Whitewater Kayaking - The Playak Years

Found an old CD with shots I took on my old Nikon FM ( that's a manual 35mm SLR for you young folk out there ). All taken between around 99 and 2002, mostly for Playak, but also for Paddles Magazine and Playboating UK Magazine.

I had to stand in freezing water for 7 hours to get the shots of Hurley Weir....ahhhh memories!

Click the image above, or click here to check them out.


Fixed Gear Bikes - I don't get it?

What is it with Fixed Gear Bikes? Whether it is a new Charge Plug ( which seems to be the media's bike of choice ), or a 1970's Track bike, the whole concept of whipping around the streets with no brakes, no freewheeling and no gears just doesn't work in my head.

Even walking around the Cycle Show at Earls Court, everywhere I looked there was either a dodgy hybrid race/mtb/ugly/no gear commuter bike or some strange distrubutor selling an uber cool imported 'Fixie' from the Far East ( apart from Ninjas, has anything really cool ever come out of Japan? ).

It's not that I don't like razzing around the streets on a bike. I spent years communting on a bike from Harrow to Watford ( the 'Basement' years ) and I have a wicked little fully rigid dirt/street jump bike to keep me entertained when we need something from the local shop. It's just that the original couriers who went back to Fixies ( after for a while all being seen on mountain bikes with slicks ) are proper mental and kudos to them, but now every cool kid is adding one of these steel status symbols to their corridors and that just bugs me.

Now we all know what happens when the cool kids buy something....yep, they create a nice little bandwagon which the rest of us can jump on. Just check out this Kidrobot collaboration

The Kidrobot Fixie - Who was let lose with a paintbrush?

And Kidrobot are not the only collaborators, check out the other bikes on Highsnobiety here. Now there are some very pretty Fixie bikes, the SE Racing Lager looks very slick ( but still doesn't compete with their OM Flyer ),but where will this end?

'The' craze for 2009 - The Clown Bike

So what am I trying to say? Not really sure to be honest. Something inside me tells me these bikes are cool ( but then again all most bikes are cool ), they are the ultimate in simple engineering ( you try bleeding 2008 XT hydraulic brakes ) and they do promote urban madness ( and we all love that ). But then again there is another subculture of Fixie riders who not only have to have the best looking bike, but they also insist on doing tricks....that is what has killed it for me.

This movie pretty much says it all...


Falls of Lora Article - Not as good as Hurley

Randomly whilst clearing out some boxes of books for recycling I found an old CD with these images and the original article I wrote of Paddles Magazine back in 2001 ( in my Playak.com days ). It is worth noting that these waves have changed in the years gone past so this guide cannot be considered 100% accurate. Click here for all the pictures

Tim Sadler on the 'Forever Wave'

The Falls Of Lora

When the rivers are dry and work is getting on top of you, there are certain places you start dreaming of. Having spent far too much time watching videos, surfing the net and reading all the mags, many boaters will picture the same place, a truly perfect playspot. Details will be fuzzy, but you can expect a massive green wave, with a sweet shoulder you can blunt yourself dizzy, a big hole you can cartwheel in and of course eddy service.

Where will you find a place like this? Canada? New Zealand? Norway? Spain? Well these places certainly do have their playspots, but what would you say if you were to hear of a place like this in Scotland?

Well there is such a place and it is called 'The Falls Of Lora'. This has long been a secret locals spot and often the subject of myth and legend. Catch it right and you will have the best day in a boat your will ever have, catch it wrong and you will either be looking at flat water or you will get the biggest beating outside of a unlicensed boxing ring.

The 'Falls' are actually a tidal race at the seaward end of Loch Etive. They are created by the outgoing tide squeezing through a constriction on the way out to sea. The height difference between High Tide and Low Tide needs to be more that 3 metres for them to form and given this, they run at about 4hours after High water. So therefore you are going to need a pretty big tide to get them working, probably a Spring Tide ( roughly twice every month ). Saying this, the state of the tide is not the only factor which contributes to the levels of the Falls. The weather pays a large part, especially the atmospheric pressure and wind. To be honest sometimes they just don't work and no one knows why, so if you hear tales of boaters saying that the Falls where not worth the journey, then more than likely they just caught them wrong. In truth, if the sun is shining and the Falls are running, you are in a classic session and it is certainly worth arriving early to watch the relative calm of this Loch form some of the most spectacular whitewater your will see anywhere.

The Falls consists of three outstanding waves called the 'Forever Wave', the 'Ultimate Wave' and the 'Main Wave'.

Blunting the Main Wave

The Main Wave normally starts running first, but when this becomes a bit nasty the other sections will normally be ready to rip. Once those have begun to flatten out ( remembering this site has time limits ) it is time to return to the Main Wave again to see if anything has been learnt. The Main Wave has been on a few videos now, so many will recognise it's shape. However, you can not appreciate the power and size of this feature until you have screamed down it's face and/or been pummelled in the hole. It forms just below a bridge pile, so there is perfect eddy service, though beware there are whirlpools here which suck down boats and their pilots in seconds. On local advice, take a deep breath if you go over! It begins life as a green wave and then it begins to break and get steeper and steeper. If you start getting more beatings than rides, you are probably best moving on
to the other waves.

The top wave and easily the most friendly is the Forever Wave and many would consider it to be on par with Canada's Skookumchuck. When perfectly formed it is a large green wave with crisp glassy sections and sweet foam piles. As the name suggests, you can sit here forever and watch the world go by your boat, both above and below. Unfortunately there is no eddy service so you have to catch it from above, normally using the broken sections to slow yourself down. This is the place to learn how to surf, spin and carve like the big boys and girls. If you do drop off the back ( or you are polite enough to let someone else have their fun ) you can hop out of your boat, walk up a bit and set yourself up for some more bliss.

The Ultimate Wave

The Ultimate Wave is on the other side to the 'Main Wave' and is easily the hardest to catch, though the most rewarding in terms of dynamic moves. This wave is super fast and airborne moves are a go here with two defined
shoulders to jump off. You can either catch this wave 'on the fly' after coming off the Forever Wave, or for the brave there is some whirlpool infested eddy service on the left.

How to get there:

The Falls form under the A828 bridge in Connel. To get there from the M6 (around 200 miles ) you need to take the M74 to Glasgow, then the A82 to Crainlarich. From here you jump on the A85 to Oban. Connel is a little before Oban and you can't miss the Bridge. You will need to cross the bridge as they form on the other side of the Loch. To do this the A828 turn is just after the bridge on the left. Once on the other side you can park up on the right in the lay-by.

This is definitely not a site for the feint hearted. You can get some big beatings here and you do not want to swim as rescue inevitably takes place a long way from shore ( the flow continues to the sea ). Saying this, if your roll is bomb-proof and you can cope with being sucked down in some meaty whirlpools than this is easily in your limits.

The local wave shredders are Andy Jackson, Dave Kwant, Greg Nicks and the guys and girls from Edinburgh. To see them blunt, spin, wheel and grind the waves is a lesson to many boaters, and they can be seen here all year round from hot sunny days to chilly Scottish winters. Though you may see the Falls in videos and magazines with boaters from all over the UK strutting there stuff, these hardcore paddlers are normally there showing what is actually possible, given a little courage and maybe a little madness that is.

In this past season the Falls were chosen for the first ever Scottish Extreme Competition. Twined with a mad river race down the Nevis many pros tested their skills in the main wave and some notable names had some
beatings dished out. Though this mainstream use of this site is taking away some of the mystique of paddling here, it is a perfect location for such competitions with little if any access difficulties. In recent years the site has become crowded if the weather is good and the word has got around.

As for a places to stay, there are some local campsites, B&B's and hostels especially in Oban

There is some good footage of the Falls of Lora on the following videos:

- 'Another Kogg Day' - KOGG 2000 Promo Video, Heeland Coo & Borkenhorse Productions ·
- 'Dangerous When Wet' - System X Promo, Heelend Coo & Brokenhorse
Productions · 'id10t' - - PeakUK 2000 Promo Video · 'id10t5' PeakUK 2001 Promo Video

Having read this article, just remember that this place doesn't exist, it is all a dream and will never be as good as Hurley


Vic-Tim Photos as Art?

I vaguely remember this chap asking if he could use some of my skateboarding shots for his paintings. Didn't think much to it at the time, but rather impressed by the result!

Before you ask, no, I don't get any commision, just credit. ( though I might start asking if he gets bigger! )

The guys name is Kevin Simpson and you can check out the rest of his work here.

You can check out the rest of my shots by clicking the 'images' tab at the top or clicking here.