Boarding Babes Branch Out | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Boarding Babes Branch Out

Bend paddlers do more than just paddle the river on standup paddleboards

When Cady Lindsey first invited women in her social media group to paddle the Deschutes together on standup paddleboards, she couldn't have imagined how that simple post would blossom into a burgeoning community, now numbering over 900 women.

"That first post had 40 responses, so I started my own group," she says. "In the first year there were already 100 ladies."

Lindsey was a media designer and event coordinator at General Duffy's in Redmond when severe injuries from a car accident left her unable to continue working. "I'm still dealing with it. I'm a lab rat at Oregon Health and Science University," she quips. At one point her neurologist suggested she should try volunteering. That's when she reached out to find fellow female SUP enthusiasts. "The group has been the greatest spirit pick-me-up." The group, Bend Boarding Babes, ranges in ages, from about mid-20s to 60s, she says, and has branched out into other types of events – fundraising for charities, hot springs, snowshoeing, karaoke and trivia nights.

click to enlarge Boarding Babes Branch Out
Bend Boarding Babes
The Babes pause for a photo op, with group founder Cady Lindsey in the foreground.

Part of the reason the group grew so fast, Lindsey believes, was the onset of the pandemic. "That's when I got my board," she says. "They cost over $250 at the time, but now they're about half that with all the demand." Another reason may be the superior fitness benefit – outdoor sports retailer Kifflab describes SUP riding as a full-body workout, utilizing arms, shoulders and core muscle groups. It's low impact, and adaptable to varying fitness levels.

Sue Fox, a manager at Bend's Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe, says that is absolutely true, though she sees other reasons for the soaring popularity of the boards.

"What started as a method of surfing then took these other forms," Fox said. "You saw this explosion of the touring board with a displaced hull, designed for speed. It's all people wanted for a couple of years when they came into the shop."

Another growth factor, she says, is the introduction of inflatables. "It's a family board, easier to store. People can easily throw them into the car with all the other water toys." Hybrid boards are also available now, some resembling a kayak, along with accessories designed for different uses. "There are so many people buying seats for them," Fox says, for fishing or just sitting with their dog, "and more and more people come in looking for the touring boards, for the speed and increased fitness." Other options for adding to the physical challenge include surfing waves or navigating rapids.

The Boarding Babes recently started collaborating with local businesses. "We're now getting sponsors, a few local breweries who share our enthusiasm for the outdoors," Lindsey says.

click to enlarge Boarding Babes Branch Out
Bend Boarding Babes
Group founder Cady Lindsey.

Once the group grew to over 500 members, Lindsey says she started thinking about a greater purpose. She found that several women in the group supported Saving Grace, the local women's shelter and support community. "Saving Grace is very near and dear to me and a lot of gals in the group," she says, "so we thought, let's make a Babes calendar, and the proceeds will go to Saving Grace." The group held a calendar release party in October at River's Place, then a Pint Night at Spider City, a women-owned local brewery.

"We're looking to support everyone in the group," Lindsey says, "networking and supporting everyone's interests. We have a yoga teacher, health and life coaches and two naturopaths."

Find out more about the Bend Boarding Babes, their fundraising and other special events on Facebook and Instagram, or email [email protected].

Bend Boarding Babes

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