Last Sunday, Jim and I paddled the 31st Annual Humber River Downriver Race. The forecast was for snow turning to rain and a high of 4 degrees C., but we got lucky and it was not a bad day at all, just heavy clouds and 5 degrees. Water levels were medium-high, with good current and no scraping.
Historically, this race has been held on the first Saturday of April. But that's the same day the Ganaraska race is held, and I've been going in that one. This year I convinced the Humber organizers to change the date so I could enter. Self-centred... who, me??
I was surprised at what hardcore racers turned up. Nearly everybody had carbon race boats! We didn't stand a chance in Jim's heavy royalex tripper. Even if we had taken my kevlar tripper instead, we still would have been "also rans". Oh well, now I know for next year! The rapids were very easy; it's the heavy wash into tight bends festooned with sweepers that's the real hazard of the course. We did have one good laugh when 3 carbon boats which had passed us all got sucked into a powerful eddy and were swirling around in there like 3 blind mice as we blasted past! But they got the last laugh as it wasn't long before they passed us again. Oh, the humiliation...
Jim was funny, too. We knew we wouldn't be able to beat those boats. Anyone who's invested in a race boat is bound to be a good paddler -- no novices here. So we talked about just enjoying the trip and not knocking ourselves out. But as we lined up at the start, Jim's competitive instincts took over and he paddled like a maniac for the whole 13 km. I barely kept up with one stern stroke to every two of his bow strokes. My wrists were aching afterwards. Even so, it wasn't enough, but at least we weren't a total joke. A couple of young guns in playboats were still way behind us, and they good-naturedly bore the brunt of ridicule. Anyway, I'm really glad we went. What could be better than paddling and laughter on an early spring day?