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To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Making do

Grand Forks this morning.  Sundogs appeared as the temperature
dropped and ice crystals filled the air.  Photo by Eric Hyden
Last year it didn't snow up here in Grand Forks until Christmas day.  For some reason i was counting on this happening again.  I'd planned three big paddle training days (big for me, not for the other Yogaslackers - big for them really means epic for most folks) leading up to my departure for Abu Dhabi on Dec. 7th.  I did manage to get one of these in - i went out last sunday despite 3-4 inches of snow falling overnight.  It was exciting to say the least - that morning my rudder snapped (i'd never paddled without it) and i was using a new wing blade and donning a never before worn (by me) dry suit which was less than straightforward to put on.  At the boat ramp, solid ice lay under the new snow and extended like a skin six feet out onto the river.  Thoughts of breaking through and falling into the river as i tried to put in were pretty terrifying, dry suit or not.

I considered calling it a day.  But I'm stubborn and had been looking forward to some adventure so opted not to.  instead, i sat in the boat and pushed off, sliding down and out across the ice which broke and parted with the weight of the boat.  I wasn't at all sure how i was going to get back out, but figured i didn't have to worry about it for an hour ad headed up river.

It took some getting used to steer without the rudder, but i managed ok.  I wan't able to go at full intensity but that was ok too - it was my first paddle since nationals in late october.  What I loved (once i got over my nervousness) was trying to dodge the floating sections of surface ice.  Some were approaching an inch in thickness and weren't fun to hit - i almost got stuck on one and had to struggle to chop away at it with the ultralight carbon fibre paddle.  Some were just a thin skin, millimeters thick floating islands of ice moving with the current, and offered almost no resistance to my bow as i plowed through.  I found myself marveling at the simple (or perhaps not so simple) phase change that i was witnessing.

The night of that paddle it snowed again - another 3-4 inches - and got colder.  The highs have been in the teens I've given up the idea of paddling again.  Today though, i did manage to get an hour and a half outside on the bike (thanks sean).  I figured i've got to use what nature provides and had a great ride up and back along the greenway - opting to take the mosquito control trails whenever possible.  It was tough pushing through six inches of snow, and squirrelly too - i endoed a couple of times and went down at least half a dozen others when the front wheel decided it wanted to be at a right angle to the rest of the bike.

Far from ideal training conditions perhaps, but i made do.  I told myself it was just like riding through sand, and tried to pretend i was in the middle of the desert, pushing hard, only wearing alot more clothes.

1 comment:

  1. I know it's too late for Abu Dhabi, but it might be worth it for you to consider studded snow tires for training up there in the winter. It stays cold enough, long enough, there is a lot of ice, and there aren't many hills, so studded snow tires will allow you to get a deep snow workout, without the worry about tires sliding out from underneath you.