All Aboard!

paddleboardingWe’re always up for new challenges so when our polefit studio owner KT invited people to a paddleboarding session, we signed up. And then googled what it was. Basically, it’s a cross between kayaking and surfing, where you stand on a board and use a paddle. Our first thought was ‘this will be so much fun.’ Our second thought was ‘we’re going to faceplant in the water.’ Our third thought was ‘we’re going to faceplant, smack our faces on the boards and the rapids will carry our unconscious bodies through the kayaking course’. (For non-anxiety sufferers, this is known as catastrophizing – always imaging the worse case scenario for every activity.) Despite us being utterly convinced this would end badly, we paid up. Though when the health and safety forms mentioned the possibility of death, images of our unconscious bodies floating downstream seemed suddenly plausible.

paddleboardingWe were excited. And then nervous. We met KT, her hubby and three other polefit ladies in the Cardiff International White Water Centre, ready for our session. We were a little concerned that the women’s wetsuits didn’t go small enough and hoped they wouldn’t put us in kids’ ones. Fortunately, they didn’t. But the wetsuits were too big for us. Cat had to roll up her sleeves into cuffs so they wouldn’t cover her hands. The good thing about the wetsuits was that they were plain black. The worst thing about the wetsuits was that they were wet. And the boots were wet. The suits we could cope with. The soggy boots was not pleasant.

paddleboardingWe squelched our way outside to retrieve our lifejackets then headed down to the cage. Sadly it wasn’t a cage for seeing sharks, but was where the boards and paddles are kept. Our guide, Dan, lined everyone up on the deck, shortest first. That’ll be us then. We practised paddling on our left side (straight stroke to go forward, semi circle to turn, forwards to reverse) then side stepped to the right and practised paddling on our right. It was really tough and we doubted our ability to move the boards. We were then taken to our inflatable boards. Dan said the guys needed the bigger boards and the smaller women needed the smaller boards. Unfortunately, some other women from another group who were bigger than us took the smaller boards, so we had to have regular ones.

We pushed the boards into the water and carefully climbed on. At first, you start off kneeling then once your confidence builds, you stand up. Dear god, your thighs get a good workout! We paddled around the small area, crashing into the sides, boats and other people. But we didn’t fall in. Though Cat inadvertently made someone else fall in. They were heading for a collision and she managed to turn at the last moment. He crashed into kayaks and fell in. LOL.

paddleboarding

the swan is watching us

Then it came to standing. This is it, we thought. This is the moment we get dunked like apples at Halloween. We placed our hands on the boards, got to our feet and slowly stood. We wobbled, but didn’t fall in. The trick was to drop to your knees if you lost your balance or were heading for a collision. Again, we paddled around the small area, crashing into boats and other people. But we didn’t fall in. Our mate, Bryn, who was our photographer, was very disappointed.

paddleboardingThen Dan asked if we wanted to go out on the river. Why the hell not? So we left the training area and picked up our boards. This is where having the smaller boards would’ve been nice. We have short arms and legs. Having to carry the board under our arms meant they were almost trailing on the ground. And they were heavy. We lugged them to another area, carefully climbed on then paddled our way down the River Taff. It was really relaxing. We’d completely got the hang of it and felt totally safe and confident. Until a boat came and the wake unbalanced us. But we didn’t fall in. Lynx was almost knocked off by some floating plant, but swiftly dropped to her knees and avoided a dunking. If there’s one place you don’t want to swim, it’s the Taff. Rats frequent it then have showers so they feel clean.

paddleboarding

future olympic paddleboard champions

We then started dreaming of doing this regularly. Or even buying our own boards and paddles and cruising down any water way we can find. They inflate so we could take them travelling. Hell, we could even form an Olympic team! We could be the first Olympic paddleboard champions. Turns out the boards are expensive and paddleboarding doesn’t seem to be a competitive sport. Yet…

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