Today’s podcast guest is the always affable, ever insightful, and fun loving Carter Johnson. Carter is now best known as the founder and organizer of the Gorge Downwind Paddle Festival in Hood River, OR. After just two year this festival has established itself as the biggest SUP, Outrigger, and SURFSKI event in the US and is drawing a significant international crowd. 2017 is already 2/3 sold out and may well be completely sold out before the end of the year. A little less known is the fact that Carter holds two Guinness world records for distance paddled in 24 hours on an inland water and distance paddled in 24 hours on flowing water, and at one point he even held the record in every major  long distance race in the US.   Not too shabby for a self described “technique hack”

In this podcast we have a lot of fun as we cover:

  • Carter’s early days growing up in Indiana as a wiry kid and how he landed in gymnastics
  • Competing, traveling the country, and most importantly partying on the Purdue gymnastics circuit
  • Carter’s move to the Bay Area during the dot com boom
  • Road biking the Tour de France course and finishing and with the Switzerland Ironman (as the only clown in a old school surf wetsuit)
  • Buying his first kayak and taking it with him in his Geo Metro with ripped out seats and a built in bed, with a 20 foot kayak and a bike up the Cassiar highway to Alaska
  • When Carter first discovering that kayaking could actually be a high performance sport
  • Getting out with John Dixon, Kenny Howell, and crew
  • Hooked on the adventure of surf ski paddling and draw to the sport that inspired the interest in distance races
  • Deciding to go for a distance world record
  • Connected with a local eco-quest legend in the Bay Area and got
  • Racing the Yukon Quest with his girlfriend and the smell of ammonia as you begin to digest your body for fuel
  • 60 hours on the water with a few breaks
  • How quickly the memory of pain goes away
  • Training article written by Carter
  • Setting the 24 hour distance record
  • Why you need to be good enough, but not quite good enough to set distance records
  • Spending time in the back of a tandem with Robin Graham and learning to truly paddle downwind and Carter’s articulation of thinking you are a downwind paddler and actually becoming a true downwind paddler
  • Paddling a surfski in 15 foot waves with a canoe paddle and passing people on the downwind
  • Carter’s thought on training and the law of diminishing returns – how to be just good enough but have the most fun
  • Carter’s first introduction to the Gorge in 2007
  • Why the Gorge works so well for downwind (hint – very easy to catch the runs, even easier to shuttle back for the next run).  Check out a couple of these videos where Carter shows us how it is done, and my favorite
  • Paddling the Gorge and feeling like a Downwind Ninja
  • Carter’s ranking system for the Gorge downwind conditions and the frequency of each
  • Why paddling the Stern Wheeler could be the highlight of your event
  • Amazing plans for The Gorge 2.0 in 2017
  • What it means for the Gorge to now be a World Surfski Title Race
  • The reality to training – the exponential effort to make incremental gaines
  • Don’t be delusional get to 80% at 5 hour per week and have a ton of fun
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