Paddling and Pedaling

Cross-Training on Water and Land

The first time I hooked up biking with paddling, it was a matter of logistical necessity. A friend and I had planned an afternoon of whitewater on a secluded stretch of the Montreal River, on the border of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. The only snag — we had one vehicle between us and the shuttle involved dirt roads with the hitchhiking potential of a camel track in the Sahara.

After unproductive calls to every paddling buddy we could think of with wheels, and as a last resort, we threw a road bike in the pickup and chained it to a birch tree at the take-out. Four hours later, legs cramped from kneeling and clothes soggy from the final set of standing waves, I hobbled unenthusiastically over to the bike and mounted up.

Somewhere along that quiet, backwoods, self-powered shuttle, I realized that I was having fun. In the first mile or two the breeze dried me off. My legs began responding to the exercise with the enthusiasm of a neglected second-string athlete. My mind reran the paddling highlights. By the time I wheeled up to the truck, I had pretty well forgotten that I was the mule who had lost the coin toss and been saddled with the drudgery of a bike shuttle.

Shuttles aside, pedaling and paddling complement each other perfectly. For one thing, a bike tour combined with a paddling outing is a cross-trainer's dream, coupling upper- and lower-body exercise, and a cardiovascular workout along with the steady rhythm of paddling cadence. Beyond that, if you pack your panniers along with your dry bags, you open up a whole new dimension in experiencing landscape.

The destinations that follow are some of the more spectacular possibilities, but wherever you live or vacation, from the Ozarks to the Baja, Puget Sound to the Everglades, there are bike trails ready to join with the water trails on your adventure itinerary.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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