Calico Moon 2021 MR340

 This year Amber and I decided we were going to tandem again. We wanted to be able to double blade our outrigger. The aikos were way too close. So I had to dream up a way to modify them. I made a big hoop in the back and made a z shaped bar in the front. We took it to smithville lake and gave it a try. We decided it would work so the week before the race we took it to Kaw point  and ran to La Benite. That was our only double blading before the big dance. We sat in the boat Sunday night to make sure our lights weren’t going to give us any fits. We decided then and there we were going to take both double and singles in the boat. 

We got ready over Saturday, Sunday, Monday but somehow still worked until around 9 getting stuff together. Car was mostly packed and we were ready. We got up at 4am and mom and Randy showed up at 5. We did the final food prep and packed the rest of the car. The only way to fit us all in there was to put the kids in the back and pile gear on them. We got Kaw point around 5:45 and started loading gear into the boat and strapping everything in. We were geared up and ready to go when the solos were ready to take off. We were standing at the ramp when the Sipes showed up there was a ton of solos. Watching them take off I looked at Aaron and told him I plan to pass all but about 10 of them. I wanted to be in the top 25. About 5 minutes after the solos took off we got our boat and headed to the ramp. We stood in line and waited to get in the water. We saw Ginger and Emily getting in the boat.  I Went down gave them knuckles and wished them luck. We got on the water once again with Aaron helping carry the boat. We were in about 30 minutes early so we went across the Kaw and sat in the boat in the shade. We saw a few people we know and talked to them a bit. Brad Daniels went by and wished us a good race and it was then that we realized who his partners are Dylan McHardy and Texan Morgan Kohut. We knew they were going to be an outstanding team. They were the overall winners with a time of 36:20. A new team division record. James Crawford told us that he sold his boat and it’s gonna be picked up at the finish line. At about 5 minutes we turned the boat around and headed into the pack. Generally I like to be towards the front at the confluence because people seem to control their boats well. We coasted forward and as the countdown got close we were midpack. When the horn went off we started paddling easy midpace. There was a green tandem cutting from left to right, even though we back paddled hard it was impossible not to hit them. We hit the back third or their boat and slid all the way down and across their rudder. They immediately ran into a tandem wenonah. We pulled out into the confluence without any other issue. We were running pretty well around 8.5 mph. The Hopkins passed us near one of the Bridges and we talked a bit about our boat still being alive and still racing. We were staying around the same pack.  We were chatting a bit but mostly just paddling along. Once again I was eating every hour on the hour and drinking every 15 minutes. Amber was eating right behind me on time. The second hour I ate some of my wrap and had heartburn immediately. The last time I had heartburn was the race of 2018. I had brought some Zantac and that seemed to keep it at bay, at least early on. We passed our first solo at 9:05 which is the earliest we’ve ever passed one. We remembered the boat number, we checked raceowl and found they made the Waverly cutoff but DNFed at Glasgow. We were paddling pretty well and really started reeling in a lot of solos we saw Jenni Hutson and she hollered at us. We had decided prerace if we were really looking to get sub 50 we couldn’t slow down to chat with anyone. There’s so many racers that we would love to chat with but it slows us down if we are passing them. 

We had planned to change from doubles to singles every hour just to give our body a break. Even though we barely have any idea what we are doing with doubles we are faster with the double so we were struggling to convince ourselves to switch. We finally pulled out the singles at 11 maybe. We were obviously slower and the pack that we’d been running with started creeping away from us. It was disheartening to have been with them and a simple change slowed us down. We went about 45 minutes on the singles feeling good with them just slower. We went back to doubles and picked back up. I ran out of water in my Gallon jug at 34 miles. That’s more than I should have drank in that timeframe. I only had half a gallon for the other 38 miles. Definitely gave me some concern. There were a few boats at Napoleon and later only a couple at Lexington. I don’t remember what time we went through there. 3:05 according to RaceOwl. We kept at it and came across a single we were hoping to get a few minutes paddling with, Amber’s river sister Gina Bradley.  She took a road trip the week before the race to pick up a new boat. Her and her boat weren’t getting along just yet but she was planning to get some padding to help.  I didn’t get to see her finish but it sounded like they got along a lot better later in the race. We were paddling around the Paddlehawks quite a bit. We were able to shoot the breeze quite a bit. They are outstanding paddlers that paddle aluminum. We were still feeling good when we got a text from our ground crew saying we will be ready at the second Waverly ramp just turn around and we will take care of you. We thought We were gonna be in pretty good shape as there weren’t many boats in front of us. But as we closed in on Waverly there were about 8 boats we were suddenly gaining on. Some of them pulled into the first ramp and then the second ramp so we pulled up on the rocks just upstream of the second ramp. We arrived at 5:32 Everything went well and our stop time showed 3min 7 seconds. 

Just as we were pulling out the Paddlehawks went by again so we gave them a shout of encouragement and got all our gear arranged while coasting down the river. We eventually caught back up to them and we were still mowing down some solos. One of them said to the Paddlehawks you have to be winning men’s tandem I don’t think any others have passed us. We all knew there was a Texas team up there somewhere in a beaver. The Eager Beavers won their division and the aluminum cup and finished 4th overall. With 40:56 time becoming the new fastest recorded aluminum time. We paddled into the dark and as dusk set in the paddlehawks pulled away and that was the last we saw of them until after we finished. They had a great time of 44:14. The sun was orange going down with all the smoke from a fire out west. Going into the night we knew there were tough times ahead the moon had been up since around 5pm and was setting at 2:26am. As we passed Miami around 10:31 and Ellen was just pulling out in her rowing rig. We gave her a wide berth though she had plenty good control of her rig. The early night paddling went well as we went by Daltons Bottoms there was a safety boat and a couple paddlers pulled over there. We came across Beth and Darrell Weidner right as we were coming into Glasgow they passed us and hit the ramp before us but we were doing a pit stop. Mom and Randy were at the bottom of the boat ramp ready for us. I stood up out of the boat  to help pass stuff back to Amber who stayed sitting. We were ahead of schedule at 2:40 we headed out and towards Lisbon bottoms. 

The moon was set so we were going blind in the Course. We knew the Chutes were on river left at the beginning of the bottoms. We started using the spotlight after a while and seeing buoys often. We switched the GPS to verify we were in Lisbon and we were. We were planning to get out of the boat and have a brief time of standing up at Jamison island. We were in the middle when Amber recognized the house on the bluff that used to welcome you to Howard county. We were near where we wanted to stop and there were a Few boats including the Catalyst. An all woman safety boat crew. As we pulled in we were welcomed by the amazing River woman Dee Landau and her Daughter Jessica. Dee helped Amber out of the boat and we finally stood. We talked about the poor placement of buoys through there with a couple being square in the center of the channel. We saw a couple boats go by one of which turned out to be Daryl and Beth. We spent a couple minutes longer there than we probably should have. We got back in the boat and felt a little refreshed. No idea what time it was. We were planning a stop at Franklin Island for another quick pit stop. We hit there about 7:55. Ten minutes behind my schedule. Some of that time was lost on Jamison island and some on going so slow through Lisbon looking for Buoys. We got our supplies and headed out we’re happy to be halfway through the race. 

Day 2 is always cruddy and it felt like it started early at least for me. We fired up We went to double blades and it seemed to snap us out of our funk a bit.  We passed Katfish Katy’s in the morning and of course our crew was there to cheer us on. I was having some bouts of tiredness but not bad. We were not on our game compared to what I felt like normally.  Our breaks seemed to take longer than normal. Nothing bad just not as on it. We passed Coopers Landing and mom yelled she’d have cheeseburgers at Hartsburg. That’s something to look forward to. Only 10 miles to go. We paddled well and made it to Hartsburg pretty quick. We were back on singles by then since we have way better muscle memory for the singles. The ramp was a mud pit so the ground crew formed a brigade line to pass supplies back and forth.  I had lots of food left over and started loading one of the old bags with stuff I didn’t want to keep carrying. We were about ready to push off when I realized I didn’t have my food bag. I had gotten in filled it with the food I didn’t want and handed it back. That would have been a bad move.  We could have made it work but glad we didn’t have to. We got in the channel and floated and enjoyed our quarter pounders. Tried to pace myself but I ate it quick. I was still taking Zantac at every 12 o clock hour. The burger didn’t give me heartburn but I think our bodies really struggled to process that much food we were really slow after that for quite a while. We talked about it maybe next race getting regular cheeseburgers from McDonald’s. Another 16 miles to Jeff City. I would say this section was the second worst I felt all race. We were single blading and a couple times I swung it like a double when I was nearly asleep. Amber must have been in nearly as bad of shape because she didn’t even notice. We talked about being pretty rough. We talked to Mitch Anderson an amazing paddle boarder. He said he loved the weather because there was hardly any headwind. The water was slow. We came around the corner and sure enough there was some Jeff City headwind as always. We passed Jeff city at 3:03pm. 

We were definitely going to meet one of our goals and that was to see Chamois in the daylight. Right after the Jeff city bridge the water was really choppy. It was windy but seemed too choppy for the amount of wind. My GPS was saying the batteries were low so we wanted to make it around the curve to maybe get out of the wind. Then it died. I didn’t want to miss any of the race stats so I pulled the double blade out from under my seat and then my dry bag and got the batteries out. Amber decided to take a break so we were drifting. We were sideway when she said oh shit a barge. It was coming downstream right at us. We grabbed the singles and shot over off channel. I finished my battery change and put everything back together in the boat. We turned and went back into the channel and dealt with the mess of water he made. It wasn’t awful since he was pushing a single empty down to a dredge that was in the center of the river. He went down and turned around and we wasted some time trying to figure out what he was going to do. We finally decided to stay channel side as he pulled up to the dredge. Right as we were getting passed him he had in hooked the empty and was drifting back with a full one. He started pushing it right as we went by but we were able to avoid his wake. It was a good wake up and we’d been drowsy for a while. We kept at it we were seeing very few boats at this time. Somewhere in this stretch the right rudder pedal popped and it broke free of a rivet. Only two left holding it on so I just planned to baby it the rest of the way. As we closed in on Mokane we saw a tandem pull out. They were a ways ahead of us but we were pretty sure it was Beth and Daryl again. Right as we went around the corner we saw another barge to contend with. The tandem way ahead was close to it fast. They started toward the off channel side and it looked like the barge was going to go that way so they went back left and it looked like he was tracking them. By the time they decided to head hard into the off channel side it looked like they were very close. We went off channel as did a female solo. He didn’t make the water too bad either so we pulled back into the channel right after him. We were talking about a brief lay down just to stretch out at Chamois and our ground crew had our sleeping bags all laid out though we only planned to lay on top of them. We pulled into Chamois at 6:37pm a mere 7 minutes behind schedule. 

We only wanted a 15 minute stop here but we are so slow standing and walking to the bathroom that it ended up being 30+ minutes. The mosquitoes here were Huge! I don’t know how the ground crews did it. I mentioned them and Susan Jordan appeared out of nowhere and offered some bug spray. Typical ground crew, if they hear of a paddler in need even if it’s not their paddler they are ready to help. I said I was fine and would just rather get back on the water. We went down and checked our gear this was for the last load out hopefully as we usually push to finish line from here. We pulled out and I noted our total stop time for the race was an hour and 23 minutes. More than I really wanted but it does add up quick. All planned pit stops had been 4 minutes or less each time. We pushed off as some other paddlers were coming into Chamois and coasted in the channel while arranging our gear. We got back on track and started clicking off some miles.I put my clear glasses on and realized I had left them on my head when I sunscreened my vents in my hat. Effectively making them useless. We knew we were gonna have to suffer the Hermann bridge in the dark. I abhor the lights on the bridge from the water and this year was no different. It was only 9:55 when we went by Hermann and yelled at the ground crew on the bank. They yelled back at us and I think it was here that Laura Milby was yelling back to “suffer faster”. Many people know our team motto is “suffer fast”

We were glad to finally be past the lights of Hermann and One day we’ll go there for a fun trip.  The moon was up and the center of the river was visible with the moonlight. The channel was in the trees and seemed jet black. We decided to be slower and stay where the water was easier to read. It was getting tough and the lack of sleep was starting to show. I had seen a few hallucinations the most prominent being a perfect looking steam engine train on the water river left. I was drowsy and keeping the boat straight and paddling. Amber was starting to sound out of it. She was explaining some of her hallucinations and sounded like a mess. I tried part of a five hour energy and it absolutely lit up my chest with fire from heartburn. But within 5 minutes I was feeling better not just kind of better. I felt like a whole new paddler. Body was still the same but I was sharp and ready to get it. Amber was really starting to sound bad in the back of the boat it was slightly amusing if I wasn’t concerned that she might completely bonk and fall out of the boat. She said she wouldn’t and I don’t think she would. I told her how much better I felt after some of the five hour energy but we were very worried about her taking anything that has energy enhancers in it. But you know what they say Desperate times call for desperate measures. She sipped a bit of it. Not even a quarter of it  and within 5 minutes she was way better.  Her speech sounded better and she said she felt way better. We got back after it and started picking up the pace and racking up the miles. We were passed new Haven just before midnight and three solos pulled out just ahead of us. We paddled near them for a while but they were staying right on the channel in the dark and we were staying in the semi lit center of the river.  Eventually we ended up close enough to chat a bit. Didn’t catch their name for some reason. One of them said rumor has it you’re Rusty. They had just been chatting with our ground crew before they came out. They made their way ahead of us  but never got out of sight we were moving well now and starting to really talk about our time RaceOwl had been messed up the entire race where our estimated finish time was saying 256 hours each were doing math as every racer knows you do and it was looking like we’d be finishing around 47:25. We were still pushing the pace and it was moving that number down as we were coming into Klondike. When we passed Washington it was a special moment.  Sawyer our youngest was having a birthday and it was 12:05am. We sang him happy birthday from the river and wished him our love. We went passed the little plant on the right directly before the long straight away to Klondike. It was getting dark as it neared moonset and the moon wasn’t nearly as bright still due to forest fire smoke.   There weren’t as many buoys as I expected on the straight away. As we pulled close to Klondike we saw the three solos pull in.  We went by fairly close and Randy yelled out is that you guys and we said it was and see you at the finish line!  

  The finish was close enough that if you don’t have some sort of physical come apart you should make it. We were pushing ourselves and knew we wouldn’t feel like we left any out there when we got done.  My left shoulder was starting to have a twinge at the collarbone that’s not connected properly and I was mildly concerned about it. Just before daylight I felt like i was crashing again. I took another 5 hour energy and drank around half of it. More heart burn. As we were going it was obvious that we were closing the distance on the 46 hour range. As the daylight was starting to come we could stay in channel better and take advantage of the faster water.  We were pushing and purposely picking up the pace. We were at the edge of our limits  for a couple people who only paddled 32 miles this year. As we closed on the straight away in front of the bridge of false hope there was a very thick bank of fog. We slowed and studied our plan. The inside of the corner seemed to be the least dense.  That is until we got there and the wind piled it up there we were very lucky to have missed every major fog event and this one wasn’t bad when we finally got to it. We came around under the bridge and it was clear.  We picked up the pace a bit more knowing only 4 miles to go. I could feel my heart racing and wondered if the second five hour energy was a good plan. We were closing the distance fast or at least for how we were feeling it was fast to us. It was still saying it was going to be a 47:00 finish time. We weren’t going to click over that threshold if we could keep from it. As we continued to close the distance right before the I-70 bridge it said it would be 4 minutes which would be 6:58. We kept at it and Jericho Lefort was in the water yelling to hammer it in he’ll catch us saying every second counts so we did just that. We didn’t let up until we ran right into his hands and he yelled Time! He got us sideways on the ramp and we worked our way out of the boat. We heard our time of 46:57. We were smoked. We got out and there weren’t any ramp volunteers to Carry boats up so we along with the ground crew and Jericho carried the boat up and set it on the ground. We did our finish line pics and were surprised at how we felt after just a couple minutes on the ground. There is no doubt we left it all out there this year. The ground crew had a tent with sleeping bags set up in the shade. Amber was ready to sleep but I was debating about showering instead. We went and laid down for a bit but I couldn’t wind down. Eventually I got up and stood in line for the shower and shot the breeze with some other racers that were ready to get washed off. After getting cleaned up I climbed into the tent flipped my sleeping bag without waking Amber and laid down. I was asleep in almost no time. Ryder woke me up at 12:45 and we headed to the hotel for a shower for all including another one for me. We ordered our Chinese food, had it delivered and carried on our tradition of eating Chinese in bed after the finish. The boys love it!  

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