Beat downs suck! I know from experience there are different levels of beaterings but today I want to talk about the extremely painful, full on terrifying and mind altering ones which might only last a few long minutes but let me tell you the memory doesn’t fade as quickly.
When you’re pushing your paddling abilities beatdowns are surely an inevitable part of this process, but at what point do we stop? Do they keep on getting increasingly worse and more beatery until you aren’t around to beater anymore? Am I being really dramatic about our water based pastime?
My latest beatdown on a 0.9 Falls of Leny which was, in short, a lapse in judgement followed by a complete freeze up, resulting in a 40 second pin on the right hand side with water pouring over my head, thankfully able to breathe. I had time to look into the concerned yet calm faces of my pals before I started to unpin, dislodged and hurtled into a violent cartwheel out on my head, hitting it so hard I saw stars and my vision started to get dark. Having never been knocked out or fainted before I don’t have any point of reference but I knew I couldn’t afford another knock to the head so pulled the deck believing in that moment being unconscious out of my boat would be better than inside upside down. I ended up clinging to some rocks again wondering what the hell I’d been thinking about while my excellent safety crew came to my aid.
I think it takes your brain a little bit longer to catch up after, going to work on Monday in a sort of numb shuffle, but amongst all of the emotions of disappointment, vulnerability and frustration are other feelings. Feeling lucky that I can keep myself relatively calm in these situations, feeling proud that I have such amazing friends who will always have my back as best they can in these situations and feeling thankful that I’m still here to sulk over my beaterings!
I do, however, always try and take the positive out of situations and this is no different. Right off the bat myself and my crew found out first hand that hey, if you completely fuck up and go down the wrong line on the falls with zero speed…you can pin! I have still so much more to learn and sometimes being reminded to make better decisions, work harder to understand what you’re experiencing inside your head before tackling the rapid, whether you should leave it for another day, plan for the bad lines, freezing mid paddle stroke and think about your ability to get yourself out if shit turns nasty.
I think it’s important to get back on the horse in these situations and as usual I was out the next day, trying to put things into perspective and not to dwell on the what could have beens because Yes, I know it could’ve been much worse but it was bad enough thank you very much. I choose to learn from these mistakes and make sure as I move forward with my paddling I’m building on the skills that will help to keep me safer and hopefully avoid situations like this in the future.