So the second Saturday of May (May 8) 2010 rolled around and I was ready to compete with the best of them on my home river.
I am an allergy sufferer and when I showed up to the starting line that morning I found a field of freshly mowed grass and weeds.
As I went through my pre-race preparations I was having a hard time breathing so I started popping Loratadine and Diphenhydramine to restore my breathing. It worked a little bit but not much.
This was another low water day, just like the week before on the Tye River, so I knew the river would be a little bony. I lined up at the starting line and again, gave it my all my with Werner Corryvrecken paddle and Looksha IV ocean kayak.
The starting horn blew and I jumped out to an early lead but I shortly thereafter bottomed out on the first set of shallow rapids where I noticed that I seemed to stay stuck there longer than the composite kayaks just ahead of me. They seemed to skim off the rocks with greater ease as their paddlers arm-pushed their way through the rapids.
My arm pushing off the river bottom seemed less efficient.
I paddled my hardest and was suffering a major allergy episode and had a very hard time catching my breath. At one point I spoke out loudly to myself, “this is pointless.”
I realized I had no chance of winning the race and at that point settled into the fastest pace I could comfortably maintain. I was having a hard time breathing and my throat was so dry that I was almost constantly sipping my 50/50 mixture of water and Gatorade.
As I neared the end of the race, I saw Konrad’s Speeder ahead of me. He had loaned it to another paddler and I was starting to hate the sight of that boat ahead of me after two weeks being behind it.
I started closing distance between me and the Speeder as I noticed that paddler was starting to show signs of fatigue.
I then made this race all about catching up to The Speeder.
I pushed as hard as I could and continued to close the gap but just couldn’t catch up…that is, until the very end of the race.
Jeff C. in The Speeder got caught up on a rock in the very last rapid before the finish line and I tried to take advantage by paddling as hard as I could but as much as I tried, I fell just short of catching him and passing him at the end of the race.
I finished tied for 6th place overall, last in my division of “fast” kayaks, and slower than some boats that on paper should have been slower than me.
Again, I made mental notes of how the fastest boats made of fiberglass and some secret, “Carbonlite,” by Eddyline kayaks, seemed to skim off the rocks easily as my plastic, ocean kayak seemed to “stick” to rocks.
I got off the river determined to figure out what it would take to win next time.
I started shopping for a new kayak immediately.