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Back on the water: Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back on the water: Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)


Asheville, North Carolina is known as one of the premier outdoor adventure destinations in the U.S. With rivers criss-crossing the area, including the Nantahala River which is known for its Class II-III rapids, it's also a great place for paddling - everything from whitewater rafting to tubing to kayaking. Naturally, as stand-up paddleboarding has gained in popularity, it also has made its way to the Asheville area.

I was so excited to try SUP. Not only is SUP on my Fitness Bucket List, but it was a great way to combine my interests with my friend's interests. You see, I'm a surfer and my friend is a sea kayaker. Surfing + kayaking = SUP. Best of all, SUP offered a less intense way for me to get back out on the water while I'm still rehabbing my knee. 


On Saturday morning, we drove from our hotel in downtown Asheville out towards the French Broad River. We were scheduled to take lessons with Dave, the owner of Asheville Outdoor Center. Dave started this business 20 years ago. He's originally from the Northeast but you wouldn't know it from his relaxed demeanor and Southern charm. He's been leading SUP lessons and trips for the past three years.

Before we headed down to the river, he told us a bit about the boards, fins and paddles we would be using. Our boards were 11-foot foam-topped boards. He also showed up some inflatable SUPs which appeared just as solid and sturdy but are a great option for those of us who may not go paddling all the time or may not have storage space for a 11-foot SUP. When deflated, the inflatable boards fit into a what looks like a medium-to-large duffle bag.

Our boards had a three-fin set-up with short flexible fins that would bend in case we came into contact with rocks or the bottom of the river bed rather than causing a hard collision (and potentially throwing us from the board and into the water). If we were going out on the ocean, the boards would probably have a single long fin attached so as to allow for carving turns on waves.

Lastly, SUP paddles look like single blade kayak paddles except that the blade is turned at 15 degree. As you pull the paddle through the water from front to back, the slight turn in the blade provides more leverage to your stroke, allowing you to generate more power. 


After our lesson, we hopped on some bikes and pedaled a mile to our launch site. Dave took us out on the water for about 2 hours. A big part of paddling on a river is learning how to read the river - the currents, ripples, and eddys - so that you could work with the river's mechanics. We first paddled upstream up to the Biltmore Bridge before heading back downstream. In total, we paddled about 2.5 miles. 

It wasn't as hard to balance on the board as I expected. Once you are standing up, you're pretty stable when your legs are shoulder-width apart and you bend your knees to absorb any movements of the board. I will admit, there were a few times when I almost bit it and fell into the water. It was challenging trying to get the paddle technique right and to figure out how to maneuver the board in the direction that I wanted to go.


At the end of our lesson, Dave let us play around a bit on our boards. I tried to do some yoga poses but could only manage to lift one foot up a few inches. It was super hard to balance on one leg on the water! He then showed us how to do a pirouette - basically spinning your board around in a circle. Of course we both had to give it a try, which is what I'm doing in the picture above. You scoot back to the back of the board so that the nose lifts up out of the water. Then you paddle hard on one side and spin your board around. It was so.much.fun. Needless to say, I fell into the water at the end of this move.

It was super fun to try something new. It challenges me mentally and physically and I'm learning to embrace being a newbie. I know that I'm going to feel uncomfortable and make a fool of myself at times but I'm learning to be OK because these opportunities offer me a chance to experience new things and learn about something that I would typically shy away from. 


Thanks Dave and Asheville Outdoor Center for a super fun morning out on the water! This is seriously making me consider working SUP into my life somehow. It's a great workout but more than anything, an amazing way to spend time out on the water.

Have you tried SUP? Have you been paddling (e.g. kayaking, rafting) before?


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50 Comments:

At June 26, 2012 at 2:27 AM , Blogger OatmealBowl said...

This is so awesome, Christine! Glad to see you're out and about after knee surgery. Ashville, NC... I heard has a great music scene, too. And I didn't know it was one of the premier outdoor destinations. that's cool.

i have to say, I am a little disappointed we didn't get to see the pic of you falling the water... ;)

Glad you had a great time!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 5:19 AM , Blogger Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb said...

I've seen so many people do SUP but have never tried it. I don't have a far extent on water sports but I have been white water rafting before. It's been years and I want to go again. Way to go trying something new. It's always awesome to mark something off of you bucket list!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 5:45 AM , Anonymous MizFit said...

oooh we AUSTINITES love our SUP too!

so glad you had fun.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 6:48 AM , Blogger Jennifer Goodale said...

That looks like a blast! I saw some people doing this in HI on our honeymoon and added it to my bucket list. Maybe one day...

 
At June 26, 2012 at 8:02 AM , Anonymous nicole said...

this is awesome. I probably would never do it, but I'd love to watch! :)

 
At June 26, 2012 at 8:27 AM , Anonymous Kierston said...

I would love to try SUP! Looks like a blast, glad you had fun!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 9:07 AM , Blogger Krysten said...

WOOHOO! Looks like so much fun! What a great day!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 9:10 AM , Anonymous Jess said...

Wow looks like so much fun! Paddle boarding is also on my Fitness bucket list!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM , Blogger Running With Sass said...

what a fun experience! Something I so want to do one day!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 10:57 AM , Anonymous Michele @nycrunningmama said...

OMG. I have been DYING to try this!! I had no idea that the acronym was SUP. I like it. Sounds like you are saying hi to someone - SUP! LOL. I'm super impressed that you were able to paddle for 2.5 miles the first time you got on the board - and without falling off once. Maybe you have a future career in this!! =)

 
At June 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM , Anonymous ilene said...

I know I've said this before but you are so super adventurous. I don't think I realized there was such a thing as SUP before reading this! I would love to get more into water sports. You are going to be my inspiration!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 2:12 PM , Blogger Angela @ Happy Fit Mama said...

SUP is on my fitness bucket list too! I so am trying it this summer!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 2:27 PM , Blogger Jolene said...

ok that looks SO FUN!! And you look so bad ass on that board. SO SO cool!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM , Blogger PavementRunner said...

That is so ROCK STAR! I don't even think I could stand up... I tried surfing once, but we can't call it surfuing. Let's call it "trying to stand up on the board." That was a total fail. But I have been kayaking a couple times and that is fun. Great job at venturing out and doing something new AND fun.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 4:02 PM , Blogger Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra said...

Now try ocean SUP - even more fun when you see fish, sea lions, dolphins! http://funandfit.org/2012/06/3-excuses-you-can-use-when-mountain-hiking/ Your surfing no doubt helped with the balancing.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 4:35 PM , Anonymous Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

I'm so impressed that you're already crossing things off your bucket list, way to go! Never tried sup, but it looks like a fun challenge.

 
At June 26, 2012 at 5:43 PM , Blogger ko0ty said...

I've always wanted to try paddle boarding.. looks like some major core work!

 
At June 26, 2012 at 7:33 PM , Anonymous Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run said...

This looks like so much fun!!!! You look amazing SUP-ing, Christine. Seriously. A natural. I've gotta try this one day...there are a few water sports I need to try. Like surfing. Gotta.

 
At June 27, 2012 at 9:22 AM , OpenID runfundone said...

I haven't tried it! And I've even had groupons to do it before...but I was new to Miami at the time and didn't have any friends to try it with me, so I let the groupons go to waste :( Sounds like you had fun!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM , Blogger Mbracing Wanderlust said...

This sounds like an amazing time and a great work out! I must try it soon!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 5:52 PM , Blogger Cotter Crunch said...

we have that here at our lake! It's fun and hard! good core work!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 6:03 PM , Blogger Blond Duck said...

I've always wanted to try this!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM , Blogger Surfing Grandma of OC said...

I've done SUP in the bay but never on a river never at a surf break! It's different than surfing . And I like surfing better.. But I like paddle boarding on flat days it's a good work out!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 9:00 PM , Blogger The Preppy Girl in Pink said...

I'm pretty sure my husband gets why I adore you so now! You have him all ready to go out and buy a paddle board. We live by a lot of water in MD and he has been itching to get one. This just did him in!

 
At June 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM , Blogger Amber @ExSoyCise said...

I LOVE paddle boarding! That is awesome you were able to go! I went last summer in Hawaii and it was such a great time! I'm hoping to go again in Hawaii this month.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:07 PM , Blogger Christine said...

haha. Yes, the falling in the water picture. Actually, I was bummed because I couldn't actually carry my camera with me while we were on the water since I didn't have a waterproof case so we had to run back and get it at the end. Oh well. Yes, it was great to be out and about after surgery and on the water.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:07 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Heidi! It's super fun and hope you get a chance to try it!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:08 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thank you! We actually considered visiting Austin instead of Asheville. Wouldn't that have been fun?

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:08 PM , Blogger Christine said...

It is pretty fun and relaxing to be out on the water. I hope you get to cross it off your bucket list too!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Nicole!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:09 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Kierston! It was loads of fun.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:10 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Krysten! It was a great trip and great to spend so much time outdoors.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:10 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I hope you get to cross if off your list too!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:11 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Heather! I hope you get to try it one day. It actually amazed me that pretty much wherever there is a body of water, people now are paddleboarding.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:12 PM , Blogger Christine said...

hahaha! That's hilarious. I didn't think of SUP that way :-)

It was fun and it actually wasn't so hard to balance as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong - I definitely almost bit it a couple of times.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Christine said...

You are too sweet. And I think that I've said it before but I don't feel very adventurous. It's been fun to try new things - super refreshing and good for the soul :-)

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Yay! Can't wait to hear about your experience!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM , Blogger Christine said...

You are very sweet. Yes, super fun and I think you'd be good at it too!

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:15 PM , Blogger Christine said...

haha. Awesome. Surfing is a whole different story when you're trying to stand up on a surf board while it's moving. I haven't been kayaking and would love to try that next.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:16 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I would LOVE to try ocean SUP! But I have a feeling that if I had a chance to be on the ocean, I'd want to surf :-) But I probably will try SUP out on Long Island this summer since probably can't surf. Yes, I do think surfing and yoga helped with my balance.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:18 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Laura. I do think that the bucket list thing has made me be more committed to trying new things and crossing things off my list.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:19 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Yes! Definitely a lot of core and balance work but you don't even feel like you're doing anything.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:20 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Melissa! You're too sweet. Yes! You should try SUP AND surfing :-)

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:21 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Oh no! I'm have a Groupon problem - often buying them and not using them before they expire. I hope you get a chance to do it though! It looks intimidating but it's really fun.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:22 PM , Blogger Christine said...

All the more reason I should come and visit Austin :-)

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:22 PM , Blogger Christine said...

We did have a really great time and I'm really glad that we did it.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:23 PM , Blogger Christine said...

I hope you get a chance. SUP is cropping up all over the place.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Christine said...

haha! Love it. I hope that he does get to try it. He can get an inflatable SUP!! Seriously, doesn't take up much space at all.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Amber! I'm jealous of your upcoming Hawaii trip and hope you get to do it again.

 
At June 28, 2012 at 9:26 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Believe me Michelle, I definitely prefer surfing!! I figured that it was a good way for me to be out on the water until my knee is ready to surf again. I MISS being on the water - didn't realize how much until doing this.

 

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