Sunday, 29 May 2011

Paddling on Brown's Rivulet

Not much to say today, but Steph and I went down to Brown's Rivulet and worked on my paddle stroke.

Steph took this footage on his iPhone which kind of impressed me 


The most effective part of my training involved sitting on a log as Steph helped me "feel" how the paddle stroke should go.  It made a huge difference once I knew what I was aiming for.

Also caught up with a couple who had a foot paddle Hobie.  I WANT ONE!!!!

Great lunch at Citrus Moon Cafe - Vegetarian Lasagne - Yummy.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Number 44

I decided today that a race is a microcosm of the life we lead.

I'd mentioned to two people (my physio and Stephan) that I was planning on entering the Derwent Canoe Club's Huon Valley Series Race today, and both immediately proferred me excuses that would allow me to bow out of the race gracefully, but then when I restated my firm intention to race, they came around to finding ways to suppporting what I intended to do.  Much like life, poeple will ultimately follow the herd.

Of course, within my own mind I had the demons of doubt screaming at me to take the excuses and stay home.  My physio was telling me that it could lead to my leg injury flaring up and Stephan, well Stephan just told me I'd come last, and hopefully I wouldn't be too embarrased.  Steph's like that.

It wasn't really until I was heading down the Southern Outlet and drove past a couple of police setting up safety barriers for the Kingborough Fun Run that I remembered why I was heading down to race today rather than being safely ensconced on my couch watching others race ... it was because the person I want to be would race, he'd challenge himself, and win or lose, he'd be sitting here now typing up his experiences, not just watching some else's.

It was good that I had this epiphany because as I wound my way down to Huonville, I saw several other cars with boats on top heading down as well, and all their boats looked very fast.  Then I pulled up at the Esplanade and despite my desperate search, I had to conclude that every boat looked extremely fast.  sigh.

I went to register, and before the lady on the registration desk could ask me which group (slow, medium or fast) that I'd like to start in, Andy, who knows me from Wednesday night paddles at the Sea Caneoing Club, chirped up "definitely put him in the slowest group".  Thanks Andy, but did you have to say definitely with such convication? Doubel sigh.  I was given the number 44, and faffed around getting ready and onto the water ... mainly because once on the water I obviously had to keep paddling otherwise I'd sink.
So, this was it, I sat there (sinking) waiting for the gun to go off, realising that in about 30 seconds time I'd know whether this was folly or brilliance, or if they delayed the start I'd have the ignomy of actually sinking before I got across the start line, and did I mention that water that was filling up my seat was cooldddd.

Fast forward 30 seconds, and the answer was that at least I didn't sink before the start, but that you'd have to come back to me in a few more minutes to get an accurate progress picture.  By the first corner I was still in the group,  but i was at the back of it and dropponig back uncomfortably fast, so check on starting in the slowest group (thanks Andy, definitely), however there were only 3 or 4 people behind me ... so although complete humiliation didn't look to be on the cars, I couldn't completely rule out some form of upcoming humiliation.

By the second corner, the paddlers in front of me were slowly pulling ahead, and the number behind had dwindled by one or two more as (unfortunately) they had gone past.  This is where I think races are most like life.  At this point it would have been so easy to give up and walk away, instead I locked onto the idea that I was only a kilometre or so into a 13km race, and if there was any chance of a turnaround, any chance of a comeback, well at a minimum I had to stay in the race.  What I had to do was hang in there for the first half so that, on the way home, I was still there in case opportunity present itself. 

As the medium and fast groups hurtled past like a living animal on water, I just kept telling myself that as tired as I was, all I had to do was stay less tired than the person in front of me over the course of the entire race, not just the first little dash.

Actually, it was this group which gave me my first break in the race, because as it came past I put in a few big strokes and managed to jump on the group wave and get a bit of support.  I couldn't hang on for more than a hundred metres or so, but that was enough to let me catch up and overtake a young guy who had passed me between the first and second bend, and also reduce the gap between me and two others from "unbreachable" to "maybe a possibility".

I reached the turn around point (where we cut through the Island) just before Franklin, and much to my delight one of the three paddlers I was trying to catch, just stopped.  As I came up alongside we had a quick chat and my hopes that I had run him into exhaustion (I am nothing if not egotistical) were soon shattered as he introduced himself as the organiser on the event.  Third sigh.

But then I did actually catch someone just as we came out of the Island, and I was so excited I didn't even think to sit on his tail for a breather, instead I set my eyes on the girl in front of me (the last of three three I was chasing) and upped my tempo to try and run her down.

As we had come through the island and started heading back up river, we were now paddling against the current and into a slight headwind, so this was where effort counted, and effort I can do.  I managed to just reach the small bit of shelter behind the girls boat after a three or four hundred metre chase, but what I hadn't counted on was two or three other paddlers (incuding the guy I'd just overtaken) jumping onto my tail and following me up river.

One of these guys jumped straight off and kept on going, but my arms were pumped to exhaustion and needed a break, and so I sat behind for a while until I touched the back of her boat one time to many (which in my book was twice) and then I decided I too needed to go, so I set off into the wind with no real hope of catching any of the paddlers in front of me as they were all well ahead.

I did try and chase down the guy who had leapt off me, but after a long and futile chase I realised it wasn't to be.  It was also about this time that I looked around and realised I still had one of my passengers, and he just sat, and sat, and sat on me.  I tried to break, but after so long out in front chasing, I didn't have enough even though I opened up a 10 metre gap, he quickly wheeled this back in and then attacked himself.   Fortunately he couldn't see inside my mind as I used up everything I had and a bit more to hold his tail, and was just about to drop when he pulled up the white flag and dropped the pace himself. 

This little duel actually had a pleasing result, as not only did I then have a minute to take a little sheltered break, but in trying to drop each other, we had actually taken a sizable chunk out of the gap between us and the next paddler.  We agreed at that point to try and work together, so after a minutes break, I went out around again and set the pace to bridge the gap.  I almost faltered about 10 metres short of her tail, but when I looked around to see if my companion could come forward and work I realised that he hadn't even been able to hold my tail and I was now 15 metres in front of him.

This changed things in my mind:  I rested behind my latest catch for no more than a minute or two, checking my previous companion's progress and then just as he was about to attach to my tail, I moved around the girl in front and set off again after the next paddler ... this guy though was at least a hundred metres in front with only a kilometre or two left to race.

Nevertheless, the guy was obviously tiring, so I kept on with everything I had and slowly reduced the gap from 100 metres to 50 metres, then 30 metres, but despite giving it absolutely everything I had, that was as close as I got as he crossed the line 39 seconds in front if me.

Other than tipping Simon Theissen out of his boat whilst trying to help him get out, and barely being able to carry my boat to my car and put it on the roof, that was pretty much my racing day.

I though I had come in fourth or fifth last, but as it turned out I actually came in 32 out of 43, so I was pretty darn pleased about that.  My read in that is that I did twice as well as I thought (ie. 11th last, not fifth last).  I also learned today that I obviously need to work on improving my stroke, but I think more importantly, I need to drop weight. 

So that was my 1 hr 16 minutes of life in which I went from sitting around sinking to exceeding my hopes.  Not a bad day if you think about it like that.  Bring on Race 3.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Verona Sands to Eggs and Bacon Bay

I needed to go and explore today, and I had planned on joining the Sea Canoeing Club's Trip out to  Vensitat Point from Verona Sands, but it just didn;t happen, so I headed down there anyway and explored an area I've been meaning to get to for ages - namely to see how far up Garden Island Creek I could get, as well as have an explore around Randalls Bay.

Not much to say about the day really, the weather was perfect - flat and cool with a clear sky.  I saw a few other paddlers out and about, and I did reach my goal of paddling up under the bridge on the rivulet (though got a few scratches on the bottom of my boat for the trouble).

Lots of birds around, and it was just a wonderful day.  Shame about my camera, it really doesn't capture the wonder odf the day.

Setting off from Verona Sands Beach

Huon Island in the distance.

Travelling up Garden Island Creek.

As far as I can go.  About 15 metres up stream from the bridge.

Paddling through Randalls Bay

Very smelly boat at Randalls Bay

Randalls Bay

Randalls Bay Cliffs

Sunken Boat at Eggs and Bacon Bay

View towards Bruny Island in the Distance (Return leg)

Back at Verona Sands
All up it was about a 3 hour, 20km paddle.  I did a lot of ducking in and out of the shoreline (if you look carefully at the GPS it actually looks like I was paddling across the land in places as I cut in within metres of the shoreline).

It was an easy/medium effort as I have a race coming up tomorrow.  A lovely paddle.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Under Construction - North South Track

I've been staring at a map of Mt Wellington for a couple of weeks now wondering how far along the new section of the North South Track on Mt Wellington is towards completion.

The idea of walking up there and having an explore seemed like a good next step in testing how my knee was coming along, so I decided this week that today was the day, and my alarm was dutifully set for 6am.

I started out from The Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park around, 7am, just after sunrise and the mountain looked beautiful with the sun lighting up the organ pipes in a yellow light (check out the pic below which doesn't do it any justice).  I had both my wrist and normal GPS, but for some reason my wrist unit failed to pick up any satellites, so I was down to just my main Oregon unit.

I decided to take the conservative way up, so just followed the firetrail up to the Priest Trail / Merton Trail junction (really noticing the blood clot in my right calf on the way up the steep hills as my leg cramped) and from this junction I jumped onto the XC trail and followed this up to the top where it drops out onto Kangaroo Trail. 

Just as I approached the start of the new track two mountain bikers emerged and went pelting past me, and a minute later I met another two right at the trail head.  We had a bit of a chat and they assured me that I could walk through to junction cabin from here, if I just ignored the under construction signs, so this is what I duly did.

The track looks to be awesome (remember I'm still on foot here) and despite the "Track under Construction" signs appears from the tire tracks to be getting pretty heavy use already.  In fact over the course of my walk out and back to the cabin, I passed probably 15 - 20 riders which is a huge amount on these trails ... usually you might only see one or two others whilst out on the ride ... all those "No Cycling" signs must be attracting us.

The new trail isn't finished all the way to the cabin yet, but if you have a look at the pdf map you can get from the park all the way around to the Lenah Valley Fire Trail just above New Town Falls, and from there you can just follow the Lenah Valley Track to the cabin and jump onto the existing Stage 1 section of the track to the Springs.

What will forever more be known to me as Tiger Snake Rock

It took me about two hours to walk to Junction Cabin where there was a bunch of St Mary girls camping, and quite a few riders.  After a brief rest, where I managed to break the battery connection in my one working GPS whilst changing the batteries over, I turned tail (thinking of a late breakfast at Salt Cafe).  

Rather than cut back through the section of track under construction, I followed the original Lenah Valley Track as far as I could, then just cut through the section shown as completed (yellow in the pdf map) .  I saw three big tiger snakes within 10 metres of each other all basking in the sun on a rocky section just as I entered this section of the track, but otherwise it was just a pleasant walk back to Kangaroo Trail, and I took the opportunity to snap off some fun close up pictures on the way.

To finish off my walk, rather than just head back down the Priest Trail, I tried (and almost regretted) an exploratory route down a trail shown on my map which was supposed to run parallel to the downhill trail.  

The trail head was clear enough (single track) but the first section was extremely steep, and not designed for someone with two bad knees and walking sticks.  Still, I finally scrambled out of this section and emerged onto Merton Vale Track from which I was able to continue with a much easier descent down another trail, and eventually onto some single track which dumped me back out at the Mountain Bike Park ... some very sweet single track which I fully intend to get back out on when my bike is ready.  Such a shame my GPS was dead.

The only nervous bit of this walk was that as I descended further and further I got closer and closer to a gun range, and at one point it sounded like shots were all around me.  I had to keep assuring myself that they were in a quarry nearby and it was just weird echo's.

I got back to the car just after 11am, so pretty much a 4 hour return walk.  My knees were a bit tender, but I'd done some pretty decent tracks given my condition.  To be honest the only disappointment of the day was that my soy latte and open omelet at Salt Cafe were both pretty tasteless and bland,  Sigh.

Epilogue:  Technology wise, my day turned around a bit.  I dropped into Jaycar in Glenorchy to see if they sold battery terminals, which they didn't, but the guy there was great and went and ripped an old spring out of some 95 cent battery unit, and showed me how to jerry-rig a connection between the battery terminal and the battery ... he even gave me a couple of AA batteries ... now that's not bad for 95 cents.

I  also installed a new version of software onto my Forerunner 305 when I got home, and after doing this when I took it outside, it got a GPS fix almost immediately.  So hopefully, I'm back on track.

Finally, I dragged out my electric bike this afternoon and went for a bit of a spin down to the park and back ... As I type this I have the battery and lights on charge as I intend to start cycling to work again this week.  The knees were a bit tight, but I lifted the saddle about 7-8 mm to give me more pedal turn and I think I'll be able to get her home each night.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I chased

I went for my daily swim this afternoon after work, and whilst doing laps up and down this pool, this younger lady actually came in and started doing laps.

I should say the the predominant users of the pool seem to be the infirm, injured and elderly (not sure which of these categories I'm in) not the younger generation all of whom seem to live in the cardio section.

I know I shouldn't have done it, I apologise to her, whoever she is, but I am like a dog when you throw a stick out into the water, I have as little control over my urge to chase as a dog does to splash out into the water to gather the stick.

So I stuck to my training regime, but every time I got to doing cardio laps, I couldn't help but find myself pacing, and then racing this girl, and whilst I do apologise to her, god it felt good, I felt the most alive I have in weeks.  I need to chase.

Thank you.