Major Accident - Hospital

I had planned to train in Nottingham until Friday afternoon but after not being able to get hold of my father who has health complications, I thought something may be wrong. I cut my training camp short as I couldn't shake the lack of contact from him and need to know what was going on. I arrived back in Warrington to co-incidentally bump into my uncle who had arrived on my dads house on his behalf to pick up some of my Dads personal Items and informed me about how my Dad was in the operating theater after a serious road collision that took place two days earlier and had only got the message on his answer machine a few hours before I bumped into him.

A note to all :Please make sure that your next of kin details are up to date as having changed my phone number recently, the NHS had no way of contacting me and I wish I had known earlier. Carrying their details on your person is good idea too!

My father has always taken to motorcycle's for transport while traveling locally for economy and was on his way to Tesco when, although I am yet to hear the full story, a car pulled out of a side road who hadn't looked to see the traffic on the main road, colliding almost head on into my Father's bike tossing him onto the road where he took a second impact. His helmet was ripped off as he landed awkwardly causing severe head and neck injuries. He has suffered a broken arm which has now been pinned and plated together. His hip is shattered and although has now been operated on will need replacing once he has made some form of recovery. Both his legs are hugely swollen and bruised and while he has some movement in the left leg, he cannot feel or move his right and we are waiting to find out more on the situation with that. Fortunately he seems to have survived with little or no brain damage, although he no longer has full use of his tongue which may or may not improve.

A big thank you to the NHS Crew and everyone who has helped my father so far and forthcoming. 

Seeing him this way has put me in a lot of distress and my already overloaded schedule has now become a mission of tasks to take on on top of that. I am of a very rational mind, but the seeing my father like this breaks my heart. I hope that one day he will be able to walk again and we will be able to do all the things and take on all the adventures we had been planning once I broke back into elite level Slalom Kayaking. This Olympic dream of mine takes another hit here as once again, my father is going to need full time care and so my dreams and goals will have to be adapted. Life is for living though and my family is my life. They come first!  

I had been wanting to post about road awareness prior to this accident after witnessing too many lately. I think with car safety being constantly improved people are driving with less care and attention. While I was training in Nottingham over the last week, I have witnessed 5 accidents, 2 of which where cyclists were the victims. I have seen many people riding bikes with no lights on, cars with one light out and blinding with the other, vehicles driving without lights as night falls, and a severe lack of awareness and use of indicators especially in areas where drivers are familiar with the roads. I saw one cyclist who was lit up like a Christmas Tree take a side impact as a driver pulled onto the 60mph road without stopping before he entered the carriage way. There is rarely any traffic at the junction and with no street lighting the darkness of the night prevails and without the beam of car headlights the driver had arrived at the junction with the assumption the road will be clear and didn't look properly.

Cars are machines, and as any one who works with machines knows, they can malfunction. I see too many drivers pushing their machines beyond there designed intention and this, although usually the vehicles being more than capable now to deal with, puts not only the driver, but more importantly others at risk when things do go wrong with them, or indeed with the drivers awareness and ability.


Training camp in Nottingham

After a days rest, I headed over to York with AdventureX for an evening of kayaking expedition shows with Ben Marr. It was good to hear in more detail about some great adventures he and the guys had been taking on.

From there I headed to Nottingham to train on the Slalom Course, after opening for the first time in a long time as the flooding finally subsides. It was good to be back in a slalom boat on moving water with some gates to work on my techniques before the racing begins next weekend. Feeling powerful on the water and although a little rusty on the gates themselves, in good form moving forward.

It almost felt like summer with the sun beaming down through clear blue sky's, but a chilly wind still biting, forcing the hats coats to stay on. 

On Thursday the Welsh Junior Squad arrived for a training camp and after catching up with Rich, Andy and the gang over lunch, I was invited to join a coached session with them. Thanks to Canoe Wales for the opportunity- was so good to have the some feedback on my paddling and good to be able to look back at the session with a video review post session. It was good to see the squad pushing hard and paddling well.

A week in Grandtully

The premier division slalom race on the the 2014 is to be held in Grandtully on the 8th of March. With the white water course in Nottingham being closed for the year so far my slalom boat had only seen flat water action and with only two weeks till the race I decided to make the long journey to Scotland and train at the race venue.

All while I traveled the rain was coming down heavy and when I had finally arrived the river had risen by a meter making for some interesting white water on the top section and a nice wave train through the middle and bottom sections. There were still a few eddys for some breakouts and there were plenty of gates already in good places so course setting didn't take long.

With five days of paddling I was in for a treat. I found a good spot to dry my kit with a well placed tree protecting my gear while the rain came in bursts.  

The river dropped slightly over night making the eddylines more pronounced improving the quality of the upstream gates. It felt so good to be on moving water again in my slalom boat, gripping the flow and guiding my edges through the gates.

On the Saturday there was a river racing event on so after my first session I had a good catch up with a few old faces I hadn't seen for some time. It was go to see the 'Go Kayking' guys again, pushing the kayaking in the right direction. With the race on throughout the day I headed over to the Birks of Aberfeldy, a lovely walk with some fantastic views.

I took the opportunity for a light run back down and had a good rest before taking to the river again in the evening, only getting off as the sun set in the distance. I was so full of energy I could off paddled for hours more!

There was a heavy rain all night, but after an active few days, I slept through without noticing despite only the noise of the rain thrashing against the roof of my car, which was my humble abode of Joice for my mini adventure to Scotland.

By morning the river was in full flow. I have never seen the Grandtully rapids with so much water pounding through. There were big crashing waves all the way through, with many trees and large bits of wood making there way down for a surf. There were no breakouts in sight and with the gate lines on full tension the gates were still being beaten by the waves. I pulled all the gates out  to the side to keep them from being damaged and got on for a play.

The river at this level was great fun to paddle but I hope the level drops a bit for the race, giving us some good eddys for upstream gates.

Heading home was quite an interesting journey seeing the Aberfeldy Caravan Park and Campsite engulfed by the flow of the river, and having no choice but to drive through flood the river itself in my Ford Focus... quite nerve wracking to say the least ..

Croc in the Mersey - England

So I planned to be in Nottingham for a few days but with the white water course still flooded I stayed home and headed to the River Mersey, only to be met by the unexpected.

Enjoy the Video

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Kayaking the Fariy Glen, Conwy

The Fairy Glen is a section of the River Conwy. There are plans formed by energy companies NPower and Dulas being discussed that will result in the loss of what is considered as the most  reliable test piece rapid for kayaking in the UK. To learn more about theses plans and how to save the Conwy from being Damn Controlled Click Here.

With a good nights rain the Fairy Glen section of the River Conwy made for a great escape from a busy week. I headed over in the morning and met some friends on the river which made getting back to my car at the top a whole lot easier. Above is a video clip of the main features of the Fairy Glen section. Thanks to AdventureX for providing me with some great gear from Nookie keeping me completely dry on the river making getting changed in the very wet and windy weather a 2 second job.