This week’s Saturday Selection takes a sporty turn because 1) writers need to get off their butts now and then, and 2) my husband and I finally got a pair of stand up paddleboards. If you haven’t tried stand up paddleboarding, definitely find somewhere to take a lesson or rent boards because it is great fun!
Now, I’m the first to admit I am a big chicken when it comes to any water activity unless it’s swimming in a pool or very calm (and preferably warm) open water. I’m not a weak swimmer or anything, I’m just very cautious about playing in a substance that could drown me. So when I’m telling you stand up paddleboarding is great fun, you gotta know it’s not too scary.
My husband on the other hand thinks the Pacific Ocean is a giant wading pool and takes to all water activities like, well, like a duck to water. It was his idea to take a stand up paddleboard (SUP) lesson last summer.
Of course, Mr. I Fear No Water was up on his board in about five minutes and whizzing across the Willamette River like a pro. I eventually worked up the nerve to stand up (you start out kneeling) and then chose to paddle around the wading area beside the docks. Still, I had a great time and we were hooked…which is why we went back a few days later and rented boards.
This time I made the brave excursion to cross the Willamette so we could go gawk at the ritzy houseboats on the other side. I have to say the only scary parts are when you first stand up because for some reason you feel freaky tall and the water surface seems very far away, and when you have to cross a river where there is high speed boat traffic whizzing by – imagine riding a tricycle across an 8-lane freeway and you’ll get the idea.
Paddleboarding is a water sport and like all water sports you run the risk of drowning (especially if some jackass on a jet ski plows you down). Still, SUP is a terrific workout that is easy on the joints. The balancing on the board becomes fairly intuitive, but you’re still constantly making small adjustments which provides a great lower body workout.
The balancing and the paddling also requires you to really work your core – good for keeping flabby bellies at bay. And of course, paddling uses your arms. You get your cardio workout by paddling, paddling, paddling (you’d be surprised how fast you can paddle when a giant ship is heading your way). So it’s truly an all over workout without any jarring or strain.
Deciding to Buy
There was no way Mr. Husband wasn’t going to get a board and, since (to his surprise) I enjoyed it too, he offered to get me one as well. Unfortunately, our garage is a bit of a mess (tornado stricken areas look tidier) and we don’t have much storage space. We also didn’t want to have to get racks for the car to transport the boards to the water. Luckily there are such things as inflatable boards. Yay!
We already have an inflatable kayak (told you, Mr. Husband is a water addict), so it wasn’t a far leap to imagine an inflatable board. Still, trying to stand upright in the middle of what is essentially a giant balloon while also trying to not go face first into the river was a bit daunting. So, this summer it was back to the surf shop (Gorge Performance – thanks guys!) to rent an inflatable board. It didn’t fold in half when we stood up, it didn’t deflate despite banging it into the dock several times (oops), and it moved just as well as the rigid boards.
This week, after a little research, we finally went back to the shop and bought our boards. My husband, being the more daring (aka “insane”) one, got a board designed for racing – very sleek, very long, and nowhere near as stable as I would like. I ended up with a beginner-level board which has plenty of stability from being nice and wide – something akin to riding on a barn door.
We took the boards out last night for their first test run. Yes, my husband was up and dashing along the river in no time. Me, well, I stuck to the wading area, but in my defense, it was very windy making the water quite rough. Eventually, on calmer days, I will make my way out of the wading area. In the meantime, does anyone know of a pool I can go paddleboarding in?
For a little more on SUP, REI has some decent info and videos.
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.