SUP? The Colorado stand-up paddleboarding craze
Over the last decade, stand-up paddleboarding has slowly become a popular recreational activity and sport. Drive past almost any body of water in the Roaring Fork Valley or past cars while stuck in traffic on Interstate 70, and it is not uncommon to see at least one surfboard-like watercraft gliding across the surface.
Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP for short, involves putting a board on a body of calm or moderately moving water while standing atop it with a paddle to propel the board in specific directions. The activity can at times be challenging, as it involves keeping your balance, engaging your core muscles and using your upper body strength to paddle — all while paying attention to where your board lies in the water. The challenges can be overcome, though, as many get to the skill level where they can not only stand firmly atop the board but also perform yoga while on the paddleboard.
Shaine Ebrahimi runs the home-based paddleboarding company Shaboomee: Stand Up Paddle Boarding out of the Carbondale area. Ebrahimi has designed his paddleboard gear, garnering five patents in the process. He has been paddleboarding for the past 11 years and has spent thousands of hours exploring Colorado water while atop a paddleboard.
Ebrahimi said he anticipated the large boom that was about to happen around the activity when he started Shaboomee 11 years ago.
“The massive interest in standard paddleboarding is because of the convenient way you can get out onto water and into nature. It’s easy to transport and easier to store. It’s also an activity that families and friends and groups can do,” Ebrahimi said.
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For those who are just dipping a toe into the activity, Ebrahimi recommends that they purchase or rent a wider board, as it will provide a more stable standing surface as compared with narrower boards that more advanced boarders might use.
In terms of paddling efficiently, Ebrahimi says there are four main components to successful paddling while standing or kneeling on a paddleboard. “Catch, power, release, reset. If you remember one thing, remember to release the paddle out of the water by your feet. Paddling behind your feet is ineffective, and it pushes your board off the direction you want to go.”
Some of the local areas newbies can get their boards wet to grow their paddleboarding skills include calmer sections of the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs, North Star Preserve near Aspen, Ruedi Reservoir, Chapman Reservoir, Harvey Gap and Grand Lake in Granby.
There are also some more advanced paddleboarding locations in the area, including the Glenwood Whitewater Park, sections of the Roaring Fork River and moderate parts of the Colorado River. However, river paddleboarding is drastically different from boarding on calm water.
“Anytime you go paddleboarding on a river, there (are) elements of danger,” Ebrahimi warned.
Regardless of one’s ability or where they choose to ride, paddleboarding promises to be an experience – and it might just become your new go-to weekend activity.