Job Done! More to follow… (when we can!)
So here is our final plan for the 2013 ‘Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon’ for ‘Parkinson’s UK’. A MASSIVE thankyou to everyone who has already supported us as and got us this far as it truly is appreciated more than you can imagine!!!
If you still want to do your bit please remember that you still can by simply clicking here:
See you at Westminster!
Posted by: AF
After reading what the ‘internet know it all’s’ post online, the ‘facebook gossip makers’ share on their walls and what the many ‘random hero’s’ we meet in the street have to say over the past few moths, weeks, days and hours, its all irrelevant as THE 2013 DW RACE IS ON!!
Well Kind of…..
To enter this year every paddler must fill out a ‘Assessment Matrix Form’ and achieve a score of over 12 to ensure that they have sufficient competence to compete due to the unpredictable weather and river conditions this year. Well thankfully we score over the magic number so we are in and good to go!!! Okay so maybe we can put our hands up and admit that we are not going to be the fastest racing snakes in the line-up as for us our completion time is 23 hours.
We are just finalizing our time sheet plan and will post it up here in the morning, until then its sleep for us!
Posted by: AF
So……We really do not know what we are going to face in only a few days time. Snow, rain, frost, ice, headwinds, blizzards, thunderstorms, sunshine (hahaha) or whatever else mother nature decides to throw at us! Well whatever cards get dealt this weekend everybody attempting the 2013 DW race just like us will be trying their hardest to get to the finish line, or in the case of this adventure it being ‘Westminster Bridge’ and a crawl up moss covered steps out of the River Thames!
Personally i do not no a heap of history about this race but the feeling that i am currently sensing is that this is one of the most unpredictable years on record. Will we be smashing the ice through the canals at ‘Newbury’, digging our way out snow at the compulsory portage at ‘Dreadnought’ , taking bow smashing waves past ‘Henley’ or gripping on for dear life and riding the Thames whitewater rapid style just trying our hardest to avoid getting washed down the already overflowing weirs!
What i do know however is that we are doing all that we can to raise awareness and much needed funds for ‘Parkinsons UK’ as it truly is a charity close to our hearts. A HUGE HUGE HUGE thankyou to everyone who has offered support, advice and dug deep, it really means a lot to us. In the next day or two we will have our full plan of the race showing where and when we will be at certain locations throughout the trip.
Until that point we really would appreciate it if you could share this link to our sponsorship page everywhere you know possible!
Posted by: AF
Years ago i remember watching a program called ‘Challenge Anneka’, i am sure it was on after Scouts on a Friday night, in truth i can’t really remember but the point of thinking of the program is not when it was on but more about ‘Anneka Rice’ getting flown all over the place in a helicopter to complete what seemed like impossible challenges. Well this Saturday the next part our of DW challenge commenced and i actually felt like i was on that very program seeking out the impossible.
Traveling 125miles through darkness, hailstones, frost, snow, gale force wind, rain, blizzards and even at a squint a fraction of sunshine to search out…….. (Drumroll Please)…. “glowsticks”
Having undertaken a few outdoor adventures over the years a whole portion of my kit box looks more like that of a party in Ibiza from the abundance of glow sticks that it holds; containing every colour of the rainbow and then some! The two colours that do not exist in the line-up are white and black. Being that a black glowstick would be slightly useless and presuming that white glow sticks were just a thing of fiction i thought i was covered for everything.
That was until i re-read the mandatory kit list for the DW late Friday night which stated that under the hours of darkness every competitor ‘must’ paddle with white glowsticks attached to themselves or get disqualified!!!! Well a big thanks to Paul and Craig at www.marsport.co.uk who had the goods in the shop, allowing saturday’s early morning challenge come to a successful completion after a 125 mile round trip later.
This time next week we will not have drove that distance in those conditions but will have paddled through it! Oh the joy!!!!!
Posted by: AF
So yesterday i found out that my buoyancy aid that i trust with my life out in the sea and have undertaken ALL of my DW training in is not up to ticking the boxes for the rules and regulations of the DW. In the past i would ‘sometimes’ go out of my way to go against the grain and the clipboard shaking rule preachers, however that was then and this is now and for this challenge i am listening and doing exactly what i am told as karma is a strong thing!!!!!
With that noted can you spot the difference between the two buoyancy aids above? The top is my favorite and daily workhorse ‘Mocke’ baby and below is the ‘i will never use that ever again but i will keep it just in-case’ horror. Today the horror came out of the loft and like it, hate it or love it , it somehow ticked all of the ‘British Safety Standards’ boxes for the rules yet had something very very important missing. As i cannot afford a third version to the collection i thought that i would just get creative and put my design degree to good use instead.
A couple of hours, a lot of ideas and a bit of blood from the fingers from trying to sew later and i have made a bottle holder for hydration that not wanting to sound to big headed is one of the best ones that i have ever seen on the market (or not seen on the market as the case may be)! This has infinitely adjustability so will fit every buoyancy aid/Personal flotation device (PFD) / lifejacket / camelback and rucksack on the market, it has the ability to hold a whole manner of different bottles/cans (and even food and gels) in all shapes and sizes and is real simple to attach and use and made super durable.
Having manufactured a full working final version i will test it tomorrow so maybe reading the rules and not being a law breaker was a good thing for my creative skills tonight after all as i am super happy and excited to go out and test it!
Posted by : AF
It is not everyday that you get a parcel of cake treats arrive in the post, however today that day and dream did occur with a test batch of delicious muesli bars made using a ‘secret recipe’ all the way from NZ hitting my doorstep!
The three musketeers of ‘The Writing Bureau’ http://www.thewritingbureau.co.uk/ Jo, Annalise and baby Faye put down their creative card making skills yesterday and turned towards being master cooks and baked absolute winners! These bars are seriously fantastic and perfect for kayaking 125 miles but also look and taste like they will be perfect also for everything that we ever do in the future so feel free to keep the parcels arriving as i will keep eating…..
The writing bureau have recently won the ‘Liebster Blog Award’ with the great blog http://itsinthewritingbureau.blogspot.co.uk/ and they are on facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Writing-Bureau/125138620905245 and also twitter https://twitter.com/writingbureaujo
If there is only one thing you do today please ‘like’ ,’ tweet’ and ‘share’ them all over cyberspace as in turn they may bake us more treats and in turn we can keep doing challenges and thus keep updating this blog with our adventures for you to read about!!
Massive thanks Jo, Annalise and Faye
Posted by: AF
When the thermometer goes to a ‘minus’ the purchases always seem to go to a ‘positive’! For me the lead up to all challenges usually sees the state of my bank balance go completely out of the window and the ‘Visa Card’ brought out from under the mattress and given a bit of a good old hit.
Yesterday i bought two pairs of chill cheater trousers . I am indeed happy with one pair however as i neither want to look like ‘Russell Brand’ or alternatively like an LA gangster when i am running along the locks in Newbury so in my head the thought of buying, trying and returning would be the best case! Well two pairs of chill cheaters arrived today both being completely nothing what i ordered so it is currently looking like i will be running along naked!
Posted by: AF
Its official, its real and its happening! Boat number 346, crewed by David Blow and Anthony Foy has got its slot in the Senior doubles race!
For the internet savvy people out there please be aware that us along with all of the boats entered into this years race can be tracked throughout the duration of the race via the official DW website by clicking link: http://www.dwrace.org.uk/results/2013/dw.html
Posted by: AF
I currently feel like i am a bit of a big baby at the moment as i seem to be walking around everywhere what can best be described as a bandage shaped nappy strapped onto my back! This along with hot baths, rolling around the house like a snake on a foam roller and then paying someone to do what feels like they are internally snapping my bones. The noises that are coming from my body sound equally as bad as the bills look that i am being given for the privilege!!! That along with skin that falls of my hands when they get wet with cold water all make me question if the DW is about fun or just torture!
Oh well, at least the legs and back will get a rest and we can move onto the legs next as we have just signed up to more 6, 12 and 24 hour enduro mountain bike races for the summer than i can even remember.
The summer of 2013 truly looks like it is going to be the best one ever!!!
Posted by: AF
It is now becoming very apparent that the actual paddling within the DW is only a fraction of the challenge. From the training, support crew organisation, tidal flowrates, river rules, race rules, kit lists, nutrition and everything else that 125 miles of hell can throw at you it truly seems to keep coming.
Never for one minute think that as we have not have any update here for the last few days that we have been away having fun! In-fact we have been table deep in portage diagrams, laptop deep excel spread sheets and stomach deep in cups of tea! We are now on the final home straight to sorting out or start time, of which having a degree in mathematics would be better suited for! Having to ensure that we reach ‘Teddington Lock’ within the window of a high tide and trying to work out if there will be ice in the canals, flow in the Thames, wind in our face or energy left in our arms it truly is like looking into a crystal ball. However thankfully someone with a lot of brains invented Garmin watches and I-phone tracker apps so within the next couple of days we will have out planned e.t.a’s for the entire route up here! So until then feel free to get creating the ‘Bedsheet Bridge Banners’ and stockpiling the easter eggs to throw at us on route as they will be welcomed (No head shots allowed thou as we may be easy targets!!!)!
Posted by: AF
Sometimes it could be a case of too little to late, however as we have now started paddle technique training im pretty happy that having just over a year left to improve what we have begun to learn we should be in good shape for the 2014 DW! Oh how I WISH…….. We are now well into the final two week countdown and it is no turning back now!
We want to say a massive thankyou to David Brown who spent Saturday evening in the world famous ‘Elmbridge Canoe Club’ http://elmbridgecanoeclub.com/ on static paddle machines and then Sunday with us on the water giving us some much needed guidance! David has kayaked for more years than i have been alive for so we knew that we were in very knowledgeable company and should for once both listen. We thankfully stayed mostly dry and avoided the worst of the rain however the same cannot be said for others on the water as i may have created one of the largest tidal waves ever to roll on the Thames with the biggest support stroke ever to be unleashed. Sorry David!!!
What came out of the weekend was a great 24 mile paddle on a completely out of control very fast flowing ‘red boarded’ River Thames. The red boards mean that if you are a normal sensed human being you would stay on dry land as the red boards mean stay off of the river as it is dangerous, however like everyone lining up at the DW next weekend this is a rule in theory and not reality when Easter strikes!!!
All i need to do now is ensure that my ‘mind mapping’ on the journey home gets fully logged in my brain as the knowledge that we learnt was amazing to the difference that it made, thankyou David as it was very much appreciated!
Posted by AF
My back is seizing up, my bum has a numb pain and hurts and my arms feel like they have nothing left in them!!!! This is how i thought i would feel like after the DW and not exactly what i planned how i was going to feel two weeks before the challenge!!!!!! I have now become to realise that the whole theory about this DW challenge is that just getting to the start line at Easter is a massive achievement and accomplishment alone, that is forgetting the 125miles that will lay ahead! Maybe not all of the crews that will be bobbing down the ‘Avon and Kennet’ Canal system and then into the filth of the ‘River Thames’ will start as tired and worn out as us but then again maybe they may feel worse or not even make the start bridge!
All i can know is that we are giving this challenge everything that we have. I have never spent so many hours practically joined at the hip with another person, in turn this has allowed us to put the world to rights, discussed and found the answers to world peace and hopefully got a bit better at this kayaking thing. We have had quite an intense and steep learning curve into the world of K2 kayak racing across the last three months and all i can say is that it has been hard. Personally i just want rest, but no, the training must roll (well paddle) on!!!!!
With this the case, the van is locked and loaded and this weekend sees our last ‘LONG’ practice paddle and also last practice on the ‘River Thames’ . We are starting at the world famous ‘Elmbridge Canoe Club’ http://elmbridgecanoeclub.com/ and will head towards the bright lights of the capital from the club that is famed for; “Where World Champions are made”. Everything helps and we want to absorb and take away is as much advice as possible from those in the know and hopefully absorb as little water as possible! In truth what i really want to take away from this weekend is to find out exactly what is the difference between a canoe and a kayak as i have now been told a million different answers, until i find out…….Lets go rowing!
Posted by: AF
So the prospect of sitting on a razor blade shaped seat non-stop for 125miles does not put you off the DW then i guess nothing will! The thought alone sends shivers up my spine and numbs my body without even getting in the boat and getting wet! With this the case getting your seat right is one of the most critical things to get right in the boat, period!
Most things in sport, from running to riding all require grip, however with a kayak seat its all the complete opposite, with a lack of friction needed, thus the slipper the better, or in-fact a ‘MUST’! When you start to paddle longer distances you soon begin to realize why and just pasting yourself in vaseline really will not cut it!
Three cups of tea, two fingers later nearly chopped off, one roll of gaffa tape and a fistful of bizkits later and In truth i am pretty happy with the final outcome. I now cannot wait to take to the water this weekend and ensure that my bum slips and slides yet has adequate support and comfort all at the same time!
Details of this weekends planned adventures are to follow tomorrow…. However no matter what we now can be reminded to; “JUST PADDLE” should we forget!
Posted by: AF
A HUGE thanks goes out to our local newspaper ‘The Bournemouth Daily Echo’ who have joined in the support of the DW challenge and posted this great feature online this afternoon and it is very much appreciated!!!
Read the full article here:
Posted by: AF