Sunday, March 22, 2009

Going solo.

Canoelover, captured in a rare photograph.  The Canoelover is a solitary
 creature and since he's usually alone, photographs are rare. Photo courtesy
of Jon Stackpole, 
one of the few paddlers known to frequent the same habitat.

Been thinking about a weird (for me at least) thing these past few weeks.  A few Sundays ago I gave a mini (30 minute) solo canoe lesson in the pool at Canoecopia and asked the attendees to visualize their first bicycle.

Interestingly, when I asked if anyone had visualized a tandem bicycle, no one raised their hands.

So I find it interesting that the average person thinks of bicycles as solo vehicles, but canoes are tandem vehicles.  I suppose when you ask a person to think dog, you'll get everything from
 dachshunds to Alsatians. I think woman and I see redhead.  Lucky me. 

At this point I'm fighting cultural memes that are pretty ingrained, but I'm fighting it anyway. I want more people to see canoe as solo canoe.

There's a good reason for this, and it's not because I want to sell more canoes (although I'm not going to complain about it).  I want more people to paddle, period.  Solo means one less impediment to getting out there, namely, finding someone who will also blow off work, school, or cleaning the leaves out of the gutters.

And if you want to learn to paddle, better in a solo.  The feedback loop is immediate and therefore more didactic than in a tandem.  In short, if you do something, it's either you or something else.  No one else to blame if the canoe goes somewhere you don't intend it to go.  You should carry a little mirror in your thwart bag -- so when you end up going backwards under a fallen tree and scrape yourself off into the river, you can pull out the mirror and give yourself a good scolding.

So close your eyes and think canoe, and think solo canoe.  Drive the image of the tandem canoe far from your mind.  Use this lovely Wenonah Prism as a focal point.  All 33 pounds of her.  Think of how wonderful it would be to go someplace alone, totally solo, without having to worry about finding a paddling partner.  Even if you have a friend who paddles, think of how much more fun it is to paddle with a friend in another solo.

Better yet, think of the camaraderie of taking ten or twelve friends, all in solo canoes, down a particularly lazy stretch of the Wisconsin River (unless it's blowing like stink, in which the word lazy hardly fits). It's wonderful, and something about that many solo canoes on the water at once is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Respectfully submitted,



Capt'n O Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

I think it much better that, as we all go along together, that every man paddle his own canoe. - 'The Indian' in The Settlers in Canada by Captain Marryat (1844)

Brian said...

I'm with you, Darren. I mean, come on, most people drive their cars solo!

David Morlock said...

Preach it, brother!!!