Sadly my night-paddling look isn’t quite as cool as James Bond, but at least I get points for trying right?!
Thanks to a few excessively busy weeks we’ve been forced to train at antisocial hours on our local section of the Thames in the dark. Initially I was very unenthusiastic about this, but quickly realised how useful it is to put yourself in strange new places when you can’t see where you’re going.
Last year we did some training at night, but it was always on the same stretch of river by our kayak club. As the second half of the race was then cancelled, we never really got to experience paddling on more unfamiliar bits of river in the dark. I’m now so glad that we’ve accidently ended up training in the dark more than we did last year.
What we’ve realised is that it feels very different paddling on an unfamiliar stretch of water when you can’t see all that well. We realised that the size of the trees at the side of the river makes a huge difference to navigation as they can block all your natural light. We realised that it’s very easy to start mistaking reflections for objects/animals/trees when you’re feeling quite awake, so can imagine this gets all the worse for lack of sleep. We realised how annoying tiny little lights can be which completely mess up your night vision. We realised that the ‘Danger’ signs on weirs just look like a black box in the dark.
We realised a lot of things.
Based on all these discoveries which we missed out on last year, I would really recommend doing as much training in the dark as possible. It will be the hardest bit of the race and getting comfortable paddling at night is only going to put you in a better stead for seeing the sun rise in the race itself.