August 10, 2003

Killboarding 101

Yesterday was one of the windiest days we’ve had in the Gorge this summer, so I decided to go out and learn to killboard. Conventional people call it kiteboarding. Killboarding is typically something reserved for light-wind days when the sand isn’t constantly flying up and getting in your eyes and everything. Luckily I had the wisdom of Motoshi and Miho to help me learn to killboard, so now I know how to killboard with a Japanese accent.

Killboarding is dangerous. I’ve seen this fellow named Frankenstitch walking around at the Hook a couple times, who has metal staples in his head from getting hit by a kite control bar. Motoshi has a scar across his scalp. Other fun things that can happen? When you power up the kite you can end up getting dragged over sharp rocks, and when you hold the kite in neutral you can be lifted straight up into the air. You can drop your kite on your head. You can drop your kite on the heads of others. You can get your lines tangled with other kiters.

After you feel comfortable flying the kite in neutral position you need to practice working with the kite powered up. At this stage the kiteboard is just an unnecessary complication, so you just lay face down in the water and let the kite drag you around like an incompetent waterskiier. You will be smiling, which is good, but you will also swallow lots and lots of river water and feel sick and cough a lot, which is bad. In this it is best to keep your mouth shut.

Sometimes when you killboard you find yourself five feet above the water, kicking at the air and flying into a crowd of soft people. This is “danger”, as we call it in Japanese Style. When this happens you want to let go of the control bar, which will then fly away and THWACK into the kite. The kite spirals into the water like a bird in Duck Hunt, and a giant dog pops out of the water clutching the kite as the sound goes bwe-dop-buh-doo-buh-dop.

All in all, it was super-really fun. I quickly caught onto controlling the kite, and by the end of the evening they even let me try out using the board. Motoshi and Miho are happy to give me more kiteboarding lessons, as that way they don’t need to bike all the way down to (and back up from) the Sandbar. The hillz in dis town iz killah.

I see you are learning the ways of the Japanese, my friend. I leave for that strange island tomorrow at 8:10 am. You should come to visit.