Pedal & paddle: Bike SUP experiment

21 September 2022

Bike & Standup Paddle-board / 8.8 miles (bike) & 1.8 miles (SUP) / 3 hrs 7 minutes / River level 2.2 ft

Some brief notes from my bike SUP test mission. I rode along the C&O canal to Huckleberry Hill campsite, transferred to the river for a couple of miles, and then loaded up again and rode home.

Bike loaded on the front of the paddleboard

I’ve wanted to do this trip for a long time, to combine two of my passions: biking and paddleboarding.

The inspiration came from these two NRS articles: Pedal to Paddle and How to Bike Shuttle Your SUP Trips.

Biking with a paddleboard

This is the easier of the two configurations. Paddleboards are heavy and bulky so the trailer is a great tool to use.

It would be hard to ride with the SUP backpack, they’re not that portable. For backpacking, packrafts would be a better option.

I have a Burley Flatbed trailer, which is ideal for carrying the SUP rolled up.

Towing the SUP on the trailer

The trailer is easy to ride with and barely noticeable, until you start riding uphill. And then it becomes VERY noticeable.

The ride up the hill from the C&O towpath was much harder than usual (without the trailer). My legs were like jelly by the time I got home 😉

Paddleboarding with a bike

This is the more challenging of the two modes of travel. You need to ensure the bike and trailer are strapped on tightly and balanced (left to right and front to back). Also, you need to leave enough room to stand and paddle comfortably.

I put the bike on the front, with the front wheel removed. I used Sea to Summit Hook Release Accessory Straps to attach the bike and cord to tie down the front wheel and the trailer. (I’ve ordered more of those straps for next time though.)

I used some packaging foam as padding under the bike, to protect the board from abrasion.

The bike mounted on the board

It worked really well!

I had to be slightly more careful when paddling, mainly because I didn’t want to fall onto the bike. On flat water I could barely notice the extra weight though, and the stability was not affected.

The small yellow dry bag held a few accessories like sunscreen and snack bars

Approaching Harpers Ferry. Maryland Heights is the mountain on the left skyline.

At the takeout, getting ready to transfer back to the bike to ride home

Check out this instagram post for more photos.

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