Being the Best?

Another great weekend under my belt.  Paddling, biking, catching up with friends and dancing with my sweetheart (yes, I’m a lucky lady who has a boyfriend who enjoys dancing!).  I paddled with my boyfriend down a calm stretch of swiftwater on the upper Deschutes, with the exception of a couple class twos which meant some bigger waves and navigating some wood. A dichotomy to the race that was above my put in and below the take out….but I’ll get back to this.

While visiting, Sam and I got into a discussion about “being the best”…the world’s best in some cases…and whether that is motivating or demotivating to the “average” person.  It seems to me that we’ve gotten so hyper-focused on being the best at whatever sport or athletically based endeavor, that it can leave people uninspired to try, or at least feeling like an underachiever if they’re not hucking 360’s off the half pipe or running class 5 whitewater. Take the Olympics for example.  Has anyone noticed the announcers talk about losing out on the gold as if it was a failure? Does this bug anyone else?  I’m so amazed and impressed with the “next level” talent at such an event!  Just for making it on the team–that’s a win in my book.

Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge there are a whole lot of people doing awesome stuff right here in our backyard.  Which brings me back to this weekend.  I went for two really fun bike rides. I’m strong but technically not advanced and probably never will be (although I just bought a new bike at local shop Pine Mountain Sports and I’m assured I’ll be able to do more with a bike that wasn’t built circa 2002). One ride was out at Phil’s Trail and the other good ol’ Rivertrail up from Lava Island.  This was a quick and easy ride just to get my spin on before paddling and conveniently dropping Sam off to take photo’s of the “Hot Lava” race this last Saturday.  This is a race down Lava Island falls which is considered an “easy class 5”.  Ha…the words themselves make me laugh and while I know enough about paddling to understand what they mean, it still gives me a giggle.

These great boaters did a “mass start” and ran this rapid down to Meadow Camp picnic area.  There, I met Sam who paddled with me, on this very short stretch.  Beautiful and easy, except for as previously mentioned, a couple class 2s that take some maneuvering that my first year paddleboarding whitewater, wouldn’t have gone so well. I’m not sure any of the boaters out there for the race would have registered there WERE rapids on that stretch (had they not been dating a “learning whitewater paddleboarder” for the last two years).  It was short, fun, challenging at the end, and I took out right where the racers paddled Meadow camp, the local “town run” which was the real water.  I felt great because it was a personal win for me.  I’d read the water and charged it (with a little help from Sam, although I could barely hear him and would have chosen the same line).  I ran the lines well and never bobbled.  Like winning gold. For me.

For the record, I don’t feel that any of the awesome boaters/SUP’ers I paddle with judge me, and they’re all super supportive.  Sometimes I don’t think they comprehend the skills at which they perform, so they might not appreciate the effort (and sometimes fear) that accompanies my paddling, but they’re very positive and encouraging.  So I ask YOU…how do you all feel when you see the social media out there?  Extreme movies?  Film festivals with experts doing amazing things right after the other?  I hope you’re inspired…to do something…and it doesn’t have to involve hucking yourself off a waterfall.

Thanks for listening…


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