Rod Price, our resident paddling expert, is here to offer a few tips for the paddling legs of the upcoming night races. Keep up with all of Rod's paddling adventures on his website www.rodpriceadventure.com
When paddling at night, I find that it is seldom "totally" dark. Usually there is sufficient light to proceed without headlights. Constantly using your lights will diminish your natural night vision. I usually instruct the navigator to just use his light when reading the map. When we get close to a checkpoint, then all the lights come on. During the race, try not to blind other teams passing by you.
Knowing where things are in your backpack will make you more efficient in the paddling leg. When its time to grab a power bar or pop some electrolites, do it quickly. Keep your backpack between your legs so you can quickly access your camelback. The more time you spend paddling, the faster your canoe will go.
I know of a few adventure racers that wear clear goggles when they are biking at night. This keeps bugs and tree branches from hitting your eyes. I would recommend wearing goggles for the Luminescent AR. Last year, mullett would be jumping all around us everytime we hit the shallows. Many just bounced off the canoe. Two landed in the canoe, and several hit my life-preserver. It would be very easy to get hit in the eye by one of these crazy fish.
Exiting the Canoe
At night it is very easy to flip a canoe or end up face down in the mud getting in or out. It is always a good idea to be a little more deliberate at this time. Around the shore it is hard to tell how solid your footing will be. I like to use a canoe paddle to see how "mucky" it is. When going to shore to find a checkpoint, I also advise taking a paddle with you when out of the boat in case you are surprised by a wild critter.