Words and pics: SUP Mag UK
We’d all like to believe our green credentials are intact. As stand up paddle boarders and connoisseurs of all things wet, by the very nature of us getting outdoors on non-motorised craft means we’re doing our bit for the environment, right?
And yet, when you delve a little deeper we’re not necessarily as environmentally friendly as first glances would indicate. The kit we use all leaves its carbon footprint during the manufacturing process, shipping around the world and actually getting to the consumer stage. Once in possession we then need to actually hit up our chosen stretch of water – in most cases this is done via motorised transport. It doesn’t need pointing out that cars, vans and engine driven vehicles aren’t great for the green.
So what could you do? What one change could paddlers make to lessen their impact on Mother Nature?
With inflatable SUPs now proving to be much lighter than they were a few years ago – especially in the case of Red Paddle’s Sport 12.6ft featured in this article – jumping on two wheeled pedal transport, instead of turning keys in the ignition, should go some way to reducing our impact. As an additional bonus, it’s also a nice warm up/warm down that could be integrated into a training regime or used as an additional fitness exercise.
Pedalling to the beach, with the Red Paddle Co Sport 12.6ft attached to our backs via an efficient carry bag, the sun shone down during our very first session. Winds were light and the early spring air crisp. There was a gradually increasing warm glow from the ball of fire in the sky too – all in, it was a perfect day for a float.
There wasn’t any great rush to get to our chosen put in, instead we simply pedalled along, soaking up the day’s sights and sounds as we went.
With Red’s padded bag and comfy shoulder straps, biking with a SUP on the back was a relatively simple and pleasant experience. Granted our journey from house to beach wasn’t overly long but even with extended routes in mind, as long as the bag doesn’t chaff and kit weigh you down, then choosing pedal power to get your paddling fix should be as equally fine and dandy.
Having locked our bike securely (remember to do this before you head off sweeping), it’s then a case of inflating the board as normal. Some prior thought will need to have been given to storing valuables while on the water. After all, without your usual mode of transport to lock stuff inside, paddlers will need to find another way.
We simply limited what we took. Smartphone and wallet were left at home. Instead we had a small amount of change, for emergencies, stashed at the bottom of the Red bag. Our paddling spot had plenty of others around so in case of emergency we could call for help. If you’re considering pedalling to paddle at a quieter spot then it might be worth carrying a cheap mobile phone in a waterproof pouch – perhaps a spare that you wouldn’t be devastated to lose.
After a sweaty bike ride it’s always nice to head out onto cool water. If mercury levels are up enough then maybe a dip to wash away the grime is called for. Drying off before carrying on, soaking up some rays and appreciating the vista is what it’s all about – sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in a ‘training’ routine, feeling the need to ‘perform’ when you’re sweeping about. It’s OK to relax when SUPing – no pressure.
If, however, you’re a stand up paddle athlete looking to train then keep in mind the bike ride home… Depending on the length of your SUP session and amount of mileage back to base, you might want to leave a little in the tank to avoid having to make the return cycle journey home when you’re completely cooked.
With an inflatable SUP and bike in tow, the possibilities are endless. After a bit of prior planning and preparation you (and possibly a friend or group) could do a mini expedition. Cycling to various paddle put ins, enjoying the freedom of being out in the elements, camping overnight and doing it without the aid of mechanised transport can be extremely rewarding. For even greater satisfaction why not leave your smartphone at home? Liberating doesn’t even come close to describing it…
Perhaps catching a ferry is an option? Instead of using your vehicle at the other end, however, simply pedal off in search of SUP nirvana – much more fulfilling. You’ll be surprised how satisfied you’ll feel at the end of your trip.
Huge thanks to Red Paddle Co who helped with this article. You can see the full review of Red’s 12.6ft Sport in our Gear Shed May 2016 issue.