More Training

Today, the tides were not as kind as they have been, but that does not matter – the HCC is in a tidal river – and I will have at least 1 incoming tide to contend with – which is about 5 hours.  So, getting a day where I have to work against the tide is a good thing!  With the tide against me whichever way I went, I decided on a clockwise run around Torrens Island as the tide was well over 1M, it meant I could get thru the cutting at the northern end of the island.  As the circuit is only about 17km, I decided to tack on a couple of extra loops to bring me up over 20km. It was still pretty cold with the max temp only about 13 or 14, but at least I managed to miss the rain.

Mixing it up and taking a different route.

As usual, I started off at the boat ramp, headed out of Angus Inlet around into Barker Inlet, then up the Port River a little bit, before turning and going back down the river to the cutting across to Barker Inlet again.  Here I headed down and did a loop around No 1 Channel Marker then back up Barker Inlet, into Angus Inlet and the Boat ramp. The high tide was at Midday and I started out around 11:15, so I was paddling against the outgoing tide until I turned and headed back down the Port River.  There was about a 15-20km/h southerly wind, which I had at my back, down the river – the rest of the time it was in my face.  With the wind, it was a bit messy with a wind-chop up to around 0.3 – 0.5M.  When I hit the cutting to go across to Barker Inlet, I also hit a brick wall with the tide – it runs pretty hard thru the cutting. Once I started back down Barker Inlet I had everything against me – the wind in my face and an outgoing tide – and it did slow me down a little.

Speed plot from GPS

  • Distance: 20.5km
  • Time: 2:40:54
  • Avg Moving Speed: 7.7km/h
  • Tide:  1.9 High / 1.0 Low

I quite often paddle from the boat ramp out into Barker Inlet and down to the No 1 Marker and back when I want to do a short (15.6km) paddle.  As far as time goes, it is usually about 52 minutes with the tide and about 65 minutes against the tide.  Today, against the tide and against the wind, I came back up the Inlet in 61 minutes – so I am pretty happy with that.  While the tidal flow is not very strong here, it is very similar to the Hawksbury – so I like to paddle against it when I can. At this stage of my preparation I am quite happy with how I am traveling.  I am up around the 20km mark and still feeling pretty good at the end.  In the next week or so, I will have to start pushing the time/distance up a little more.

Only 14 Weeks to go….

I have added a countdown timer to remind me of how little training time I have until the Classic.

Yes, It is true, there is only 14 weeks to go before the 2012 HCC.

On friday afternoon, I checked the weather report and tides on the BOM website.  Sunday looked to be the best day, weather wise, so then a quick look at the tide so I could decide on the best time/place to paddle to.

Today’s paddle took me from the boat ramp in Angus Inlet, out into Barker Inlet (outgoing tide providing a bit of flow for me),  when I hit the Port River, turned right and went all the way up to Bower Road, which separates the River from West Lakes.  Once I get to Bower Road, I turned around and headed back.

Very little wind, maybe up to 10km/h so the effect was almost non-existent on my paddling today.

Paddle on 20120722 from Garden Island Boat ramp to Bower Road and Return

  • Distance  19.2km
  • Time 2:27:20
  • Avg Moving Speed 8km/h
  • Tide: 0.6 Low / 2.2 High
The tide was at a low around 1.5hours after I started.

Speed and distance profile

The Garmin Basecamp Software lets me see a profile plot of my speed and the distance, and in the software itself it is interactive – I can move the mouse along the plot and see on the map where I was at the time.  The plot shows me a lot – the tidal influence on the first 3km was far stronger than I realized while out paddling – and it was really the only time that there was any significant assistance.  The rest of the time, whilst I was padding both with and against the tide, the flow was nowhere near as strong as that section.

Today was one of the best days I have ever had on the river – there were dolphins everywhere!  I saw at least 30 of them today, where usually, I might only see up to 6 or so.  A couple of times, I had them swim towards me, then swim with me for a minute or so – swimming on their side just off to one side of the boat about a metre deep, just looking at me.

The path I took today is one of my benchmark paddles that I do.  I like to keep a bit of a track of how long it takes me to complete. Today, was the fastest ever time I have done, and the first time for me to crack 2h 30m.  The last 2 times I have done it my time was 2h 31m.  When I was paddling my plastic boat, my target was always to complete the 19km in under 3hours!

Now I just need to keep up the training, mix it up and supplement it a little with some cardio work and as soon as it starts warming up a little, ramp up the distance I am paddling by 5-10km.


What does it take

.. To complete an event like the HCC?

As I only have 17 weeks until the event, there is no time to waste with my preparation.  It is not like last year when I literally only had 13 weeks of preparation after building my boat.

There is a fair bit of effort in a lot of areas that go into preparing for, competing in and completing an Ultra Marathon like the HCC.  Well, since that I put my entry in last week, it is time to start following all aspects of my preparation for the 2012 HCC.

Since I have had a break from padding for the last few weeks since completing the RPM 100, today was the start of my training (well yesterday was, but I’ll get to that in a minute). Today was a beautiful winters day with a pleasant 14deg day with almost no wind (5-10km/h). So a quick look at the tide chart and I decided on the time and where to paddle to.  The tide today was going to low at around 13:00 so I picked a start time and course so that I would get a bit of a mix if incoming and outgoing flow.

The boat ramp is located in such a place that no matter what the tide is doing, you are going to have to have it against you for at least some of the time.

Now, what I like to do is to paddle at least 15km, and up to 30km. Today, I chose to do a paddle of just 18km.

When I paddle, I have 2 “best Friends” My Garmin GPSMap 78 GPS and my Tiny Trak GPS tracker that uses Amateur Radio to plot my position Real-time to the Internet.

My Garmin GPS is what I use real-time to see what I am doing and choose to monitor my Av Speed, Distance and Moving Time while I am out paddling.

As I paddle alone, I like the Idea of having my position being sent real-time back to the Internet, so at least someone can see where I am and the reason I always paddle with a GPS Tracker.

Screenshot taken from BaseCamp Software

My paddle today took me from the boat ramp in Angus Inlet, out into Barker Inlet (where the tide hit the low and turned) where I headed around to the Port River.  Here I turned right and headed down Lipson Reach to the old quarantine station, where I turned around and came back up the Port River to the Port River Rowing Club, turning around again and then back into Barker Inlet and Angus Inlet to the boat ramp.

When I get home, I can download from my GPS a lot of info about each outing – as It stores my track, by taking a reading around every 20 seconds.  The image above is a screenshot taken from the BaseCamp software that I use to query the GPS.

Today’s Paddle was:

  • Distance: 18.0km
  • Moving time:  2:15:53
  • Avg Speed:  8.0km/h
  • Tide:  0.7 Low / 2.1 High

There was a little bit of excitement today, I stopped several times just to watch the dolphins swimming past and to rescue a dog that came out of another boat!  Let me tell you it is no fun to have a 15kg dog standing on your lap on a kayak!

The conditions were near perfect – with mostly outgoing tide, in Barker Inlet, against the tide and into the light wind down to the quarantine station, with the flow back up up the Port River, and finally with the tide back up Barker and Angus Inlets.  The tidal flow in Barker Inlet is very strong and with a big tide, it can be in excess of 5km/h, so I always like to try and go with the flow at the end!  The flow out in the Port River is not as strong, but it is a close representation of what the upper Parts of the Hawksbury River are like.

These stats are very important to me, as over the next 15 Weeks, with this data, I will put together my Race plan.

APRS GPS tracking Map taken from

Paddling Speed

Monitoring of my paddling speed and recording details about the tide are very important as they are the indicators from my training that help me with my Race Plan.

Over the last 12 months, my paddling speed has improved quite a lot. When I was paddling my plastic boat, my target was to maintain at least a 6km/h average over 20km. With the move to my current boat, that immediately jumped up to 7km/hr.  My training over the last 4-5 months which included the 3 events that I have done this year has seen my average speed slowly increase and today was quite quick as far as thing have been going.

About 2 months ago, my average speed jumped from about 7.2 to 7.6km/h – and what I attribute that to was my paddling.  For the last year, since just after I built my boat, I went from an asymmetric paddle with a “standard” 60 deg offset to a medium wing paddle.  In the last couple of months, I have also decreased the offset from about 52 degrees to 45 degrees, which I found takes some of the stress and strain off the wrists when paddling for long periods, but still has enough angle so as not to act like a sail when out of the water.

Everything I read about the transition from a “standard” paddle to a wing paddle said that it can take up to a couple of years to “get it” and the only thing that I can put my jump in speed down to is that I have noticed that paddling is easier, I go faster with less effort, so maybe I have finally “got it” with the Wing paddle.

Training Targets

This year, I have been training for each of the events I have done and all strung together represent about 40% of what I need to do to prepare for the HCC.  Last year, I did it in a boat that I had only paddled about 160km, using a paddle that I had only done about 120km with and yes, I was well under-done.

This year, I have not really been recording my exact training distances, but I have only missed 4 weekends since the end of February, and on each outing I have paddled between 16 and 25km (not counting the events). training wise, I already have about 200km  in training and 160km over the 3 events I have done.  With the last 16 or so week I have, I should be able to get in at least 250km of paddle training.

I will be paddling once a week, and when it warms up a bit, do an extra 10-15km night paddle in the lake.

What I found was that adding some extra training to the mix helped a lot (in 2010), so I will also jump on the bike and do at least a 10km ride every other week as well.

Enough for now, I’ll add some extra details with my next training report.