Last Minute Chicken Loop Update

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.

See the ND Kiteboarders Facebook page for the latest updates.

Forecast

We will need some help from mother nature with the winds but the temps are definitely warm enough. No wetsuit necessary this year.

wind-14
Image from Windy.com

How to find us

Look for the really big, colorful kites. We will probably be on the North side of the lake but it will depend on the weather.

What to bring

  • water, water, water
  • sunscreen
  • camping gear – camping is free and lots of it but sites are on a first-come basis
  • kite gear
  • food – no restaurants nearby
  • low wind activities

 

 

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2nd annual Chicken Loop event – a gathering of ND kiteboarders

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.

Location: New Johns Lake

Dates: Friday, July 14 – July 16, 2017

Friday: Informal meet-up, riding and camping

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.

Come join the fun. Hope for wind.

More Info

 

St. Paddy’s Day Session

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.

Check out the video!

2017 Kite Crossing Recap

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.

2017 Mille Lacs Kite Crossing

The 13th annual kite race/event at Mille Lacs Lake, near Garrison, MN is scheduled for March 3-5.

A weekend of freeriding, endurance race, expression session, gear demos, instruction and more. Riders are encouraged to spend the weekend in Garrison or nearby. The Welcome party, On the Ice Festivities, Riders Party and Saturday’s Banquet is free to all registered riders and guests.

Details

Categories: Ski Men, Snowboard Men, Ski Men Masters, Snowboard Men Masters, Ski Women, Snowboard Women, Juniors
Qualifications: Anyone willing to give it a try.
Format: The race will be a long-distance, kite endurance run.
The Race Committee will determine the course based upon the conditions of the day. Details of the race are provided at the Racer’s meeting. If you intend to race you must attend the Racer’s meeting. We will try to provide a total distance of 16-28 miles. Snowmobile support will be provided along the course. Helmets are Mandatory. Awards: Awards will be based on timed finishes and presented at the Awards Ceremony on the day of the race.

Schedule

  • Friday: registration and racers meeting
  • Friday: welcome party at Harbor Inn
  • Saturday: racers meeting
  • Saturday: race events weather permitting
  • Saturday: party and banquet at the Y Club
  • Sunday: backup day, free ride & socialize
  • Sunday: awards presentation

More Info

 

First Annual Chicken Loop Event is a Success

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.

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Chicken Loop – early risers on day 2

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.

 

 

 

Chickenloop – the 1st annual western ND kiteboarder gathering

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 this year of just getting kiters together to ride, share stories, talk shop, gear gawk, and whatever else. If that isn’t enough, how about door prizes! Come camp for the whole weekend or just show up for a few hours.

Location: New Johns Lake
Dates: Friday, Aug. 19 through Aug. 21, 2016
Friday: Informal meet-up
Saturday: Meet around 10am 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. But we will get together with those who are there to meet-up, evaluate the wind and make a plan for the day. If the wind doesn’t provide for upwind travel or people can’t stay up wind we can arrange for a down-winder and transportation to get those folks back. Some folks have talked about bringing a boat so there MAY be some boat support. Camp sites are available and a couple sites have toilets. The boat launches provide areas for gear set up. The weather reports look cool so you may want to pack your wetsuit.

Come join the fun. Hope for wind.

More Info

 

Now that is Independence Day

It was a couple days before the 4th of July but kiting is a great way to celebrate independence. It is truly liberating when you are on the board, the kite is parked and you are just having fun. The rest of the world seems to melt away when the kite is up. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I am still scared I am going to kill myself doing this on the water. That is the best of kiting but it doesn’t come without its frustrations too. On this day I had both.

Watch a video from the session!

I went out on Big Cormorant Lake and measured the wind at a fairly steady 13-14mph. So I grabbed my gear and headed to the other side of the lake as the wind was on-shore where I was at. Several of the places I wanted to go were packed with day-use families and partying young folks so I headed for the only spot I could think of that would have a place to gear up and get out. This was an empty lot up for sale so I was hoping they wouldn’t mind if I used it for ten minutes while I geared up. It really felt to me like the wind had come up more and I had only brought one kite in the boat over with me – my 13.5m Kahoona. Thinking the wind had improved, I rigged for less power or set my lines long. This will come into play in a bit.

On a side note, someone did come walking over from the nearest cabin so I was expecting to get an ear full of how I shouldn’t be there. Luckily this guy, who also owns the land for sale, was a pilot. So he had an interest in what I was trying to do and even offered me his beach to use. We chatted very briefly and I put the kite in the water.

This was on the South shore with a South wind so I drift launched the kite from the beach. For those who haven’t done that much before, this can be more problematic than you would think. There was a wind shadow from the trees so the kite was manageable. The problem, and I have noticed this before, is that the wind swirls a bit near the shore. While the kite starts to go out just fine it sometimes tries to come back to shore. This messes up lines and anytime my lines are loose I get nervous. With careful patience I was able to get past the wind shadow. I was thinking that pilot watching must have thought I had no idea what I was doing. I slowly dragged out into the lake for a good thirty minutes. Every few minutes I would test the wind with little success. A couple times the kite fell behind me and even rolled once. Luckily, I didn’t get the lines inverted. I hate that. I am certain the wind died as I got out in the bay. There were white caps on the way over but now nothing.

Eventually the wind came back and by this time I was in the middle of the lake. Big Cormy is a pretty big lake too. I got the kite up and was by working it hard was able to keep it up. You will see that if you check out the video. My trim strap wouldn’t hold so I couldn’t generate any more power that way. I was really wishing I had rigged for more power at this point. The wind did get better as the session continued. I was cold and tired from working the kite and then the wind got just right and things got fun. That is when I was feeling that freedom I mentioned earlier. Finally, after all that work, there was a pay off. I actually had a pretty good ride. I hadn’t been on a board since last summer so I was happy with my board skills. There was a little air now and then.

If it hadn’t taken so long to get things right I would have liked to spend a little more time trying some things out. I was at the North end of the lake now and had an opportunity to ride into a clear shoreline and again use the wind shadow of the trees to shut it down. So I rode in and had no troubles rolling up the lines and closing down the kite. My ride was following along so they pulled up and picked me up. Away we went to clean up and call it a day.

Something about prairie winds

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.

See you out there soon.