Ask Eddy: Let ‘er Ride?

Eddy's got answers: How much abuse can your roof rack take? And inside the lifecycle of a tick.

Illustration by Aaron McKinney
Illustration by Aaron McKinney

Any chance the wind will peel the rack off my car?

That's a good question, and it's on Eddy's mind every time he loads Mother's Taurus for another trip North. But, not to worry. The worst-case scenario, says Yakima's Chris Sautter, is passing an 18-wheeler going the other way when you've got a canoe or two on the roof rack. To make sure their racks (and your canoe) stay put, Yakima first straps a canoe to the rack, and then tries to rip it off with a winch. They wrap a line around the bow of the canoe and let the winch rip with 350 pounds of force. The second test is a road loop in the notoriously gusty Columbia River Gorge using straps rigged with monitors. They haven't lost a boat yet, and the most force they've measured is 240 pounds. What about three canoes, stacked in a pyramid? "That would most likely exceed the 160-pound weight limit on roof-carry in place for most vehicles," says Sautter, so Yakima doesn't test for that. Which means that it probably wasn't "safe" for us to strap Fat Earl, who weighs north of 240, on the roof of the Taurus that time he passed out with vomit all over his shirt at Meadfest. Yakima also only tests their rack loads with nylon webbing straps, which are rated to 500 pounds. "Most of the times I've heard of people losing boats off their racks were because the straps were damaged or too old, or else it was a rope that broke or a poorly tied knot," says Sautter. So, no go on Eddy's homemade moose-gut bungee cords?

How long can a tick live without sucking blood?

Generally, ticks only eat three times in their lifecycle: once in order to metamorphose from a larva to a nymph, then from a nymph to an adult, and finally once more to stay alive to breed. According to Dr. Thomas Mather, director of the TickEncounter resource center, that middle stage can last as long as a year, with one European variety able to last two years in the nymph stage until finding an animal to feed on. So could one of these critters hide out in Eddy's house for a year and then pounce on his succulent ankle? No, says Mather. "Ticks can't survive the low humidity inside of a house," he says. "Most American houses never get above 50 percent humidity, whereas if it falls below 82 percent humidity, ticks are in jeopardy of drying out. They spend most of their lifecycles hidden under moist leaf litter." Drying up is just as big a challenge for a tick as finding bloody flesh to latch onto. The majority of ticks never make it to adulthood, which is actually Eddy's experience with humans too (I'm looking at you, Fat Earl). Another tick question: If I'm bitten, am I sure to get Lyme disease? "The longer the tick is attached," says Mather, "the greater the probability of transmitting the disease." So, don't let them attach, and if they do, get them off quick. The best technique: Pinch the tick with tweezers as close to the head as possible and pull slowly and steadily until it pops off. Then crush the infidel. Again, similar to the technique Eddy applies to those who can't hold their mead.

Eddy’s Got Answers: Read more from Ask Eddy.

Got a question for Eddy? Email it to AskEddy@canoekayak.com

This piece originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of C&K magazine.