We have an itinerary that is made for extreme athletes.    That is all I am going to say.

🙂

EJ