Monday, June 2, 2008

2008 Jensen Handicap Canoe Race

Julie Boehrer and I (Chuck Ryan), (above)

Sunday, 06-01-08

The first day in June and what a beautiful day to have a canoe race on the Mississippi River. The skies were blue, sunny and very little wind. Yesterday, the group decided to get together at 0830 am and paddle an hour and half prior to the check-in for the Jensen Handicap at 10:00 am. The race location was the north parking lot at River Park in Brooklyn Park.

I was the first one of the racers to show up followed by Steve Peterson. Others would follow, but it looked like we weren’t going to get started at 0830 am. Steve Peterson told me he received calls from Julie Boehrer and Ed Arenz and they both were going to be late.

I was the first to arrive and the last canoe in the water at 0852 am. Everyone else started paddling on down stream, but Todd Johnson and Brett Arenz turned around for Ed and me.

We were paddling the race course that usually takes about 45 minutes. The course is slightly different each year. We would break off from one another as we paddled to check the individual channels around the islands to see where the faster water was flowing. We continued down around one of the I-694 Bridge supports where one of the teams last year hit the support head on. The Jensen Handicap has a more experienced paddler paired with a less experienced person. Sometimes the person has no experience at all. The more experienced person will be in the stern, if you want to control what happens to you. Here is a You Tube video from last year’s race. Although the quality is not that great it will give you an idea what the race is about. Watch the whole video, if you don’t you’ll miss one of the teams that hit the bridge support head on.

Steve Peterson and Julie Boehrer in their canoe and Ed and I paddled up stream on the left side while the other two canoes paddled on the right side until they cut over shortly before the landing. It appeared the right side was possibly faster, but none of us in our group was paddling hard.
Ed Arenz told me he hated this race more than once while we paddled today. I guess he didn’t have a very good experience last year.

More people had showed up for the race while we were out paddling. Everyone needed to sign in with Kenn Ketter with Ketter Canoeing at one of the picnic tables. When someone signs in they designate themselves as an A, B, C or D paddler. The “A” is the most experienced and the “D” paddler is someone very new. I played it safe and I designated myself as a “B” so that I would be most likely be paired with a “C”, but that could change depending how many people are in each group to be paired off. These are only guidelines, not something written in stone.

Kenn had three courses marked out on three separate boards. Each board had a course with either an Ace of Clubs, Ace of Hearts and an Ace of Diamonds, also. The forth potential course that wasn’t marked out would have the downstream turn around at the I-694 Bridge support where last year’s head on crash occurred

The Ace of Hearts was drawn for the race course. We would all have to go clockwise around the furthest island before the bridge.

Kenn had everyone get in their groups, and then he made some announcements about the Jensen Handicap. Kenn said this race has been going on for 45 years and it’s the oldest race in Minnesota. He mentioned some names of some paddlers would have paddled the race many times and never one it. One of the names was Kenn’s brother, Karl.

Kenn realized that some of the groups had an uneven number of paddlers in them so a few adjustments were made. Some “A’s were moved to a “B”, some “D’s up to a “C”. The “A’s would paddle with “D” and “B” would paddle with a “C”. We had an odd number of people and Ed Arenz said he would bow out. Anna Peterson has had a shoulder injury this year and she wasn’t planning on racing today. I had already recruited Anna to take photos for me, but she was talked into doing the race. Ed was back in to do the race. I had to find someone else to take photos for me.

The “A’s were told to select a playing card that came from a deck of playing cards, then the “D’s selected a card. If the “A” paddler’s number matched the “D” paddlers number that was who they would be paddling with today.

Then it was the “B’s and “C’s to grab a card. My partner was Julie Boehrer who began paddling last year. Julie is now a regular paddler, but I haven’t paddled with her before.

Kenn announced that Ed and Anna would be the canoe to line up on as the paddlers came down stream for the rolling start at the start line.

Julie and I changed positions in line as we moved forward downstream as I didn’t like our position. The start of the race was on and all the canoes jockeyed for position as they race forwarded. Well, for everyone except Ann Manns and Ole Mersinger who tipped at the start.

Julie and I began to get a rhythm after all the waves when Dan Shaffer and his partner moved up along side of us on our right. I knew it was just going to be a few seconds that Dan will veer in front of us in this straight downstream section. They did just exactly what I was really hoping he wouldn’t do, but he veered left in front of us causing us to almost stop. This wasn’t a tactical move, but lack of boat control. I’ve seen him do this several times just recently on the Rum River and I knew before long Dan would be cutting back to the right and again cut us off. Yep…

We were approaching the islands and there were two ways to go. The way most of the canoes went was to the left of the far left island and some us, including Joe Manns and his partner, went between the two islands. When we emerged on the downstream side it really didn’t matter which way anyone went because the order didn’t change or if it did very little. I heard Ed Arenz giving me some grief for not following the course, but I told him to look at the map, again. The only arrows on the map show a clockwise arrow around the most downstream tip of the one island. Other than that the map doesn’t show an exact course to get to the turn around point, so there was more than one way. I spoke to Ed later about this and he said he asked Kenn if we had to go around all the islands and he was told yes. Well, the drawing wasn’t marked to reflect that information.

Julie and I did a fantastic turn around the island. We were able to paddle right next to shore and we went around several canoes that made a wider turn. We were now a little ways behind about 4 or 5 canoes that were in front. After we paddled along the shore of the island we had to cut over to the left shore. We actually began to cut over before the leaders, but they soon veered left also. I was looking to go up the right side of what I though was part of the shore. I didn’t see the small opening further to the left around the what I though was shoreline, so I began turning upstream before I saw the opening. I apologized to Julie for my mistake. Ed told me that some canoes behind me went the way I was going to go and it was actually quicker than going to the far shore. Although it didn’t cost us too much ground, but any ground given up is not good. It was about this time when another canoe hit us hard in the stern at an angle. It caused the stern of my canoe to slide over to the left. I’m just glad it didn’t flip us.

Going up the left shore was tough on us. We were still doing ok until the first prominent protrusion of land. Several canoes got tangled up and we had to go wide and got caught in the current. From there on I can’t remember how it all played out. We got tangled up several more times before I decided to paddle further out in the current. Although it was tougher to paddle in the faster water we didn’t have to worry about being run up on the rocks or shore. There were three of us going around a small point. Ed Arenz and Anna were on the inside, another canoe and then us. I heard the distinct sound of Ed’s canoe going over the rocks or rock. Later, Ed said he received only a couple superficial scrapes. He said he leaned his canoe thus preventing a more serious scrape. The last time Julie and I got squeezed out was when Todd Johnson and Natasha Canfield were on the inside, then us, then Brett Arenz and his partner. The two outside canoes squeezed together where Julie couldn’t get her paddle in the water causing us to loose all forward momentum. The two outside canoes pulled ahead of us and we could never catch back up.

Julie and I came in 10th place with a time of 47:03. Io Harberts and Cory Meyer came in first with a time of 45:18. There were a total of 16 teams paddling today and there was a tie for eighth place.

Since Anna Peterson decided to race, I want to thank Lee Jarpey for taking photos with my camera while I was on the water. Thanks, Lee!

We all headed over to Ketter Canoeing just downstream of the race location for a pot luck. Io and Corey also received their traveling trophies that they’ll hold onto until next year’s race.

Chuck Ryan
All Rights Reserved

I want to thank Todd Johnson for sitting in for me while I took a picture of the ladies. I can't thank you enough for all you do at the last second.
Also, on Sunday, 06-01-08
My neighbor e-mailed me earlier in the week and invited me on a bike ride today at 3 pm. John, my neighbor, and several other people had been going to a cardio kick boxing class at the heath club. The class has been cancelled for the summer, so several of them have been getting together to go biking at the time the class would normally be held. They also ride during one of the days during the week, I believe Tuesday was the day I saw them on their bikes this week.

I left the pot luck and came home and got my Mountain bike. I began riding at 2:10 pm and rode for 45 minutes before I met up with John, Erin and Julie. Apparently no one else from their class was going to show.

Erin and Julie did the 8K Grand Old Day running race earlier today. Erin and John have been riding in place of the kick boxing class, but this was the first time for Julie. Julie told me it has been a long time since she has rode a bike. She borrowed her sister’s bike for today’s ride.

Erin and I led the way early and talked about different things as we rode. John at one pointed wanted to go faster than the pace we were going so he blew by us.

Although, Julie wasn’t the fastest rider today it appeared she was having the most fun as she never lost her smile and she had a terrific attitude. Julie told me she has a permanent smile. I know it has too be true because I know she had to be feeling her legs burn after biking the first time in many years and after doing the running race earlier. Her smile was always there. I rode with Julie for the last ten or fifteen minutes back to LifeTime Fitness where John and Erin were waiting for us.

Thank you for inviting me and I had fun.

Chuck Ryan

All Rights Reserved----------------------------------------------

Monday, 06-02-08

Ed and I got out and paddled for 3 hours on the Rum River.


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