Paddle and Pedal
Sometimes my brother can be profoundly stupid.
Years ago, for example, as we neared the end of a downriver canoe trip, he commented, “We need to invent a canoe that transforms into a bicycle – a canoeicle.”
I turned around from the bow of the boat and looked at him hard, “You sniffing glue back there?”
“No. This is brilliant,” he said. “Rather than hitchhiking back to get the car, the canoe would convert into a bicycle and we’d pedal back to the start. It’s a million dollar idea.”
I snorted. “Don’t invest your retirement savings in it.”
Over time, however, I’ve come to think my brother was onto something. OK, an actual contraption that could convert from canoe to bicycle is ridiculous –the two craft rely on completely uncomplimentary dimensions, mechanics, and materials. Yet for downriver and down-lake paddle trips, the folderol (and expense) of a two-car shuttle, or the unpredictability of a hitchhiking shuttle are big deterrents to taking such journeys.
Enter the simple concept of breaking down a bike into a stack, sliding that stack into the middle of a canoe, reconstructing the bike at the take-out, and having one person pedal back to the put-in for the car.
A year ago my brother and I used this strategy over the course of a week to paddle the string of lakes formed by the Ice Age Floods north of Wenatchee. Each day we canoed segments of shoreline along Banks Lake, Sun Lakes, Park Lake, Blue Lake, Lake Lenore, and Soap Lake, fishing as we paddled and carrying a stacked mountain bike in the center of the boat. At day’s end, I’d ride back to our put-in to fetch the car and our camping gear. Meanwhile, my brother would clean fish and make preparations for camping at the take-out. Our modified ‘canoeicle’ made the shuttle conundrum a non-issue.
This summer my wife and I are employing the canoeicle concept to paddle downriver along different segments of the Columbia River and to shuttle via the bike stowed in the canoe. So far we’ve paddled the Columbia River between Chelan Falls and Goosetail Rocks, Goosetail Rocks and Entiat, Entiat and Rocky Reach Dam, Rocky Reach Dam and Walla Walla Park, Walla Walla Park and Hydro Park. By summer’s end we hope to have strung together different day trips spanning the Columbia River all the way to Vantage.
The ability to travel downriver along the Columbia with a simpler, faster, and cheaper shuttle system has made our front-yard river hugely more appealing to us. We find it far more interesting to keep paddling downriver than to turn around at some point and retrace our strokes back to the same beach from which we launched.
All of which has me appreciating the brilliance of my brother’s stupidity.
Stacking a bike and placing it in the bottom of a canoe is a three-minute process once you’ve done it a few times and learned what works best for your bike and boat. Here are the generalities: 1) collapse the bike’s seat post as far as possible; 2) remove the front tire; 3) lay the front tire over the frame with the front of the tire aligned with the front fork and a pedal sticking through the rim; 4) tie the tire down attaching it to the bike’s front fork, frame, and pedal (see yellow cords in picture of the stacked bike above) 5) place the stacked bike into the canoe, sliding the back tire of the bike as far under the bow seat as possible and tying the bike’s down tube or front fork to the center thwart (tying the bike down keeps the load from shifting unpredictably should you encounter rough water).
I usually keep the center thwart in place, but have modified its connection in my boat so I can quickly remove it when desired. Should I need to carry more gear for an overnight trip, I can remove the center thwart, lay the bike flat in the bottom of the canoe, and pile gear bags over the bike.