Something a bit different!!

Something a bit different!!
Something a bit different!!

Standup/Lie down Paddle boarding.

Time for a kip

Time for a kip

Got this stuff now!!

Got this stuff now!!

I know I spend a lot of time IN the water, but recently, an opportunity arose which could not be missed. Some ladies from one of the groups I regularly swim with also swims at a lake not to far from where we do our river swims. This lake is more of a water sports lake than just a swimming lake and they have various things on offer- most of which are water craft based. Kayaking, Sailing, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), swimming and, oddly enough Bungee Jumping. Yes, confuses me as well but there you have it. I have swum races at this lake before so I now know how to get there. Follow the SATNAV and you end up – not at the lake but some back lane.

So A couple of weeks ago this offer came up, STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING introductory course, usually £50 each but we got it for the paltry price of £24.50, and they would throw in an hours hire of the boards for us to play. Someone who likes a bargain, I thought this was a decent offer. Other reasons that I thought it was a good idea was that we have been looking for a vessel to get us on the water so Slimhippo can do a bit of training and also come and support me in my training swims. Our neighbour is amazing letting us use her kayaks all the time but weighing up the costs of roof bars and two kayaks as opposed to 2 x inflatable (beds on the water) SUPS, I thought lets give it a try and see what it is like.

Next Obstacle, convince Slimhippo that it is a good idea. I have learnt that these suggestions have to be veiled in some circumstances but generally the Slimhippo is pretty easy to convince.

Post the event, we had a discussion about Stupid things she has opted to do with me in the sporting field; we were both in agreement that, if I had told her 3 years ago that she would see herself kayaking through Arizona, taking a dip in 8 degree water during kayak training, Open water swimming and now Stand up Paddleboarding, as well as following me around as my support team to various swims around the globe, the response would have been a gut busting laughathon.

It seems that Slimhippo is also up for a bargain – at times – so after tentatively asking her if she would like to do something like this, even though we are in the depths of the British summer, she did agree, there was very little duress – at the time of agreeing!

Sadly however, The slimhippo has been having a few back issues. A couple of weeks ago she went off to the physio and let her know that in 6 weeks time she would be required to kayak for 29km. There was a very paused and very long OOOOOOKKKAAAAYYY by the physio. Then again she went to the physio the week before stating that she was going SUPing this weekend. Much puzzlement ensued and then a fairly odd Statement from the physio.

“You Antipodeans are an odd bunch – Normally I am trying to tell my clients to DO MORE EXERCISE and BE MORE ACTIVE. With you guys, I am having to tell you to TAKE IT EASY!!”. She did however offer an appointment for Monday after the SUPing, to put the slimhippo back together again.

Colours of Summer

Colours of Summer

So on Saturday with the advice to keep her back supple, we went for a nice long walk. The walk was marvelous. Weather was passable – at first! Through the fields behind our house, The grasses and wild flowers are absolutely marvelous, painting the landscape in vibrant colours. Then we come to a point  in the walk where there is a choice. Take a perfectly good path back to the road and then home OR – my option: bushbashing through the fields – to a road that would take us closer to our house. AND THEN——-the rain started! Audra Stoically agreed to do the bush bashing route. We did find the road, but not before stomping through waist high grass, in full bloom and then some pretty hectic stinging nettles. It seems that the flora in Britain does not follow the same “lack of compliance” to the changing seasons as the weather does. No problem, we were dressed for the occasion – well, one of us was. Can you guess who?

Fianlly we were at the Road, the home straight, By now however, the slimhippos back issue was barely noticeable – not for the reasons you might expect; our trudging through the bush had taken its toll, leisions on my legs and both our arms from nettles and bushes, Audra looking like Rudolf the red nosed Reindeer. Her hayfever had come on full strength, Back problems now seemed to pale into insignificance.  Home with welts and grass seeds all over us, best thing was a bath and a liberal application of anaesthetic cream to our various welts.

Fun in the Water!

The day arrived and it was a typically British summer weekend. Grey, poured with rain on Saturday night and most of the morning on Sunday – the day we were to go paddleboarding. The day was not received with a lot of enthusiasm, Even the cat had migrated indoors – whilst the next door neighbors cats run riot on his patch. I was not too bothered by the conditions, but then I do this on a regular basis. I was, however, a bit more concerened about the slimhippos’ enthusiasm. We both figured that getting wet was an inevitability, if the clutches of the lake did not find us, the rain probably would. It was time to pack for EVERY evntuality. time to dig out the big guns, Wetsuits, thermal boots, Dryrobes, Gloves, The back of the car finally looking like we were off to the arctic on an expedition: We were ready to go!

The lake is quite small but perfectly adequate for what we were off to do. Once checked in and paid up, I then went off to get changed and Slimhippo headed to the change rooms to battle her way into the neoprene. Luckily we arrived 30 minutes early. Then off to get our buoyancy aids and paddles and boards – or sails if the wind is up.

Lets get this Sail on the water before it blow me away.

Lets get this Sail on the water before it blows me away.

Smallsteps

Smallsteps

The plan; get onto the boards, kneel on them and paddle slowly out to the the middle of the lake where the fun can commence. At about this time, British Summer did decide to show its head. The clouds drifted apart, that bright thing in the sky appeared, Just in time for us to be in the middle of the lake. Fine for me as I was just in neoprene shorts and rash vest. All the ladies, clad in full rubber were feeling the heat. Soon we were taking our first tentative attempts to stand up on a board. All managed to get up first time but this is where my body, completley unacquainted with the long forgotten proprioception needed for something like this got slightly alarmed. My feet firmly stuck to the board – in one postion for any length of time and my legs were on fire. I have no idea how slimhippo and the ladies felt. I say this; as I have done board sports in my past, so if my legs were aching after about 10 min standing, I did not want to know how everyone else felt.

We practiced a few turning routines and getting the board to go in a direction that WE prescribed rather than the wind. We all started getting the hang of it and soon, there was the inevitable splash where the first of the group took a fall. others followed in quick succession, possibly due more for the need to cool down than actually falling off.

This is not that hard!

This is not that hard!

This is a bit of a turning point in learning how to SUP – after the first fall, you generally relax a lot more and things become a lot easier……… Until you are then asked to actually uproot your feet from their firmly placed position on the board and move them. This was sufficient for a few more dips in the lake until, soon, we were virtually running up and down the board. Your form of running and mine may be a little bit different!

The next manoeuvre that caused a plethora of spills into the lake was trying to stand on the board like a surfer (legs apart and one further forward than the other -towards the back ofthe board) and use your paddle to attempt a lightning fast, on the spot turn. Ours were more glacial and the spot was quite large.

Look at that style!!

Look at that style!!

Again we persisted and kind of got the hang of it. Now we were vitually professionals, we went for a paddle around the lake ant then it seemed that my exertions had produced the need for some relaxation. I needed a nap. Lo and behold, I even had a perfectly good bed – in the form of the board itself. I duely lay down and took a bit of timeout, watching the world and the other SUP peeps drifting by

not my colour.

not my colour.

All too soon, the teaching part of our session was over and then we were invited to either go and try out some of the more professional boards or just go for a paddle. We all chose the latter to just pootle around the lake for a while and take in the serenity of the circumstance and surroundings. It was then time to head back and return the boards and finish off what turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon.

My conclusions

1 – SUPing is an ideal way to see the coutryside. You can paddle on most rivers, lakes and oceans (with a bit of practice)

2- When you get tired, you can always use the board as a perfect resting place. You are even able to use them to do a bit of yoga/pilates like stretching as you are not stuck in the seat, so have a lot more freedom on the board – when compared to kayaking. If the mood takes you, you can just kneel or sit on the board and still carry on just pootling along.

3 – I know the solid ones are a lot faster and maybe easier to handle but the inflatable ones are pretty easy to pack up, take with you and store in your shed. No need for specialised roof bars to carry them, or special racks to store them. They are also a lot lighter than the solid ones

4 – Any sport where you have a bed all the time cannot really be called a sport. Saying that, if the choice was a 20km swim or 20km SUP, I would be in the water.

5 – As a support vessel for Swimmers, unless you are guaranteed nice flat calm water with VERY little wind, they are not that great. If the wind comes up and you have to paddle into it, you will be history pretty quickly. On sheltered lakes and rivers I can see them being an ideal support vessel.  A friend of mine even takes the do with.

About the author

Ameteur Endurance athlete and marathon swimmer Having taken up marathon swimmng in 2008 with the challenge of the English Channel, I then continued on to Cycle up Britain, Kayak across Scotland and run a few marathons. None of those held the draw that marathon swimming held so in 2014 I was back in the water to Swim the longest swim in Switzerland and then, in 2015 I opted to take on my biggest swim to date. SCAR challenge.- 4 lakes in 4 days with distances Ranging from 6 miles to 18 miles.

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