A couple weeks ago I threw my legs over a dirt bike for the first time. I'd waited 25 years. I was ready for it and it was a blast. Tyler, my guide, shot some video and edited a nice highlight reel complete with commentary and totally bro-ed out moments.
So in the spirit of regretting things I've done instead of things I didn't do, I'm on the prowl for some new cool stuff to check out. There's a guy in a warehouse off River Road in Asheville who's re-inventing the river experience. He calls it Bellyaking, and it gets you closer to the water with a shorter learning curve than anything else out there right now. Adam, the fearless leader, and his wife came out to our show last Friday and through some shared connections I've lined up an expedition on the French Broad this afternoon. I'm not a waterman, not even close. I don't raft, I don't fish, I barely paddleboard or surf, but I'm fascinated by the flow of the water and I've been looking for opportunities to gain experience and increase my comfort level on the water.
So I got out on the French Broad today with Adam, the sole proprietor of Bellyak. He also owns any and all patents on this style of boat. He's also a beer drinker, a fiddler and all-around great guy. I told him I thought Bellyaking was the whitewater gateway drug and I meant it. It was super fun and it didn't take me any time at all to get comfortable in the water, I was even surfing rapids (albeit for only a few seconds at a time) by the end of our session. We spent half our time Bellyaking, 1/4 walking back up the trail by the river, and another 1/4 sitting in the boats in an eddy drinking beer. It was perfection.
For a guy who's never spent time in the river, and who's, quite frankly, always been intimidated by hydraulics, I felt really comfortable on the Bellyak and took to it alarmingly fast. I'll be getting one of these for the creeks and rivers of Nelson as soon as they hit production, probably late summer. Here's a look at the prototypes he's worked on over the last few years:
"Better to regret something you did than something you didn't do."