My number in the MR340 was 0726 (our anniversary) and the good folks organizing the TdT have agreed to let me use that number for their race as well. So I’ll be 726 headed down the bayou.
So after a lot of planning and probably not enough training we’re leaving tomorrow (Thursday) for Tour du Teche II. Boat check-in is from noon to six, then the paddler’s dinner, followed by the first party. Welcome to Cajun country.
Friday morning we’ll be up early for the paddlers’ breakfast. Then the opening ceremonies and it’s paddles down at 7:00. It will be 135 miles over three days. 50 the first day, 60 the second, and only 25 on Sunday. Over the course of the race we’ll have at least 4 portages (more if we hit any areas clogged with vegetation). We’ll be in water with very little current in the upper reaches, and current that may be moving the wrong way toward the end. We’ll see ‘gators, snakes, eagles, some small barges, and maybe a bear or two. The weather forecast is for highs near 80 and lows just above 60, so that will be great. Unfortunately they’re also calling for winds from the south at 10 mph. It’ll be a three day fight against the wind!
It’s a stage race, so we all start again each morning and they add our times up to determine the winners. Every day we’ll experience the excitement of the race start with all the paddles churning and water flying. It’ll be great. And we’ll have a chance to meet some amazing people. Friday starts in Port Barre where about 70 boats will take off, go about 25 yards, and make a hard left into the Bayou Teche. At that point the Teche is about the width of the average residential street so all those boats funneling into a narrow waterway will be quite the scene. Saturday starts in St. Martinville. We’ll head down the bayou a way, and hit a 200 yard portage – then we’ll go past New Iberia (Tabasco anyone?) where they’re having the world championship gumbo cook-off. Sunday is the easy day at only 25 miles, but we’ll have three final portages before entering the Atchafalaya River and finishing at Morgan City.
Here’s the group headed down from Shreveport.
Christian Flottman, boat number 2:
In a 22′ kevlar racing canoe, Christian is the one to beat in our crew. He’s young, strong, and fearless. He may be short on equipment and experience but he’s long on enthusiasm. Unfortunately, because his boat has a rudder he’ll be racing in what’s called the unlimited class. Those are the fastest teams in the race. Who’s his competition? He’ll be up against a five person team and a few tandems. He’s the only solo in unlimited so everyone in his class has at least twice the “manpower” to propel their boats. Kristy Woodard, his girlfriend, is coming along as his ground crew and will get there on Friday evening to support him for the rest of the race.
John Markaverich (34) and Jim Faler (23): These two are about my age and are both first timers in the ultra racing scene. John and I have been working out together most weekends and he has challenged me every time we’re out on the water and helped me improve. Besides that he’s an enjoyable paddling companion. He’ll be in a 14 foot touring kayak while Jim will be piloting a fairly wide 12 foot boat. Jim is a big, strong guy and he’ll need to be to push a boat like that for 135 miles. The one time we paddled together, though, the guy just smoked me. He will be out ahead of us other two old guys. Their wives will be driving the back roads of south Louisiana acting as their support team.
And I’ll be in my touring kayak. It’s not a racer but is made for covering long distances. I haven’t been working as hard to get ready for this one as I did the last but feel more relaxed about it. Maybe I’m kidding myself!
As she did last year, my daughter “Choot ’em Elisabeth” will post daily updates of my progress. And I’ll post a recap next week some time when I’m back in S-Port.
Sharon wanted to come south with us but finances dictate that she stay in Shreveport. She’s already done the hard part, though, and supported me in the run-up to all this. I just wish she could be there for the fun part. I’ll miss her and couldn’t have gotten this far without her help.
Enjoy the updates on the blog and, as always, feel free to leave your comments. Elisabeth will relay them to us as you make them.