Paddleboard the Nicola Valley

“Paddleboarding connects me to nature in a profound way.”

Why is this guy blogging about SUP’s?

I’m a mountain biker, bike geek, and bike shop owner whose shop is named “Breathe Bikes“. You might wonder, so why is this guy blogging about the stand-up paddleboard (aka SUP)? Fair question, but there is a connection.

Let me start to make sense of that by pointing out the similarities. Both a bicycle and paddleboard are self-propelled. That’s a big one for me because bikes probably represent the most efficient form of human transportation. You’ll go farther, faster, while using less fuel, on a bicycle than any other mode of transport. While paddleboards require a body of water that is relatively calm and it can be hard to find one suitable for traveling long distances. Both are powered solely by personal effort, using instruments that have no energy source other than physical exertion.

Being there

Connecting to nature is accomplished very well by either a paddleboard or mountain bike. Coasting over a pristine lake on a paddleboard is a little different than twisting down a man-made ribbon of (super fun) single-track, but both require and encourage being in the moment to appreciate our surroundings, connect to them, and show them respect. 


The last similarity I will point out is the benefit to our health. Physical activity is known to be a disease fighter, a mental wellness enhancer, and a way to have fun, which is just good for the soul! Mountain biking is a great cardio workout and develops muscles all over the body. Although the legs and glutes are the primary benefactors, we do get some core and upper body strength from wrestling the bars through a tricky section of singletrack. Paddleboarding is great for the whole body, but the main muscle groups that are being activated during a paddle are your mid back muscles (latissimus dorsi), shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps & biceps) and abs. Paddleboarding develops balance.  Flexibility is added to the benefits, if you combine a yoga pose or two also.

Now the dissimilarities. The paddleboard and mountain bike connect to a different experience. One is an adrenalin-fuelled, thrill charged playground, while the other is a serenity filled, tranquil oasis. Elements of both are available in either activity, but overall there is a distinct leaning to calm while paddleboarding, and thrill-seeking on a mountain bike.

What’s the Difference?

I really enjoy the contrast between the two sports–the spicy heat of mountain biking is tempered by the complex umami of paddleboarding. They both enable hyper-awareness of our surroundings and how we interact with them. But the difference in attitude and perspective has a way of heightening the experience of both of them. Maybe there’s a jewel of wisdom in there somewhere!? I wonder what the world would look like if we could all appreciate the opposite of what we are normally drawn to, once in a while? Maybe it could help open our eyes to an understanding of a different way of life.

The Nicola Valley is known as a place where you can enjoy “a lake a day, as long as you stay”. In my five years in Merritt, I’ve enjoyed a few of them, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface. Kentucky Lake has been my go-to for paddleboarding over the last year since I first stepped aboard a board, but I’ve also enjoyed the Lundbom Lakes. I plan to try out Nicola Lake, when my skills are more developed, as I understand the wind can be unforgiving and unannounced. Kentucky Lakes’s sister, Alleyne, is also on my list. 

Paddleboarding’s profound connection to nature


Paddleboarding connects me to nature in a profound way. I appreciate the quiet stillness of gently coasting over a glass-smooth lake, with the occasional sound of thousands of aspen leaves fluttering in a gust of wind.  And a view of a distant mountain range following me like Mona Lisa’s eyes, above the tall pines lining the shore, awakens a sense of connection that is unlike that of a mountain bike. The bike provides its own connection. I wouldn’t trade it for all the still waters in the world, but there is something about standing and moving on water and the feeling of “being there” that is beyond compare.

The shared connection


Bikes and paddle-boards are solitary conveyances. Skilled and strong paddleboarders are capable of carrying passengers and pulling other boards. And as I witnessed on my last paddle, chauffeuring sun-tanning friends on an air mattress! The shared experience is bound to create lasting memories among friends. And, no couple should miss floating next to their partner, gazing at the clouds while lying in a state of relaxed content!

There are many choices for adventures and experiences in the Nicola Valley, and my personal favorite is bike riding, but I invite you to give paddleboarding a try, on one of our many lakes for a “beyond compare” experience.

The Nicola Valley Paddleboard Company owned by Dorothy Jordan, offers a training program and adventure that strives to create a great place to learn. It offers an environment that is fun, challenging, and promotes teamwork and mutual respect.

At Breathe Bikes we offer rentals of paddleboards for full and half days, so contact us or come see us!

We’ll provide paddleboards, give you info, and send you off in the right direction!

Location Map

Places To Stay in Merritt

Best Western Plus
Comfort Inn Merritt
Merritt Desert Inn
Quality Inn - Merritt
Ramada Merritt
Super8 - Wyndham - Merritt
Knights Inn - Merritt
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