All Roads Lead to Relaxing

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Mmmm beer

Good day my friends. I thought I’d take a quick moment and write a blog post where the subject wasn’t purely about racing or training. I say not purely because I just couldn’t help myself from at least a little training on the one weekend that I had more or less free all summer. However, in true ActiveSteve style, I managed to combine my relaxing with the training for a truly spectacular weekend out on the Madawaska River at Jim’s property near Calabogie. Of course, I’m talking about his annual Mad River Float, in which he invites a whole crew of friends out for the flotilla on the river. Everyone brings a floaty thing, and we put in 3-4 km upriver of his cabin and leisurely float back, with the aid of tasty beverages. Afterwards, there is a super-tasty barbecue put on by he and Ali, then a roaring fire to finish things off. As per usual, I took pictures of the whole event, and you can check them out on the folder on flickr. Click on to read the rest of my little story, which won’t be too long, I promise!

The weekend of the float was one of the few this summer / fall that I truly had nothing going on. The following weekend would be the 30 hour Wilderness Traverse, and after that, a whole string of other races. Also, we didn’t have the dog for the weekend, so we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. Jim had let me know well in advance that this would be the weekend of the float, so we’d kept things free that weekend. At one point, Deanna and I had talked about making a cycle touring trip of it, using both bikes, and me using a trailer to haul our stuff out there. However, when the time finally rolled around, we realized that it probably wouldn’t work with all our stuff and the fact that the float would start around 12:30. The ride from home would probably take 3.5 hours or more. However, seeing as I had several big races coming up, I wanted to get in a good bike training session. The plan was to ride both to and from the float. I only made it one way, for reasons that you can probably guess 😉

Biking out there, I had planned a pretty straightforward route that took only back roads and should only be about 100km. I memorized all my turns in advance, and hit the road from home around 8am, leaving me seemingly plenty of time. Well, I didn’t plan on new roads and a bit of a route fail on my part. I ended up doing a huge extra loop in one section, adding at least 15km to my trip. Plus, the undulating terrain and winds also slowed me a bit. In the end, I rolled into the cabin area pretty much right at the deadline! So much for lunch! Oh well, the beer would fill me up, right? Yup, obviously I should have eaten something after a 115km ride, before hitting the beer. But what’s the fun in that?

Shortly after I got there, we loaded up a few cars in order to carpool to the put-in. Deanna and I hopped in a truck with our drinks and floaty things. Once at the boat launch, the entire flotilla crew set about inflating their hardware and prepping for the float. Deanna and I had chosen the Ahh-qua Bar this year, and it was a solid choice. Of course, I modified it before we arrived, by adding grommets to each of the 4 floating chairs, and attaching docking ropes to the middle section. That way, you could float free, or tether yourself to the bar and float with that. Having the attachment points, and wearing flippers made this actually work pretty good. The chairs were pretty comfy, and allowed us to sit in the water and stay cool while the sun beat down on us. Oh yeah, and did I mention there were 12 cup/can holders PLUS a central cooler area? Yup, lots of room for suds!

We had a decent tailwind, so our group, which was probably around 20 or more people, actually made pretty decent time. In the past floats, when there is no wind, it takes FOREVER to actually float the river, due to the lack of current. Not so this year. With a little paddling, it took less than 3 hours total, and just about the right amount of time to work through my stash of beers and catch up with everyone on the float I hadn’t seen in a while. Deanna, for the most part, just paddled around on her chair, while I stayed at the bar and let people join me there. Good times.

Once back at the cabin, more fun awaited as we played at the high-jump diving into the river. It wasn’t super deep, so I managed to bash up my foot a little bit, but nothing too serious. And certainly nothing that I was really feeling. Meanwhile, Jim was busy sparking up the BBQ and cooking up an insane feast of ribs, burgers, hot-dogs, etc.! We were definitely not wanting for food after the meal was done! The fire was also going strong as well, and even though the weather did eventually turn sour by pouring rain on us for a bit, nobody really minded. Luckily, the rain passed, and we were able to head back out around the fire. And that’s when I busted out my Jiffy Pop! Yes, I’m mildly famous at the cabin, and for a while had the nickname ‘Jiffy Pop’ from a past poker night, but I was determined. By using a cooking grill, and wearing heavy-duty gloves to prevent burns, I patiently worked my Jiffy Pop until I got the perfect pop. It seemed to take forever, but it was totally worth it!

Eventually, many people left, and the 10 or so people that stayed moved into the screened porch to have a few more bevvies and play some cards. We played well into the night, until eventually, it occurred to me that I should really go to sleep. Although Deanna and I had brought Big Agnes, we instead opted to just sleep in the screen room. Deanna was on a couch, and I just laid on the floor on a thermarest. By that point, I don’t even thing the thermarest was needed ;-). We had a few solid hours of sleep before morning found us again. I felt pretty crappy upon waking up, but luckily, I had nuun to drink, and Ali actually had bacon, eggs, cheese, and english muffins, and was able to make us some kick-ass Egg McMuffins to eat for breakfast. It was heavenly. Once fully awake, I assessed my state, and determined that biking 3.5 hours wasn’t in the cards for me. After all, I rarely just chill out and do nothing, so I decided a hungover relaxed day would work out just fine!

After hanging out a bit longer, we packed up, and headed home. It was another super-fun Mad River Float, and I’d like to say thanks once again to our amazing hosts, Jim, Ali, Tristan, and Xavier! We’ll definitely try to make it again next year. After all, the bar worked perfectly, and needs to come out at least once a year! So that’s it for my relaxed post. As I finish this post, I’m about 33 hours away from tackling my 2nd ever Iron-distance tri, so as you might guess, the next post will be back to a race report! Till then, squeeze out the most you can out of our remaining summer!!

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