What Is Cheat Training
By Steven “Steveo” Mckone
Often, I get asked the question of “What is Cheat Training?”, and most of the time I just stare blankly while pondering what it really is. The short answer is that Cheat Training is a program designed to get you in shape for paddling the Cheat Canyon Race the first weekend of May, but it is so much more than that. When folks sign up, I am not sure they truly understand what they are getting themselves into.
It will snow, and we will paddle. While this sounds miserable, it is, but you are miserable with 40 of your friends out there. We take the saying “misery enjoys company” to a different level. The truth is that it really isn’t that bad. It’s endearing, really. You push yourself to a different place and come out the other side stronger and more confident. Those snowy, cold, ice-on-the-brim-of-your-helmet type of days are the ones that cheat trainers talk about for years.
On Saturdays in March we paddle downriver from sandy beach, just below Great Falls, to Sycamore Island. It is an 11-mile paddle and only about 4 miles of it is whitewater. Once we get to American Legion bridge the Slow Grinding Death begins, a long stretch of flat water that is exhausting but also awesome. During that paddle, we do leap frog sprints, work on stroke rate, and try to perfect our forward stroke. Just when your arms are about to fall off we all line up and sprint the last 200 yards. This is my favorite part because all the other cheat trainers are there cheering as loud as they can, encouraging you to catch the paddler up ahead. There is nothing like crossing that metal wire knowing you gave it your all.
The Camaraderie Of Cheat Training
We come for the paddling, but we all stay for the community. Our long boat pushers are an amazing bunch on their own, but surround them with 40 of their peers and things start to get turned all upside down. At any point during Cheat Training you could cry from laughing at Jon Becker, get handed a homemade beer from Mark Eakin, get thrown in a van by Tom that fits 12, but there is already 20 in there, or be waiting for your burger made by me. Sometimes we have to get creative, like when the propane didn’t work and I forgot a spatula, so we found sticks on the side of Clara Barton Parkway and built a fire (one of the greatest moments of my life).
Cheat Training to me is so much more than just a paddling event; it is a lifestyle, a rite of passage for paddlers on the Potomac River, and most of all an adventure with friends. I wait all year for Cheat Training to start and I am always sad when it ends, but I know that the memories I have made with everyone will hold me over till March the following year.
Join us for another year for Calleva’s Liquid Adventures Cheat Training coming to the Potomac in March!
~ Steveo – Director of Calleva’s Liquid Adventures