Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Build-Up to the Mandurah Duel (Part 1)

Palm Beach, Rockingham to the Grain Terminal and return, 7.72km, 53 minutes, Wind ENE 10knots

No breakfast review today as on this particular paddle we went back to the Boat Ramp Cafe, which I reviewed last week.

The Palm Beach launch site.
This morning it was the Magnificent Seven that left Palm Beach at 6.30am for a quick and dirty lap to the Grain Terminal and back. My mind filled with the horrors of having to return to work at the Gorilla Biscuit factory later in the week after a very extended break, we set off into the wind, biasing ourselves along the picturesque shoreline.

East Coast Steve was along for one of his last paddles before moving into a new position as Head Dementor at our company's Sydney gulag and as usual set the pace that we plastic ski jockeys aspire to. Stupidly, I found myself fumbling with my GPS watch early in the piece, giving East Coast Steve and Westy such a lead that I didn't see them again until the Grain Terminal. The big boys on the composites were well gone by that stage, and that was probably a good thing because the effortless way that they pull away from us is completely demoralising.

I thought I would use this short paddle as a bit of a build up to Sunday's Mandurah Duel - my first actual paddling event. I'm not fussed by the distance of the race so much (14km) but the thought of still paddling as the chairs are being packed up and the podium dismantled is quite motivational in an odd sort of way. As is the thought of getting a real live race sticker put on my ski that will show the world that I am a chisel-jawed man of action and adventure, rather than a mere fat bloke in an orange boat. So onward I paddled, not daring to give in to have a break at all until I got to the Grain Terminal and could reset for the way back with Westy and East Coast Steve.

East Coast Steve and Westy at the Grain Terminal
When we turned around, M4P was nowhere to be seen, and indeed we didn't see him until we returned to the boat ramp. Such was our concern for our paddling companion that we didn't give a single thought to the fact that he could have been eaten by a bastard shark, drowned, or that his thumb blister could have grown so large that it created a vortex that sucked he and his ski in.

The weren't many people around in Rockingham this morning, although we were fortunate enough to be heckled by a gaggle of semi-naked geriatrics standing waste deep in suspiciously-yellow water, who, whilst bagging us out for paddling at a speed not to their satisfaction, exalted us to turn around for another look. "Not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin" I thought, having actually seen the hirsute acreage where each of their three chins had once been as we powered past. Turning around, of course, would have been pointless as the imagery had already burnt out my eyeballs. The horror...

The paddle back, with the wind behind us, was quick (by my low standards). I had managed to activate my GPS at the turn-around and we averaged 9.2km/h on the return leg. I was pretty happy that I managed to keep up with Westy and East Coast on the way back, right up until I tried to get out of the boat only to find that my legs wouldn't work. Bugger.

So Thursday will be the last paddle before I am once again back to the grindstone, smacking my face into the dough every day at the Gorrilla Biscuit factory, and my last before my racing debut in Mandurah. Should be a good one too, as we are looking at a long, one-way paddle down the Swan. Stay tuned for a brekky review from some very hungry paddlers.

The return journey. 3.86km, 25 minutes.

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