Sunday, October 13, 2013

Miller's River Challenge

I had been curious about racing for a while, and had decided to try the Nauyag race, on the Connecticut River . Race Day was rainy, so I blew it off. I have a tendency to be stubborn, so I went for another, The Miller's River Challenge, in Orange, Ma.
I had never heard of Orange, Ma, or Miller's river before. Orange is near Rt. 2, between Leominster and Greenfield, a part of Massachusetts I'd never had occasion to visit.
Pretty long drive, after crazy neighbors woke me up at 4:30. Orange is an out-of-the-way, semi-forgotten little town,but kind of nice, not sad.
Driving in on Main Street

It was pretty easy to find the park and launch area.
It was a family-oriented event, lots of tandem canoes. I'd never seen "racing" canoes before-they were tapered at the ends, with a sort of "flare" in the middle, almost like a folded piece of paper. 
I entered the "Single Kayak 3-Mile" race, and saw that there was only one other entrant an hour before start time. It was actually kind of chilly and raw, did a lot of walking around. Went looking for coffee & didn't find any.

Starting to line up for the 3-mile race. I actually misunderstood one of the organizers, and thought that the canoes and kayaks would start separately. I was supposed to be at the starting line. It was rather embarrassing to scramble in with everybody watching and waiting. 
There were only three kayaks in the race. A guy in a green 'yak took off like a shot. I was paddling next to a very nice & friendly older gentleman all the way to the halfway buoy. 
After rounding the buoy, I was thinking that Mr. Green kayak was the one to catch. While I was thinking that, all of a sudden, and for no apparent reason, he flipped! I and the other Single Kayaker went over to help. His boat had no flotation, and filled up while he was trying to get in. We pulled it to the bank. 
That put me in an "ethics quandary". Were we both supposed to stay with him? The Lady suggested that I go down to the next safety checkpoint & report, so I did. That left me alone on the river. They took my picture as I crossed the finish line, but I didn't know if it would "count" or not. When The Lady finished, she seemed to make it a point that I had also helped. So, I won the race by virtue of staying in my kayak.

    I decided to drive home via Greenfield and I-91. I got a pleasant surprise on rt. 2-"French King Bridge",a very high crossing of the Connecticut river with scenic views.

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