Since when do you need a PFD to pedal a bicycle?

Cautionary note: This blog has very little to do with boats. (Although it does involve water!) Boats will come later this summer. Jerry’s busily working to launch Mystic as I type this. She’ll be splashed in a day or two. Hooray!

The summer of 2012 has been dedicated to work on Sunflower, our backyard project boat. We’d like to end the speculation about when what we thought was going to be a two-year refit will finally end. It started, as near as we can recall, in the winter of 2003 when we dragged our Mega 30 home in a raging snowstorm. Two years have come and gone . . . several times since then. In an effort to get that boat on the water and sailing while we still care, Jerry has become possessed.

As a result, Sunflower, the trailerable C&C Mega 30 we have yet to sail, is getting a lot more attention this year than Mystic, the C&C 30 we sail on Lake Superior. So we’ve spent more time on land than on the water so far this summer. A one-month cruise in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior is all we’ll be allowing ourselves this summer. While Jerry toils endlessly on our project boat (and I help sometimes), I’ve spent part of my time circumnavigating small local lakes . . . on my bicycle.

One spot on the trails has frequently been closed to bikers and walkers over the years while our city parks people dig around with large equipment in what apparently is a series of vain attempts to cause the marshy area near the trail to drain. They could be counted on to go back at it every year or two until last year when they hauled away all the heavy equipment and posted signs at both ends of the section of trail in question: TRAIL SUBJECT TO FLOODING.

Every time I see these signs, they bring a smile to my face. I believe the last act of the parks department was to post something to the effect that, even though they couldn’t fix it, they at least felt they should warn those using the trail about the problem. Over the years, I have seen this low area accumulate a fairly sizeable puddle. In the spring it can be 6 or 8 inches deep, something I can coast right through without getting my shoes wet. So I haven’t taken the warning about flooding very seriously. Until this year.

A couple of weeks later on a MUCH drier day. Karen attempting to look grumpy but it’s hard to do on such a glorious day.

This year’s spring rains came in torrents. Rivers were running at full speed. Lakes filled up. The marshlands never had it so good. And the low section where the puddle forms on my favorite trail was no exception, I have learned. I knew there would be a puddle again. The signs were there to remind me, of course. I lined up the bike pedals to keep my feet dry and prepared to coast through. Except that this time the puddle was about half a football field long and up to mid-thigh in depth. Naturally, one can’t coast through this much water. Nor can one pedal through it. This I now know for certain. A large body of water breaks a lot of momentum, sort of like pedaling through molasses. I had a good laugh at my naivety and told myself I had entered a short marathon: bike a few miles, swim a mile, walk your bike through a pool for a mile . . .

So, as I was already committed and soaked through and through, I walked the bike to the other end of the deep puddle where it was once again posted:

. All that had changed in the interim is that this time they’d made a believer out of me.

I do wonder, however, how soon inflatable PFDs will become required bicycling equipment?

Later: I would add to this note that there was a delay of a couple of weeks before I returned to that section of trail. We have lots of bike trails where we live and I chose drier ones. By the time I got back armed with a camera to document my soggy ride, all that remained were the signs and a very small puddle teeming with wiggly polliwogs. Soon those that make it through the vulnerable tadpole stage will become frogs. At all stages these frogs will attract stalking birds and other forms of wildlife to the bog. And the birds and wildlife, in turn, attract me (and many others) to this wonderful corner of paradise not far from home.

All that was left of the flooded trail was a puddle swarming with polliwogs


2 Responses

  1. I bet the water in northern Michigan hadn’t gotten very warm yet!

    • The water of Lake Superior NEVER gets very warm. (The word “yet” is entirely unnecessary in this context!) Our water stays in the 40s and 50s in the summer except in the very thin waters near shore.

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