The Country Music Marathon is this weekend - an event we like to watch sitting on a cooler in our waders on our way out to the river.
Running is a sport that is hard for a paddler to understand. A hobby that makes your nipples bleed and your toenails fall out - versus gliding downstream with a dog and a cold beer.
Seriously, who is having more fun at the finish line:
...or River Rob?
However, there is some new technology out there that is extremely useful to canoeists, and we have the runners to thank for it. When planning a trip, river miles are easy to calculate because they are marked on the USGS quads. The missing piece of information for map gazers and day dreamers has always been the length of the shuttle. We've never been able to measure the distances on those gravel country roads ahead of time. And a long shuttle is a major factor to consider when choosing what section to float. Especially if your shuttle is on a bike.
Now check out http://www.mapmyrun.com/. It's an interactive mapping tool that lets you figure the mileage of any road route down to the .01.
Say you wanted to float the Gasper River near Bowling Green, Kentucky. MapMyRun would tell you that it's going to require 11.2 shuttle miles to float 8.0 miles from Galloway Mills Rd. to the Hwy. 231 bridge.
But it's only a 3.5 mile shuttle to float 10.5 miles on the next section (Hwy. 231 bridge to the Barren River).
That's a big difference on a bicycle, which is the only way you can do solo canoe trips.
Keep in mind that if you are on a bike distance is only half the story. The first half mile of the "easy" 3.5 mile shuttle is a 250 foot climb straight up.
You can get that kind of elevation change information from MapMyRun, too, but sometimes it's better not to know.
7% grade up to "Sally's Rock" at confluence of Gasper and Barren Rivers.