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June 28, 2005

Racing down Crested Butte, CO’s 400ft/mile Oh-be-Joyful
Creek is an
annual tradition, whether there’s water or not, and this year at long

last there was plenty!

Brent Toepper set the date on Mt. Buzz and gave a ‘5PM
race time’ but I’m not sure he realized how much more water comes down
at 5 compared to 12 . . .

Anyway; practice runs ensued with several broken paddles,
boats, and swims and lots of folks dropped out due to the level, but we
managed to find 10 eager participants as well as 2 timers (Dixie Maree
and John Bankor) and we were off – at 4PM with water rising fast.

Now the race is usually pretty scrapy, and I was used
to dodging the flake-rocks and finding the deepest channels, though this
year it was more about ‘hit the tongue, not the hole’ and ‘stay on course’.
The 15’er up top was just a nice rolling boof, the meadow area was full
of waves, and the entry slides all smooth as could be. But there were
other issues. The 10’er was packing quite a punch, and it was difficult
to get any boof so meltdowns were common. Below the ‘s-turn’ slides water
was going right over the midstream log-jam – and so did I. And the ’25’er’
was really rolling right and forming a swirling pocket-hole over against
the right bank. So we boofed over the normal ‘knuckle’ rocks over on the
left then just pulled the bow up on the way down into the middle. Most
everybody back-endered in the hole below, and we had one racer break his
boat on the rocks on the right – ouch! Those last slides went by in a
hurry – punch the holes at the bottom and you were home free.

This year Ryan Casey took the title for his second
time paddling his H-3 255. Fresh of his win over Fisher and Tao at the
Red-bull race, he cruised the course in record time – well under the 4
minute mark of previous years. I was able to drive my Super-Hero in for
second place, which was good considering my off-course adventures, and
C-1 paddler Will Lyons drove his Blunt in to 3rd. So much fun was had,
about 6 of us walked back up for a ‘top-to-bottom’ victory lap from Ankle
Breaker down to the Slate on the highest water I’ve seen.

Thanks to all who participated and especially to DMP
and Johnny Bankor – who took a day off to keep this tradition alive.

Clay Wright



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Ryan Casey heads back to CB to celebrate another win