We didn’t have anything important to occupy us on Sunday afternoon so I thought a trip in my homemade pedal, powered boat sounded like a good idea. My wife, Ali, is not convinced by the boat and flatly refuses to accompany me and bring the dog, Freddie, along. He did get the chance to see the boat in action and take a trip on the water when my son was home and as far as I could tell he seemed to enjoy it. Strangely the boat often appears to frighten other dogs walking along the canal bank and I was barked at twice or more today. I pulled the boat on wheels to the canal and started to get it onto the water when along came 4 kayakers.
“Hello Andrew”, said one of them. It was Maddi, the daughter of a friend. She was with her partner, Sam, and 2 other kayakers. We chatted for a minute before they continued and I got into the boat. I must have been too anxious to give chase because I fumbled with my phone and failed to start the app. Strava, which is a shame because I would like to have known how quickly I went. I passed under a bridge and saw the kayaks ahead but it was taking ages to reel them in. I worked very hard on the pedals but tried to stay relaxed. I’m not sure if it’s just the slow rotation of the pedals but the boat causes cramping in the legs from the quadriceps to the calves. I can only turn the pedals at a little over 30 rpm and it isn’t quick enough to mimic cycling. I’ve ordered 2 bicycle chainrings and will construct a lay shaft so I can gear the system down. This way I’ll be able to achieve over 60 rpm which I think will allow me to sail for much longer with less stress to the muscles. It will also increase my breathing and be much closer to the cycling experience. It took me almost three quarters of a mile to catch the first 2 paddlers. I chatted as I passed and caught Maddi and Sam soon afterwards. We stopped as a narrow boat passed us in the opposite direction and they asked about our son, Dylan, who is a year or so younger than them. They were heading towards their own narrow boat which is currently moored at Wheelton about 2.5 miles further north. They’ve chosen the Bohemian option of living on the canal and I admire them for it. I turned round and returned towards my start point.
I went slightly further south to see if someone else I’ve met, whilst walking my dog, was on his boat. Andy is quite old and for many years has lived at a private mooring across the canal from the tow path. It’s accessed by a remote controlled footbridge but for me I could pull alongside his boat on the water. He talked to me today about his days as a motorcycle sidecar racer. Just like if you want a pedal powered dinghy, if you want to race sidecars you have few option except to build your own. It was great to chat and I left after a narrow boat had passed. The wake of the boat was pushing my small dinghy all over the place. It got me wondering how I’d be on a bigger body of water with currents. I’m sure at some time next summer I’ll be taking the boat by trailer to the Lake District to find out the answer though I’ll need to thoroughly consider the safety of such a mission. It was my most enjoyable sail by far and took my leg muscles to the limit. Lots of people had made encouraging comments about the boat. Apparently it’s “cool”. I don’t know why my wife doesn’t get it.