Paddle boarding is a sport that wasn’t really on my radar until I moved to Cambridge and spent evenings sitting by the river people watching. There’s the usual kayakers, rowers, canal boats and fishing, and every so often you would see a person standing on a large surfboard, some keeping better balance than other and paddling their way down the Cam.
There’s something about it that appealed to me. I’ve been kayaking before and enjoyed it, I’ve never tried rowing (the boats look crazily unstable plus I like to see where I’m going) and there was something about the peacefulness of paddling your way along a river enjoying a sunny evening that appealed to me. And helpfully at no point in time did it cross my mind that my sense of balance is terrible and that standing on a board on water with a number of thing that may alter my central point on gravity would end disastrously. Nope didn’t think of that until I was on the river bank looking at the board thinking ‘yep this is going to go really well’….. At least I didn’t have time to freak myself out? 😉
Anyway, I’m a member of the Cambridge Canoe Club, which also has a supply of kayaks and….. paddle boards in their boathouse for members to use. Just to make it even more perfect, the sun is out and its still warm when I finish work. Happy days!
Once I’d got down to the boat house yesterday I started doing my usual over thinking thing, ‘what if I fall in, I’d rather people weren’t watching me, how do I get back on the board and oh yeh I have no sense of balance.’ However no way was this going to stop me, I want to learn to paddle board and if I fall in, well there’s always showers and hot chocolate around!
I’m fairly new to the club and don’t know many people, but they were lovely, helping me find a board and paddle and gave me a quick lesson in paddling. The basics being; kneel, then stand feet wide apart one foot in front of the other, hold paddle and push back and to the side.
To start with I decided to kneel on the board until I’d figured out how to steer, turn and stop then add in the standing part once I felt more confident. TBH when I started I honestly thought I was never going to be able to stand up, that I was definitely going to fall in and I’d spend the time panicking and loosing my balance. Its not the falling in that worried me, it was more the split second beforehand where you can feel yourself loosing your balance and can’t control it. I think I have a problem with disliking the loss of control!
Anyway, I paddled down the Cam first kneeling, then sitting when I got a cramp in my foot, trying to figure out how to steer. Apparently you can just paddle on one side and steer but I found I was spending more time going side to side, so switched to paddling a little on each side.
After a while (and once I was out of sight of the majority of people… everyone in Cambridge seemed to be out on the river!) I decided to try standing and see how it went. Surprisingly I found it a lot easier than I thought it would be! Once I’d got my feet into position (and there was no way I was moving them once I’d got balanced) I slowly paddled a little way out, figuring I could kneel down if it got too much.
At first I was very tense, so much that I could feel my calf muscles getting tight and force myself to relax! After that I felt a lot more stable standing than I did kneeling, I even managed to duck around trees etc and manoeuvre around the kayakers that were out practicing their racing.
For my first trip I didn’t go too far, just up the river towards Grantchester, which has a lovely stretch of the river with lots trees and fields so it feels like you’re out in the countryside when you’re really on the edge of a city. I loved the paddle boarding experience, and next time I’d like to go further out as there’s a part of the river that looks like it would be fun to explore 🙂
Hope you’re having a great week and enjoying the sun 🙂 (in the uk anyway…..)