Taking it easy in my boat.

I’ve had quite an active week, exercise wise, with mountain bike rides on Tuesday and Wednesday. After a more restful day on Thursday I wanted to use my pedal powered boat today. I also walk our dog, Freddie, every day but only when we walk a hill will it ever take much out of me. The boat is different to cycling in a couple of ways (aside from the obvious fact that it floats on water!) in that I sit in a recumbent position and the pedals provide quite a lot of resistance. It’s like pedalling up hill in slightly too high a gear. I can only turn the pedals around 60 times per minute. On a bike I’d be happier changing down a gear or too and spinning the pedals at 90 rpm so that I promoted breathing. As it is the boat is harder on the fast twitch muscles which are used for power and sprinting. After a sail it’s like I’ve done some weight training exercise for my legs and the muscles feel tired, even though I haven’t been breathing particularly hard. Pulling the boat of around 40kg on wheels to the canal and back involves around 70 feet of descent and climbing in each direction, which is also muscular. I wanted to take it easy today and have a sail around in a leisurely manner.

I was recently told of a terrapin which lives on the canal. Yes, I know they’re a tropical creature but they live in all sorts of bodies of fresh water in Britain these days. I blame the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons. When the kids lost interest in their pets and they became aggressive adults all too many were released and this little fellow is presumably one. I pulled the boat down to the water and set off slowly, passing the boats which moor at the end of Hogg’s Lane, to find the terrapin in hiding. I made sure that I kept the pace down and sailed to Frederick’s Ice Cream parlour where I often turn around.

I sailed back past my start point to the Cowling slipway where bigger boats can be launched. I’ve also heard that the slipways were vital in the days when boats were pulled by horses. If a horse fell in the water the slipways were the only places where they could get out. Having returned to my start point I checked my progress on the app. Strava and found that I’d averaged 2.3mph including slowing several times for terrapin observation and to answer the inevitable questions from canal bank users when using a unique vessel. Usually I would have expected to be between 2.5 and 2.7mph so my hope of taking it easier had been achieved. I didn’t get any cramping in the legs as I pulled the boat out of the water. A small increase in speed requires a lot more effort in the boat, with 4mph being the maximum speed available.

I covered just over 2 miles on the canal, which is a long distance for a small dinghy. It would be difficult to go such a distance powering the boat with oars. I’ve had a good week of exercise and may even get another ride or sail in on Sunday.

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