Greetings from a pedal boat on Lake Balboa!
That’s my friend Tavi and me, and we’re pedaling away in the middle of a 27-acre man-made lake in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. Tavi and I went to Lake Balboa Park for a workout: we ran the path around the lake (1.3 miles), and then did 30 minutes of crunches, push-ups, and planks on yoga mats we laid out in a grassy area. It’s a pretty place to exercise: the water, lots of birds, well-kept lawns and paths.
We decided to go pedal boating after our workout was over, but by that time, the pedal boat rentals were closed. So we came back the next day, and made the pedal boats our workout for that day.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been on a pedal boat at some point in my life, but I can’t remember when or where, and certainly not in the past decade or so. Here’s what I learned about pedal boats:
1) They’re not built for people as tall as me. I was cramped in the seat, and when I started pedaling, I couldn’t extend my legs, and my knees were rising up towards my chest. But I got used to it, and made it work.
2) It takes a lot of energy to get a pedal boat moving – more than you’d think – and it’s rather difficult to really cruise around in it. That’s not a complaint, merely an observation. Our goal was to exercise, so these conditions helped us with that goal!
3) We discovered we could move faster going backward than forward, so we did that a lot of the time. Check out our wake!
It cost $10 for each of us, and the first thing we did after getting our lifejackets (a requirement) and our boat was spend 20-25 minutes getting accustomed to it, exploring the lake, and just generally checking things out. We watched a bride and groom take wedding photos on a grassy knoll.
We were pedaling pretty much non-stop, but once we got the hang of things, we amped up the workout: with intervals! We did 30 seconds hard, than 60 seconds of recovery. Five cycles of that going forward, and five cycles going backward. Exhausting!
After a break of a couple minutes, we resumed pedaling, and decided to do one final lap around the perimeter of the lake before returning the boat.
We spent 64 minutes pedaling around Lake Balboa. When we returned to the dock, the rental guy said that, on average, people take the boats out for 20 minutes. Damn right we’re better than average!
I was kicking myself that I didn’t use my Runkeeper app to track the distance that we pedaled. (There’s a ‘rowing’ setting on the app, and that’s close enough to pedalboating.) But I calculated some measurements of the lake, and estimated that we pedaled 1.4 miles – and that’s a conservative estimate.
Afterwards, because our legs were so tight and sore, we spent another 20 minutes walking a lap around the lake, just to loosen up and stretch our muscles.
Am I going to be rushing back to Lake Balboa for another pedal boat workout? No. The discomfort level is high enough to prevent this from becoming a regular thing. Am I glad I went and tried it out? ABSOLUTELY. Would I consider it again, a few months or years down the road? Probably. While it wasn’t the most comfortable thing ever, it was also pretty fun, especially when you’re sharing a boat and laughing a lot with a good friend.
Keep it up, David!
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