Texas Water Safari Part 3
Gonzales Bridge (gravel bar) (mile 85) to Hocheim (mile 123)
The longest stretch of the race, where I will not have any support. I have been told this is a do or die. Make or break. The last bet to be won is in this stretch. 38 miles with no contact, no ice, No Water. Oddly enough I welcome it. There's something about being by yourself for long periods of time that Intrigues me. From what I've found, the vast majority of people have to be around others. They need to talk and interact. They need constant stimulation induced by others. They need life to happen for them.
I find that when you are by yourself, that is when discovery begins. Not always with yourself, but with the conditions you are presented with. Just looking at the river at this point is interesting. I've been paddling more than most normal Stand up paddlers at this point, but I still love to look at the river. The way it moves. The slighest rock that sits higher than others changes the pattern of the flow. Stumps interrupt how the river wants to move. Birds do crazy things in and by the water. Wind blows grass in amazing ways. This all changes the mind from thinking about the hell the body is going through. This is my method. This is part of the process. It's really what you make of it. You can be mad that you're hot as hell and have a limited amount of food and hydration for the next 10 hours. Or you can look at it as 38 miles of paddling and finding reasons to fall off your board to get cooled off (or in the case of 134 others, your boat). Come on now, Like Forrest Gump says, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get!"
This box is a representation of life, and the Texas Water Safari.
I make it the whole 10+ hours to Hocheim. I was warned about this stretch. Even in my laminated notes I see I hgave written,"stock up on water. Longest stretch".
I've heard it was a deal breaker. I see why too. I was out there for the vast majority of the time by myself. No music. Maybe 3-4 boats that came by. Very lonely. But still, very exciting. Granted the scene looked alot alike. But it was fun trying to find the differences. It's all in your outlook on what's before you.
The long distances by myself. Very Peaceful
After I get into Hocheim. I stay a little bit. Enough to chat with my crew. Non-racers probably can't understand the value of a crew. At times, crew is better than a steak dinner with all the helpings when you're ravenous. Better than any ice cold hydration drink on the hottest of days, or a sultry cup of cocoa when your core is cold. They energize you. They restore what you have lost. All in simple conversation. Simple positive reinforcement. Words spoken. No matter what the words are. Just them being there when you are Mentally and physically spent, and have been paddling for hours adds back miles and miles of paddling back to your soul. The ground crew gets very little recognition, but is as essential to the race as the the athelete's training. They are the life support system.
Joe Baisa (red Shirt) and Michael Rokos ( Straw hat)
The guys who get me through my toughest times in this race
I decide not to stay too long and push on to Cheapside. What's another 22 miles? Child's play. Not too much exciting through this stretch. I've found new ways to entertain myself. I try to pick a target on the water and spit at it and see how close I can get. I find that ultra spitting is not my sport. I stick to Ultra paddling.
Cheapside comes and I welcome it. I get some great cheers upon my approach. I haven't mentioned it, but people have been amazing in this process. Ground crews of other boats, spectators, officials, everyone I encounter have been extremely encouraging. They are so supportive of what I'm doing. Little do they know, they are my fuel. I love it!
As I write this, I remember earlier today when I received a message on Facebook. It's from a message in a friend request. We saw you at Cheapside. We were cheering you on as you came in.
I responded with "at 5-6 am every morning I was usually delirious. I remember people cheering, and I was thankful, I hope I remember you."
A samll vid of me leaving Hocheim. If it doesn't take you right to the vid, scroll down, it's the 8th vid down from the top.
In case you're wondering, it's not some wierd ritual I do with the paddle stabbing the water before I take off. There was mud on the blade