What began in the 'way back' of our minds, probably around 15 years ago
when Nova Scotians were seeing a bunch of canoes and kayaks crashing at
'some' place in Maine, shown by our cable suppliers from WLBZ, Bangor,
has become a regular spring jaunt for a various number of Gonzos and
friends, to the Kenduskeag Stream White Water Race.
I still remember mentioning to Bernie about 11 years ago, after he had
been starting to try to teach me the benefits of canoing, about the
stuff I had seen on TV. Subsequent discussion realized that Dave McRae
had some videos of the race, which we viewed, discussed, and
In 1996, Bernie and Ben Levy, Bruce Duffy, Imbert Allen, Dave McRae, and
Hal Bent began what has become a weekend to look forward to. Every year
since. we have had a number of craft go down (16 people a couple times)
to join with another 700 to 1,000 paddlers, having a blast, learning
skills, meeting 'new' friends, and even winning a few pieces of lumber
(the prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, are wooden wall carvings of a
canoe)--counting 13 including this years winnings.
Ah, this year---another great weekend--I can hardly wait until April 16,
2005--put it on the calander, eh!
And before I start, thanks to Ross and Greg who did support for us and
made life easier. Moving cars, carrying clothes, getting stuff, pick up,
drop off----------THANKS guys.
As in all years, it starts with a 5:00am rendevous at the Marina, for
scheduled coffee in Fall River, breakfast in Sussex, NB, arrival in
Bangor for a stop over at the Rec center for some late registration,
onto the Saucony outlet, check in at the Econo Lodge, and then up to the
river for checking out the hot spots and test run(s) down the final 6
miles of white water.
This year all the above plans seemed to be falling apart as, after
going over the Chignecto Pass in rain (fearing snow), we ran into white
outs at Oxford-----good old cell phones came into use--1st contact was
with Bernie (Ben, Kevin, and Darren) who had the trailor (and the 3
canoes and 3 kayaks) who was almost an hour behind, helping a car which
was off the road, and now his car wouldn't start. Contacting Gordon
(Wally and Greg), we (Myself, Trevor, Bruce M., and Ross) rendevoused in
Amherst. Bernie finnally got going, the road was absolutely terrible
until almost Sussex. (breakfast was a late 10:00am)
After check in, we went up to Six Mile Falls, some ran the Falls, and
then down through the 6 miles white water to the Shopping Cart (I still
like the name Thunder Hole), and back to the motel---showers,
beveridges, and then out to supper at 7:00pm to the nearby
steakhouse--another 30 minute wait as last year----Will someone remember
to make reservations next year.
Get the gear together, have a beveridge, watch the Red Sox blast the
Yankees, and down at 9:30pm for a good nights sleep-----Ha! I guess one
of the downs about staying at the 'cheaper' type motels is the extra
entertainment--around 2:00am voice outside brought us out of our deep
I went to the window to see a couple local officers talking to a
'stunning (for Bangor) young lady in a short, black dress (short from
both top and bottom), respendant with 'sparkly' purse and cigarette
package in hand.
"You can't search me, I know my rights"
"Let me see your purse, lady."
"You can't search my car I know my rights."
The officers went through her car.
"I know my rights, I went through Law school (I could just hear the
officers saying to each other--the men's dorm maybe.) You can't touch my
A tow truck hauled away the car and she seemed to dissappear into the
Back to bed.
Saturday morning we were on the road to the small community of
Kenduskeag, 16 miles west of Bangor, at 6:30am..
-check in at registration, get our numbers and kits, and get our craft
off the trailor and down to the starting area.
-Some had their own high carb breakfast and some purchased the $5.00
grease special put on by the local Grange Hall staff--bacon, sausages,
eggs, ham, home fires, beans, coffee, ETC.
Now we got our craft geared up, white water decks were installed, air
bags pumped up, and just wait. The 8:30am start was delayed this year
because of the heavy late registration (over 1,000 people this year,
almost 600 craft). Once under way at around 9:00am, the canoes/kayaks
were started 5 at a time, every minute (100 every 20 minutes)
The various paddlers (over 20 divisions) start basically within their
groupings (fastest divisions first) so we would not normally see each
I can relate my trip down the river, details of the others would have to
be obtained from them.
In the K1 short class, I started 3 minutes behind Trevor, there being no
doubt about catching him--Trevor again won his K1 long class this year
(3 years straight), but could not catch a K2 kayak in the Open class,
being nipped by 27 seconds for overall race winner. (It should be noted
that the paddlers in this K2 were Ludwig and Cushman, the guys Trevor
has been beating by a couple minutes in K1 over the past few years--Hey
Trevor, a goal for next year, Eh!
Also in my K1 class was Dipper and he started 1 minute behind me--in the
back of my mind was always when (or would) he would catch me--he having
a much more efficient stroke from the past 3 years of paddling a
kayak(actually with a coach)--on the other hand I have been on the water
many more times this year and may have a fitness advantage--time would
To say this trip down the river (past paddles were in canoe) was 'The
Most Fun' I have ever had in a boat would be an understatement. Paddling
my newly purchased R5 River Runner, I hit the start line bang on go and
by the first turn in the river I had left the others in my group behind.
The first 10 miles of the river is moving without any major drops--there
being a few haystacks, downstream V's under a bridge--basically paddle
hard, keep it in the moving water and keep it straight.
During the first 35 minutes I passed a number of the craft ahead of me
(but not gaining on the 4 that started 1 minute in front of me and they
were known to be the top finishers the last couple years) and no one
passed me. I then felt a craft at my rear--it was the Dipper--we passed
greetings and he slowly pulled away-I decided I was going at a nice pace
and to go quicker could (would?) be anaerobic. Bruce got about 1 1/2
minutes ahead as we both passed craft--he caught up to one of the five
but not the others.
As we neared Six Mile Falls (1 hour, 45 minutes) I felt?? I was getting
back a bit of the lead Bruce had on me--I hadn't changed, keeping my
same pace as from the start. The Falls is an optional portage which
Bruce had already made the decision to run--(all others in our group had
decided to portage since, even though you lose up to a minute in a
canoe, (a kayak more), a crash could be devastating). Since I was
portaging I didn't expect to see Bruce again. After putting in after the
hike I caught up to Bruce who was on the shore re-adjusting his skag
(the bane of the River Runner) which had been knocked off over the
Bruce had mentioned it last time and we both agree, it is necessary to
either have a skag that does not become a problem but become more
technical and learn to paddle the kayak 'straight' in the big open areas
without a skag. It takes a couple minutes to go ashore, get out of
skirt, put on skag, and into your skirt--In the next 6 miles of white
water I had to put skag back on 3 times.
Want to pick up another couple minutes--I now passed #109---again! I had
already passed him well before Six Mile Falls and asked him how far
ahead I was going into the Falls--he said at least 2 minutes--want to
pick up a few minutes--run the Falls
Now for the FUN part. When you canoe through the haystacks you sort of
part the water and stay on top--In a kayak-BANG-the water hits you right
in the chest as you cut through-Whooppie. There was at least 5 great
drops--At first I didn't know how the kayak would be, after awhile I
didn't care--I COULD HANDLE ANYTHING.
That was until The Thunder Hole (this is the same place I dislocated my
shoulder last year--while in 3rd place--sorry Andrew)---Being
INVINCEABLE I went into the first hole full tilt, over, not around the
big rock, upside down, water very cold, kayak gone, I was in for a 400
meter 'swim' through the BIG haystacks----If it wasn't so scary this was
Dragged out of the water by what looked like Navy Seals, I headed back
up the river a couple hundred meters, got my kayak (with paddle--good
help), back in the water--Real cold, and off to the finsih a mile away.
Needless to say I din't see Bruce until the finish to find out he had
come 5th overall (2:49:xx) in our class (13 minutes from a medal) and I,
believe it or not, was 11th(3:12:xx) in the class---Boy can I make up
some time, eh!
Gordon and Wally, paddling the XX White Water C2, had a good race,
coming in 5th (2:37:xx)(unofficial placing, final results not out yet)
in the Century Division.
Trevor as noted won the K1 in under 2 hours.
Bernie/Ben and Kevin/Darren raced in the C2 Short Recreational class,
and interestingly enough started in the same grouping-What a tough way
to get under way--having competed in different classes in past years,
this was known to be a tough pairing--Kevin/Darren having placed 2nd and
3rd in this class in previous years while Bernie/Ben have always done
well in the C2 Medium class.(a theoretical faster class.) From the after
race discussions, Bernie/Ben slowly pulled away from the others, while
both passed numerous craft having started well in the back with the
various Recreational classs. Bernie and Ben had a very good
run(2:33:xx), placing 2nd in their class and getting their piece of
lumber. Kevin and Darren also had a good ride(2:39:xx), placing 5th
Change your clothes, put the boats on the trailor, visit Cadillac
Mountain Sports, wait for the reception, wait for the reception, wait
for the reception---finally, get lumber, clap hands for other winners,
shake hands with the organizors, off to Old Town and/or back for
Post Race feast at Millers------massive buffet in downtown Bangor--ate
too much, again.
Back to motel, Red Sox beat Yankees again, off to be for a good night
Did I mention we were still at the 'cheap' Econo Lodge, where 'stuff'
happens....2:00am, fire alarm, false alarm naturally (I guess I should
be happy)--Anyone for the Sheraton next year.
Up at 6:00am, breakfast at Big Stop in Calais, lunch at Wendy's in
Sackville, NB, home at 3:00pm
Got to start those modifications on the skag and get a zipper in my
skirt--got to make up 15+ minutes for next year. Probably have to stay
on top of the water also.