Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to Add Handles to Your Canoe or Kayak

A canoe is tough to carry no matter what but they are especially bad if there's no good way to hang onto it. I have an old aluminum canoe and after watching some friends try to get it out of the water after the Fools' Flotilla I decided to add some handles at the bow and stern. I also added handles to my sit on top kayak even though that was already relatively easy to manage.

A tubular webbing kayak handle.

I made the handles out of some old one inch tubular webbing that I retired from using for rock climbing. If you don't have any of this just laying around you can get it from Amazon for about 30 cents a foot. You'll need a total of about five feet of webbing.

First cut a 26" piece of webbing. That's what I did anyway. You can also cut a longer piece of webbing, put the knot where you want it, and cut off any excess after it is tied on the boat. The handles can be longer or shorter than mine but don't make them too long though or they'll hang in the water and snag on branches.

26 inches of webbing.


Next use a lighter to melt the cut edge of the webbing so that it doesn't fray.

Then feed the webbing through a hole in your boat. Both my canoe and kayak already had holes at both the bow and the stern for this purpose.

Finally, join the two ends of the webbing together with a water knot. The water knot looks like it might be complicated but it really isn't. The water knot is used because it won't come loose (some knots won't stay tied in webbing) and gets tighter when you pull on it. In some applications like rock climbing you should leave long tails on a water knot to add a margin of safety but in this application I felt like it would be OK to leave the tails very short.

Canoe handle.

To tie a water knot you first make a loose overhand knot with one end of the webbing. Then you pass the other end of the webbing through the overhand in reverse and pull it tight. This video explains it:


Add one of these handles at each end of your canoe or kayak and it will be easier to carry from the car to the water or lift out of the lake. The handles also give you a good place to tie a rope (also known as a painter line) to the canoe. You could then use the ropes as part of a method to tie to the canoe or kayak to the car, along with some ratchet straps for the middle.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's Always the Bottom Bracket

Is your bike making a noise when you pedal?
  • Even if the bottom bracket is not that old...
  • Even if the bottom bracket is a really nice one with extra bearings and gold anodizing...
  • Even if you just installed a new drivetrain and you don't remember the bottom bracket making noises before you started working on the bike...
  • Even if the noise doesn't sound like a noise that a bottom bracket would make...
  • Even if the bottom bracket feels really smooth when you spin the cranks...
It's the bottom bracket!



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Scary Pacific Bicycle Stem Break

Whoa! It looks like the stem snapped right off on this Pacific. I don't know the story since I saw it parked at the bike rack where I work. There was no other damage so I'm hoping the bike was either not moving or at low speed when the part failed. Be careful out there!

Broken Pacific bicycle stem

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Madison to Barneveld Ultramarathon

I wouldn't call myself much of a runner although I do take the occasional jog along the lake. This summer Ana (la Cabra Blanca) mentioned that she was interested in running another marathon. She proposed running from Barneveld to Madison (31 miles/50 kilometers) so I decided to try to tag along.

We are fairly good at running but not so good at selfies. At the start of the run:
Johnny Cash with fancy shoes.

Ana knows where she's going to end up on the podium! Sorry about the thumb on the lens.

We ran east on the Military Ridge State Trail, starting in Barneveld and running through Mount Horeb, Klevenville, Riley, Verona, and Fitchburg on the way to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The trail had a little snow in places but was solid. It was about 35 degrees and foggy, with mist hanging in the air. We started out at a 10 minute-per-mile pace and the first 15 miles passed quickly. 

Riley was the half way point. We thought about stopping in for a Riley Cooler but decided against it. It was the right call because the run was about to get tougher.

Ana looking ecstatic. She was thrilled for the whole run.
I've never noticed these signs before. I think the DNR must put them up for snowmobilers.

Happy to have made it half way.

As we passed Riley the trail became squishy and my left knee started to hurt. Not bad enough to stop but bad enough to demand frequent stretching. Ana should have left me behind for the wolves to eat but she's too nice. We made it through the no man's land near Epic and 151 and were happy to see Verona.

I should stop here to say this was not my finest athletic performance. When we first came up with this idea I printed a "how to train for your first ultramarathon" guide and hung it on my fridge. I followed it for about a month (mostly - the volume they were expecting felt like too much to me). Everything was going well and I had a great 18 mile run on the Glacial Drumlin one morning.

Then disaster struck! I had a lot of pain in my right ankle and foot one day though I don't remember twisting it. I ended up taking a whole month off. Luckily la Cabra Blanca was willing to wait for me to get back in shape. The ankle never got back to 100% but it did heal enough that I was able to run again. I ran some short routes, a half marathon, an 18 miler, another 18 miler in an early season snowstorm, and then we decided my training was going to have to be good enough.

I didn't hit the wall on our run but I also didn't feel great. Ana ran gracefully and put up with my stretching breaks while I slogged it out. By the time we got to Madison I was still having a good time but I was also looking forward to being done.

First place, Barneveld to Madison Ultra!


We ended up finishing in about 6 hours. Ana definitely could have gone faster. I was happy just to have muddled through. At the end there was no crowd cheering, no excitement, just get in the car and go home and take a shower and be thankful the type 3 fun is over with success rather than failure. It was a good time though and I'm happy to have done it.

Yay for ultramarathoning! Is that a word?


As usual with this sort of thing it was tough but I'm happy to have experienced a run of this length. I would have liked to have been properly trained since it wasn't much fun to stop to stretch all the time but at least we cranked it out. Would I do it again? Never say never.

At the finish!


Later that day Sarah presented us with Barneveld Ultramarathon shirts that she had screenprinted herself! If I hadn't finished would she have kept the shirt?

Thank you Sarah!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chundered on the Baraboo River!

Devon and I paddled the Baraboo River, putting in at Giese Park (off Rock Hill Road, not marked on Google Maps as of 12/11/2015) and taking out at Highway 113 using paddles done by MilesPaddled.com as a guide. It was one of the best paddles I've done recently and well worth the one hour drive from Madison even though the day only warmed to 55 degrees.

My paddling partner in his Alpacka packraft.

We ran the class I rapid just before the Highway 12 bridge in Baraboo but I decided I wanted to paddle back into it for another go. I was using a kayak without a skirt since I don't have one (time to go shopping) and after I paddled back into the rapid for another go I got swamped and ended up upside down.

It was my first underwater exit in moving water but the water was deep and everything went about how you'd expect. I exited, grabbed the boat and caught my breath after a sudden submersion in cold water. I'm not sure it was a true chundering (a combination of churned and under) but I think the term is hilarious.


The packraft in the "rapids."
Drying off. We both had more dry clothes and it wasn't that cold for November in Wisconsin. If I kayak more in cold weather I'm going to need a skirt and a wetsuit. If I was desperate I could have bought new clothes at Gander Mountain since we could see the sign for the store from where this picture was taken!
Welcome to the Town of Merrimac sign in the river.


Old school kayak. It's not very forgiving.
Some riffles in town.
If you're looking for some small drops and riffles the Baraboo River is a good choice. The river was at about 340 cfm and 7.85 feet on the gauge. The bike shuttle was an easy one. The parts of the river outside of Baraboo were relatively flat so next time we might drop in at the Highway 12 bridge and take out at the end of town.

Note that similar paddles on the Baraboo are detailed in Mike Svob's excellent Paddling Southern Wisconsin:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Few Climbing Pics From Devil's Lake

I just came back from some spring climbing at the lake. Here are a few pics:

Matthew at the top of Two Pines Buttress.
Standing on the edge near The Rack.
It's the lake - bring lots of webbing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Race Results: Sun Prairie Cup Cyclocross

I raced cyclocross in both the cat 4 and single speed classes this past Sunday at the Sun Prairie Cup, part of the WCA cyclocross series.

Cat 4

I started near the back of cat 4. I may have been called up since I got points for 4th at Badger Prairie but I missed the call ups. Sun Prairie has a good course that I remembered from last year. After only a portion of the first lap I had already made progress through the field:


The top of the short run up on the first lap:


Another shot at the run up. I should probably be carrying the bike but it's really small hill. In the single speed race I figured out that I could ride it if no one is in the way. Note the duct taped shoe - that was a last second fix for a buckle that broke on my Bontrager RXLs. They're not a bad shoe but I would be disappointed if I hadn't bought them on sale for less than half price. Hopefully I can get another buckle from Trek.


I worked my way through the field, eventually finishing 3/53 without a lot of drama.

Single Speed

I was tired throughout the single speed race but I'm enjoying getting two races in even if I can't really give 100% for the second one. I took it easy and finished 4/15 on a somewhat flat rear tire after burping some air from it during a hurried remount. I'll have to be more careful getting back on the bike in the future. This is one drawback to the tubeless setup, though this is the first time this has happened.

Here's a pic of the podium. Though I'm not actually sponsored by Planet Bike it's great to represent them since they made the race possible. Thanks to Michelle for the photos!



How did you do at the Sun Prairie Cup? Post a note in the comments!