I mentioned in my last post that I was hoping for an active week this week. Next week we’re away for a holiday when I won’t do any aerobic activity so I intended to do 3 bike rides and 2 or 3 sessions in my pedal powered boat. Unfortunately, after a glorious warm and dry period, we’ve had rain and rather a lot of it. This is no problem for a British mountain biker because many of us ride all year round and so are used to coping with mud, puddles and slippery trails. This time, though, it has rained for such long periods that I simply haven’t got out since Tuesday and now it’s Friday. That’s one session in the boat and one ride missed so I waited until the afternoon today after a morning of rain. It wasn’t the gorgeous sunshine, which I’m finding best accompanies a sail, but getting out at all would be nice, giving me exercise and allowing the trails to dry a little before tomorrow.
I’d planned a not overly long voyage from Hogg’s Lane, from which I access the 127 mile long Leeds/Liverpool canal, and a point known as “Shirley Animal”. It marks the start and finish lines of a couple of segments on the app. Strava when I’m cycling and it’s obvious from the picture at the top of the page where the name derives from. I wonder who the Shirley in question was? It doesn’t immediately strike me as a complimentary epithet. I wheeled the boat on its purpose made wheels down to Hogg’s Lane and along to the canal to launch whilst observed by an older couple, one of whom said it looked “interesting”. Whether this was intended as a compliment or not is of no consequence. I slid aboard and started my journey.
What I started to think was that my cadence, that is the rate of pedal rotation, is quite slow when compared to cycling. It’s rather like cycling up a gentle incline in a slightly too high gear. When I first tested the current propulsion system, consisting of a paddle wheel rotating at the same speed as the pedals, I’d expected pedalling to be too easy. I thought I might even need to gear the paddle wheel up to give me enough speed, but this is not the case. It may be better for a cyclist to feel slightly less resistance in the pedals and to spin them more quickly. What I need to do is to count my pedal rotations per minute, which should be around 60 for cruising and perhaps 90 for performance, when I want to go quickly. I think I may be below these figures but I could make changes. I don’t want to introduce the complexities of gearing but other options exist. I could reduce the diameter of the paddle wheel or reduce its width. I don’t have any calculation of my efficiency but whatever percentage of my pedal power is pushing me forwards it’s not a figure I want to reduce. Without an efficiency figure I could only use trial and error to make any improvements so I think for now I’ll have to be satisfied with what I have.
I enjoyed my little trip and could feel the effort in my legs at the end. I sprinted the last part because it is a segment on Strava and I achieved the eighth fastest time out of 34 people. For me it’s good enough in a home made boat not to be slowest.