Submitted By: Mike Ward
Trip Completed By: Mike Ward
Trip Date: 7/18/2020
Disciplines: Bike, Stand-up Paddleboard, Run
Total Time: 3:30:47
Trip Report: This loop was made possible only by a paddleboard bike trailer, and now I have two. My first rendition was made of PVC and inherently shaky, and I had no faith. My friend Paul offered to weld me a second rendition, and that thing works perfectly and is sturdy as can be. Sturdiness and proper operation makes for high confidence, which makes me actually consider a loop like this.
After a month, I finally had a day open with nothing to do and so felt the extreme urge to put together a route involving the paddleboard trailer. I thought biking with the trailer on the Duluth Lakewalk may be a little ridiculous, but probably better than the road. And I had never paddled along the Lake Superior shoreline in Duluth, so seeing that angle of the city was intriguing. Not to mention it was a scorcher of the day and the prospect of jumping in the big lake was a draw. The other component of the day was forecasted thunderstorms around 6, which put the need for speed in my mind for more than just putting up a fast time on this route.
It was a huge pain getting the rig set up. I don’t have a kickstand, so to balance my bike on my van, and attach the trailer to the bike, and then I realized I needed a wrench for additional confidence, then to schlep the board up and onto the trailer without my bike toppling over… major pain in the butt. I had my hydration vest with water, my phone in my bag, the paddle strapped to the board with bungees, and set my running shoes inside with an extra snack and extra water for a quick transition.
Right away, biking felt great! It looked absolutely ridiculous, for sure, but actually the handling of the bike trailer was great. To get to the lakewalk from my house is a straight bomb down the hill. I was lucky to have tuned up my brakes that day, which again increased my confidence. It wasn’t too bad getting down… not that much different in braking or performance than normal. I managed to make my way onto the lakewalk, getting strange looks from drivers and pedestrians along the whole way. It was kind of fun. The ride itself was completely smooth, and quick. When I got to Brighton without incident, I looked for the nearest tree to lock my bike to. A quick transition was on my mind. Just lock this rig up, and get on the water. I saw my friend Alec, which was really fun… someone else to bear witness to this goofy endeavor. I announced my desire to be quick and he kind of escorted me to the water. Boom, and I’m off.
The water was so nice, and the sun so hot out there. I felt like my sunscreen had sweat off already, and after jumping in the lake, my notions were confirmed and I could feel the heat beating down on me. The paddle was long, and I was kind of anxious the whole time… thinking I have soooo much further to go and wondering if I’d be able to run back and bike back before a storm hits. The shoreline was pretty cool to see, and I tried to stay diligent with powerful strokes and a high cadence. I jumped in at least once more to cool off. There was a lot of debris in the water. I was standing up pretty much the whole time. Around one last big point, and I knew Leif Erickson Park was right there. Yep. I paddled in and hastily started walking back towards my house.
I’d forgotten a life jacket (oooops), and then realized I forgot shoes! Duh! How else would I get my board back home?! So I ended up walking my board almost a mile in bare feet. I could feel hot spots develop, feeling like blisters. Really? Blisters? Sheesh. It was pretty brutal with the sun still shining bright and this huge board testing my grip. One block at a time… I stopped for a rest when a neighbor asked if I wanted a sno cone. Yes, I said, but I had no cash. He said they’re free. WHAT!? It was amazing, and worth the time to stop. Leon was his name, and he saved my ass. I did the ole grab-n-go and continued to walk with my board uphill now with a sno cone in hand, and trying to eat the sno cone. I finally made it back home, tired, but excited to finish this loop out.
The transition was quick, and I set off on the run, ready to try for a few fast miles on the flat, paved lakewalk. It was kind of a grind, especially having the bike trip fresh in my mind, and running being that much slower. But I checked off each landmark and was back to my bike and trailer in no time. I strapped my shoes to my bike, unlocked the rig and set off. No rain yet, but the clouds were coming in heavy. The respite from the sun was nice.
It was an easy ride home, despite all the exercise. I felt more at ease with no expensive paddleboard along for the ride, and there were less people on the lakewalk. I made it back to Leif Erickson in no time, then navigated up to the street, onto Superior Street, then onto the avenue for the 6 block climb back to my house. Oof, that was impossibly difficult. With a singlespeed gravel bike, and the extra weight on the back, I finally felt the difference of biking with the heavy trailer. I couldn’t imagine the difficulty by adding on the weight of the paddleboard, too! But, I cranked up with my last bits of energy, and was excited to get to my alley and coast in.
All in all, a super fun loop to do twice, and really satisfying to make a trip with the paddleboard bike trailer. The highlight was Leon’s sno cone.
Click Here for pictures.
Leg 1: Bike 6.27 miles – 29:10
Transition 1: 7:00
Leg 2: Paddle 5.17 mile – 1:16:39
Transition 2: 0:00
Leg 3: Run 7.02 miles – 1:05:32
Transition 3: 4:00
Leg 4: Bike 6.24 miles – 28:26