This weeks Wednesday night paddle was an impromptu, last minute affair involving RonO, the VOR, and I, on nearby and convenient Long Lake. We took a nice paddle and then Ron and I stopped for some rolling on the return trip. Last Friday night we took one of the VOR's coworkers and her SO out for their first taste of paddling. Since we were short one boat, GalwayGuy and I shared the Q-boat and took turns sitting on the beach and watching each other roll, after I took a short paddle with the rookies and left them in the VOR's capable hands. GG was doing his usual repertoire of rolls but I was struggling with everything but the basic sweep and I'm sure even that didn't look great. I was like the frog that you pithed in high school biology class; there seemed to be a disconnect between the brain and the rest of the body, the same kind that can occur after a particularly energetic evening of vodka drinking. Nothing seemed to work so I did what any determined kayak roller would do. I gave up.
Last night was different. Things just seemed to come together and everything was working, even some of the more confusing offside stuff. I'm not sure why that was but I wasn't questioning it, I was just rolling. My main problem is lack of flexibility. I suspect that if my head ever touched my back deck that the next thing to occur would be my helicopter evac to Hennepin County General. Even so, the standard sweeps, angel roll, reverse sweeps, and even the problematic shotgun roll were all going quite nicely, thank you. On the shotgun I managed to curb my natural impatience and let the roll develop slowly. I also moved forward a couple inches in the seat to give the rigid spine a bit more room to unwind. It always amazes me how little thing, done consistently and well, can make such a big difference on the overall success of an activity. The Olympics have certainly proven that, with some competitors nailing all the little things and winding up on the medal platform, while others were off by a whisker and were on TV with the 'head in the hands' shot. While rolling has none of the pressure of the Olympics (unless you're in the finals of the Qaannat Kattuffiat competition in Greenland) it still makes me feel really good to hit one and have it feel right. The alternative, of course, is to make a big splash.
A few of us are off to the Traditional Paddlers Gathering in northern Minnesota in roughly two weeks. I hope those brain to muscle synapses that were firing so nicely last night remember what they were doing; it would be nice to build on some of the skills I think I have versus spending all weekend refining them. We shall see in a short time.