As 2017 draws to a close and we welcome in 2018, We are greeted with new resolutions and aims for a new year.
2017 has been part of an incredible journey for us.
We have managed to explore and paddle in new places and with new friends as well as welcoming many old friends to our base here in the Loire Valley
For us 2017 started in a snowy Alp du Huez with Bernard and Mairead. For me learning how to snowboard and for Jenny showing us whats possible on a single ski.
Check out our short video.
We headed south visiting the beautiful Ardeche before some time relaxing in Perpengion, a quick stop in Millau and we headed home just in time for the spring rain.
As the levels on the River Cher rose we were greeted by endless days of surfing the waves next to our home. For me, this was one of the biggest stages of my recovery from shoulder surgery. Learning to paddle and enjoy the boat again but more importantly being able to trust it again.
With Larcay making a quick appearance we decided to attend the first freestyle competition of the season at Saint Pierre de Boeuf.
For us, this really marked the beginning of meeting new paddlers with a few people briefed about our bad French we got by.
With the next competition at Tournon Saint Martin approaching, we decided we wanted to utilise the course some more beforehand. As our local stade, we wanted some home advantage. We spent a few weeks paddling and training after fitting a new carbon seat to Jennys Jackson Star she was learning to get the most from it and like myself trusting my shoulder she found herself learning to trust the seat and its support.
A ladies freestyle weekend in Millau allowed Jenny an amazing opportunity to meet many of the female paddlers here in France and continue her huge improvement in her playboat.
We headed back to SPB for another weekend eventually staying for 2 weeks back in the big boats honing some skills ready for our Experience South Tyrol Trip in Austria and Italy. At SPB we met so many great people and now good friends. Being able to paddle and then in the evening share a beer in such a friendly environment.
We went home for just 1 night before heading west to Charnay with Marlene for a long weekend of freestyle.
We continued west to Austria and Oetztal for 10 days of exploring and fun before our group arrived. For myself being able to paddle confidently again on big volume class 4 and class 5 was really the moment I could say that I am fixed and that the surgery was a success. Proving to myself that I am able and happy.
For Jenny Austria provided the perfect opportunity to test her new carbon seat in her trusty Pyranha Burn and put it through its paces. Charging lines and making controlled moves was something she thought was forgotten but her confidence grew by the day.
With the group in tow, we hit up Austria before heading over the mountain pass to Italy and King of the Alps. One of my favourite events.
Once back in France and a visit from the Grandparents Jenny again headed south to Makinito competition.
By this time the canoe hire in central France was starting to pick up with 2 visiting Irish Scout groups each spending a week and WWKC from Dublin spending a weekend of fine wine, chateaux and canoe camping in the Loire valley.
As the summer tapered off in France it was time for is to head to Germany for Paddle Expo to check out all of the latest equipment at Europe’s biggest paddlesport show. This year I was working with Yak. it certainly was pretty cool to see an almost life-sized me poster on the stand.
A bus ride back to central France and I turned around to go back to Oetz for Sickline and our Experience Oetz trip. Again arriving early to explore, allowing for plenty of time on the water with Jennys confidence sky high she was back to her best and paddling everything with style and control.
For me, a return to the wellebrucke and a few laps of the race course and I knew I was really back. Not fast, but able with the fire reignited.
A week in Oetz with the group of ladies involved many feet and plenty of fun finishing off with the Sickline champion’s party to round things off.
Home again to central France before again heading south to the warm waters of Saint Pierre de Boeuf to meet friends and to celebrate Jens birthday. With warm water and plenty of people, the last real training before many jetted off to Argentina for the world championships.
As we watched the live stream unsure of which country to support instead opting to cheer for friends. With so many from all over the globe it’s tough being a spectator but to watch as Marlene and Quim take home silver and gold respectfully. Is a great feeling.
Into December and it is back to the UK for two weeks of visiting friends and family before Christmas. I still managed to find time to visit Yak adventure Equipment and pick up some new goodies.
A short hop back to France for Christmas and some time to relax before the new year. A time to set new goals and new challenges.
We already have a number of Experiences already online for 2018 and now with the fire back it’s a chance for me to build fitness and compete again. I want to be competitive again and really enjoy paddling.
As always thank you to all of the brands that support and sponsor me both through injury and now back to fitness. Life is a journey and its made possible by these brands
And of course Thank you to Jenny, for going along with my stupid ideas and really putting up with me.