These blogs are my personal, idiosyncratic observations about aging, training, and sports competition.
To access previous blogs, click "Read Other Blogs" at the bottom of this page.
A Skimpy 2018 - November 26, 2018
Delightful Mud - January 31, 2017
A Look Ahead at 2016 - January 13, 2016
Paddling in Torino -- World Masters Games 2013
Winning - May 11, 2012
Can Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Your Heart - March 11, 2011
The 60 Minute Crawl - January 30, 2011
Playing Tennis Again - October 6, 2010
Why Compete? (2) - June 15, 2010
LOST - May 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to Me - May 18, 2010
Why Compete?(1) - April 30, 2010
Val Barnwell - April 14, 2010
Spring Training Day - April 4, 2010
Becoming Bionic - March 24, 2010
The Divided Kingdom - February 4, 2010
June 15, 2010
Littleville Lake is a long, narrow carpet of water in the Berkshire Hills stretching northwest for about 2.5 miles. Wooded hills rise from both shores. Because it is a back-up water supply for Springfield, Massachusetts, fishing and swimming are not allowed. However, there is no ban on canoeing. On a Wednesday in June, the lake is the site of a local canoe/kayak race called "That Dam Race", a punning reference to the dam that creates the lake.
The race consists of a 5.5 mile, two-loop course around a couple of orange buoys set at either end of the lake. When the wind is blowing down the narrow lake, gusts can slap paddlers' faces like an angry lover. But on this particular Wednesday, it is windless, drizzling, and cool. The parking lot fills with cars and trucks carrying canoes and kayaks. Talk is abundant as boaters adjust footbraces, fiddle with drink systems, and check their paddles. As the start time approaches the paddlers make their way down the boat ramp and gingerly settle themselves in their boats. Thirty-seven boats, 28 canoes and 9 kayaks, drift into the start area. When the gun sounds, a feverish beating of paddles roils the waters sending breaking waves back to those who are slow off the line. It has stopped raining and the temperature is perfect for paddling -- and no wind! By the first turn three canoes and a couple of kayaks lead the pack. And as the race continues, the line of boats stretches out across the gray water. One canoe capsizes, sending the paddlers to shore to empty and continue. The first place boat, a two-man canoe, finishes in just under 48 minutes. The remaining boats follow -- some in leisurely resignation, others racing frantically to beat a personal goal or familiar opponent. No boats are harmed, no one hurt, everyone wet.
One feature of "That Dam Race" is a fine roast chicken dinner. The food tonight is great, but the paddlers and their families must huddle with their dinners under a few temporary shelters as the drizzle turns into a full-fledged rain shower. As the awards are given out, there is applause for the top three finishers in each class. The award? A can of peanuts or trail mix. Then, with boats securely fastened to their vehicles, the paddlers head for home. A fine interlude of camaraderie, racing, and chow. Is there a better way to spend an evening?