A group of friends hell bent on having very British adventures. Be it on foot, bike or boat we seek out the most eccentric endurance challenges & have a crack!
Contact us at: thestiffupperlip@gmail.com

Big Baby!

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

Logistical Nightmare!

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

Thankyou Elmbridge!

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

Elmbridge Kayak Practice!

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

Get Comfy!

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  

Bournemouth Daily Echo!

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:

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/10282883.We_re_going_to_kayak_non_stop_for_25_hours/

 Posted by: AF

Row your boat!

People keep asking us if our rowing race preparations are going well! It really does not bother me what people call what we are doing as i like humor however i have now become to believe that the hardened kayakers out there take offense to calling it rowing as it is in-fact called paddling. All i know is that every time the oar dips in and out of the water the huge toothpick moves forward and as we are the masters of the worst technique in the business it truly is a case of “Run, Walk or Crawl – Your still covering ground!”

Tonight’s training was always going to be on the chilly side, in-fact i actually decided to go down to our worst kept ‘secret training facility’ to undress our boat in the daylight so it would be ready for when the dark and frost arrived! Our last session on Saturday ended with the pair of us  nearly washing down a weir and the boat staying on the bank the other side of it! After that episode we got back to the boat yard pretty deflated and questioned  everything…. In truth i think that we just felt sorry for ourselves.

Well that was then and this is now and tonight dropping our boat in beside this ‘Isle of Man Fight & Spirit’ Atlantic Rowing boat we noticed sketched on the side were the words, kilometers to go: 1500km being crossed all the way down in 100km increments to the words: destination arrived! Seeing those words meant that 1.5hr paddle on the safe haven of the ‘River Stour’ tonight did not feel that bad after all, especially as we stayed dry!

 

Posted by: AF

When the swell period hits 15 seconds its worth heading further west.  One of the South Coast’s best spots was good today.  This is not it pictured above.

The weekend has landed!

So im no way an Olympic coach or anything even similar. The closest i ever got to achieving a sporting qualification was when i studied A-Level Sports Studies and was told by my encouraging teacher to; “stop messing about with bikes as they will get you no-where”,.

Well tonight my cutting edge design skills shone thru and have helped me create this guide to the weekends planned action! No spin classes, body pump in the mirror or ab fab classes. Training commences tomorrow morning and as always its outside with a banana and a bottle of water and none of that dry plaster looking stuff that the bucket it comes in is as massive as the bloke in the shop that tried to sell it to me tonight!

The weekend has landed!

Posted by: AF

New Forest Love!

After a day on consistent horrible weather i never new that it would end like this! Well as usual certain parts of ‘The New Forest’ truly do seem to have its own climate. All of a sudden the sun broke through this evening completely out of no-where!! Now all that needs to happen is for it to stay for a bit, plllllllease!!!!

Posted by: AF

Nutrition Anybody!

Needs must in a time of pain…. This weeks training has been at an all time low. Maybe we are worn out, maybe sick of the sight of one another or maybe just getting whalloped into a brick wall by a car did not help things!

Either way, this afternoon i spent with my head in what felt like it was stuck down a hole in the back of a sofa with a random hero simply beating my back up. Funny enough thou things feel a little straighter and maybe i can stick to just the chocolate from now on, i hope so as these pills are costing a fortune!

Posted by: AF

Ice Hard Paddle!

Im all up for an adventure but seriously today was hard on the water, a lot harder than i expected that it would be! Ice hard infact!

When the ducks and rats are running across the canal, the ice is well over 5x thicker than the material your boat is made from and using your paddles as sledgehammers still do not smash through to the wet stuff you soon begin to realize that you should have maybe just stayed in bed had a ‘Rest day’. Oh no…… lets try to smash our way through and paddle, try again, try again, again and again and then just choose the “lets shoulder the boat and run as its only 4 miles” approach.

In the end we had a 26mile day out, 21 miles paddling and 4miles running/slipping/sliding/tripping our way along the towpath. The start was ‘Wootton Rivers’ to the destination of a very welcomed ammmmazing dinner at the ‘Rowbarge Pub’ in ‘Woolhampton’ after we undertook a striptease in the chilly carpark.

Along the way we learnt how NOT!!!! to portage, how thinking that we can go under a bridge (a very low bridge infact) and what happens when we are nowhere even close due to our height, what it may feel like to try and paddle in thick soup and also how to balance a k2 on our shoulders and make it hurt more than anything else in the world!

Horrible, hard, tuff….Then add into the mix the fact that there was ‘Waterside C’ race on part of the same stretch of water that we were covering created  people to think that we were racing (and winning) as we were out front, little did they know we set off well before the whistle for our own adventure and in turn were just foolish ice breakers being hunted down by the pros!

Once again massive thanks to Pam and Vic for the food, drink and support along the way and to David for spending the day watching and advising us with his years of experience as ours can be counted in weeks and the learning curve seems to be very S-T-E-E-P (Just like the river bank where it all nearly went very wrong today!!)

Posted by: AF

Sunday Training, Saturday logistics!

It all seems to be non stop at the moment! Today feels like and entire days worth of prep has gone into tomorrow’s 25 mile training paddle. A 9.00am start from ‘Wootton Rivers’ to a destination of ‘Woolhampton’.

 If you need to talk to us in the afternoon we will be in the riverside ‘Rowbarge Pub’ in Woolhampton, oh yes bring on the roast!!!!!

Posted by: AF

Get Pumping!

Yesterday afternoon we went out and had a great paddle in Christchurch harbour to spend some valuable time in the boat on local waters. This allowed us to tweak/faff/further prep the boat to the adventure that lays ahead.

As the sun made a welcomed appearance we managed to brave paddling without a ground sheet wrapped between us and the boat and thus really began to feel more free and one with the boat. The only big con was that we started to fill up at a ‘rapido’ rate when we hit some choppy waters. The solution was to finally fit a foot water pump that http://www.extreme-g.co.uk very kindly has supplied us with as Matt said “you WILL need to fit this!”.

Well Matt was infact very correct and today we got it pumping and squirting in the garden, tomorrow we will find out how far we can shoot canal water, so if you are on the towpaths in the morning prepare to get a good soaking as early indications are that this thing works ammmmmazinly!!!!

Posted by : AF

Today we ride!

Mountain biking is great!

Washing your mountain bike is never as much  fun!

Today we done both alongside a good ankle to knee deep trek thrown in for good measure …. Oh how we love the New Forest!

Posted by: AF