The second annual “Chicken Loop” gathering of ND kiteboarding enthusiasts is this coming weekend (July 14-16). Dust off your kite bags, dig out your pump and patch that old tent. Join us for North Dakota’s only power kiting event. Come to watch, learn or participate. Everyone is welcome – whether you want to learn more about the sport, take pictures or just hang out with some cool folks.
Get your friends together for a gathering of western ND kiteboarding enthusiasts. If you or someone you know is interested in kiteboarding, this is the place to be. Whether you just want to watch, learn, or show-off your latest tricks. All levels of riders are welcome. This is a great opportunity for those who haven’t kited but are interested in learning about the sport as well. We would love to have you join us.
This is an informal gathering with the purpose of getting kiters together to ride, share stories, gear gawk and whatever else. If that isn’t enough, we will hook you up with some stickers or something. Come camp for the whole weekend or just show up for a few hours. Feel free to bring the family for an outdoor weekend. Tell your friends and neighbors.
Saturday: Meet around 10 am by the north side boat launch at the shelter to get things kicked off.
There is no registration so don’t worry if you miss the meet up times. We will get together with those who are around, evaluate the wind and make a plan for the first ride. If the wind doesn’t provide for upwind travel or people can’t stay up wind we can arrange for a down-wind ride and transportation to get those folks back. Camp sites are available free of charge on a first come basis. Some sites have vault toilets. The boat launches provide areas for gear set up and staging.
Don’t kite but have a boat and want to be a part of the event. That would be great. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and folks end up in situations that would make it useful to have a boat – like no wind or getting blown off course. Having someone to pick you up is nice.
All it took was a text from fellow kiteboarder and a note to my boss and next thing you know I am out on the riding in a way I doubt St. Paddy ever invisioned. We thought the best place to ride would be a frozen lake because of the warm weather. We were wrong. It turns out the ice was melting fast and there was open water. What we didn’t expect was the amount of snow in field we have ridden before. It wasn’t bad at all. There were bare spots but for the most part, the snow was good. Winds were 22+ with the usual ND gusts. Nothing is more fun than boosting in the sun. I had a few really big boosts and a couple epic fails. Not sure yet if I got a concussion. It was a great day and probably the last one of the winter season. It was a good one to end on.
North Dakota’s premiere kiteboarding extravaganza took place this past weekend on New Johns Lake, near Wilton, ND. Kite enthusiasts arrived from across the state to take part in the event which was in its inaugural year. The success of this year’s events has led the planning dept. to conclude there will definitely be a year two event.
Ok, that last paragraph may have stretched the truth a bit. While I think it is ND’s premiere event, as far as I know it is the only one. We did get a rider from Fargo and one from Beach. For those of you who don’t know, those two cities are on the bookends of the state. So technically, we did get riders from across the state. I feel better that now that you know the truth. It really was a better turn out than I thought it would be. At one point, there were six kites on the water and possibly a trainer up on land. I had expected to spend the weekend by myself so having other riders was a bonus.
The event lacked sponsored riders, big banners, live music and crowds. But Mac Kites and Kiteboarding.com provided some swag and riders appreciated their generosity. So to them I say, thanks for supporting our event. A couple guys noted the missing kite girls, open bar and band. To those folks I say, I will see what I can do for year two.
What about the weather, right? Day one started off with some folks arriving to New Johns about 3. It was rainy and cool but the wind wasn’t bad. A couple guys got out for a session. I arrived about an hour to late to take part. It rained most of the rest of the evening.
Day two started out sunny and nice. It really would have been a great day for anything but wind sports. A group of folks met up in the morning. They set up gear and waited for the wind. You all know the drill. Eventually, someone got overly confident or bored and decided to go for it. Of course that is enough to get the rest of the folks going and then it was on. Six kites got into the water. The experienced rider with the sixteen got off pretty good. The less experienced riders and smaller kites ended up floating quite a bit. One poor soul ended up on an island. In his defense, he couldn’t have known it wasn’t the main land at the time.
Two light wind sessions were ultimately had that day. Boat support was provided for the first one but an incident with gas evaporation led to a lack of support for the second try. There was some trainer kite action and some new interest in the sport. Hopefully that leads to new members of the growing ND kite scene.
As a side note, if anyone who was camping on the lake that weekend is reading this. For those of us who missed our target quitting area and washed up on camp sites not our own, I thank you for allowing us to temporarily disturb your solitude while we waited to get picked up. Also, thanks to the local popo who helped us round up our lost sheep.
Day three started with promise. The two folks that camped on the lake took advantage of a short burst of 13mph winds. They got in a quick session and attempted another after a third kiter arrived. But that was cut short due to a lack of wind.
New friends and discoveries were made. Many were surprised how well the lake works for kiteboarding. The camping was great. Minus the short rain and lack of wind, the weather was good too. No one was hurt and a board that was lost was found by friendly campers who were happy to return it the owner. The trip might sell some light wind kites so if you are a dealer and want to provide a Chicken Loop discount… just saying.
For a final point of business, several wives asked what a chicken loop is and why on earth we would call the event that? I just said I didn’t think it was appropriate to use the name of the other piece of kite gear I wanted to use. That is an inside joke for the kiters out there.
The predictions were for snow early and wind about 2. The snow was more like oatmeal but the wind did come up quickly about 3pm. This is a reality of our sport out here on the prairie. People often say the wind blows all the time here. I tell them to buy a kite and it will stop. Of course the wind doesn’t cease but owning a kite increases your awareness to the wind and the quality of the wind. You start to understand even when the wind is blowing it may be too light or dangerously on the other end. It isn’t uncommon to get what happened today – the wind was still as Mona Lisa’s smile for most of the day. Within an hour or two it quickly rose to around 16mph with gusts over 20mph. Then, like an angry toddler given an iPad, the wind quickly stilled as darkness fell. In just a couple hours the tantrum was over and so was my kiting session.
Perhaps I should get to the point. All the wind towers dotting the ND prairie confirm this is a windy region (Side note – you do not want to kite into one of those). But before you join the “wind energy is all we need” advocates you need to get a kite. You should to do that anyway. The reason I say this is because the wind is really inconsistent out here. It will blow at a perfect 15-20mph while your at work and then drop to zed when your not. Seriously, a flexible schedule is necessary to maximize the use of your kiteboard up here. Unfortunately the wind doesn’t blow just the way we want on the weekends. I have watched blizzards coming in to try and catch that sweet hour or two between flag down and flag ripped off the pole. This isn’t the gulf where the wind makes a decision and sticks with it most of the day. Our wind is variable and gusty. If you want the perfect day you need to be patient, vigilant and opportunistic. You have to watch for those perfect conditions and then drop everything and go when they arrive. If you aren’t so picky, and I am not, you go when you can and make the best of it. And there are many of those days. Don’t worry, once your kite is in the air and your sailing 25mph across a frozen lake, you won’t be thinking “I wish I was back at work.” You will be smiling, relaxed and happy.
Now a note about my session yesterday. The wind came up and the sun was getting ready to go the other way. I quickly grabbed my stuff after work and was on McKenzie Slough in half an hour. I keep my stuff together so I don’t have to look for it when the time is right. The ice was good. The snow cover was patchy but navigable. I forgot my ice screw but at 16mph the setup was pretty easy so it wasn’t necessary. It was a quick session but fun and I got to finally give my 10m Rally a good run. It will take a little getting used to .vs my 13.5m Kahoona. The 10 is quite a bit quicker and surprised me on a couple turns and jumps. Looking forward to the next session to dial in the timing with this kite.
Something interesting happened the other day. A friend who I have known for years sent me a photo of some guys trying to snowkite at Cottonwood Park in Bismarck, ND. His question accompanying the photo he sent me asked whether I had ever tried something like that. I said I had and if he wanted I would let him try with my trainer kite. So we went out this past Saturday up at Horizon School. The wind was light – around 10mph. The wind was light even for the 3.5m I have. He had a tough time keeping it in the air. At times it would come up for a while and get easier for him.
He was having fun and getting the hang of it so I decided to use the opportunity to get some practice with my 9m Slingshot. I haven’t had much time with that kite. I only brought my snowboard and having unsuccessfully tried my board only a couple times I was hesitant to try it with the low wind and lack of snow. But as it was the only option I went for it.
I rigged up downwind of the kite and did the slide it around trick. Then I walked it over to a fence post and wrapped my chicken loop around the post and went to put on my boots and board. I was able to get some pull but I had to work to keep the kite in the air. It was some good practice time but 5mph more would have been nice.
My friend had a good time and wants to try it again. Maybe we will have another kite buddy out there soon. Speaking of which, if anyone knows who those guys at Cottonwood were have them get in touch with me.
Calling all kiters! Don’t forget about the Regatta this August 22 and 23 in North Dakota’s Fort Stevenson State Park on beautiful Lake Sakakawea. Kiteboard and other wind riders are welcome. A sign-up is available on the DYC Racing site below but if you don’t want to or forget or whatever just show up on Friday or Saturday and hang out. There are a handful of kiters already planning on coming but you are all welcome. Come to kite or just watch. Just come.
I often get asked what the big lake is like for kiteboarding. I have not been out on Sakakawea but some kiters got together and hired a trainer (see video below) out of NC to come up for a few days.
Here are some notes from Courtney on the lake:
“I think the best way to Kite on the Biglake is doing a water launch in a pontoon boat or Jetski. With the high water that we had this year most of the beaches are fairly small but 15 miles east of Williston there’s good beach on the North and south side of the lake. The good part of high water is there are numerous days that are large enough to kite on in Highwinds with flatwater. Not good if you can’t ride up wind but if you’re riding up when the bays are great. We launched from shore two days and the third day we did a water launch. I boarded out of the bay at Lunds Landing on Friday with an offshore wind. The way the lake twists and turns if you are in a boat you can always find place with side onshore wind. Both beaches we were on nice sandy beaches.”
The sailboat crowd has invited the kiteboarding crowd to join them in their regatta this year. The events take place at the Fort Stevenson State Park on Lake Sakakawea starting Friday, August 22, 2014. This will be a great chance to get together and meet other wind sport enthusiasts. For those just getting into the sport of kiteboarding, this will be a good place to ask some questions and check out gear.
The sailboats will be racing on Saturday with an exhibition area for the kiteboarders. With enough interest we may be able to set up a kiteboard race as well. Without enough interest we will just get together to freeride and hang out. It may be possible to arrange for a professional kiteboard trainer to come out and join us as well if we could get enough interest in that.
There will be Saturday entertainment for those who stick around. Tickets and food will be extra, I will try to have a few bracelets available for sale on the docks for those interested. Those who want to stay in the park should make arrangements through the Fort Stevenson office by calling 701-337-5576.
If you’re interested, sign up through the link below and we’ll make sure your contact info gets filtered to the right folks. Yes this includes the kiteboarders.
Feel free to call if you have questions, comments or ideas,
Please sign up for the event so we can get an idea of how many folks are going to show up. It will help organize this and future events.
Kiteboarders are used to sharing the beach with their brethren but in western ND wind lovers are more likely to go it alone. This picture shows three kites which is an unusual site out here on the prairie. But it isn’t like the beach was overcrowded. No, there is a lot of room for more so come join us next time.
Chris, Al and I met up at New Johns Lake, NE of Wilton, ND. We didn’t get a good reading so we aren’t sure what the wind was but our guess was about 15-20 mph with gusts of 25+ when we started about 2 pm. and it went down slowly to probably about 10 mph by 5 . The wind was tough from where we started. We were going to try and stay up wind and if it didn’t work we would just ride down wind and have someone pick us up. That is pretty much what happened. Both Chris and I found the wind going one direction to be nice and very rider friendly but coming back was difficult and we couldn’t get back up-wind. The closer we got back to the South side, where we started, we would lose the wind. There isn’t much out there to block it but it did. So we both ended up down the lake. Chris got a ride back from a nice lady camping along the lake and I got a ride from Al’s wife who was nice enough to come get me. Al didn’t trust the conditions with his kite. He got it in the air but backed it down and elected to go fishing instead. The water temp was warm enough to go without a wetsuit but I wore a shorty anyway.
It wouldn’t be a day of kiting without some kind of story right. I was trying to get upwind of an island and I knew I would be cutting it close but I really thought I was going to be able to ride the edge of it. See where this is going? I should preface the rest of the story with some background info for those who have not kited in ND. The wind is gusty here. On this day it was more variable than usual. Back to the story. I was edging hard just a few feet from land and the wind died so I wasn’t going to make it anymore. I ditched but not without issue. I did slide across a couple submerged rocks that led to some scrapes on me and the board. The thing that I was most concerned with was the fact that the kite lines were now caught up in the three foot grass leaving he kite hanging out on its own without supervision. The lines were slack and I was worried if the kite powered up it was going to be hard to control the power. I am writing this so you probably already know it turned out ok. Afterwards I asked myself why I didn’t just stop outside of the danger zone and look for another route. All I could attribute it to was my competitive nature and a need to push my limits. My wife would likely give you a different reason and it would likely rhyme with dupid.
Next time, you should come out and if nothing else, just sit back, enjoy the outdoors and watch the folly.