It was only three days but they were three busy days so I’ll break the recap up into three posts. Besides, my hands hurt too much for a lot of typing at this point….
Christian and I got to Port Barre on Thursday afternoon, got our boats and gear inspected and approved, and took them over to the starting area where we set up our tents for the night. Then back across the street to rig the boats for the big show in the morning. That done we went over to the party, had a chance to visit with some of the other folks, eat dinner, listen to the music, and relax a little. Then it was back to the sleeping bags.
I never sleep well the first night in a strange place so it was a fitful night and I finally gave up about 4:00 and started packing up the tent. Then we had just enough time to eat breakfast, put the finishing touches on the boats, and get in the water for the 7:00 am start of the race.
The first day was absolutely beautiful. Great weather, a current in the bayou to push us along, and wonderful scenery. About 50 boats started and things got pretty wild as we funneled into the bayou itself but we were soon kind of lined up according to our speed. As I was looking to my right and deciding if the boat there would be a good candidate to tuck in behind and draft a little I didn’t see the raft of floating water lilies and plowed straight into them. The front of the boat got stuck and the current slowly spun me around until I could back out of it all. At that point I lost sight of Christian. He was paddling his racing canoe strongly and the reports I got were that he was up in the front of the pack pretty much all day, feeling good physically and mentally and would finish the day in just under 10 hours – at about 5:00. One of the checkpoint volunteers told me my son was in a different time zone! I felt pretty good, too, and was starting to think this race would be an easy one. Little did I know.
I hit the Breaux Bridge checkpoint about 3:00 (Christian had been through at 1:30) and was feeling strong. After that, though, the bayou lost the little current it had and became a skinny lake. The scenery started to die out but the weather was still great. Light breezes and cool temperatures and off I went paddling with a lot of other boats and headed to the St. Martinville finish line.
Christian finished the day about 5:00 and I rolled in just before 7:00. We set up my tent, I put some dry cloths on and we headed for town. Had dinner and listened to some music at the party. We didn’t stay long, though, because the long day was next and we wanted to get some rest.