Kayaking by bike

Have I mentioned that I love water? And water sports? By which I mean things like swimming, kayaking, and rafting, and by which I do not mean power boats, jet skis, or anything with gas. (Let’s face it; I’m a human-powered lady, in any sport.)

Swimming I can do by bike, and it looks like this: bike myself to a body of water, lock my bike, and jump in.

Kayaking, rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, or anything that involve gear, on the other hand, I’ve mostly just taken advantage of when other people offer to let me borrow some of their stuff. Then I either meet them at the water or carpool somewhere with them (or, in some cases, use the stuff they have already stashed on a beach somewhere;)

BUT! A few weeks ago I finally did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and bought a sturdy inflatable kayak, thinking that I could finally bike myself to a body of water and go paddling.

It is awesome.

I’m still fiddling a little with the setup (I’ve only been out twice now), but this is pretty much rocking my car-free world:

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(surprisingly very stable on my bike this way, though I’m still figuring out the best way to carry everything)

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That bag bungeed to the back of my bike is holding my kayak, the pump to inflate my kayak, life jacket, kayak patch kit, small dry bag with my phone/camera/wallet/sunglasses, baseball cap, and bike repair kit. (In this case I biked 6 miles one way to get to my launch, and figured that was within the realm where I didn’t want to have to walk home or do that pump-until-it-goes-flat-again trick over and over in case of flat tire). The paddle — which splits in half for better carrying and contains an excellent story involving a hacksaw that maybe I’ll tell you someday — made my bike a little wider than normal, but still manageable, and it’s tied to my front rack with an old bike tube.

The first time I took it out, I wore the black bag as a backpack, but I decided that for anything more than like 2 miles that was going to destroy the straps (and possibly my back) pretty quickly. So today I tried bungees, and it was actually surprisingly stable, given how big the bag is compared to my rack (I think in large part because the boat is so stiff. If it were floppy, I would have a harder time wrestling it onto my rack and making it stay).

And it had the extra bonus of making me feel like I was touring: this bike just loves to be loaded up, so anytime I put weight on it I feel like I’m going for a big adventure.

So yeah. I’m still finessing the gear shuffle, but this felt pretty elegant today. When I got to the river, I just took everything off my bike, inflated my boat (which takes about 3 minutes, including the time spent unpacking everything), put the pump, bungees, and everything else back into the bag, stuffed it into the boat with me, and away I went, leaving only my bike and helmet locked behind.

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(just taking a break on East Island, which I didn’t even know existed until today:)

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So this is basically the best thing ever. If there’s something I love almost more than anything else in the world, it’s being able to figure out ways to do everything I want — especially the things that seem hard — without a car, and then realizing that it’s so super easy I should have been doing it my whole life.

Not that I need another distraction between work and school and biking, but hey! Look for me out on the water these days! :)

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