Donna-Lou Nixon inspires us not only for what she’s accomplished on her SUP and cycle expeditions, but what she’s overcome on land to get there. She’s a true fighter and embodies the true adventurer spirit. We hope she continues to SUP and cycle the rivers of the world. Donna-Lou, you inspire us.
What are you paddling?
Starboard 14′ Touring Inflatable
Where is your favorite place to paddle?
My love is SUP/Cycle always solo, unsupported and unassisted and this is how it came to be…….
I am 57 years old and have been expedition SUPing for approx 5 years. I had a few years in hell sorting out four separate cancers Leukemia, stage 4 melanoma, 10cm bowel tumour and the dreaded throat cancer. I spent a good part of 2 years in bed and this is where I plotted my escape. I already loved SUP expedition but I kept thinking I wonder if it is possible to leave solo, unsupported and unassisted from your front door, cycle to a river, SUP that river then cycle to the next river? In between chemo and radiation all of my time was spent finding the perfect inflatable SUP, folding bike and trailer combination taking into consideration weight, dimensions and practicality. When I realised that this is actually possible I started mapping out the expeditions and once I got that monkey off my back I started SUP/ Cycling through my list 🙂 Happy Days 🙂
So that’s my background story, now my favourite place to paddle?
Any body of water long enough for a multi day SUP camping expedition and even better if I can incorporate 2 or more rivers and SUP/Cycle from one to the next, always solo, unsupported and unassisted.
All of the adventures have been great, here are a few standouts…
13 day solo, unsupported SUP/Cycle from my front door and headed North incorporating 258 km of SUP and 55km of cycling over 9 lakes, 7 rivers, 6 bays, 5 creeks, 1 broadwater and 1 passage overland using inflatable SUP, folding bike and trailer as transport.
610km in 17 days solo, unsupported SUP Murrumbidgee river (Australia) with 45 degree days, so many log hazards I had to paddle the last 100km without a fin as I kept getting caught on them, and the odd brown snake to avoid.
SUP/ Cycle Norway 7 weeks SUP 150km over 4 fjords, then cycle 300km Lofoten Islands. Solo, unsupported this trip reinforced in me that I can trust and rely on myself in any situation. As far as Wow factor Norway is the place to SUP! If you want to SUP Norway as part of a group contact https://supnorway.com/, an absolute fantastic experience.
248 km in 7 days SUP Whanganui River New Zealand solo, unsupported. Seven fun filled days of rapids, rapids and more rapids, albeit they were only grade 1 with a few grade 2 thrown in, but on a 14′ SUP made it SUPer challenging! And I only capsized twice! Yay! I lost 2 fins in the first 8km so I paddled the rest finless which made steering difficult but made it a lot easier to get out of tricky situations. Beautiful country, fantastic scenery, wonderful people and awesome paddling that was just scary enough to let you know you are alive! Loved every hair raising moment of it!
What is your favorite event and why?
I have never been in an event so I can’t say, I’m a more take my time and smelling the roses kind of paddler. Life itself is an event and I am in that one 🙂
What is your favorite paddling moment and why?
There are many but these two stand out.
On my first SUP/ Cycle paddle realising that this can be done! The combination of SUP/Cycle and trailer worked so well together I was stoked! I couldn’t wait to plan more SUP/Cycle adventures!
And the other, I was in the middle of a fjord in Norway with no-one for miles on a perfect day and it hit me where I was, what I was doing and what I had been through to get there and I cried happy, happy tears.
Do you have a bucket list event?
That’s a long list seeing as there are so many rivers in the world. I would love to just take off and SUP/Cycle the world but that’s going to take some time, sounds to me like a good retirement plan 🙂
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for my health and my family 🙂 they are the perfect combination and that is all I need.
Advice or tips for paddlers?
If you are keen to do a solo SUP expedition my advice is always cover all aspects of safety and don’t cut corners. Go well prepared, whilst paddling eat and hydrate every hour as dehydration sneaks up on you. Also listen to that inner voice, be aware of it as it only gives you a gentle nudge when something isn’t right and you need to listen and act, so stay in tune with it.
Do you have a favorite charity?
The Magoo Charity Classic. For the past 20 years our local Longboard Club has raised over $550,000 for cancer research. It’s namesake Barry ‘Magoo’ McGuigan was considered the worlds oldest competitive surfer still competing at age 85 when he passed a couple of years ago. Unfortunately ‘Magoo’ as he was affectionately known got to use one of the hospital machines the charity had donated through the annual surfing fundraiser.
Note from Donna-Lou
Thanks to my husband and family for never squashing my crazy solo escape plans and a huge thanks to my son Beau https://travelwithapaddle.com/ who has taught me every aspect I have needed to know for solo SUP expedition, your knowledge of all things SUP has been invaluable.