Our Unsung heroes, called ‘seconds’ or ‘shuttle bunnies’, these are the people that provide support for paddlers. Their role typically involves taking a vehicle to the take-out point of a trip, or in the case of river races, meeting their paddler/s at multiple points along the river to offer refreshments and spare parts. More often than not, though, their unofficial duties extend to that of being a cheerleader, cook, navigator, paramedic, psychologist, physiotherapist and emotional punch bag. The list of tasks is endless.
For these reasons, a more apt name for them would be ‘unsung heroes’. They are the true legends of the sport. Paddling can easily become a very selfish pursuit, and a very common manifestation of this is that paddlers take their seconds for granted. I mean, face it, why are they called ‘seconds’ in the first place? Second to what?
Our lives as paddlers would be quite miserable without sacrifices from shuttle bunnies. Here are some suggestions to keep the shuttle bunnies in your life on your side.
• Don’t mess them around. They are doing you a favour, not the other way around.
• Make sure your vehicle has enough fuel for the trip. Don’t make this their problem.
• If your trip will be quite long, arrange something nice for them to do while you’re on the water. Don’t expect them to just sit around waiting for you.
• Make sure you provide good directions to get to the take-out and other points along the river where you would like them to meet you. It causes a lot of unnecessary stress for both parties if your shuttle driver takes unexpected detours.
• Don’t ask the same shuttle driver on every trip or race that you do. At some point, the favour is no longer a favour.
• If you have a big group, club together and pay someone to do the shuttle.
• If you end up having the same shuttle bunny on many trips, arrange a trip for them as a treat to say thank you. Book a trip with a commercial rafting company, or buy/borrow/rent a kayak or raft that suits your shuttle bunny’s skill level.
• If you do a trip far away from home, don’t be shy to ask a local to be your shuttle driver. I have done many trips where I recruited a shuttle driver for the trip on the evening before getting on the water. There is always someone-who-knows-someone with time on his hands who would be keen for a little adventure. Good places to ask around include the establishment where you plan to stay the night before the trip, or a restaurant where you stop for a meal. Try the local pub too, but don’t be surprised then if your would-be shuttle driver doesn’t pitch the next day.
Race organisers, a word of advice for you too: if you want paddlers to keep coming back to your races,…
READ MORE from page 58 in Issue 4 of 2018: https://issuu.com/thepaddlemag/docs/tpm_4_2018