Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 MR340: Finding a new family on the river - Pt.2

    We spent some time resting at CP1 Miami. Each of us got a nap in. There's a lot going on there being the first main stop for paddlers to sleep.  They will have paddled a total of 106 miles in less than 24 hours and it'll be the wee hours of the morning around 2am. Their crews are setting up tents and van spaces to crash. Some folks sleep on the ground.  We kind of hung out and rested. Everyone got some good nutrition in and refueled for the night ahead.

  Night time paddling was a slightly welcome change. The day's heat beat up all of us, myself included.  As we paddled through the night headed towards Glasgow we were all still in good spirits. Jerico and I talked quite a bit through the race as we both stood towards the front of the board. Dale was towards the back of the board with his camp chair propped up and seated as he double bladed. The combination of the splash of Dale's paddle, the distance between him and us, and his bit of hearing loss made it difficult for us to have a lot of conversation with him. Yet, when he talked, we listened.

    This race was a significant one for many reasons. The obvious, there never has been a 3-4 man sup enter the race. It was an untested vessel. I had a few people tell me the board would break under the strain of the race. We were definitely the under dogs with many people thinking we didn't have a chance to finish after losing our fourth paddler. Dale even had had thoughts of backing out after we lost the 4th paddler.  My choice for a team was questioned by many. Jerico had attempted this race four times prior to this attempt and DNF'd (did not finish)  each time.  Many people questioned him as a choice. I was asked if Dale could survive a race like this? I heard it all.

 Even with all of this in the mix I knew we would finish.  Why? A few reasons.

     I made a promise to Jerico in 2015, that I would build a vessel like none other and get him to the finish line. I guaranteed a finish! Pretty ballsy, I know.  That was good enough for him. Also I chose Jerico because I like underdogs. People that aren't usually given a shot. I knew what he had in him. What most people lack, Grit. It's something you can't teach. The man has Grit coming out of his ass! I knew he was a good choice and he wouldn't give up on me.

                                                          Jerico at a checkpoint

   As I looked for a 4th paddler, Jerico suggested Dale. Jerico actually had asked Dale about it and Dale declined the invitation. So I reached out to him and told him what my plan was and that we were going to finish.  Slightly hesitant, he said as long as his health was good he was in. (later Dale told me he only agreed because he knew of me and what I was about. An awesome compliment). Did I mention he is 81? I wasn't too worried about Dale though. He has been an adventurer all his life. In 2015 he paddled the entire Mississippi river in 80 days! Granted, SUP was something somewhat new to him but paddling wasn't.

                         Dale on his source to sea paddle of the Mississippi 2015 at 80yrs old

  The hours of cool night made for good paddling. Our pace was slower at night but we kept steady. Despite a long day of paddling the fellas kept paddling steady through the night. Dale would paddle for hours and then slump down in his camp chair and snooze a bit. Easily I'd say Dale put in 12-14 hours of solid paddling daily. I know 18 year olds that can't do that. Jerico and I jawed away with each other and talked about most everything. A little about Dirty Nancy, a 1971 VW bus he owned in the 90's which now resides in my driveway after we rescued it from the woods of Mississippi last year. To women, life, music and learning. All the while he was smiling and saying I can't believe we're still hauling ass.

  And haul ass we did.  We made Glasgow paddling in the dark and later witnessing the first sunrise of the race.  Pulling into Glasgow late morning we were pretty tired.  We got the report from Brenda where all the other paddlers were. Lauren, Frank, and Ryan were all 15 miles ahead. Chip, and Phil were a few hours behind us. So we lodged the 123lb greystoke board on the boat ramp  and clambered up to where Brenda parked the Big blue Bertha B*tch and found Tj Holman had joined us to help crew.
                                                         Always smiling, TJ Holman

This was a much needed break for the team. We were all a bit tired and needed a rest and to get some good solid food in. Total tally=142 miles.  We each found different spots to sleep after wolfing down some grub. The highlight for me was the Asian style food truck that was up by the bathroom. As I waited for the lady to cook my food she gave me a free watermelon drink that I gladly sucked down.  Some type of noodle dish came out and it was amazing. Amazing enough to cause me to expeditiously walk to the bathroom.  Nonetheless, after my trip to the commode I walked back to hang with the team and found everyone lounging which I gladly did too.

  Not too long after I woke I got to see Chip and Phil-O-Cookie paddle in.
They were hung up by another paddler through the night that they helped limp along to get into Glasgow. They were a welcome sight to the Greystoke crew as we pretty much paddled by ourselves all night and had not seen any of the sup paddlers since we left Miami.  They were in good spirits despite the night paddle with a disgruntled paddler in tow. Phil was all smiles and no talk as usual. Chip was all smiles and all talk as usual. I love Chip's demeanor in tough circumstances. Calm and collected. He reaffirms that what happens in life is supposed to the way it does.  All for a reason. I believe he's right.

                              I guess we were there long enough that dale grew dreads! 
                                        (with the help of Rod Wellington of course)

   After we had our lounge session we decided to load up and press on. The goal was to make Katfish Katy's before Thursday (Day 3) morning, get some sleep and paddle on to Jeff City to get in late morning.  This was a long stretch. 42 miles. Roughly 7.5-8 hrs of paddling going into the evening. We'd have to maintain about 6mph to get into Katfish  paddling steady.  Yet, the paddle was not too bad knowing we were going into this:

   Keep in mind its still a heat index of 100+ everyday. We're sweating bullets and having to keep close tabs on our hydration and food. Dale has been down this road before but not on a level this extreme. Jerico has never pushed this far in a paddling race. So my concern was for their health and keeping hydrated. I felt like a father always asking them,"you drinking enough". You getting those electrolytes in"? When's the last time you had an electrolyte?"  An odd position considering Jerico could be my dad and Dale could be my grand-dad. But the fellas had their needs down. They continued to push hard paddling through the evening hours.

    Some of the most rewarding times were when we collectively decided to all jump off the board in the river. Generally it happened 3-5 times a day.

                                                      Dale jumping in off the side
The night passed easily and we paddled into Katfish Katy's arriving before 3am. Brenda was awaiting our arrival ad happy we me it with no problems. We caught a ride on Ron's truck up away from the ramp and pitched tents.   I asked the fellas what they thought for sleep and somehow ( I think I pushed the time a little) we went for 2 hrs so we could get on the water before daybreak.  So like scurrying rats we went our ways to find a place to sleep. Dale's patterns were becoming apparent to us. He sought out the more secluded and high ground areas away from everyone. Years of adventuring gave him knowledge of how to get good sleep.

   2hrs went fast. I awoke in my one man tent by someone touching my leg. I jumped up ready to gouge someone's eyes out. False alarm. Just Brenda doing her crew duty. Apparently I sleep likek the dead. Silent. unstirring. Words dont't wake me. Touch startles me.
   Good thing we didn't sleep too long, or should I say good thing For Bryan Hopkins being at the checkpoint. Apparently while we slept, the Greystoke drifted off the banks and out into the river. Bryan told us he has to wade/swim out and save it!

   Crisis averted, we gathered our gear and loaded up. The next stop was the one Jerico and I looked forward to most of all out of the whole race, Jeff City, Noren access. Better known as Wilson's serenity point. Our beloved river angel, Joe Wilson, was waiting for us. A man you will never forget if you've ever met him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2016 MR340: Finding a new family on the river - Pt.1

  Those of you that know me understand the MR340 is a race close to my heart as it's in my backyard here in Missouri. It's where I found myself back in 2011 when I became the first SUP to enter and complete the race in a sea of kayaks, surf ski's, and canoes. Out of 117 vessels that year I placed 34th. Not too shabby for a guy standing up. I thought that was a pretty good accomplishment for myself and by far the most memorable 340 I would ever have.  Little did I know 5 years later (this year, 2016) would become my most coveted 340 race I have ever had and probably will.  Why? Because I found a new family on the river (oh, and there's that whole 3 man sup thing too)  Read on.

     Since my first 340 in 2011 I've tried to figure out how to get more SUP's to enter the 340.  It's a grueling, heat filled slog-fest that takes a special person to complete. People paddle 340 miles over 3-4 days on the Missouri river starting from Kansas city ending in St charles, MO. We've had a couple solos enter a couple years after like John Straub of Seattle and Local friend Blake Thornton (2015 record holder) but never have had a lot of stand ups in one race. In the fall of 2015 I came up with the idea of trying to bring more SUP paddlers by creating a group that would go down the river together. I asked a select group to paddle with me. First asked was Chip Walter,  a friend I met in 2013 while racing the 300 mile Florida Everglades challenge. A seasoned paddler who I knew could handle the race.  Chip's best attributes is he can assume a leadership role when needed but also can follow when needed. A trait hard to find in people.
Chip With His daughter

     Next was a friend  that has emerged over the years that had zero sup experience except a 20 minute "here's how to sup" 2 weeks prior to the race. Jerico Lefort, A.K.A. The traveling Gnome.  Having never been on a SUP before,  he would seem a very un-likley person to ask. Yet, what he lacked in experience he more than made up for in grit and determination. 

                                           Jerico at work chopping a dugout canoe

Dale Sanders A.K.A The Greybeard adventurer.  I met Dale about 6 months prior to the race as he was giving a talk and showing a video about his 2015 source to sea paddle of the Mississippi river. Yes, at 80 years old he paddled the entire Mississippi  in 80 days. As you've already guessed from his Picture, Dale is no kid. But that was no concern to me. He's legit on the water in every respect. Asking him to join the group was Jerico's idea. It came from a picture from Dale's talk. He was a great choice to join us.
                                          left to right: Jerico, Dale Sanders, Janet Mooreland, Me


Phil Rodway
 A.K.A. Phil-O-Cookie
   Phil is a heck of a paddler. Quiet and introspective, he's a person of few words. But he can paddle. He has never attempted a  race of this magnitude.  This was his first ultra-distance race. Longest one prior to this was 50mi. You may ask why Phil-O-Cookie? Well, just because. Everyone needs a nickname.

                                              Phil-O-Cookie on the yellow Bark board

     Joe Alfafaro. 
 Joe Owns Alfa SUP in Springfield, MO. He's immersed in the business and does a great job supporting and building the sup community there. Joe was the least seasoned long distance paddler on the team, but I knew he was a good person to ask as he needed the test and knew he'd go all out to finish. He chose to paddle an inflatable sup for the race, one of his own design. Ambitious and ballsy.

Lauren Rodriguez
   I met Lauren at a race a year prior. She's from the west coast and has a lot of experience on a board but never has taken on a race of this length.  She's an athlete. I knew she wold train hard for this and be ready.                                    

   Frank Drelling
 Frank is friends with Lauren and they are training partners. They prepared for the race together.  In the Same boat as Lauren, never having attempted a race of this length before, but also the same, Frank is an Athlete.                           
                                                                                        Frank far right
Ryan Far left

Ryan Fullerton 
    I had never met Ryan prior to the race. He's friends with Joe Alfafaro. The youngest of all the team I wasn't too worried about him. Not because of his youth, but because of his military background. A strong smart guy, well capable of this race.

 Last but not least we needed a crew member to drive the Big Blue Van to meet us at each checkpoint and haul our food and supplies. To make trips to the store for supplies that were needed as the race developed and stuff broke or went wrong. To essentially keep us together and healthy. Brenda Herndon was originally dedicated to be Lauren's crew.   Fortunately for us  Lauren's father offered to be in a safety boat following Lauren documenting her 24hr record attempt and serve as her crew. Leading us to pick up Brenda as our dedicated crew. 
                              Brenda                                                       The big Blue Van
                                                                                  Brenda deemed it Big Bertha B*tch

So It begins:

   After we all check in for registration and go through the safety briefing we head head out for a decent night's sleep. We awaken to some scrambling and getting everyone fed and loading the van and make the 20 minute drive to the race start.  The start is always a little chaotic. Boats flood the launch ramp. Cars crowd the lot. Foot traffic is plentiful. If you want to get in the water easily you need to get there early or scurry down a bank.

                                                        The Ramp at the 340 start

The plan was for everyone to start together and go down the river together. The plan changed drastically fast.  The 4 man sup was supposed to have just that, 4 men. Days prior, our 4th man had to bail due to life circumstances. So Now there were only 3 of us left to paddle a 123lb one of a kind sup. Jerico, Dale, and myself. This meant we would be slower than anyone. So I told Lauren to just go as fast as she can. (She was attempting a 24hr moving water word record).  Frank and Ryan would stay with her and keep her motivated. I saw Chip on the water that morning and told him to stay with Lauren as well. Also, the Phil-O-Cookie. So now the big blue board would be its own entity going down river.

   So I should probably explain the big blue board that came to be know as Greystoke.  The concept of a multi-person board has been explored most recently via inflatables hitting the market. With price tags ranging from $1500-3500 you can get a floating air mattress of your own. The problem with them is that the when the person next to you moves it shifts your balance.  It becomes less about paddling and more about counter-balancing.  Hence the idea of a rigid 4 man sup, not a completely new concept for SUP's. The most famous 4 man I'd say would be the quadnundrum made by Steve Boehne of Infinity sup, built for 4 people to stand inline. 
   The greystoke (received it's name during the race due to all the grey facial hair on board and the stoke we experienced) was designed for 4 people to stand shoulder to shoulder or staggered depending on conditions, and also able to hold plenty of gear for everyone. Essentially a long hauler designed for decent speed and large carrying capacity.  
   The board was built in 9 days by myself and good friend Daren Wolf.  The last Hotcoat was applied to the board 2 days prior to the race. Generally you want a board to "cure" for 7 days before touching water.  While loading the board the day before the race it was still tacky.
The first time the board hit the water was 20 minutes prior to the race!

8 days before the race. 
Rough cut foam. Deck recessed.
Still needs to be shaped

  We were so crunched for time race day we didn't bother to carry the board to the boat ramp. Nope, just scurried down the steep slope on Kaw point with the  risk of dropping it on a rock or root. Yet, the board hit the water, supplies were thrown down the hill and dropped on it. The 3 of us hopped on and a paddling order emerged. I stood up front, Jerico in back of me, and Dale manned the rear. Keep in mind not only was this the first this board hit the water, it also was the first time the three of us paddled together.
      A quick launch and the learning curve began. We figured out pretty quickly the board floated. Paddling was easier than we thought from a good hull design.  Surprisingly,  maneuverability was smooth. We took to the starting line, had about 10 minutes to prep, paused for the singing of our national anthem, received our 2 minute warning, a countdown from 10, and a race start commencing from a cannon being fired.
  We managed to keep somewhere middle of the pack for the start. By about an hour in we fell back towards the rear of the pack.  No worries, being a veteran of the race I assured the team this was a long haul, all we had to do was make the check points on time and we'd catch plenty of boats through the night.  The team put their faith in my abilities and paddled steady. We made the first 50 miles to Lexington, checkpoint 1,  in about 7.5hrs. As we pulled in I looked at Jerico and Dale and saw nothing but smiles. (I promise, Dale was smiling)

     We didn't spend much time here as we had only beat the cutoff time by about 45 minutes.  We met up with Brenda and Ron Abel (crew for another sup paddler, but good friend of ours) and they took care of us. We didn't need much at this stop. Pretty much water took care of it.  Loaded back up and we took off for the next stretch to Waverly a mere 23 miles. The team joked about it even. 23 miles? HA,  piece of cake.

 23 miles was only a few hours of paddling, an easy stretch after the previous. But again we were in a time constraint as we made the checkpoint with about 1hr 15 mins before the cutoff time and reaper boat. For those of you who don't understand the cutoff times I''ll brief it. The race is set up for you to make the cutoff times/checkpoints based on finishing the race in 88 hours or less (see below). Once the race starts there's a boat, deemed the Reaper boat, that if it catches up to you, you're our of the race (it's designed to arrive at the checkpoints near exactly the checkpoint cut off time).

Kaw Point, mile 367, Race Begins, 8am (7am for solo) Tuesday, July 19th.   
Lexington, mile 317, (50 miles) 5pm Tuesday   Leg avg.  5.56mph  Total avg. 5.56    
Waverly, mile 294, (23 miles) 9pm Tuesday  Leg avg. 5.75mph  Total avg. 5.62    
Miami, mile 262, (32 miles)  11am Wed.   Leg avg. 2.29mph  Total avg. 3.89    
Glasgow, mile 226, (36 miles) 6pm Wed.  Leg avg. 5.14mph  Total avg. 4.15    
Katfish Katy's, mile 180, (46 miles) noon Thurs.  2.56mph  Total avg. 3.60    
Wilson's Serenity Point at Noren Access (Jeff City), mile 144, (36 miles) 7pm Thurs.  5.14mph  Total avg. 3.78     
Hermann, mile 98, (46 miles) 10am Friday  3.07mph  Total avg. 3.64    
Klondike, mile 56 (42 miles) 6pm Friday  5.25 mph  Total avg. 3.79    
St. Charles, mile 29, finish line, (27 miles)  Midnight   4.50mph  Total avg. 3.85 mph 

In no time we left CP2 (Waverly) and made our way to the Miami Checkpoint (CP3) 32 miles away. This is a crucial checkpoint as it's decision time for all paddlers. By the time the vast majority of paddlers get there it's dark.  About 1-2am. They need to decide if they are going to try and get some sleep or paddle through the night. The next checkpoint is Glasgow another 36 miles. About 6.5 hrs of paddling. Keep in mind at this point we've paddled 106 miles already. I'm now asking the team to push forward with little rest and another 6 hours of paddling to go. Additionally keep in mind of my two teammates on Greystoke: Jerico has had 20 minutes total time on a SUP before this race. Dale is 81 years old and his max distance paddling in a day is about 40+ miles.  Yet, despite these facts, they were still all smiles and happy to press on. To Glasgow we go!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

24 hour Hobie Eclipse Rally

    So how does one decide to  engage in pedaling a craft untested in the endurance field? Well naturally, it all starts at a bar with a few drinks. But prior to the bar scene, the seed was set earlier in the day, September 23rd, when  my good friend TJ Holman, a fleet and outside sales manager at Ozark Mountain Trading company (omtc), Held a Hobie Demo day at Rock Lane Marina on Table Rock.  There was every possible Hobie paddle and pedal craft Hobie makes courtesy of OMTC and additionally the Hobie factory team came from Texas headed up by Steve and Lisa Oxenford bringing the gamut of Hobie boats.
  The day was fun getting local folks out to try anything they wanted. I volunteered teaching people how to paddle board. In my down time is when I boarded the Hobie Eclipse 12’ with the mirage drive to get a few minutes of time on it.

As much as I wanted to hate it thinking it was goofy, I enjoyed the stability and ease of cruising the system offered as well the workout. Think buns of J-LO!  It was a great workout.

    Fast forward to the  bar at the end of the day and chatting it up with my river family, I mentioned I may want to try a 24hr pedal on the Eclipse. It Didn’t take much for TJ to announce, “Shane is doing a 24hr pedal on the Eclipse.”  and It began. Jaden, whom also works for OMTC as assistant store manager heard it.  As the drinks flowed he said,” Sounds like something I want to try.” And there you go. An idea was born.

October 22nd the morning began with a family breakfast of Eggs, bagels, homefries and coffee, Lots of coffee.  Looking out of the screened window from the condo we could see the morning fog on the water. Geougous!
                                                        View from the condo

We planned for a 9am start but as usual we started on river time, 10am it was.  Jaden was ready although not fully knowing what he was getting into since he’d never attempted a 24hr event before. Yet, he seemed confident. He had been cranking out 12-18 miles on the Hobie Eclipse before work for the past few weeks. Opposed to me having 20 minutes total time ever on the craft. Both scenarios made for the next 24 hours to be interesting.
Minutes before we start the 24hr event

The pedal started as most endurance events do, lots of talking. I asked Jaden a lot of questions about himself and his life. He responded to everything positively but it always seemed I ended up dominating the conversation. For me it’s a bit of a flaw I own. There’s a bit of uneasiness in silence for me when getting to know someone, so I fill the gaps with talking.  So I chatted him up for the first couple hours getting to know him. The most significant findings about Jaden I found was he’s a very experienced whitewater kayaker and he’s very soon becoming a dad!  His wife is due in the next few weeks.  Pretty awesome he is able to come out and do the event before he enters fatherhood. Lastly, he’s never attempted an ultra-distance event like this before.

    The daylight hours were fun. The morning slipped into early afternoon in a blink of an eye. The water became choppy at about noon as the boat traffic came out. The Hobe Eclipses’ took every Next I know we are over 5 hours in and we have pedaled 18.5 miles. Cruising and checking out all parts of the lake.

                                               Jaden Pedals near The Branson Belle
5 hours in

 Having warmed the body up a bit, Jaden and I began to have the “What’s hurting on your body talks.” Now, you’d think it would be the calves but for both of us it was the thighs. Mine was mostly right above my knees and for Jaden it was more upper thigh.  I battled cramping in the lower and Jaden in his upper. It lasted a couple hours and was gone by late afternoon.  The sights seemed to take our minds off the physical conflicts.
  We managed to find good spots to take breaks. I thought these would be conversation points but we each were messing with social media and filling our faces with snacks we had.

Cool little gravel bar we found to eat some food

   Then the night-time came.  As the dark approached the speed dropped considerably. It was already a slower speed than expected as all the boats churned up the water through the day.  A full 12 hours of paddling and we made nearly 37 miles.

Still, not a bad pace with short breaks every 2-3 hours but I personally was hoping for more.  What made it difficult was if we got too close to the shore there were stumps that came up a couple feet that were inches below the water. Visible during the day, concealed at night.  If we chose to pedal the center of the lake we ran the risk of boats hammering by us or on us. Some weren’t even running navigation lights at all.  A little scary.  So we kept a slower but steady pace.
   We had a good run from the boat ramp at Rock Lane Marina to the dam which we established during the day. It was a 2 hour out and back loop. Occasionally we would go a little further and check out sights like the Branson Belle running at night. It was pretty hilarious the seeing the passengers faces looking at Jaden and I. Looks of confusion and expressions of WTF. A high spot for sure.

   The other high spots for me was every few hours seeing the crew.  Tj Holman has been  a friend for a couple years now. You can’t help but smile when pedaling up and seeing him. Always willing to help and the main reason why this event happened.

TJ in the center

Brenda Herndon had her trial by fire crewing the MR340 not just for me, but for the 3 man sup team I was on and also 2 other individuals. Also a 230mi race I was in 2 weeks prior this Hobie event. She knows how to keep athletes running.
                                                          Brenda at the MR340

Ron Abel has crewed 2 events prior as well. He and Brenda make a good team and work well together. Ron’s specialty is cooking for us. He’s affectionately called the kitchen bitch. He keeps me fed well. We love him for it.
Brenda, Me, Ron

And James Crawford. This was his first event as crew for me. He’s been around ultra-paddling events before acting as safety crew/checkpoint manager for the mr340 and also competing in it. He’s the plucky comic relief. Always picking our spirits up and this time he brought 10 year old scotch.
James - PCR (Plucky Comic Relief)

 Then came the trouble times, between 2-5am. This is when that magic moment happens and the body wants to shut down and sleep.  My magic started at midnight.  The fortunate part was as we pulled into the boat ramp about that time we found the crew cooking S’mores and wolfing them down.
Rough life the crew has
Jaden and I welcomed a little marshmallow roasting and made a couple ourselves. Most of them made it in our mouths but a good amount oozed on our faces. At this point we really didn’t care.  The sugar rush was well worth it. Propelled us to get back on the water and pedaling.  
  By now the temp had dropped into the low 50’s.  The warmth of fire gone, we now had to go into warmth maintenance mode. I layered up and layered down finding trouble keeping a balance. Jaden seemed to do ok with the balance of heat.  We did our usual to the dam and back loop to get us 2 hours of pedaling.
Jaden at the Dam
It was pretty dark but the quarter moon illuminated the lake decent enough. Just not enough for me to avoid running aground on our way to the dam..  Now in inches of water I faced the dilemma of how to not get my feet wet and get the mirage drive system unstuck. Getting my feet/shoes wet in the first 30 mins would mean being wet and cold for the next 1.5hrs. In 50 degree temp that wouldn’t be a good thing.  Then the solution struck. Though I wasn’t very familiar with the drive system’s inner workings, I did remember how TJ put them in. Turns out they’re simple really. You lift up the pedals that lay on the drive “feet”. There are 2 knobs you slide and and the whole drive system pops out. In seconds the drive system was out and in my hands.  I used it as a paddle and back paddled off the gravel bar.  Once clear I dropped the drive system back in, lowered the pedals, and was off chasing Jaden.

The Mirage drive system removed and sitting on the board
(Obviously taken during the day)
  Jaden and I discussed a sleep schedule. I suggested no more than 90 mins. We settled on an hour. I slept in Brenda’s suv and he slept in TJ’s tahoe. 3:15am came quick. I got up and got my stuff together and didn’t see Jaden. Not knowing his physical condition i figured I’d go pedal around the bay until he surfaced.  Shortly after I saw him loading stuff on his Eclipse.  He was a little mad his alarm never went off. The kind of mad that he wanted to be on the water and didn’t need the sleep he got.  After getting back on the water I could see he was in good shape, it was just an alarm mishap.

Pedaling through the wee hours was rough after a little sleep. Yet, no complaints from either of us as we continued pedaling. Our bodies must have thought we were playing mean tricks on them as the cycle continued of a little rest then pedal a few hours. We pressed on and were miserably happy doing so.
The best part of a 24hr event for me is that moment when the darkness recedes and the sun begins to rise. It's magical in a way. It's what I look forward to every event I do. It's a reward for a full days output. So as we approached the sunrise I began to get a familiar feeling. One that I know well, but don't care for. You may know it as something else, I know it as bubble guts. So a pitstop at the boat ramp and a spirited walk up to the bathrooms i began a journey of other sorts. It lasted 20+ minutes. I came out to morning. I missed the magic of the sunrise due to my body's revolt.
Over the years I've learned to find the goodness in whatever you can. While my restroom romp cost me a sunrise, it gave Jaden the opportunity to experience it wholly on his own. Being his first 24hr event, he was able to bare witness to the magic a sunrise can bring after putting your body to work for 21 hours. I haven't talked to him about it yet, but i'm sure it was a moment he'll remember always.
Jaden, Sunday Morning around 7:30am
Jaden and my last pedal to the dam and back at daybreak. Pedaling in the fog was serene

For me the real magic came about 22.75 hours in. Jaden and I came in and I told all the crew they needed to be on some type of craft and we were leaving in 10 minutes. No-one questioned it. They all jumped right on it. We all went out an cranked around the lake for the remaining hour. It was by far the highlight of the trip. TJ got to be on a sup I built custom for him named Makuahine (mother). Which s a story later to be told. Ron kayaked, brenda sup'd, and James canoe'd. And Jerico, who had driven 7.5hrs from Mississipi just to be with us, pedaled a native kayak.
The family paddling together. Jerico is back pedaling with me

The 24 hours concluded with us all rolling into the boat ramp at Rock Lane Marina where Jaden and started 24 hours prior. Not keeping an eye on the gps until we stopped at the ramp, I looked and it read a cryptic 66.6 miles. A benchmark was made. A standard set for 24 hours of pedaling a Hobie Mirage Eclipse. A first of it's kind. The craft, although seemingly gimmicky at first, won me over. I like it. There just may be another adventure or 2 coming out of it, with Jaden and the crew of course.

A huge Thank you to Ozark Mountain Trading Company (OMTC) for your support for this event. They loaned us the 12' and 10.5' Hobie Eclipses.  Larry (one of the owners) even came out to the finish with donuts and milk.  
As always a monster thanks to the crew: Brenda Herndon, Ron Abel, James Crawford and of course the traveling Gnome Jerico.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How well do you really know people?

     This will be a tough post to read as it's a tough post to write.  When you think you actually know someone after 2.5 years of working with them and helping them and find out they are nowhere close to the the person they portray, it's pretty difficult, in this case devastating.
  Nate Dub aka Nate Waldera reached out to me in the fall of 2014 to ask for consultation on a 100 mile paddle.  He told me his story of military service as a sniper in the army, how his humvee blew up and he was the only survivor, how the ptsd from that incident and all the confirmed kills he had as a sniper was mentally destroying him.  Naturally, hearing his story i opened myself to him and told him I'd help him with his paddle and wanted to go along.
   He spent 2015 coming to St. Louis and paddling with me and lots of emails, phone calls, and texts. I got to know him pretty well or so I thought. Everything was a lie. He sold me his story. He con'd me. He sold everyone his story. He con'd everyone.
     Fast forward to the 2016 MR340 the end of July and that's when everything started to become unraveled for him and his true self came out. He was a different person than the Nate I had known. Edgy. Unpredictable. Distant. It didn't make sense.  Until the end of the race when he disappeared and I began to question everything.
   Seeking the truth came from speaking with Ron Abel, a legit military Veteran, and who was ground crew for the 100 mile paddle last year, and for Nate for the 340.  Nate admitted to Ron that his probation officer was calling Nate for the past week and Nate needed to come in and be booked.  The deep dark secret of Nate? Hes a convicted felon.  Which in itself is bad, but not all felons are bad people.  Many are able to make amends and move on in life and be good contributing citizens. However, In this case, he is a bad person.
 8/3/16 arrest 

  Following the Mr340 race when he returned home to Wisconsin he was picked  up and taken into custody for violation of probation. He was brought to jail where he currently is and will be for some time.
  Here's where it gets bad.  His original charge stems from a 2012 incident.  It's atrocious, but he was charged with first degree sexual incest of a minor. She was 6 years old.  He plead down to recklessly endangering safety. which as you read below is still a felony by law. In life there's a special hell for people like this.  Which in prison, he will live once the other inmates realize what he's there for. The  charges were reduced as he plead down.

original arrest in 2012

  It's extremely disturbing to find this out. Even more disturbing that I had this man sleep at my house several times over the years. I have a 6 year old and a 4year old that were present. Thankfully nothing happened to them or he would not have made it out of my house alive.  
   He had a 5 year sentence in 2012 from the case. He served a little over a year and received early release and the rest of the sentence to be spent on probation.

     I spent an hour on the phone with His probation officer this week.  He called me as part of an open investigation in Nate's case. He's also called others that were in contact with Nate. The violations of probation are as follows:
-can not leave the state 
      He traveled to NC, NY, CT, MO that we know of
-can not drink alcohol
    I've been with him while he was drinking. there's pictures on social media.
-can not sleep over others houses at all. No sleepovers with kids or women especially
violated it with me and as recently as 2-3 weeks ago with his girlfriend and her daughter and friends. The girlfriend had no clue.
- No smartphones
   definitely has one and has used it
-has to hold a job. was fired from his a few months back. didn't tell probation
and i'm sure there's more.  This is what the Probation officer mentioned

  If that wasn't bad enough, there's more.  Nate sold us all on the fact that he was a military vet with 8 years service.  He told the story of how he was a sniper and was on the watch list as he killed so many people while serving in operation iraqi freedom and operation enduring freedom. He also sold us on that his humvee blew up while all his brothers in arms in the vehicle died and him being the only survivor. He labeled himelf as a military vet with ptsd and needing a service dog to get trough life.
   The hard facts are he did serve in the military, but for less than a year. He was set for deployment but pussed out. He convinced a doctor he had sleep walking habits and mental illness. A easy out.  He never was deployed. Never saw action.  Doesn't have ptsd. Didn't lose his brothers in a humvee. Didn't kill people as a sniper.  
    His devious mind as a pathological liar went as far as adopting a dog (BO) and labeling him as a service dog to sell the vet with ptsd look. He paid $75 online to get a therapy dog certification.  He even got a tattoo on his arm that had his "fallen" brothers' dog tags. His family, when asked about the tattoo said it didn't make sense. They even  questioned it. It was all a con. He did all these things to try and portray the image of a vet with ptsd.  It was nothing more than STOLEN VALOR!  Which to me is as disgusting as him being a incestual pedophile that he is. 
  My grandfather served in WWII and my brother served in operation desert storm. I know them as military heroes. They know themselves as just citizens doing their country duty. That's how real military handle themselves. They're proud to have served, ask for nothing in return, and seldom talk about their service.

   The organization "Proudly We Stand" he created was for him to raise money for vets with PTSD. The concept to me was great and I was happy to contribute both financially and emotionally.  I consulted him on the 100 mile paddle, made a documentary, and helped fund it. I want to make it very clear that I had no hand in this organization other than supporting it. Neither did Ron Abel.  We were merely 2 people trying to help another for  what we thought was a good cause. We even helped Nate raise over $7k for companions for heroes, an organization to help vets get dogs.  Sadly, I recently found out he pocketed the money and never gave them a cent. I apologize to all that donated to him. I had no idea this was the case. I donated to the org as well.
  Currently the case has been turned over to the wauwautosa police and he will be pursued for theft, grand larceny possibly. This should add to the current 5 years jail he is already looking at.  It won't replace the money he stole but he won't get to use it where he's going.
   Amongst the other lies he told me, his wife died of cancer years ago and his 2 kids are from a stripper he dated after college.  All a lie. She is alive and was smart enough to leave him 14 years ago. She leads a great life with her own family.  His second "relationship"  had the kids with him which ended in 2012 with the above incest charge. The kids are happy, healthy and great people.
  I have heard all sorts of variations of lies he has told others. Trust me, none of his BS is true. The probation officer confirmed he is a pathological liar.

     Going forward the people that were affected most have been a great support system.  I've taken this atrocity pretty harshly as I  attached my name on his events. However, Although Nate destroyed a lot of faith in humanity and betrayed us all. However, some good came out of it. I gained friends out of this that are good people. I keep up with Ron Abel from Wisconsin, he's a great guy, true military vet, and part of my team now. We talk weekly.  Brenda Herndon, out of KC. ground crewed for the mr340 and is in the same boat as Ron. Great friend and is running ground support for a 230 mi race i'm doing in the fall.  Dave Schultz, Deb Klapperich, and host of other Midwest paddlers were introduced to me through Nate.  So essentially I had to weed through the shit of Nate to find the candy corn surprises of friends.  I am most grateful for them and wouldn't trade them for anything.  

  I know I can't fix things or change how it happened, but I am working on repairing what has been done. We are working with the family of Nate and are planning to sell the Hobie custom sup he has and give the money to companions for heroes. Also I will be putting together a paddle in the spring to raise money for the charity.  I'll do it on lake Geneva and it will be open to all paddlers. 

I am very sorry how everything played out. But be certain of this, Nate Dub aka Nate Waldera is in jail and will be for quite some time, 5+ years.  He will never be welcomed in our circle again. The sup family is a strong and loving one. We will overcome what's happened and will remain a family and push forward.