Monday, April 23, 2007

Taming the Grand River

80 canoes and kayaks of all shapes and sizes entered the H. H. Challenge. More a challenge then a race, paddlers seeded themselves not only by starting time, but by where they put in on the river. It was a neat way to do it as everyone was at the finish within a few hours of each other. We seeded ourselves with the expedition canoes and kayaks that left at 7:00am

Event organizers moved the start down river by 5 miles to accommodate the large turn-out. The new venue was very nice with a lot of parking, A little muddy at the put-in. There were some very good paddlers attending. Bob Bradford and his son Mike were also in a Kruger Cruiser.

It was your basic low key start with a ready set go. Boats that were challenge / racing sort of waited for each other to get settled. Kinda like you see in the Tour De France bike race.

We paddled 3 a breast for a while. A Kruger Cruiser (Bob) and a traditional tandem kevlar canoe (George)pulled a head as we backed off into our challenge pace. Both Mark and I were happy to keep the boat moving at 5.1 - 5.5 during this section of the river. There would be plenty of time to crank it up. We kept them in sight and ran our own challenge.

A highlight for me was paddling past Verlen's House (Base Camp) and meeting Jenny Kruger at the finish. What a wonderful kind woman.

We didn't have too many photo opportunities as we were in a challenge, but this was a must slow Kodak picture moment.

There is a small sign hanging over the river that says "Kruger Base Camp" and gives the distance to New York and Cape Horn by river. Very cool.

There were three portages along the route. Mark stowed the cart wheels for ease of portaging. It allowed us to portage comfortably and real in Bob and George that were just ahead of us.

There was a little competitive race bantering going on as we wheeled our boat and they humped theirs. At one point we slacked off and let them go, dining on shake and bake chicken and cheese its. Mark is a master chef when it comes to race/challenge food. It was a grand buffet. I almost felt guilty as George and Melissa were lugging there canoe and I was having a second piece of chicken. Poor George, but I got over it.

Check back tomorrow for more event highlights - The Capt'n


Kristen said...

Woo hoo! The boys do well! Looking forward to the rest of the story.

Dawn (aka SandyBottom) said...

Can't wait to hear more. And any tips you might have regards challenge/racing in a Cruiser.