Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quebec Creeking Part Deux

Hey sports fans, just checking in from the great white north, or the province of Quebec more specifically. I love coming back to Canada every summer, and the past three weeks have not disappointed, its been sick around here.

Max enjoying the hospitality!

Unfortunately I was not able to get up in time for the infamous BusEater wave on the Ottawa River, High Tension on the Gatineau, and other classic big water play, Spencer and I were neck deep in editing for our new video, Enter the Donkey… however, my friends Benny Marr and Max Kniewasser showed me some of their footage from these waves, and trust me they’re destroying it, check out LVM #19 for a look into the future of aireal playboating!

Anyways… Many people don’t know this, but Quebec is actually a completely untapped creeking mecca. The Laurentian Mountains offer plenty of gradient, and with the nonstop rain and the recent snow melt everything was going off. In addition to Max, Ben and myself, we were joined by a fellow Riot Team member, Adam Johnson. Adam’s never been anywhere in Canada but Lachines and the Ottawa, so it was cool to show him around to some really incredible creekboating.

So this week started off rather inauspiciously. We all woke up at Max’s house on Monday and Max and I did a “stealth” mission on a large waterfall in downtown Ottawa called Rideau Falls. It’s an awesome drop, somewhere around 30-40 ft. of freefall or so, really tough to judge. It’s got an 8 foot lead in drop into a slide and then off the big drop, and the horizon line is pretty scary at the top! Anyways, long story short, it would be a fun 45-60 degree landing, but I’ve been jonesing to practice my big waterfall technique whenever I can, so I tried to land completely vertical.

Max rolling off Rideau.

When I landed, my left blade caught the pool and pulled out of my tuck and slammed the shaft squarely into my face. I popped up at the bottom and realized I had a sizeable cut in my nose, and after Max came off and stuck the landing at like 60 degrees we agreed I needed some stitches. Dammit! I tend to overanalyze my paddling and it bugs me for a long time when I make mistakes, so going to the hospital was just adding insult to injury. Anyways, I got stitched up and took a couple days off while Adam and Max did some cool runs that I’m sure he’ll update on soon.

This weekend we headed out to Quebec City to beta that everything was at a perfect level. After a fun but bony run on the Talayarde on Friday, we showed up at the Basse Cachee Race on Saturday. This creek is absolutely incredible and Dominic Chaput and Dominic Lavallee were cool enough to put their time into organizing an event here. For those of you from the Southeast, think Big Creek meets Horsepasture, and roadside! Anyways, the river was at a high flow, and we immediately heard a bunch of practice run horror stories from Steve Fischer, Tyler Curtis and Shannon Carroll about their first run… Fischer pitoned and front flipped, Tyler surfed and almost swam, and Shannon fell on her head on a rock! When those three paddlers are getting worked, I gotta say anyone should be nervous! So since the race is a team event, Max and I decided to race together in our Magnums, and put on for a couple practice runs. The level was incredible! We all had smooth lines through the 2 km or so of class IV-V whitewater and rarely had time to duck into an eddy… it was definitely seat of the pants pray that you’re going to skip over that ledge hole style creeking.

So things got underway quickly and 6 teams got ready to race at five minute intervals. Fischer and Tyler lined up and went first, followed by David Laroche and friend, Dom and Dom, and Shannon and Vincent. Max and I were last to take off, and we had a sweet run until the big double drop rapid, where I plugged a big hole and took a sharp hit on the eyebrow with my paddle. Not super painful and I resurfaced thinking that better not have broken the skin. Well as it turned out, it did, and after finishing the race with a decent time, I had yet another cut on my face, from a rapid that I generally wouldn’t be too concerned about. Pretty humbling for sure… more stitches and this time without the advantage of the English language! Through my hand gestures and Max’s goofy German accented French I was able to tell the people at the hospital what had happened and how to charge it to my Ontario health card, even though I live in the United States.

So, to recap the Quebec experience, we collectively paddled a half dozen or so incredible new runs, put around 2500 kilometres on our cars, paddled and placed 3rd in one of the best extreme races I’ve ever done, got seven stitches, and almost got a whole lot more when Max and I nearly got into a huge bar fight with the locals in St. Raymond! Not a bad pseudo-international experience if I do say so myself…

Catch you clowns next time, hope you enjoy the video, California here I come!

Download Quebec Creeking video HERE (17 MB)
*Some foul language from Max, the crazy German.*

Chris Gragtmans (aka FRANKENSTEIN)

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