05 May, 2016

Tuck Fest '16

The last time I checked in I was on the way out the door, headed for Tuck Fest. It seems appropriate that as I write about Tuck Fest, that I am packed and ready to head out the door to take a friend, Alec, down the Upper Green River. I am super stoked about it! There is a little rain coming down right now and water is scheduled for a 12 hour release tomorrow: fun will be had.

This was the fourth annual Tuck Fest held at the USNWC. It’s a three day festival with competitions, demos, and music. This was my first year attending and I will admit I was a little unprepared. I only entered two competitions because the timings, but both were great learning experiences. The first day I showed up early to watch friends from the UNCG Rock Climbing Club (The Cliffhangers) compete in the bouldering competition. It was amazing to watch everyone climb, and even more amazing watching the little kids compete. They crushed it. It made me really regret not bringing my climbing gear down because some of the boulder problems looked really fun.

The Cliffhangers (on the very right) checking out some boulder problems.

Later that day Alec, joined me in the Baker’s Dozen whitewater kayak race. 13 laps around the Wilderness Channel, approximately 6.5 miles. My first ever whitewater event was going to be a long endurance race. The river takes a completely different feel when there are 30-40 kayaks storming down the flat water in order to reach the first rapid in the lead. I was forced to roll quite a few times because exhaustion began to set in early and poor form caused me to flip in rapids that usually wouldn’t give me trouble. Despite reaching the first rapid in dead last I managed to pull back into the middle of the pack by the end of the race. (There were quite a few swimmers that day.) After the first person finished the race they called it and everyone pulled out, placing people in order by how far they had gotten. I only managed to complete 11 of the 13 laps. Though I was a little bummed initially, I realized I was competing against Olympic hopefuls who paddled nearly every day and it was my first time really paddling in about six months, save for the 1 Wildo lap I paddled when Adam and I hit up the USNWC a month prior.

On Sunday I met up with friends for the Cliffhangers again, this time to enter a Top Rope competition. For the few weeks leading up to Tuck Fest I was beginning to think I might actually enjoy climbing more than kayaking. During the Top Rope competition I began to realize as much as I love climbing I still love kayaking as much as I ever have. Early on we realized we were surrounded primarily by youth, and that the Adult class in the competition wasn’t really the priority of the staff. After only getting in 3 attempts in the first 3 hours I was there, I ended up putting my score card in my bag and hitting the river again. I’m not sure if it was the number of people competing, the styles of climbs, or just not being ready mentally to climb, but I felt like I wasn’t climbing to my own personal standard. Plus, I wanted to run the Competition Channel a few times. It was great to hit up the big water again and took some time in the Wilderness Channel to surf M-Wave before calling it a day.

Getting surfed in the hole at the bottom of Big Drop.

I ended up showing back up for the results of the Climbing Competition to cheer my club mates on. The Cliffhangers ended up sweeping the adult category of climbers. We all did some bouldering on the competition problems from the day before, while we waited for the results. I was also reminded of the importance of never giving up. If I had turned my score card in I could have come in 3rd place in the adult male category, partially because David decided to not worry about his score and I had managed to top a few easier routes that inflated my score higher than his. (I ended up “losing points” because I turned my score sheet in late, but I still got that Fourth Place Ribbon as a consolation prize. LOL)

Even though I did not perform as well as I wanted to, it was a great learning experience for me. It also reminded me of an important goal of mine for the year that would help me perform better in both climbing and kayaking, not to mention make me feel better: losing weight. So far I have done a decent job maintaining my weight this year, but I need to shed at least enough weight to drop from 200 lbs down to 190 lbs by the end of the year. Even then I would be on the heavier end of both disciplines, but I would be closer to my eventual target weight. 

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