With fireworks, carnival rides, and 3,000 paddlers racing up to 70 miles on the scenic Susquehanna River, the 47-year-old General Clinton is the most welcoming river race out there. While Olympic hopefuls and pros will show up with their 20-pound graphite canoes and carbon-fiber paddles, there are dozens of shorter races for families and amateurs. "Any old canoe will work," says Jim Genkos, owner of nearby outfitter J & J Canoe Supplies, "but you should invest in some foot braces and foot straps for improved stability and easier steering." His other tips: Pre-run a few sections of the course (especially the put-in and the fast stretch below the Oneonta Dam) and persuade some friends to drive along the river with supplies so you can keep your boat light. From $32; canoeregatta.org
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