Paddling Speed: How bad do ppl lie?

Just wondering. I know on running and cycling forums I’ve been on, some of the hyperbole and exaggerations have been downright hilarious.

For instance, one guy on a cycling forum I was on wrote about how he and his paceline buddies would average 44mph during their rides. No, not downhill. No tailwind either.

Someone wrote back, “Oh wow. So, when are you guys trying out for the Tour de France?”.

He didn’t have a very good answer for that :slight_smile:

So, how bad is it in the paddling world? About the same as in most sports, less so, or worse?

I think with GPS the bravado is over.

However, big wind stories still remain.

the problem
With paddling is the range isnt very large. With boats 22"-28" wide its not like there is huge potential of speed variation. Sure over distance there is, but discussing .25-.5 mph differences isn’t that much fun. Plus most are versed in what it takes to push boats faster, therefore lies don’t get traction.

If sprint or marathon paddling, or just racing in general, was more popular I imagine more lies would be told, and those lies would find a more receptive audience.

Ryan L.

I paddle slower than most.

post this on the cycling forum

Last I heard a TDF peloton can average 35 mph. Fall off the group and you’re going slower.

I’d guess not as bad
I don’t think as many people are speed-obsessed, and I think those who are own or paddle kayaks and skis that are purpose-built for speed or racing.

We’re all out there to have fun but the fun comes from so many different places. Some people like the speed/fitness component, some like the adventure and travel, some like the challenge of rough water.

Not so bad id say
On here I’s day people are fairly realistic about how fast they paddle I think

Its harder to exaggerate your paddling speed IMO since the hull of the boat limits its top end speed. the effort required for a speed exponentially grows so at some point each boat hits its realistic (human powered) limit. If you are claiming you went 7 miles in an hour in a 38" wide rec canoe its fairly easy to call bs.

But it happens everywhere to some degree.

Hardly over…
“I think with GPS the bravado is over.”

I assumed that I usually moved at the usual 3 to 4 mph so I took my Garmin GPS with me once to get the definitive answer. It turned out that I was averaging 22 mph in my kayak!

But what’s strange is that virtually everyone else seems to have little trouble keeping up with me…

How to measure speed
I find this whole issue of paddling speed interesting. Clearly if you paddle, run, bike whatever over a measured course and have accurate time via chrono you can calculate your speed with great accuracy.

My issue has to do with GPS products.

Example: Just last week I put new batteries in my Garmin E Trex Legend as i wanted to check my paddling speed.

On a stretch of highway with one of those radar signs setup by the police to let you know if you are exceeding the limit I did a couple of trial runs.

Interesting results: the radar and my speedometer were both within 1 MPH of each other while the GPS was different by 3 MPH !!

So what do you trust? Even a 1 MPH error on the radar would be quite glaring when you proclaim you paddle at say 6 MPH or KTS when in fact you are 1 or 2 units either faster or slower.

I love my GPS but is it trustworthy? Why do police use radar as opposed to a GPS type system

I don’t think most paddlers claim x MPH to impress I believe they take the speed off their GPS.

I believe the only way to accurately measure speed is paddle a given distance use a chrono and calculate speed.

I’m thinking I will not claim any particular speed just paddle. If I ever enter a race I’ll know where in the pack i finished . The actual speed would not be important, at least to me.

Liars Club
Your timing is good. I met a guy last night on a bike ride who lies on a grand, pathological scale. He’s not just an internet liar. He’ll do it right to your face. I have a Facebook acquaintance who seems to have some kind of Munchausen thing going on. She appears to make up health problems to get attention and get out of having any responsibilities. Definitely some mucked up people out there.

Back to your question. I agree with Jay up there. I think the big bullshit numbers in the paddling world involve wind: “I was paddling in a 50 knot…”

Old Fashioned Way
I don’t need any fancy gizmo to tell me how fast I am going. I can tell by the wind in my face. My family always had convertibles, so I know what the various speeds feel like. And yes, it is challenging when I have a bow paddler, because they do block the wind a bit. I just add 8 mph to cover their interference. I try not to paddle over 30 mph because it dries my eyes out.

Why do police
use radar as opposed to a GPS type system?

Because they would have to be in the car with the driver to determine the driver’s speed.

I guess GPS might be OK in the case of a pursuit. I think it would be better that radar in that situation actually.

GPS can tell lies
Put the gps on your boat, and then shove it hard

sideways a few feet, it will lie enormously.

Probably record something like 20mph.

Consider the errors when launching, take-outs,

and the basic “error” that occurs from pinging

a satellite.

There could easily be 10 to 15 SECONDS passing between

pings to the satellite when moving above 5 mph.

A lot can happen in that time frame.

When people tell me they paddle 6,7,8 mph my

skepticism meter goes beep, beep until they tell me

which boat, where, in what conditions.

I HIGHLY recommend folks use something like

Garmin Connect to strip erroneous data points,

and gain insight into exactly what gps data is.

GPS doesn’t help much
Seems like some people get a GPS, sprint to see how fast they can paddle for 1/4 mile, and then tell everyone that’s how fast they can paddle.

They do the same thing evaluating the speed of boats, paying more attention to sprint speed then what you can do over long distance.


GPS, etc.
I’ve seen occasional instantaneous-speed errors with the GPS, but nothing that makes me wish for something better. In fact, most of the time the GPS seems to do a pretty good job of keeping up with the surging nature of boat speed that’s a result of paddle or oar strokes, which it couldn’t do if it were only marking position every few feet. When errors in instantaneous speed readings do occur, well, if they can be recognized as such I ignore them, and if they are too small to recognize, then I don’t care anyway. I think technology makes some people want to split hairs when it comes to knowing their speed, but I don’t pay attention to such minor details. All that really matters is average speed over some particular distance, and any GPS can do that quite well.

One special situation where I like to check the speed by GPS is when riding the face of a wave. For me, such a ride only lasts several seconds at a time, but that’s more than enough for the GPS to provide a pretty good estimate. I never seem to have the GPS along on the best days for wave-riding though.

Most of the “big fish” stories I hear in the sea kayaking world involve wave height.

I always look at the average speed for the whole event to get a good handle on how I was paddling, hiking or bike riding. For paddling I am usually in the 3-4mph range typically about 3mph.

I found a very simple method to quell any proclivity to exagerate paddling speed is to try to keep up with a jogger. I’m not talking about a runner–just an ordinary jogger. Even with a little current in your favor, you’ll be hard pressed.

Seen it on here
Some kid says he has a max speed of 12 mph on a lake in his rec boat. And he’s just a beginner, so just wait, when he gets a good forward stroke going…

GPS is to blame for some of the boasting – many people don’t understand that max speed doesn’t mean much at low speeds because of the error inherent in the location measurements.

Try sitting still on the lake for a few minutes and you’ll probably be amazed at your max speed – with no exertion at all.

Radar, GPS, Error
How fast were you going when the GPS reading was different by 3 mph? If you were going 40 mph when that happened, that’s the same degree of error as being wrong by 0.3 mph when paddling at 4 mph, but who’s to say that’s even what happened without knowing what other errors might have been going on. A cop friend of mine told me a long time ago that radar devices must be periodically “tuned”. For all I know, this may not be true anymore, but I’m just thinking of all the things that might contribute to error. One thing that can happen, especially with the portable radar trailers, is that they are sometimes located such that they don’t get a true head-on shot of oncoming cars. The angle of approach need not be off by much at all to make the radar provide a significantly slower-than-actual speed reading. Some police officers don’t understand this, and park WAY off the side of the road to take radar readings of oncoming traffic, not knowing that they’ll miss all but the most flagrant violators when they do that. I’ve done the comparison of speedometer reading to radar machines and GPS in my car a few times, but never with GPS and radar at the same time. In my car, the speedometer reading is always about 3 mph slower than what the radar says, and interestingly, whenever I turn on the GPS I see the exact same error, suggesting that my GPS would agree pretty closely with the radar machines around here.

An interesting note about “measured courses” is that they often are anything but accurately measured. Check your GPS track when crossing a big lake and odds are it will show that you didn’t go a very straight line, especially in windy conditions. In that case, I’d trust the GPS measurement of overall distance along a crooked path more than the straight-line distance between two points on the map. Of course, how you define your speed in that case matters. Do you want to know how fast you actually traveled, or how fast you were able to get between two points? In the second case, really fine-tuning your course corrections and making use of a compass at all times to straighten your path of travel would result in a faster “speed” between two points, without changing the true speed you were actually traveling at all.

I doubt if any of this is very important to most people though. Even fussy people are probably happy if they can estimate their speed to within roughly half a mile per hour.