Well it was quite a day but we muddled through, had fun and learnt some more.
Actually it started on Saturday after I’d picked up my new car only to discover that my existing roof rack didn’t fit the new car. I could have sworn that the roof rails looked the same………..apparently not. So, plan B, use the other (very much smaller) car.
Megan travelled up from Cornwall with the Fowey contingent and spent the night in Bradford on Avon. She met me at Pewsey wharf at 08:15 hrs. It was quite cool although the sun was shining. We had two bikes following, me supporting, Chazz chief photographer, plus John, our trusty (or is that crusty?) driver.
She lined up with the early boats and crossed the start line at 09:15 hrs. Tom Barnard in one of the other C1 class boats (and only rival for the Series) was already underway and Sam Rippington in the high kneeler C1 started a couple of minutes later.
Megan was soon into her stride and paddling strongly towards Wootten Rivers. Before the start, she and I had debated (argued) about which of the locks to run. I always run the first, but Megan runs the third. Obviously I was right, but she “begged to differ” and being as she was paddling the boat, she would make the decision!
Just before we got to the first portage, Sam caught us. I chatted to Sam as I rode along the tow path and smacked my head straight into a low branch, drawing an impressive amount of blood!
The superior speed of a high kneeler meant that it was inevitable we’d be caught, but no way was Megan bowing to convention.
This girl can portage! Many crews commented on the speed, dexterity and “assertiveness” in which she attacked each one. Megan looks ahead for the best get-in point and made some excellent on-the-spot decisions based on those crews who could potentially be in her way and where the gaps are.
Sam put the hammer down and by the time The Darkness disappeared into the darkness of the Bruce tunnel, Megan was managing the gap at about 500 metres. At Croftons, she got rid of her top layer and ran two of the pounds.
I sustained a rear wheel puncture and cycled to Marsh Benham with a flat tyre. Here I excused Chazz from his “paparazzi” duty and nicked his bike.
Soon Megan was overtaking other dark side paddlers, exchanging banter and apologising for some steering difficulties, women drivers eh!
After Croftons, Megan caught Tom Barnard who was going strongly in the Wenonah Advantage.
Whilst bending down to indicate a good get-out point, my daughter’s digital camera fell out of my rucksack into the canal. I saw it disappear towards the bottom and just managed to grab the strap. It will not be the same again and I sense an imminent trip to Cameras-R-Us in the not too distant future!
By Kinbury, Megan had caught Sam who had paused to put on warm clothing after the hail storm, and was starting to slow as she had missed her support crew. Megan was making time on the portages but slipping back slightly on the water.
Megan scoffed at the idea of additional layers even though I offered a selection of fashionable garments. However, we now know she likes lemon and lime gels and we managed to get her to consume about four over the event.
Sam met her support crew, and the food intake obviously had a good effect as once again she opened the gap as Megan tired from chasing all day.
At Newbury I thought it would be a good idea to remove Megan’s fluid container from around her neck. Trouble is, I didn’t warn her and nearly throttled her in the process, oops!
The last portage was very congested, not that it affected Megan who popped the boat over the deck of a K2.
The K2 was a bit too over eager to finish and capsized just downstream before the finish.
Megan crossed the line in 4 hours 12 minutes 54 seconds, an outstanding time and well within our target of four and a half hours. Sam was just five minutes quicker.
It was a tough day but Megan rose to the challenge and with Tom Barnard now over an hour behind, we are looking good for the C1 Series.
Isobel, we miss you, please try to make D!