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Monday, September 21, 2009

Surfing, Trail Rash, Bug Spray and Shark Attacks

Corolla September 2009

This last weekend I returned from our family beach vacation in Corolla, North Carolina and arrived in Morgantown Saturday evening for the WVMBA Series Championship Race (West Virginia Mountain Bike Association) but more about that later.

I have to say I have absolute respect for the individual that can go out and ride the surf. For me flailing around in crashing waves for two hours is way more tiring than a couple hours of hard trail riding, though I think a surfer might could say the opposite, surfing is way tough. Two hours of that and I am spent.

So here the jist of riding a wave. An approaching wave travels at about 7 - 9 MPH. You somehow have to lay flat on your stomach and paddle your ass off (ie upper body, all arms, no legs here) and get yourself going fast enough to catch the speeding wave. You have to be in precisely the right place when the wave starts to break and then at the right time just pop up on the board and stand. Each wave is a little different and may break further or closer than the other. Usually the wave lifts you up and then just washes underneath you. You were probably in the right spot just not paddling fast enough. You think you're catching the next wave but now you are too far out in front. It picks your tail up and power drives you and your board down into the sand bar or maybe it just crashes down on top of you. Now all that is the easy part because at that point you've paddled out past the break. The hard part is piloting (or dragging) a 9 foot surf board 100 yards out through crashing surf past all the breaks to the edge of the sandbar. If the wave doesn't crash on you dragging you back towards the beach, it pushes you back those few precious feet you paddled your heart out to gain. But hey, I like this sort of thing; I'm a mountain biker racer and somehow I've adopted the notion that completely beating the shit out of myself is fun. And yes that is a picture of me about to be completely obliterated by that oncoming wave, taken my wonderful girlfriend. I think she enjoyed watching me getting hammered out in the surf.

Shark Attacks

So I'm not completely comfortable with the water. Floating out in the ocean, the water is often well above where you can stand, it still gives me the hebe jebes and unfortunately it's not without merit. The day we arrived a gentleman from Ross township (an avid cyclist I hear) was in a condo a few houses down from us. He was taking his family and first grandchild on a beach vacation. After he arrived later in the evening Saturday he decided to go for a swim a little after dark and never returned. Searches ensued daily comprising of helicopeters, air planes and beach patrol trucks but they turned up nothing. Five days later he was found washed up on shore about 20 miles away. A shark had bitten him in the neck and he suffered several bites to his torso. The autopsy determined he had died from these injuries. Finding out of the man's fate a few days later, it's a little disconcerting. I'm much more comfortable taking my chances with the trail... or just building sand castles.

Ok That's a plenty for one post more about the race tomorrow. Surfing Trail Rash, Bug Spray and Shark Attacks continued....

Sweet Sandcastle No?

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