Waterside B – what did we learn?

Now all the excitement of Waterside B is over, it’s time for some quiet reflection as to what lessons can be learnt from the event.

The first is clearly our prospects regarding performance. Our expectations were erring on the side of caution mostly because we had nothing to go on, but I seriously underestimated the speed that Megan achieved both on land and water, and my carefully laid plans for support and sustenance became redundant from the start!

Waterside C on Sunday 23rd March is 23 miles long and incorporates 35 portages. This time we will plan a little more realistically.

The second is that we really felt the absence of Isobel especially as we had such fun on the water together, though goodness knows how I would have had any chance of supporting them both.

It was a mistake to try to support and take photographs and video at the same time and I ended-up doing a poor job of both. The pictures are not great and I neglected my responsibility on the support front. For Waterside C, I have enlisted the help of my son Chazz to take pictures so I can devote all my attention to Megan (loud groan is heard from somewhere in deepest Cornwall!)

I also forgot to look after myself. The weather was warm and after two and half hours on the bike with no fluid and no food, I paid the price in terms of recovery for two days following. What a fool, especially after all those wise words and planning for nutrition and fluid intake. No excuses, I just got carried away with the event and simply forgot. I can’t afford to make the same mistake on DW.

I was a little over-protective when a fast K2 approached Megan from behind and I “reminded” them to kindly offer a courteous warning in future. Megan assured me that everything was under control and to but-out! Couldn’t help myself there, Megan is younger than my own daughter and maybe it was instinctive. However, lesson learnt and I will seethe in silence next time.

Even though Megan was super-fast over the portages, there is one area we can improve on and that is getting back in. The Darkness has a thwart in front of the paddler specifically positioned to hold on to when raising and lowering on to the seat. I’ve even covered it with cycle handlebar tape for comfort and grip. I will remind her to use it and help make re-embarkation even slicker.



We also made a mistake at one of the portages and got back in next to the inflow. The force of the water pushed the back of the boat out and there’s a limit to the size of gap that one can bridge!

Mind the gap!

Mind the gap!

For someone who has had very little sit&switch paddling experience, she has a fluid and efficient style. However there is always room for improvement and one small area is the position of the paddle blade at the end of the switch. If it is further forward it is immediately ready for the next stroke, rather than forcing it forward and then making the catch.
Push the paddle forward, ready to catch.

Push the paddle forward, ready to catch.

“The aggregation of marginal gains” Sir Dave Brailsford would be so proud!

We need to crack the feeding issue; a girl has got to eat. Now I’ve delegated my responsibility for filming, I can concentrate on getting food into the paddler. Anything, no matter how small, just something little and often (and that especially goes for you too Isobel!! 🙂 )

So, all-in-all a successful day and a great result. Hopefully the mandatory buoyancy aid rule will be lifted for “C”, the weather will be cooler and Megan will be resplendent in Darkside branded paddling kit.

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