24 May 2007

Eventually... we hit the river

Roger; eager to get on the water after being restrained on a car roof for the best part of a day.

We eventually reached the Washburn at six (that's three hours of travelling for me and just under ten and a half hours for Roger) and unloaded the boats, paid our subs, got changed and eventually headed to the river.

In total there were thirteen paddlers associated with the canoe club I am a member of so on this I decided that I would keep myself and Roger to ourselves for the evening and enjoy a bit of time together with out any other paddler getting in our 'zone'. Don't get me wrong I'm not some antisocial boater that likes to paddle on their own without interacting with the paddlers around them - I smiled and said "hello" to fellow paddlers and shared the odd word in the eddies - but I felt that to get the most out of the evening I would be better left to myself and anyway it is advised to paddle the Washburn in small groups and obviously one is the smallest group physically possible to man.

Even though I was on my own I took time out to sit in eddies and get the odd picture of fellow paddlers. Here some unknown paddler tries to catch the top wave on the fly in the new Bliss-Stick Play/Creeker.

Whilst paddling on my own I was able to lay down the rules to Roger when it came to breaking in/out and I think over the whole night I caught all but one eddy I made a conscience effort to make. I even managed to catch that pesky eddy I talked about on my previous visit to the Washburn. It ran something like this: kill the speed, keep the line of attack, accelerate at the last moment just before sliding down the slope, boof stroke on the right as you start to feel her slide, bow rudder on the left and hey presto your in one of the smallest eddies on the river (all can be seen in video here).

Looking upstream on one of the many flat sections. In the far distance you can just make out two of the paddlers I was with.

Throughout the evening, as I spent the time alone, I managed to pack a fair amount of paddling into a short period of time. I managed to clock one run from the top car park down to the second bridge, then another run from the top car park down to the 'Big Drop' and then one final run, which spanned the whole river, starting at the top car park and finishing at the bottom car park.

On each run I tried to mirror what had happened on the previous run. This meant I was making at least two boofs a run, one on the left and one on the right. Both of these were into eddies and both of these were on sections with little consequence. There were also two suitably sized waves for Roger to catch, which allowed me to get my lower body into action as I moved him across the wave face, back and fourth, back and fourth with some good old torso rotation and leg action to match. There was one suitable sized, small, non-bouncy, non-grippy stopper to spin the young boy in as well. Roger spins rather well in fact. That new shiny plastic just slips around in the current so hardly any effort had to be put in to turning the beast. There was another hole that I passed on every occasion, which I didn't venture into mainly because on my last visit I had a bit of a pasting in here. It wasn't a bad pasting, it wasn't really a pasting, but I didn't want to be bounced around in a hole whilst I fought to get back out of it unnecessarily.

Two unknown paddlers sit in an eddy letting the world pass them by as they chat like their sat in a pub or city cafe, not on a raging torrent of freezing cold water.

On walking back up the river from my first run I was able to capture the moment at the broken weir, the hole I had a bit of pasting in, and one of the main play features on the river...

A paddler going for a clean end.

A paddler, in fact the chap that gave me a lift to this very river on my last visit, negotiates the strong grip of the hole, the queuing play boaters and the boater strutting their stuff in the hole.

Looks like a tricky-whu from one of Team GB's junior women.

Not a lot more can be written about the day apart from it was a blast and a really good way to spend a beautiful evening in the sun, on the water and enjoying life. It must be said that even though arrangements were some what complicated when it came down to getting to the river it made the day that bit more enjoyable. I think it was Team Wavesport that said half the fun of paddling is the journey to the river and they are not far wrong with that.

A Team GB athlete blunting in the 'Big Drop', which signals the end of the shortened run of the river.

One of my mates running the 'Big Drop'. This paddler has been with me on many adventures up and down the north-west and I can safely say thanks to this one person alone my paddling has come on leaps and bounds in the past twelve months.

More pictures can be found here and there is also a video in there somewhere, but it's already got a link somewhere higher up this post so it ain't getting another one!

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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