I was waiting on some information at work, and kind of stuck until I got it, so I headed off to meet up with Stephen and Jim for their regular 1:30 paddle starting at the Black Creek access. I got there just before 1:30, and there was no sign of them. I paddled a 10 minute warm up, and still no sign of them. So fine, I thought, I’d head up stream at a moderate pace, and either I’d get a nice long paddle at my own pace, or they’d catch me up. Usually when I paddle with those two, they end up going hard so I end up in the 150-165 heart rate zone, but on my own I tried to keep it down in the high 130s or low 140s. I wasn’t entirely successful at that.
As I reached about the 2 mile point the river turns, and I took one last chance to paddle out into the middle to look downstream, but I didn’t see them. Ok, long slow paddle it is. I decided to see if I could reach the 6 mile point before I turned around. Since I’d done about .75 miles in my warm-up, that would leave me 5.25 miles to return, and put me over 10 miles on the day. Mental arithmetic isn’t my strong point – I really should have aimed for a turnaround at the 4.7 mile point to reach the 10 mile goal. But I wanted a bit of a cushion because on the way up you’re following the banks pretty closely and ferrying across the river to keep out of the current, but on the way back you blast down the middle.
The current was strong, and the wind was also strong in places, but at least they were going the same direction. The current swirled and eddied, and a couple of times I found myself having to brace to avoid dumping. As I got higher and higher up the river, I was getting slower and slower. Once I decided not to ferry across the river to get on the inside because I didn’t want to be so exposed to the wind, and that was a big mistake because not only was it slow on the outside of the bend, but it was also more roiled up with eddies and swirls and other challenges. I wasn’t sure if I was getting slower and having to brace more because the current and wind were getting stronger, or if I was getting fatigued and making mistakes because of that, and I was a little worried about being out here alone if I was making mistakes. After one really hard brace, I decided I’d had enough and turned around at the 5.6 mile point.
Turning downstream, my speed immediately went up into the low 9s. I don’t think I’ve ever paddled that fast before. I was just flying down. And I was starting to think my problems before were really problems with the river, not my own fatigue. After 6.7 miles (1.1 miles after I turned around), I met Jim coming upstream. That was good, that meant I’d have company when I was most tired. Not too much later, we met Stephen and Julia coming upstream as well. Stephen wanted to go as far as the RIT dock before he turned downstream, so I turned upstream again and went with him. That added another half mile of upstream to my total.
Going downstream was uneventful except when Stephen and Jim did their inevitable sprint for the bridge at the end, I didn’t have the energy to raise my speed even an iota to try to catch one of their wakes. But the worst was yet to come. Where Black Creek comes out into the Genesee there is a hellacious eddy. Last time I hit it just right and it spun my boat and accelerated me into Black Creek. This time, I hit it wrong and dumped. With about 10 yards left to go, I dumped into the freezing cold water. I walked up onto the bank, and slipped in the clay mud and fell back into the water. But I got my stuff semi-organized, and Julia jumped out of her boat to help me wrangle my stuff on the shore, while Jim paddled over and helped me dump out the water. Fortunately the air was wonderfully warm, so I wasn’t too chilled.
I just checked my blog, and the first time I paddled 10 miles last year was May 30th, the weekend before the Tupper Lake 9 miler. I’d say I’m a bit ahead of that schedule this year.
Total miles: 11.16
Total time: 2:09
Year to date: 83 miles!