An interesting day yesterday as the bulk of the canoeist and their support crews passed through Aldermaston Wharf on their route from Devizes to Westminster whilst participating in the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Challenge. I had volunteered to assist at Aldermaston by taking boat number and times at the official checkpoint, along with some traffic control.
Any other year, the checkpoint would have been very busy as the canoeists have to get out of their canoes or kayaks above Aldermaston Lock and carry their boat across Aldermaston swing bridge before re-entering the canal downstream. Most of the time it’s a very busy road. However this year the road has been closed whilst Network Rail raise the heights of the two bridges at Aldermaston as part of the rail electrification project.
From a safety perspective it got rather interesting when adrenaline charged canoeists met first time hireboats departing the marina. Plastic canoes don’t mix well with scarcely controlled heavy steel boats! That’s why the Challenge officials were present to control the canoeists and support teams. Actually I would consider the road movements of some of the support teams to be the greater event hazard.
An interesting and enjoyable day with me crawling into bed around 11:30pm dreaming of highly competitive canoeists paddling through the night.