The Plan: leave home for over six weeks for one Class C Internation Race, three World Cup Races, training on five differenct courses and to finish off, two Div 1 races in the UK.
Week 1 - strange feeling as I'm leaving not knowing what's really ahead but really excited about doing something I have always wanted to do.
Arrive in Foix, French Pyrennes in time for four days training before the race. I find it tough going as the water is much faster and stronger than anything I have trained on before. As the training went on I felt I was improving both technique and confidence but as usual training on my own I find myself setting courses that are either too easy or too hard.
Race runs - missed two gates in both runs, finishing second last out of 42 paddlers.
Week 2 - training in Bourg St Maurice, French Alps.
Apparently one of the toughest courses to paddle on and you can see why when you are on the water, just like creeking, you can't see over the horizon line on some of the drops. With back loops, missing eddies-never mind gates, getting stuck in stoppers and plenty of rolling, some of the added obstacles. I paddle most days with Yann, one of the clubs instructors who happened to be a C1 slalom paddler. Yann and everyone else I met on or near the river were all very friendly offering tips and advise on paddling, helping me repair my boat and also dinner on a few occassions. Everyone I met over there is welcome to come and stay here sometime.
On day 12 of the trip I got some bad news from the Irish Canoe Union - the selection committee has decided I can not compete in the World Cup Series but only Class C races, I would have no problem with this if I had not already been given the go ahead for these races. With no Class C races on anywhere during my time away - what now?? "C'est le jeu"
With some advice I decide to stay on in Bourg for over two weeks more training. It was mainly survival paddling in Bourg as the water levels started rising. Technique sessions on the nearby Moutiers stadium, one trip to a course in Yenne and a few days easier paddling in L'Argentiere where I met some paddlers from home and got a chance to run one of the local rivers. I also got the chance to enter a regional race, normally only open to local paddlers - on hearing of my situation I was entered as a guest, meaning not ranked, and competed with a mix of paddlers from different divisions. With some familiar faces from my trip so far I have never had so much support at a race. With two clean runs I was happy to finish in the middle of the group.