Pole, Pedal, Paddle Serendipity

Our first ever visit to Bend happened to be the day they ran the 2004 Pole, Pedal, Paddle race. Our friends took us down to the amphitheater where the racers were finishing and we strolled around the booths looking at energy bars, racing clothes, and active footwear. All while enjoying the spicy scent of damp pine trees and the gorgeous scenery of the Central Oregon Cascades.

It was a spectacular day, punctuated by a torrential downpour that had everyone huddling together under the vendor tents. We happened to chose the Teva Sandal booth, where I bought a pair of sandals, and managed to weasel the guy into throwing a t-shirt and a demo CD into the mix. (Great CD, btw, but hard to come by. “The Nomadic Anthology, Vol. II” if you’re interested.)

During last year’s race, I found myself deep in the Grand Canyon on a river trip I wrote about previously, wearing those same sandals.

And this year I found myself shod once again in those sandles, running (well, more like trudging pathetically) toward the finish line, with both my calves threatening to cramp at any moment. Fortunately I was the now-moot half of a tandem team – my partner, Doug, having sprinted (well, trudged in his own way I suppose) ahead of me. My plodding was simply to avoid the ignominious stroll that was otherwise required to get from our kayak to the finish.

So plod I did, and finish I did. And, remarkably, we managed to meet our goal of finishing in the top 10. Barely. We finished 10th in a field of nearly 800 teams and individuals, with a time of 1:54:22. That’s to cover a 1 mile downhill ski, 8km x-country ski, 22 mile bike ride, 5 mile run, and 1.5 mile kayak paddle. Not bad, eh?

Even though my sprint to the finish would have embarrased a drunk platypus, I was proud enough of the slalom and bike legs for which I was responsible. I managed to finish 2nd on the slalom and averaged a smart 30mph on the bike ride leg. Meanwhile Doug represented admirably on the other legs, which are admittedly much harder.

But winning and our time weren’t that important. After all was said and done, the real pleasure was in finishing the day at our house with a small party of race-goers, eating chips and salsa, drinking beer and wine and just relaxing in general.

Oh, “what’s with the mug”, you ask? Why, yes, it is nice isn’t it? We got that for finishing first in the tandem division. And if you would be a dear and fill it up for me… yes, from the margarita pitcher there, please … I’m afraid my legs will cramp if I try to stand up.

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