Today was the first downwind of spring, and it was LEGIT. Sunshine. Warmish Air. Wind. Ripping rides. Face shot after face shot. Barrels. Just another day in paddlers paradise. Baby I'm down...
Viewing entries in
We've had a stiff does of winter this year (2017) in Bellingham, and it's all the locals can talk about. The last few winters have been quite warm, dry - so this one comes as quite the stiff reality check on an account that's been a bit overdrawn.
I've personally never paddled in so much wind in such frosty conditions (32º F is now considered warm for a downwind run). Even in the grand age of neoprene and drysuits, one must be careful not to be out too long as the rudder lines start to freeze up and so do the toes. I've come back to shore more than a few times with blue feet and uh, ...other appendages. Hang in there boys.
The upside to this is subtle, but remarkable. Like the initial shock of falling in, winter hit hard and my summer time Gorge spoiled brain just wasn't on board. It whined A LOT.
"Are you done yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"This is dumb. We should go in. And drink a beer. Mmmm... Beer!"
All of those phrases have oozed from my frost bitten frontal cortex like a steady drip from a melting icicle. While I can concede that the whining was relentless, it wasn't fruitless either.
At some point my inner sniveling wimp just decided that misery is the new normal, and my brain just let it go and got back to focusing on how much fun all this nonsense is. Either that, or the poor bastard froze to death in the process of being choked out by the inner viking whose taken up residence in my subconscious will. Yes, this winter is indeed hard. But we're becoming harder. And that's the great thing as I type this lusting after temps in the high 40's, and water to match.
The hardened mind begets a hardened hide. It's not that I am blasé about the perils of cold water... quite the opposite. But I am not afraid either. And that for me is the best part. Heading out into the wind, waves and big blue frosty sea is liberating and joyous... just like surfski paddling is meant to be.
Warmer days will surely come. But why rush such a good thing?
"An army marches on its stomach."
One of the great things about living in a paddling community like Bellingham is getting to participate in local charity races like the Lake Padden Paddle for Food Relay at the very end of the racing season. Organized by Peter Marcus, the relay is in it's fourth year and is food drive fund raiser to support the Bellingham Food Bank.
Peter's concept for the race is terrific. Take paddlers from all ends of the spectrum, and put them together in teams of four that race in three mass start waves. The lowest cumulative time wins, and each team must use some strategy to manage their transitions and laps.
One aspect that struck me as being so unique about this race, is that you typically don't get to cheer in kayak racing because there is just one mass start, and well, you don't really have any teammates to cheer for anyways. You can cheer for yourself of course, but maybe just in your head.