Saturday, April 06, 2013

Rolling in the Mud

Today was the RICKA planning party and first official paddle of the year. I have been itching to get out for a few months and it seemed like every time the chance came up, I had a conflict. Since I was going to the planning party, I had no conflicts with the paddle except for Bug's swimming class in the morning. I decided, with some difficulty, that I could miss one swimming class and get some stick time. A happier daddy makes for a happier Bug.
The weather has started to take a turn for the better in the last week and it looks like Spring has finally arrived. Too bad it took a hiatus this morning. When PB picked me up this morning it was chilly. By the time we got to Gooseberry Point, it was down right cold and the wind was howling. We seriously considered spending the morning at the Bayside and skipping the paddling. The conditions were not going to make for a pleasant paddle in Buzzards Bay. The wind would make paddling a chore. The chop would make paddling damp. The cold would make you think too hard about taking any risks.
Once others started arriving, a consensus to relocate quickly formed. We moved to Hixbridge Road and the Westport River. This would give us some shelter from the wind at the very least. We could paddle up or down river as we fancied.
We fancied going up river, figuring that it is better to paddle into the wind when you are fresh and let the wind blow you home. The trick with going up river was that the tide was going out and the water levels were dropping.... The initial plan was to just paddle a couple of miles up river, then turn back so we would have plenty of water. If we wanted to keep paddling the lower part of the river would have water longer.
The river did provide good shelter and made for a pleasant paddle. It was actually perfect for me. I was a little tired from yesterdays bike ride. My skills are a little rusty as well. The leisurely pace and flat water made it easy for me to find a rhythm and work the kinks out. The river is also pretty scenic and the company was good, so the slow pace helped there as well.
At some point the group decided that we were going all the way to the end.
"We might as well kiss the rock," someone said while CO was looking for some rational reason for the adventure. I'm not sure what she was thinking. Rationality is a rare commodity among RICKA sea kayakers.
The further up river we went the lower the water got. We spent a lot of time looking for the channel and practicing our turns.
After a quick stop at Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures, we headed back. At first it wasn't too bad. As long as you stayed on the narrow course, you stayed afloat. Every now and then the stick would dredge up some mud, but for the first mile or more it was pretty smooth paddling. Then the mud flats came....
The first time I got stuck wasn't too bad. It was only a few hundred feet of digging the stick into the goop. The second time sucked. It was hundreds of yards of digging through the mud. At points the stick was so useless, that I just used my hands to turtle walk through the mud. I would have gotten out and carried the kayak if I didn't think that I would sunk to my neck in the mud.
Once past the last mud flat, the paddle got much better. The stick stopped dragging in the mud and I could cruise along. By the time I got back to the launch point, most of the mud had washed off the kayak and the paddle.
It wasn't the perfect way to start off the season, but was still better than a day at the office.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Back in the Saddle

I got out for the first ride of the season today. It was a short 10 mile ride, but there was more than enough hills. I also managed to get a good variety of riding conditions in: country roads, bike paths, dirt trail, and major roadways.
The two things I learned on the ride: I am in terrible shape and I really like my bike.
Despite going to the gym regularly all winter long, I was not prepared for riding outside. Nothing new there; I always forget how different it is between riding in the gym and riding in the world. I didn't actually feel that bad, but I did have to keep my pace down to a lowly 12mph.
The good news is that Spring is here and there are many months of prime riding weather ahead!