Words and photos by Greg
Summer is upon us in our big valley. Long hours of sunlight tempt us to stay outside. There's no snow, no mud, and really, no excuse not to indulge in the local trails. It can be hot, but there's also water to splash in. With sunshine, trails, bikes and boats, we're afloat in options.
Recently, as I was strolling with Trina and the dogs to a nearby pond, I was gratified to see a heap of children piled onto a floating log. Which is something I guess I don't see often enough. There are times when I get a bit befuddled trying to wrap my mind around both the good parts of civilization and the parts where good intentions seem to become twisted enough to cloud what may be one of the main goals of civilization: to promote the enjoyment of life.
I suppose I'd rather think that inside me, despite some rather stuffy tendencies of my own, there's an inner child who would rather be dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and floating on a log in a pond, than to be attired in a designer swim suit floating on a pool toy in a chlorinated pool watched over by a lifeguard. But where the line between those two exists, I'm not sure.
Further befuddlement comes courtesy of Mike, who's new exotic pool toy has me frothing with admiration. His boat/bike set-up allows for the collision of bicycling and floating. It expands the possibilities for traveling through wild country from point A to point B to include a river (for instance) that would otherwise have stopped a cyclist dead (wet and drowned) in his tracks.
His own near-future plans exceed any of my own dreams, and precipitate his current choice of extremely fat tires for sandy beach riding, as well. (Plus clothes and supplies for many days of cold, wet, ice, tundra, brush, bears...) But here's the gist of the game during one of his recent test runs.
Arrive at selected body of water. Remove rolled packraft from handlebar.
Partially disassemble bike.
Attach bike to raft.
Strap remaining gear in place.
Get into water.
Paddle away. (about 20 minutes from arriving, but he'll get faster)
Cross body of water and get out. Reassemble bike and return raft to handlebars. (about 10 minutes). Ride away. (Gear geeks please note that other than the clothes he will be wearing, in these shots he's loaded with everything he'll need for longer than a week of wilderness travel -- sleep kit, food and cooking stuff, and big camera gear. I, ever over-self-laden, stand in awe.)
Back in the 1960s I was told that we would all soon be driving cars that could turn into a boat with the press of a button. That has not happened. But this bike/raft thing should help make up for it.
Trina, the dogs and I inflated her (non super-lightweight) kayak and joined these two packrafters (sans bikes) for a pleasant float down a swollen local river.
Mike nails the big rapid (cough cough) of the day.
Zeek already likes packrafting!
Runoff was high and the banks were full to overflowing. Which meant a little extra paddling along the road after we'd reached the take-out.
Speaking of afloat, due to the swollen local rivers, we've also had the chance to enjoy the water as we've pedaled around town on our evening dog-run rides. The high water has been flowing over the paved paths. Sometimes that has stopped us.
Sometimes it has not.
And, lest our faithful viewers think that this blog no longer has anything to do with mountain biking on actual dirt trails, I offer these recent photos. Okay. Stop reading this and go have fun out there!