Well we didn’t paddle Waterside A, but we did get together for a training session and had a really fun day. (I’m starting to get the hang of this fun lark!)
Anyway, all the branded clothing turned up just in time for a team photo call so we all met as Isobel’s house for a “serious” planning meeting prior to going out on the water.
Megan and Isobel had just returned from a cultural tour of Amsterdam earlier in the day and seemed somewhat jaded from all the museum tours and architectural appreciation walks. No, I wasn’t aware that the Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the oldest stock exchange in the world, but hey, wait until I tell all the lads at the pub!
We discussed how training was going, the layered clothing plan and my ideas for a feeding strategy, all based on logic, research and sound analysis. I proudly produced a selection of sports energy bars, gels and drink additives which I have used extensively myself, and invited the girls to try them during training. However, it was not quite received with the unbounded enthusiasm I’d envisaged. Apparently athletes are quite particular about what they consume whilst racing and each item was inspected with suspicion and the list of ingredients examined in detail.
We still have time to reach a consensus on nutrition, but “you can lead a canoeist to an energy bar, but you can’t make them eat”! I think I may have to make considerable compromises.
Megan and Isobel got changed into the new gear and we drove down to Mytchet where we posed for some team photos.
Eventually we got on the water and I was keen to see Isobel and Megan in action.
It was clear almost from their first paddle strokes that they had the measure of the boat, absolutely no hesitation or uncertainty. A strong and powerful application of the paddle soon had The Darkness skimming along to the point that we almost lost contact with my son who was trying to keep up, running along the bank taking photos.
It felt really good paddling together in our Darkside livery and my confidence soared for our prospects at DW as we moved into a comfortable cruising speed.
It was the first time I’d seen The Darkness being paddled by someone else from the water and I was pleased with the way it performed.
So we were paddling along at quite apace and then the girls boats came together momentarily. I saw this as an opportunity to make a break and started a racing commentary about an Olympic final and I was about to win gold. Suddenly the mood changed and I witnessed raw and uncompromising competitive spirit as the girls immediately responded, driving the paddle into the water and overhauling my boat as we approached the portage.
The next surprise was that they simply would not yield to each other and contested the portage right up to the lock gate, neither was prepared to let the other get an advantage! They may be good friends on the bank, but offered a sniff of a contest and their racing instinct subconsciously kicks in……………….wow!
We also took some video footage and I’ve knocked up an early compilation at the following link:
A good day, great fun and a massive step forward.
Our next target is Waterside A or is it B, no it’s B on the A course. See you in two weeks and don’t get in their way!!