sachem_head (sachem_head) wrote,
sachem_head
sachem_head

Paddle or Die

We paddle the River Rat to remind ourselves that we're alive. This year, 329 boats entered the 50th annual River Rat Race. We all received a number and sat in a cold, swift river and felt that jolt at the blast of the cannon, surging forward. It's on. And we careen down the river, bumping. Do you bump?, people will ask. Yes. This is the River Rat. We don't race in heats, we don't stagger start. It is the Hobbesian competition. You spend the first mile, two miles of the race constantly bumping and maneuvering in close quarters with other boats. There are times where there is no water to put your paddle in. But there is a certain rush to that contact, when your blood quickens and you pull extra hard on your paddle, knowing you are in direct competition with another boat. They could turn you, spin you, knock you off course, push you into another boat, or just overtake you. And you don't want it to happen. The water churns, you grunt against your paddle, trying to muscle your bow around, or propel you away from the other boat.

There is a primal, rite-of-spring aspect to the race. You do it to finish. You cross under that banner in Orange and feel relief. You paddled for six miles and you made it. You feel alive.

That's what we did today, Miguel and I. We started at number 315 and we finished somewhere in the middle. We'll find out exactly where in the next few days. But we felt good. Afterwards, we went to the Voo and ate hamburgers and drank beer. Mwa ha ha. 
Tags: canoe, my life, neighbors, river rat
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