Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gore Race 2012

Here is a video that I put together from the weekend. I didn't have much footage of other people, so it's mostly my personal race experience. Enjoy!

It's that time of year again, where I scramble into the car and book it back to Colorado from the Slave River, just barely in time for Gore Race. This year, I trained extra hard while I was up at the Slave, trying to paddle hard for about 10-20 minutes on flatwater every day. Also, this year I had the large Bazooka, a very fast but still very manuverable boat. I was primed for a rematch against Conor Flynn, my nemesis.

Conor is a fast paddler. We've had a rivalry for a long time. At the last Gore race, Conor took first in the creekboat class, with me in 6th. My private goal this year was to beat Conor.

Come race day, I was feeling pretty stoked. Conor and I paddled in together across the flatwater, each of us paddling a little faster than we were comfortable, but trying to pretend that it was easy. He was the first racer in our class, and I was the second. I watched him bust out of the start, then waited through the longest minute of my life until my own start.

I left the start at a full sprint, trying to not hold anything back through the flatter stuff at the beginning. Every now and then, on long straightaways, I caught glimpses of Conor, still holding about a minute ahead of me.

I felt like I had good boofs on most of the major rapids. In Applesauce, in particular, I had one of my largest boofs ever. My only major mistake was getting eddied out relatively deeply below Tunnel falls. Every now and then I would catch myself slowing down, and I would imagine racing without that one minute interval between racers. Conor would probably be right there, and he would start pulling ahead here! That would dependably spur a burst of speed.

Before I knew it, I was in the midst of Kirshbaum's, the final rapid. I laced together three segments really well. The top I had already practiced. The middle section was pretty untested; I had watched Jules Campbell take a sneaky goalpost move during my practice lap on friday, and I barely managed to duplicate it. Then again at the bottom, I snuck over to the far left in a rocky shallow section, where Peter Benedict had breezed past me on that same practice lap.

I held it together through the finish line. When I eddied out, Conor was right there, chuckling.

"Nice lines," he said, "but I'm out of the water and my boat is already dried out. Just sayin."

That bastard. I got out and jogged.. well, walked... back upstream to where my mom was helping out with timing. When there was a break between finishers, we asked her which of us was faster. She said that I had finished 1:12 behind Conor. I was pissed. I had felt so fast, but somehow I had ended up 12 seconds slower than my nemesis.

After watching most of the other racers finish, a big group of us paddled the rest of the way to takeout. I started to feel a lot less pissed. Regardless of how much Conor had beaten me by, I had still gone pretty fast. I crossed my fingers for a top 3 finish.

The awards ceremony always takes forever, and I took advantage of the wait to film some time lapses. Right when they got to the creekboat class, I was fiddling with the camera, not paying much attention. I was a little surprised to hear my name, and made my way up to the front, where someone handed me a mug. It wasn't until I got back into the crowd that I read the mug and realized that I had won. The start interval hadn't been exactly a minute, it had been 1:16, so that I had actually beaten Conor by 4 seconds.

Mission accomplished. Booyah.

Here are a couple photos, mostly from the day after the race.
One of Conor's few mistakes during his race run. Photo by some random jerk.Gore Race 2012
Brian Bank at Applesauce. Gore Race 2012
Pleasure paddle crew, below Applesauce. Gore Race 2012
I'm gunning for this line next year. The boof isn't as majestic, but the exit is a lot faster. Gore Race 2012
Here's Spencer swimming out of Tunnel. Gore Race 2012
Back home again. Gore Race 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Slave 2012 - Week 3

Here are a couple handy Slave-related links:
Map of the rapids
last year (week 1, week 2, week 3, goodbye, wood video)

Best of this year

2012 Week 1
2012 Week 2

Week 3 - Or maybe week 3 and a half?

How did a whole week go by without me updating the blog? I'll tell you how: there were sick waves in every day, so I paddled all day, then went to bed. The water levels have just risen back up to 5300 cms (187,000 cfs), so nothing really good is in. However, for the last week or so, we've been surfing Rollercoaster almost every day. We took a lot of video, so we don't have quite so many stills, but it's still a large amount of media to sort through for this post.

Paddle mount GoPro. Slave 2012
The lighting is cool! Go do a trick right now! Photo by Mike Seitzinger. Slave 2012
Clearly not staged at all. Slave 2012
One of my favorite photos of all time. Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
From Slave 2012
We built a staircase for the Cassette takeout. Here is Natalie trying it out. Slave 2012
Where's the wave? Slave 2012
Markus with a strange backstab. Slave 2012
Natalie with a nice panam Slave 2012
Markus had some killer flashbacks. Slave 2012
Maria getting pitted! Slave 2012
Natalie drops some science between sessions. Slave 2012
John get even better at back pan ams Slave 2012
John drinks river water every day. Slave 2012
Keep checking back. If the water levels continue to not cooperate, I will hopefully be posting photos more frequently. In the meantime, here is a slideshow of all our photos so far: