At 10:00 o’clock this morning, I was sitting at my computer watching it snow. It was supposed to get up to 37°F today, but it was hovering around 30 and snowing pretty hard. I hunted down my cell phone and discovered that Dan had left a message on it – the canal by his house was frozen, so instead of meeting at his place at the usual 12:30, he was going to paddle at the Genesee Waterway Center (GWC) at 1pm, and he wanted to know if I was coming. Of course I’m coming. I quickly phoned him back.
When I showed up at GWC, the others weren’t there yet. It was bitter cold and the wind was blowing straight down the river. I added a t-shirt and windbreaker to my polartherm and wore my PFD, which I haven’t been wearing on the canal. The river is deep and wide, and if I went in there I couldn’t be out in seconds like I could in the canal. Unfortunately I haven’t worn the PFD over all that clothing in a while, and while it felt fine on land when I tried paddling it restricted my ability to breathe. It’s amazing how tired you feel when you can’t breathe.
Second to arrive was Jim Mallory, and then Dan. While Jim and I were getting in our kayaks, Steve showed up. So far I think Steve is the only other person as crazy as me about showing up no matter what the weather. While Dan and Steve were getting ready is when I discovered the problem with the PFD, and took steps to loosen it up. Once that was taken care of, it wasn’t so bad – both in terms of being able to paddle well, and also being comfortable with the temperature.
Having the four of us was great. Dan stayed with me and worked on my technique, while Steve couldn’t possibly outrun former Olympian Jim Mallory. Jim’s technique is every bit as good as Dan’s, if not better, and he’s a professor at NTID, so he can teach as well.
I had a very satisfying work out. The only problem is that once I finished, the sweat condensed and cooled down, my hands were no longer protected by my pogies, and it was *cold*. Colder than I’ve been since last winter. I got my kayak up on my roof rack as quickly as I could and headed home. But I’m sure glad I went.