Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Southeastern USA Whitewater Championships - Aug 14

August 14th - Nantahala River - Southeasterns

Race Results: http://www.usawildwater.com/news/2010/100816_Southeasterns.html

Video: http://community.gapaddle.com/_Southeasterns-Pattons-racing-boats/video/1248900/65179.html

The Southeasterns were an absolute blast. We had something like 85 participants that started in 4 waves with the composite Wildwater boats all starting in the last wave. Between squeezing through the raft traffic and passing about 75 other competitors, it was a really exciting race in terms of staying focused and jumping on secondary lines on the fly.

All and all it was probably my best race this year. Why? It's the first race (or hard workout for that matter) this year where my shoulder did not hurt and I felt fully up to the task. Apparently going at a distance pace is just what the doctor ordered and this showed up in the results too. I know the Lord has blessed me by allowing me to continue to participate in the sport I love, and it's great to feel like I got to go full speed.

In spite of the raft and boat dodging and relatively low water, I turned out a relatively fast time of 53:38 and was only 13% behind Chris Hipgrave in the winning K-1(versus a hull speed handicap of 15%). I was the first canoe of any kind by a mile and won my dozenth Charlie Patton award. It was a nice feeling to finish as the 4th boat overall and most importantly, I beat Bern Collins (who I was right behind and passed when he guessed wrong on which way to go around raft traffic) to win the "Beer Cup" award. I was also thrilled to see Colton Popp finish just 3 minutes behind me to take 2nd in the canoes.

It was great to see so many folks there. Congrats to the NOC and the GCA for putting this togehter and to everyone who participated.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

USA Wildwater Nationals & Team Trials – 7/31-8/1

USA Wildwater Nationals & Team Trials – 7/31-8/1
Skagit River/Northern Cascades WA
Race Results at: http://www.usawildwater.com/news/2010/100803_US_Nationals_Final.html

WOW, this year's combined Nationals/Team Trials reminded me why I first got into the sport of wildwater/downriver nearly 30 years ago. The Northern Cascades are some of the most pristine mountains on the planet, and the Skagit River was a perfect venue.

And of course, since the race was in such a wonderful setting, Lynn and I turned it into an outdoor adventure. Our USA Nationals/Team Trials were an incredibly well run event. Tom Weir and the event organizers had all sorts of neat extras that they had done for the race, from boat stickers to tote bags. Sure, the turnout was lower than it would have been if the event had been held in CO, the SE or the Mid-Atlantic, but I think the “no shows” just blew it by not coming. I personally loved the venue and hope to race their again soon.

The water of the Skagit is aqua-green from the glacier melt and crystal clear and the scenery from the river is spectacular. I even saw a bald eagle fly over on one of my practice runs. And the last 3 minutes of the “classic” distance race course (and where we held our sprints) as were very challenging.
What I loved about this incredibly challenging rapid was that it was really safe (and as a result AW holds it to a Class III ranking). In spite of the relative safety, we had racers refuse to run it after they saw just how big it was in person.

Overall, on a personal level I was very pleased with my continued progress. Shucks, I’m thinking most guys in my shoes would have quit paddling by now, and would have certainly given up wildwater. To have my bicep tendon tear loose this spring when I tried to train up, after having gone through extensive shoulder surgery and rehab last year, was a huge ordeal. Candidly, I look forward to the day when I no longer have pain when I paddle and when I can lay it all on the line without thinking about the consequences of a mishap. As a result, my wildwater training has been limited to nothing bigger than the Nanty so far this year.

So I stuck to very conservative race strategy/lines in the S-bend rapid. I did not want to have to try and roll and/or put myself in an awkward situation. I also elected to race a more stable boat, the “No Name” instead of a faster, lighter Bala. This may have caused me to drop a place in the “classic” distance race but did not affect my overall standings.

In the Sprint Races on Saturday, Jack Ditty bested Tom Weir to earn the title of Sprint National Champion in C-1. I was happy with my solid but conservative effort had earned me a spot on the podium.

Sunday’s “Classic” distance race was truly exciting. While my whitewater skills were not 100%. I am pretty fit at distance events. So I felt like Tom would win the race, but I also felt like that Jack Ditty (who had won the Sprints), Andy Bridge (former World Cup Champion) and myself were all in a cat fight for second. My instincts were correct and I won my second medal of the weekend. Tom won the “classic” race and I was 5 seconds behind Andy and 10 in front of Jack.

Perhaps the most exciting thing I did for the weekend was to jump in a C-2 with Mike Harris. The good news is that Mike is a much better C-2 racer than some folks give him credit for. Mike is so easy to communicate with. He understands C-2 speak and has a great feel for what to do in the boat. He is one of just a few folks on the planet that I would jump into a C-2 with on a river like the Skagit or the Deerfield (like we did in 2008). The bad news is the outfitting in the boat we borrowed was horrible because the pedestals were ridiculously high. Fortunately Mike had figured out that we could peal back the top inch which helped make the boat slightly more stable. That was a good thing since we put in just above the starter and were off to the races! Mike’s timing for his strokes in the bow were perfect and we executed our lines quite well.

So while my strategy this year was quite conservative (because of the rehab), I am really FIRED UP about racing again!!!! And it was really a hoot to get to race at such a cool venue and get to bring home 5 medals for my efforts.

But this was also an outdoor adventure for Lynn and me too. The Upper Cascades are truly some of the most spectacular mountains that God has created.

The “Thunder Knob” trail was one of our favorite. I sported views of Glaciers as well as Diablo Lake.

Diablo Lake, with it aqua-green water, is just nothing less than spectacular. The pictures don’t do it justice.

Rainey Lake (which Lynn knick-name mosquito lake) was beautiful but had some of the hungriest mosquitoes we have ever encountered. It was a quick in/out with the camera.

The park ranger had told us that the Blue Lake Trail was her favorite hike in the entire region. It turned out to be our favorite too. The scenery was nothing short of spectacular coming and going. Blue Lake was crystal clear blue and gorgeous.

I was also reminded what I love about Washington and the PNW. There are few spots on earth where you have spectacular mountains and the ocean too. If you’ve never been there, the San Juan Islands are very cool.

Lynn and I took the opportunity to go to Friday Harbor, bike San Juan Island, and do a little sea kayaking. Along the way we saw some incredible sights and Orca too!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to the Hooch Race 6-12-10

In April and May I started training hard only to have to go through a whole series of issues with my shoulder. It was hard to take after everything I have been through over the last year (see blog string). It was a key reason that I did not go to Sort Spain this year for the World Wildwater Championships .

I'm thrilled to have resolved my shoulder issues. The bottom line is that I tore my bicep tendon loose. It just did not stay attached from the surgery last July. While sore and tender, an MRI confirmed that the rotator cuff was in tact. My doc and my therapist (and my friends in the know like Terry Smith) feel like I don't need to re-attach it. So I am going to be another Bret Farve and play on.

With that in mind I went back to training very carefully but at an athletic level. And I took advantage of the local races in my area like the 8th Annual Back to the Hooch race that has about 400 entries. It was a lot of fun.

The results are at: ttp://www.chattahoochee.org/downloads/2010-timesbycategory.pdf

We were 3rd overall. The overall finish order was:
- K-1 Multisport - Dean
- K-1 WW - Rob
- OC-2 Marathon - Martin/John
- C-2 mixed - Melanie/Allen (who also won best costume for their Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn outfits) and in my opinion turned out the best performance of boats.

Here's Martin's version of our "race report":

"Dean, Rob, Bill, Carl - I believe that was the entire ACC fleet for the k-1 race.
Very few comments, as they were all ahead of us. I believe we were passing under Roswell Road headed downstream about the time they were passing under headed upstream. We did barely catch Bill, and he had a few choice words for us. We tried to take a stroke off his bow, but he was too crafty for us and swung wide as we approached.

Huck & Tom (I mean Allen & Melanie) and John & I were the the other ACC racers, both in OC2. Larry ran it of course, and did a superb job.

John & I did our best to keep Huck & Tom in sight most of the way down. We lost them a couple of times in the fog. We'd gain a boat length, lose a boat length.
Thank gosh for the shoals. They slowed down considerably as we approached Bill's house, and then when we got to the big island, we were able to sneak up right on their tail.
Chased them all the way through the shoals, left of the small island where all the current runs, down past the tennis courts.
With 400 in sight (in theory, as it was still foggy), they swung right and we swung left. I don't think the right side is faster at any level, and we proved it that day by edging them out just above 400 bridge.
Then it was the race experience that won the day. They tried time and again to 'hup!" climb out wake, but we'd speed up just enough to keep them back. You could hear Huck "hup!" then about 10 seconds later another "hup!" as they switched sides. That got to be really frigging annoying!!!! Why we didn't just drop your sorry rearends by 2 minutes I don't know! I prefer silence when I race, so guys, please take note.

We rounded the Island at the normal parking lot maybe one length apart, then raced to grab the eddy line next to river right shore. Fortunately Tom & Huck stayed out in the current on our right as we headed back upstream to Roswell Road. As we approached the first dock upstream of our normal putin, we yelled at the fishermen on the dock to watch their lines We headed right next to the dock which is the fastest line (and we needed the fastest line).
These two bozos watched us with no interest until we were just downstream of the dock then started waving us away. I saw the lines in the water right as we hit them. We carried two lines with us upstream for about 10 yards until we literally stopped and backpedaled to drop them off our bow.
John had a few choice words for the idiots on the dock, and I'll let him repeat those for you in person.

At this point, Tom & Huck were about 3 boat lengths ahead and not showing any fatigue. So since we had a small rest in removing the lines, John called a sprint.
About 30-40 strokes per side all the way to the finish. I know how hard we went because I think I pulled muscles in both shoulders & abs. I was extremely sore after the race!
We managed to catch up to the Huck & Tom just below Roswell Rd bridge, and sucked eddy current to stay ahead of them by about 1 boat length at the finish.
Lots of cheering going on on the sidelines, and one of the few neck-and-neck finishes of the day most likely.
Wore my poor old tired ass out, but FUN!
Thank goodness for carbon fibre vs wood strip, and for lycra vs denim!!!

And of course, being in a borrowed boat, we didn't care how hard we hit the rocks so that allowed us to keep stress levels down and spirits high! But of course, we'll never tell Evelyn that. If she asks, make sure everyone tells her how much we babied it! And we did wash it out at the end (phew! so glad we didn't have to cover that smell with a sprayskirt.)

We took our beer quota and headed to the dock!"


Monday, March 29, 2010

Team Trials March 27-28 (I am back)

Our Team Trials were a blast. It was pure joy to be back racing. Chris Hipgrave and the NOC/NRC always run a great race and this year was no exception.

Tom Wier is “the one to watch” at this years World Championship in Sort Spain. Tom continues to get faster. JP Bevilaqua has also improved by an incredible amount. I’m hopeful he will make it to the Worlds. For the complete results, see the link at:

Overall I was very happy with my results at Team Trials. Just to be able to compete at the national level after my total shoulder blowout last May, and then surgery, recovery and the whole rehab process in 8 months is a God-send.

The challenge for me is that much of my training over the past year was not specific to wildwater or was at a lower intensity. The net result is that I have dropped about 3-5% in speed vs where I was in 2006. The other challenge is that I am not sure just how hard I can train or if I am Ocoee ready (and not hurt my every progressing shoulder).

I think the proper perspective for me is that I’m back to within 95-97% of where I was. How neat is that!!!!

I’ll take a few more days and pontificate going to the Sort Worlds. For me, I don’t know that it’s worth it given the fact that I likely won’t be 100%. In any case, I’ve met my athletic goal for 2010….by the grace of God, a great surgeon, rehab and hard work… I am back!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Making Progress - Glacier Breaker

The Glacier Breaker Race and Training Camp was a great early season test. It was great to race and train with my friends on the Nanty!!!!!

WOW, what a difference a few more weeks of training and getting back in the boat makes. While my shoulder is still rather tender at times, and does not respond well to erratic movements, it is becoming increasingly functional and as a result I am closing the gap fairly quickly on getting back to where I was in 2006-2008. It will be intersting to see how well I can do at Team Trials.

While I still want to do much more both on and off the water, the exciting news for me is that I’ve pulled within 3-5% of where I normally am this time of year. Here are the results: http://www.usawildwater.com/news/2010/100227_Glacier_Breaker.htm

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pushing up my TIB (Time in Boat)

The Chute the Hooch Training Camp went really well overall. Here's a link:

On the surface, my results were very solid. But for me, the writing is on the wall. I'm experiencing the same challenges as everyone else I have observed that had shoulder surgery and is coming through rehab. My stroke is a half foot shorter on the front end when I'm on my left (rehabbing) side and I'm tippy in the boat. Even worse for me, I'm shaky in whitewater.

Time In the Boat will will tell how soon and how far I will get this year. The next test is the Glacier Breaker on the Nanty (last weekend in Feb)