Cruising down the river

WEBSTER CITY – Paddlers both young and old, those with experience along with novices, took to the Boone River Saturday morning at Webster City for the annual Boone Bash River Dash.

The event gave canoe and kayaking enthusiasts an opportunity to cruise to Briggs Woods from the Riverside Park canoe access – a little more than four miles.

And Saturday seemed to be the perfect day for the dedicated racer as well as those who chose to take a more meandering cruise.

According to Brian Stroner, one of the organizers, the event was divided into divisions to appeal to the varying skill levels of those taking part.

“The river is in just perfect condition for the races,” Stroner said. “It’s not too swift and not too low, so participants of all experience levels should have a good day.”

Kevin Freybler, of Webster City, was the first to put his canoe in the Boone River Saturday morning and he was one of the first two to finish the race at Briggs Woods.

This was Freybler’s third Boone Bash River Dash. But this time he went solo. Usually, his wife, Nancy, competes in the kayak division, but she took the day off due to an injury.

“We canoe quite a bit,” Freybler said. “This is kind of our little hobby.”

Saturday’s event was the first time Freybler had been out on the Boone since the waterway swelled over its banks during spring flooding.

Nancy Freybler said the Boone is a favorite canoeing spot. She and her husband put in many hours paddling the Boone River every summer, she said.

Roger DeGroot, of Cedar Falls, was taking part in the Boone Bash for the first time. An experienced kayaker, he was excited to try a new river event, he said.

“I do several of these events each year – kayak, bike, run – and I just came over this morning to try out the Boone River,” DeGroot said. “I met up with a couple friends here.”

Though Saturday was his first time kayaking on the Boone River, DeGroot said he hoped to come back another time and explore more of the river that runs through Hamilton County.

“We’d like to try out some of the recreational trails in this area with bikes, maybe bring some friends along to try them out,” he said.

Saturday’s event also featured the Iowa Games Adventure Race, a two-person event that included biking, running, canoeing and mystery challenges.

“This is really an adventure,” said Tyler Abens, who coordinates the event.

The participants mountain-biked to Briggs Woods Park via the Boone River Recreational trail. Along the way, they stopped at 7B Ranch for a mystery challenge which turned out to be an archery shoot, facilitated by the Border Brigade Archery Club. They also had to go off-road at Briggs Woods on trails. There were check points the teams of two were required to find and more mystery challenges.

“Then they biked back to the race start area so they can canoe out to Briggs Woods, stopping at three checkpoints along the way,” he said.

Abens said there were 25 teams participating in the Adventure Race, though one team had an extra man at the start of the race. Mike Teske and Dave Halferty were joined at the starting line by young Evan Halferty, all of Lawerence, Kan. The toddler, wearing a shark-finned bike helmet, took off with his adult team members and rode the first 100 yards of the race.