Last year our friend DJ (of sled dog fame) asked Jim to coach her and Sabrina in order to compete in the Classic in the Recreational C-2 Women's Class. Sabrina had barely been in a canoe while DJ was quite experienced. Jim went out with them, he in his solo canoe, them in a nice Bell, twice a week for 4 - 5 months and then along as part of their pit crew for the 3 day staged race in September. They did well for a rookie team, placing in the middle of the pack in a year that many boats did not finish.
I have never seen this race. Huh? Jim did it for how many years and you never went? Sigh, yes. The race was always the first week of teaching. Go up on Thursday and race, Friday - Sunday? During the first week back? Not a very good idea or way to get the year started. So I never did. Then after I retired into the Spinning Bunny business Jim was no longer racing plus our biggest show of the year, Fingerlakes Fiber Festival in Hemlock, NY happens the 3rd weekend of September so getting ready for that took precedence.
Then DJ decided she wanted a bigger boat. And more paddlers. And to race with Jim. Two years ago Jim had shoulder surgery and then last winter spinal surgery. His shoulder now works great and he is out of back pain. And she wanted to experience the high of passing lots of boats in the race. All that boils down to a 23 foot, 64 pound, 39" wide, 4 person canoe. DJ wrangled an excellent deal on one this past winter and brought it home early April.
So Jim, DJ, Anne (DJ's partner who cried last year when she could not be in the pit crew because she had a vending that weekend, but no longer) and Sabrina were the desired paddlers. Then Sabrina needed to have shoulder surgery reducing the team to only 3. I was recruited to be the designated pinch hit paddler.
At first I played but was not really dedicated. However I grew to like the practice and even committed to getting a lot of the dyeing for Hemlock done in August rather than Sept. I would be the person who filled in if one of them got sick or hurt and also be in the pit crew. And I'd get to see the race finally. After a month or so of practice I am feeling more serious about this C-4 Team.
It is very hard to get 4 folks with busy lives to mesh twice a week, especially since one works late 3 nights. The solution is to go out early, and I mean early, like meet at 5:30 A. M. in the Treman Marina boat launch parking lot. The first time we did this it started to rain as soon as we left the dock and did not stop until we returned and got out of the boat.
The lake is at 6" below flood level. L->R: Jim, Anne, DJ
On top of that my rain gear failed. Sheesh. I was a wet puppy but grateful for the warmish temps and that Jim took me out for a nice breakfast afterwards.
My body rythmns hate getting up at 4 so I have limited my early morning participation to once a week. Otherwise my day is really skewed. Like right now I think it should be late afternoon and it is just noon. This means I have missed a few practices due to that and the fact that sometimes I am out of town.
DJ also put together a special exercise class at our favorite Fitness center for anyone she knew who paddled and wanted to get into shape. 12 of us meet once a week for an hour with a coach. Its a fast hour but a great workout too with half a dozen stations that we rotate around. We are even thinking of extending this class past the planned 6 weeks.
This morning the air was a crisp 44 degrees but with only a mild breeze and the sun coming up bright and shiny. Being on the water early in the day in good weather is a treat. We saw a merganser with babies, lots of Canadian geese but only one with babies as we think the high water might have drowned a bunch of nests, lots of yellow flags just coming into bloom, a deer that was curious enough to keep watching us from onshore, small dark bird chasing a crow and a Great Blue Heron after we got back to the dock. We also passed several single rowing shells and took turns peeling off layers as our workout warmed us up.
We averaged 4 miles per hour with a high speed of 5.3. That's counting stopping to rest for a few minutes at the 2 mile mark and starting out. Excellent speed. DJ has a neat gps type thingy that can measure our speed and distance in a fancy waterproof clear bag. Of course we were only out for an hour but still, it was invigorating and faster than we had ever done together plus the furthest we had paddled as well. We also managed to turn the boat in the width of the inlet channel. That sucker really wants to go in a straight line. We are going up to the Adirondacks in a couple of weeks to practice portaging on Lakes 5 to 6 on Saturday and S-curvy Raquette River on Sunday.