Surfing at Lake Monroe?
Not quite, but stand up paddling is close.
Just add a paddle and subtract the salty waves.
SUPing (pronounced like supper, drop the second syllable) might be the Hoosier answer to Hanging Ten.
The popular water sport from the coasts is working its way inward.
Why should California and the Carolinas have all the fun?
That’s what Bloomington’s Emily Ward and Barb Bichelmeyer thought.
They’ve been drawing stares out on the lake ever since they brought the coastal craze home with them.
» Photo gallery: Stand up paddling
“From a distance, looks like you’re walking on water,” Ward says of the experience.
And it feels that way too, standing above the water’s surface as you glide across.
Not a bad way to multi-task—getting in a workout and some alone time with nature.
“I love the quiet and the break of going out,” Bichelmeyer says, sitting behind the wheel of her white Hyundai Pilot and eyeing the quiet that beckons beyond her windshield.
Ward agrees. “The water is just glass. It’s very Zen-ish, as well as a workout.”
It’s post-card pristine here at their spot, called the Car Top at the north tip of the lake. Mist hovers above the water at both dusk and dawn, hawks circle above and fish jump and plop around like they own the place.
In a word, perfect.
But while the eyes are distracted by the beauty, the butt is squatting, the feet are gripping the flat-surface board and the arms are digging a paddle into the water.
It is the ultimate balancing act, working the core to, well, the core.
“You can make this as leisurely or as challenging as you’d like it to be,” Bichelmeyer says on a recent trip.
She and Ward come out usually twice a week, Wednesday nights and on the weekends.
They knew about the special lake setting at Moores Creek Road and Stipp Road from their days as kayakers. But since discovering SUPing, have their kayaks been collecting dust?
“Totally,” Ward admits of favoring SUPing. “It’s a more full-body experience.”
The two picked up their passion for paddling out in North Carolina last summer.
They found a place that would rent them the boards and paddles for two hours.
Hook, line and sinker. Bichelmeyer had already bought a board online before the July trip, but it hadn’t arrived in time. On the way back from North Carolina, Ward placed her own order for the same style board and paddle she had learned on.
In fact, the women had seen SUPing for a few years on trips to Santa Barbara, but could never find a place to rent out the boards.
Bichelmeyer was looking for a total body workout, just without the constant pounding on the feet or knees that running can cause. Ward, who was featured in the May INstride, is an avid runner and started the Bloomington running group Women With Will.
Ward hasn’t introduced her new adventure to any of the Women with Willers yet, but loaned her board to a co-worker who had a great time.
The women hope more people pick up paddles in the area. But they know that it requires a pretty significant investment: A 30-pound board and special paddle cost around $1,000.
“I do think it’s a pretty fast learning curve,” Ward says.
And there are options once you’re on the board: stand up, sit down, kneel or lie down.
After an intense paddle session, Bichelmeyer and Ward have gone to the horizontal, just lying on the board soaking in the surroundings.
Now that’s a cool-down session.
The quick and easy of SUPing
• Wade into the water with board and paddle.
• Get onto the board and kneel.
• Paddle out.
• Tuck toes onto the board and ready yourself to stand.
• Have your feet hip’s width apart.
• Keep your center of gravity low.
• Don’t lock your knees.
• Dig the paddle into the water and scrape against the side of the board until it’s past your feet. Repeat. Alternate sides.