6am wake up call. Coffeed up and on the road to Garrison, MN, for the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing. Registration was the night before so the race was out for me. The race is the big event of the day and the reason for the event but it wasn’t the main reason I made the trek. My interest was in meeting other kiters, learning what I could and making connections. To me, being a kiteboarding pioneer in ND means to exploring the scene around us and bringing that back to share. Not to offend any of the real kiteboarding pioneers and innovators, what I meant by a ND pioneer is that there just isn’t much of a scene here and I am doing what I can to grow the tribe.
You are probably here for the event itself though. So here we go, the location was great, the wind was good, temps pushed 40 and a couple inches of flour were neatly blanketed across the ice. I would guess there were fifty kiters on the ice representing all skill levels. I would say there were twenty-five kites in the air at any given moment for a good part of the day.
Upon arriving to Garrison, I found a buddy of mine who drove up from the Twin Cities. We took a quick walk around the camp to talk to folks and get a feeling for what was going on.
As a side-note, we did stop by the Slingshot rep’s van and had a quick chat with him. I was hoping he would give my buddy some guidance or information. I didn’t expect a free lesson but maybe the use of a trainer or something. This is a thought for Slingshot and other kite makers. Maybe you guys should have trainers and demo kites available to introduce people to the sport. Otherwise it is like saying hey looks like fun huh? Too bad you don’t have a few hundred just to try a kite. It just doesnt seem like letting folks use demo gear would be a bad way to grow the sport and sell some kites. Enough of the soap box though.
The other guy I met is the owner of Lakawa, a trainer company in the twin cities. He won the race last year and won it this year as well – in a tuxedo. He spent most of his day after the race trying to keep people from driving over his lines. That was comical. Not that getting your lines ruined is funny, I just couldn’t understand why he didn’t move his stuff out of the main traffic area. We talked to some good guys who were set up next to us. They were knowledgable and fun to talk to. I have found kiters to be a good group of folks to hang with and talk to. I definately want to come back next year and participate in the race.
But for this run, I got some good runs in. The other kiters were inspiring and pushed me to boost higher and ride faster. I started out with my 9m but it didn’t have the power so I ran the 17m most of the day. There were a lot of 12s flying around and a few big foils. I love the wind range on my Zephyr. But that isn’t what this is about.
We had lunch at the best Burger King – it had a bar connected to it! After lunch we rode some more and then went looking for the party and awards ceremony. I say looking because no one seemed to know where the party was. We tried one place but it turned out to be wrong so we headed to another spot and found the post event dinner. It was great and hosted at the local VFW. After dinner I headed out for the long ride home.
If you are expecting a well-oiled machine of an event – this is not it. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If you are looking for a good ride with some mostly friendly folks, then give this event a try. If you are looking for white glove treatment, this might not be the event for you. I am not that guy so I had fun and I think you will too.