Friday, June 18, 2010

Biking and Whitewater rafting..what a great combo

On Wednesday, June 17th several of us from the MS bike team, namely Barb Wilson, Tom Seniuk, Tim Sparling, John Ross and myself embarked on bicycle to River Run near Renfew Ontario. Our bags were being driven and we had only ourselves and our bikes and the glorious open road. After lunch in Arnprior, the skies darkened and the rain that had been forecast seemed inevitable. I put on my rain jacket.

RiverRun is a family owned white water rafting company that kindly sponsored us as a team to raise money for MS. We rode out on Wednesday some 116km and spent about 2 hours in the pouring rain. By the time we arrived at Storyland near Cobden, I wanted to have a cup of tea with Alice. It was not open but we were directed to a little gas station and store called JR's. They had chairs and John, Barb and I nursed our chocolate milks while we dripped all over the counter. Some 5km from RiverRun I phoned them and asked them to put on hot coffee. We signed our waivers, quaffed coffee and went to the Milk House soon joined by Tom and Tim who had taken a longer route.

The Milk House is a very comfortable accommodation with fridge, stove, shower, double futons, a fenced yard and a screened porch. Our bikes were put in a little porch and I got changed.

We had enough wine and snacks to last many days and Tom had brought movies and a book. The River Run staff brought dinner to us, and we had pork, salad, vegetables, lemonade, tea and desert. It was at this time that I met Norm a 59 year old weathered New Zealand rafter. I invited him in for a drink as it was obvious that Barb was very nervous about rafting. Norm proceeded to both allay her fears and terrify her. He patiently answered all of her numerous questions.

The next morning, we walked down the road, past farmers fields and in glorious sunshine to breakfast. Our sodden clothing and shoes were left in our fenced yard. After breakfast, Norm gave a safety lecture telling us about ropes and paddles and what happens when the raft flips over. Barb was ashen at this point. We proceeded to pick up our helmets and paddles and were driven to the start point. There was another group of about 12 in a larger boat. We were in a small boat for extreme rafting.

Within a few minutes we approached our first rapid, a roar of water in pristine wilderness. Tom and I were in the bow of the boat and we paddled. I fell out of the boat, or was rather ejected. The video shows Tom almost went with me. The current was swift and Norm threw me the rope and hauled me in like a large fish. I had done rafting before and was never thrown. My confidence a little shaken we went on to the next rapid after some surfing in the first rapid. We watched colourful kayaks dance in the rapids.

The next rapid was larger and this time the entire raft flipped over. I found myself, as Norm had warned underneath the little yellow raft, gasping. I grabbed the rope and found John close to me. Norm righted the raft and gave me a paddle to grab, I gave my paddle to John and we were pulled by Norm back to safety.

This section of the river is beautiful with rocks and pines. It was clear how low the water level was. On the next rapid, Norm remained on board but all of us were thrown overboard..great fun.

The rafting was fairly strenous with a lot of hard paddling and tense moments.

We ended our day at 3pm and watched the video. I did not see the video as I walked back to our cabin to return my wetsuits that I had loaned to Barb and Tom. I hung them to dry. I purchased the video and watched it that evening.

The group was with Norm in the patio of the little pub and bar that is on site. River Run has a very large site that is not overdone and is very tasteful and comfortable. It was good that they had Norm guide us as we all felt very comfortable with him and his knowledge and vast experience. He was an exceptional guide.

We were told that dinner would be sent to our accommodation and it was, ice cream, salad and chicken kebabs. I washed it down with vodka lemonade and of course more wine. We watched the video and a movie Tom had brought, the Italian Job, a good caper movie with Donald Sutherland. (The first night we watched Catch me if you Can)

The River Run staff was exceptional with us and I can not think of a better place to raft. I have tried Owl and Wilderness Tours and was most impressed with River Run.

This morning, River Run drove us all to a local restaurant for breakfast before we rode back to Ottawa. :Larry told us about his fathers beef farming and we passed glorious farms. The breakfast was terrific! We went back to pack only to find that RiverRun had given us all T shirts.

We mounted our bikes for the ride home, except Barb who was waiting for Caroline to give her a drive, thrilled with our two days. We passed fields of sweet clover and grasses, hills, old barns and farmers on tractors. John and I rode ahead as Tim was waiting for Tom, John and I stopped at East Side Marios in Arnprior for lunch and shortly after (Some 40 minutes) were joined by Tom and later Tim. Tim had a sore knee from rafting and the four of us rode home to Ottawa.

The Ottawa Valley is beautiful, quiet and the rafting put on by RiverRun second to none!

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