The trip started with a work trip to Nuremberg for Paddlexpo the yearly European Kayak trade show to check out the latest and greatest and to see what we can do for the next year, as I was on holiday I decided to drive out this year with boats, bikes and about any other toy that would fit in the van,
Paddlexpo is a great opportunity to meet up with friends from different brands who we may not have seen during the year as well as new acquaintances really makes the show a great place to start my trip.
After a busy start to the season to then be hampered by a shoulder injury, its given me a lot if time to reflect on what I'm doing and where I'm going,
Firstly I'm an awful patient, like any active person I'm the physios nightmare, they give a little and we take a mile then wonder why recovery is delayed.
From the moment I got injured I had my sights set on competing at this years Sickline event, since last years event I know I can be competitive, I just need to be fit, So id planned a holiday around the event bringing friends with me to paddle and share the experience, unfortunately in the weeks leading up to the event I knew myself I wasn't getting stronger and still in a great deal of pain I've hardly sat in a boat and holding a set of blades made me hurt, I had been teasing myself with the prospect,
On arriving in Austria and the beautiful Oetz valley as I looked at the course and pictured the moves I knew honestly that I was not able for it, in the days leading up to the event I took it easy paddling the lower and upper stretches of the amazing valley just testing the water and the shoulder knowing I had a lot to do before I was ready to start pushing, after a couple of days on the water I felt I was smooth and comfortable the boat was paddling well and I was confident on the water, having not been on a river since I was Last in the Oetz the beginning of June I was just happy to be out, unfortunately after paddling I noticed a lot of inflammation and soreness. So at registration I made the decision not to risk racing and didn't take my race number, for me this was a tough call and one I was worried I may regret.
As the competition kicked off I was sad not to be a part of this years race but it was fantastic to see the young lads, Cian, Conor and David holding their own against some if the best whitewater paddlers on the planet.
The lads paddled without fear showing no nerves to push their own performances to the highest level
If I had raced would I of beaten them? ?........
Mentally - I know the course, I know my ability and I know my strengths.
Physically - Not a hope! I cant pull a right stroke confidently and rolling or bracing leaves me in huge amounts of pain.
I can look at the event now knowing I made the right decision, Personally I had nothing to prove, a couple of years ago id of paddled regardless, but I guess a sign of growing up, what's more important, the fame of that 90 seconds or the next 12 months of paddling?
Its important that paddlers understand their own abilities and limitations as a good coach can understand their athletes strengths and weaknesses, the motivation to get back up after a fall is it to prove to themselves or others around them? Its important to do things for the right reasons.
Sickline was once again a spectacle with some of the fastest paddlers pushing hard with the slightest mistakes punishing them for valuable seconds.
Personally its a chance to paddle and catch up with friends from around the world who descend on the valley each year,
It was great to have a great crew of Irish paddlers at the event this year, having the craic and causing trouble like usual! A great bunch that really was a pleasure to spend time with.
After the event many paddlers headed away soon after but a few stayed behind, as I was on holiday I really had no plans with many of my plans already changed in the previous few weeks, I decided to stay where the water was, paddling and biking with friends, exploring areas of the region we hadn't come across before and enjoying the time away.
The Oetz Valley really does have so much to offer the paddling in the region is top class, having paddled there this year in both Summer (high) flows and the autumn lower level theirs just so much to keep you amused, from technical creeking to big water fun and some big holes in between the Oetz will keep the best paddlers on their toes.
Aside from the paddling the valley homes some amazing bike routes running high into the mountains from easy road rides to technical single track, higher up is the glacier one of the largest around so if skiing is your thing this place is made for it, as well the climbing the paragliding, they don't do things by halves with routes marked and set up for ease of use and maximum time taking part, just over 2hours from Munich leaves you astonished in what you will find this is definitely one of my favourite spots to be.
During the week I was lucky that Jenny decided to hang around (some peer pressure) which meant some really nice chilled paddling on the upper and the vent sections, taking in the views and cruising down the rivers before heading back to the qualification course and slalom course to push the boat around.
After a night at the aqua dome relaxing and chilling it was time to depart the valley but not before a couple of laps on the Wellebrucke, by now, a week after the event, I was confident I was strong enough to paddle the course without further hurting myself. Some nice lines really got the new 9R running, a superfast boat and a joy to paddle, keep her straight and smooth and she will reward you with speed and lift.
After paddling it was time to say goodbye and head off to Switzerland to meet the lads and deliver a boat.
A couple of days rest in St Gallen left me feeling much better the shoulder looked normal and the soreness had died down so I decided to head back over to Oetz to milk the last of the water, not knowing the next time id see water I decided I should make the most of it, just running laps on the Wellebrucke to really test out the boat before meeting Luca in Innsbruck for a few beers and to plan for 2015.
Another day in St Gallen and it was time to start for the ferry, calling in with Great Outdoors Team Paddler Mick Reynolds at his new place in France, drinking wine and talking waterfalls long into the night.
After a look at some local waves it was time to hit the ferry back from Cherbourg into Ireland before starting the drive up to Cranafest for the weekend.
Labels: canoe, canoe club, canoeing ireland, go pro, go pro app, gopro, great outdoors, injury, kayak injury, keen, keen europe, paddle4play, palm, playak, pyranha, recovery, Rockhoppers, Shoulder injury, Sluice