An hour on the canal.

After an accident during my last mountain bike ride I still have a bruised shoulder. It’s the bone behind the collar bone and by referring to Google I can see it’s called the coracoid process. It was slightly uncomfortable and at this stage I didn’t want to stress the injury further so thought I’d be better to take my homemade pedal powered boat out. Last time it was faultless though pedalling it is a different form of exercise to riding a bike. It’s less aerobic but more muscular. This is because I can’t spin the pedals around at anywhere near the cadence (rate of turning) that I do on a bike. When I was constructing my current propulsion system I imagined I’d want to gear it up to spin the paddlewheel, which provides the drive, faster than the pedals were turning but this is not the case. It would be more like a bike if I could turn the pedals at twice the speed of the paddlewheel but this would add weight and complexity to a simple but clever system. Reducing the diameter of the wheel would allow me to turn it more quickly but this would be likely to reduce my efficiency so it looks like I’m stuck with what I have, at least until I can construct a new design of boat.

Mountain biking conjures up adjectives like thrilling, exciting and even at times terrifying whereas sailing along the Leeds/Liverpool canal in a pedal powered mini boat (which is generally a boat of under 8 feet in length) is more likely to elicit words like relaxing, quiet or soothing. It still constitutes worthwhile and valuable exercise particularly as I have to pull the boat on wheels to the water and back. Today the weather was delightfully sunny and warm without being too warm for pedalling. I decided to sail for half an hour, turn around and sail back. I saw plenty of people walking along the canal bank and naturally I got some surprised looks. The reactions are positive, which is encouraging, though I have no idea how many onlookers would like to take my seat for a trial run. On the way out I slowed to take some pictures.

This bridge would have been built from sandstone in the early 1800s and carries a farm track.
Now I’m a seasoned sailor maybe a beard would suit?

At my turn around point I was alongside some narrow boats and other lived on vessels but in the bright sunshine I couldn’t see that I was still taking selfies instead of pictures of the boats. It took me an extra couple of minutes on the return leg which may have been due to me applying less effort or perhaps due to a slight headwind. Really speed and timings are of less importance than they are on a bike. I seem to reach a point where the speed hardly changes even if I try to pedal harder so it’s far better to cruise. This makes pedalling the boat better for endurance training than for stressing the muscles and respiration. I was well over half way to a marina at Adlington when I turned around so I think that a visit there should be a target for a longer trip. I could do with some extra padding for the seat before that. The problem with going to the canal every time is the lack of variety. I have to start in the same place and use the same stretches of water. I’d love the chance to take the boat to the Lake District to use England’s biggest lakes so I’ll try to concoct a plan.

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