Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Great Race

What else would do you do on a cold day in March?

It's the week before Easter and the start of the paddling season kicks off with the Red Mo river race at Grassflat. It's a seven and a half mile run through class II rapids. Rocky and swift it a good time and a great run for beginners. The water however, is very cold.

The river and the event have changed over the years. Hurricane Agnes rearranged the boulders in 1972. And according to some, took some of the fun of certain bends. The race itself has evolved from a collection of crazy's in anything that would float (Did I actually see someone launching a bass boat with lawn chairs one year?) into a well organized opening to the competitive paddling season complete with divisions classed according to boats and ability.

My father and I first ran the Red Mo when I was 11. Mom had no idea what we were up to (one the advantages of having parents living 120 miles apart). We had a home-made canoe. Dad had put it together the year before in the greenhouse next to my grandfather's home. It was fiberglass and wood, and very heavy. I learned several things that year: how to build a canoe, how to paddle, and how not to chew tobacco.

The Red Mo was my first stretch of white water, and a test of sorts of my ability to understand risk. When I am out on the bike and heading north, I like to stop and pay my respects.