100 Mile Canoe Test - May 2006
Thursday, 11th May 2006
100 Mile Canoe Test, River Trent Written By Jon Simpson At around 7.00pm on Friday 26th May 2006 at the LOPC, seven of the nine paddlers for the PaddlePlus 100 Miler team met to begin the long weekend. We were: Andy and Adam, two of the PaddlePlus coaches, club member Mark, Ollie and Owen, two Wet Wet West Explorers /Hotdoggers and Toby and myself (Jon) representing LCYP.
Together with 3 open boats and 5 kayaks we set off towards the Beaudesert Scout/ Guide Campsite, just north of Brum. We arrived just in time to get tents up and meet the rest of the team (David & Adam) before it got dark. This is probably as good a place as any to pass on thanks to Graham Pote and the team from CYP for their excellent catering over the weekend – as we also arrived just in time for burgers.
For lazy people like me, in a boat designed for easy touring in a straight line, the first days paddle, with all its tight twisties and tree dodging, was a bit taxing. Good to be able to report that unlike the event in 2005 I didn’t go for a swim within the first half hour. Indeed, I survived the whole day without splashing around in the water.
Adam has us progressing at a controlled and steady pace as we wanted to finish the day ‘somewhere around the middle’ of the eleven teams taking part. As the last team to finish were to be the first up and away the next day, it certainly made sense not to be at the rear, and with two days of 30 plus miles to follow it was prudent to ensure we paced ourselves.
The two long legs of the trip are a bit lost into a mix of weirs, canals, portages, hail and sunburn. During which I did manage to go swimming – kind’a got myself and a boat trapped next to a log. Think I just let myself get a bit careless after just shooting the rockery weir without any problems. Silly me.
We also had a close call with a bit of freak windery. We’d just stopped for lunch and dragged the boats up a small bank into a field, from where we could see big grey clouds looming. We’d just sheltered down by the boats when we heard the wind come. From thirty or so yards away, we saw the leading edge hit some trees and rip through them in a snow-storm of blossom petals. It then hit our little camp, lifting one of our boats off the ground and flinging it twenty feet down the field, luckily doing no more damage than a glancing blow off of Andy’s head.
Poetic justice would have had the wind catch a group of Muppets speeding along the water on their jet skis, but as we saw them tear past later, I guess they must have missed the whole thing. By the end of the third day we kind of knew we’d cracked the event, the final stretch was less than ten miles. As we had plenty of time on the clock, the final day was a gentle run for home, during which the only disappointment was the lack of open ice cream vans along the river-bank in Nottingham. My Personal High’s
Seeing some generally under prepared 12/13 year old’s in other teams complete the 100 miles - great credit to their individual perseverance (or maybe they’re just too young to know any better).
Only going swimming accidentally twice - that’s one less than last year!
Great food - personal thanks again to all catering staff.
Seeing Toby do over 20-miles without his customary lazy slouch.
Watching Adam and Mark rig up a sail on their equally rigged up catamaran.
Surviving the flying Wavehopper.
Alas, there were some less good bits too Our minibus was broken into and a combination of camera, iPod, TomTom, phone and keys were stolen. Pity to lose some unique pictures and video footage.
One of our team got ill and had to withdraw. Always a real shame to lose a team mate from such a shared adventure.
All in all, a great weekend, with some great people. Would be wonderful to have a bigger team and more young people for 2007! Looking forward to it already!