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The Beginning of Love

Dear Jim,

Thank you SO much for the use of the inflatable double kayak for this weekend’s Underground Triathlon. It was helpful in so very many ways.

To begin - I appreciate that you scoured through the barn, digging through piles of inflatable flotation devices to find THE PERFECT one for us to use!

I have to say though, that the body bag model was not as sleek a style as others I’ve seen. This surprised me, because I asked four of my paddling friends what type of boat would be most beneficial in a river triathlon and this particular inflatable double kayak was the top choice.

We noticed all of the available chambers to be inflated and saw how that could have resulted in a very efficient trip down the river. However, next time we will be sure to obtain better instruction from you, because although we finished the race, we must have been doing something wrong.

It all began when awoke at 6:40 a.m. to prepare for my race. Much of the first 30 minutes was spent in the bathroom where last night’s drunken tater tots and Blow Torch hot wings needed to evacuate my body…not to mention other simultaneous female bodily functions.

Once that was manageable, I headed outside to use the K-Pump, for the first time, on the inflatable double kayak. It took longer than I thought, but once done, I lashed the kayak to the roof of my truck and loaded my bike gear. By the time we pulled out of the driveway 30 minutes later, bacon and coffee in hand, I realized that one of the tubes looked a little soft. Huh. I should have blown it up tighter. The K-Pump worked great at the put-in, so my boyfriend and I tossed it in the boat just in case and drove back for our Le Mans start.

In the twenty minutes it took us to arrive at our boat, the bottom chambers were entirely devoid of air, but the side tube was now holding air great! We got in anyway, sinking into the cold river, paddles held high above our heads. After all, we had passed a lot of runners jockeying for this position. The water seeped in to a cool pool of water, much like a sitz bath, which was remarkably refreshing in light of the trauma that part of my body had recently ensued. Our 9-year-old stowaway, Lucas, who for the next 30 minutes would hear me use many forms of the word “fuck”, was quite surprised that his boat ride would involve swimming. However, like the little trooper he is, he became one with that reality and continuously begged us if he could get out and swim freely next to the kayak instead. In retrospect, this would have been a much better option for ALL of us, seeing as how we were working much harder to keep the boat afloat than it was at keep US afloat. However, at this point we did realize it was the body bag model, and did our best to keep it wrapped around us as we sank.

Throughout this, I clutched the K-Pump between my legs in an erect position so as to avoid losing it in the current. We would have used the K-Pump during our float, but it was submerged, as were the inflating caps, and we spent much of our time preventing the boat from spinning. This was largely due to user error.

“Fred, honey, can you please back-paddle on the left for a sec?” I asked.

“Sweetie, don’t paddle so hard,” he gently cajoled.

I thought it was him, he thought it was me…(it turned out to be him)

Despite our greatest effort, and remarkable ability to work well together under stress, the floating swimming pool, previously referred to as an inflatable double kayak, now seemed to have a current of its own. Oh, and goodness, thank you so much for the paddles. They.were.amazing.

At one point, I thought that I might switch to the back to give my screaming abs and hip flexors a break, but I couldn’t bear the thought of how long it would take to pull over, get out, and God forbid, get my running shoes wet. I was grateful at this point that I had not tossed them in the boat with us, but instead donned them. The only relief my muscles got from this yoga position, ironically referred to as “Boat Pose”, was when I dug my paddle into the water, which now, my sweetie was asking me not to do.

I braced myself for a moment against Lucas, who moaned loudly from what must have been a doubled-over position. I could not turn around to see. The water was now chest high in our floating jacuzzi. Fred and I were refreshed by this for all of the hard paddling we were exerting, but poor Lucas, smashed in one direction by his father’s feet and in another while I lied back against him, was freezing.

From his backward position in the middle of the floating swimming pool, Lucas announced that the girl on the inner tube was now passing us. At one point we managed to pass her back again, only for her to hitch a ride on the back of a passing inflatable single kayak, her tube lashed to to the front, their paddle strokes in perfect unison.

“At least we’ll beat the family,” she said, looking at us in astonishment.

The remarkable part of this event was that I was able to keep my feet dry the entire mile we paddled our floating swimming pool. You see, when the bottom chambers are deflated, the paddler rumps become an unmanageable keel. In order for the butt to be so far beneath river level, the legs can only go in one direction. Up. But with my feet safely in the air, I was able to run a 5k in dry shoes. However, it did take three adults to bounce my ass across the rocks at the takeout and drag me up the steps to where they could then hoist me onto dry earth.They thought I was injured when we came in. I did not bother to tell them different.

The biggest disappointment of the day was that there was no photographic evidence of our endeavor.

The best part was that we did not have to deflate the boat at the end of the race, folding it neatly and stowing it in the back of my truck, careful not to drag it across any gravel.

Thanks again! We had a blast!


Bettina and Fred

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