Midwest Living Article!

Very exciting news!  Midwest Living Magazine did an article on why you need a SUP in your life and interviewed us for it!  

Check it out!  http://www.midwestliving.com/travel/illinois/why-you-need-an-sup-your-life/

Midwest Living / Travel / Illinois

Why You Need an SUP in Your Life

A Midwest native explains her passion for paddleboarding—and why she started a company to make inflatable boards.

Writer Angela Ufheil

Sarah Traven thinks she’s discovered the ultimate place to unwind: atop a stand-up paddleboard on Midwest rivers and lakes. “Water just calms you down,” she says. “Especially these days, when we’re all so go-go-go-go-go, it’s nice to just leave your stress on the shore and detach.”

Sarah’s such a believer in paddleboarding, in fact, that she and her husband launched SJ Paddle Boards (sjpaddleboards.com) to sell boards tailored to the Midwest. The start-up keeps Sarah busy (“It’s still a small company, so I wear most of the hats”), but she took a break to tell us more about her business—and why the Midwest is perfect for paddleboarding enthusiasts.

Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)

Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)

Made with the Midwest in mind.

Sarah and her family fell in love with SUPing in San Diego several years ago. But when she and her husband wanted to buy a board, they realized they had no space for an 11-foot board in their Chicago condo. The answer: inflatable boards.

Inflatables are easier to store and transport than traditional boards. “On the coast, everyone’s got roof racks for their surfboards because they can be out on the water all year long,” Sarah says. “That doesn’t work here. Rather than figuring out how to tie three boards to the roof, it’s just easier to throw them into a truck.” They’re easy to inflate, too; a hand pump can fill one up in three to five minutes.

But not just any inflatable would do for Sarah. She felt she could design and market a sturdier inflatable than those already available, and SJ Paddle Boards was born.

Tougher than you think.

Early inflatable paddleboards were squishy and sank. Sarah and her husband spent a year testing prototypes before deciding on their design Oscar, which uses the same technology as Navy Seal Zodiac boats. “If you were to push your finger into it, it would not leave a dent,” Sarah says. “It can bump into the rocks and it’s fine. You can put a dog on the front, and its nails aren’t going to puncture anything.”

Oscar deflated and rolled up; hiking through the Indiana Dunes State Park, Oscar in tow (Photos courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)  

Oscar deflated and rolled up; hiking through the Indiana Dunes State Park, Oscar in tow (Photos courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)

 

An honorary member of the family.

The Travens were raising two sons while they were designing the board. “I knew that if I had another boy, I wanted to name him Oscar. So when we chose that final design, I was like ‘Oh, this paddleboard can be my third baby!’” (Sarah is now expecting a girl in August).

Sarah’s business is expanding just like her family: She’s developing child-size boards.

Our apologies to the coasts.

SUPing is better in the Midwest. “Ideal conditions are flat water,” Sarah says. “On the coast, you have to deal with the waves.” She recommends avoiding windy days if you’re venturing onto a big lake. Rivers are safe as long as you stay away from areas with dams or rapids.

 

Midwest paddleboarding (clockwise from top left): Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin; Fox River in Geneva, Illinois; Rocky River in Ohio; Harbor Springs, Michigan (Photos courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)

Midwest paddleboarding (clockwise from top left): Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin; Fox River in Geneva, Illinois; Rocky River in Ohio; Harbor Springs, Michigan (Photos courtesy of SJ Paddle Boards)

A bucket-list experience.

This summer, SJ Paddle Boards partnered with Mill Race Cyclery (millrace.com) in Geneva, Illinois, to offer paddleboard rentals as well as SUP yoga and private lessons. If you don’t want to buy a board (the Oscar runs about $1,400 regularly or about $900 on sale), rentals—available at many lakes across the Midwest—are an affordable alternative ($15 per hour at Mill Race).

“Paddleboarding is something that everybody seems to have on their bucket list,” says Bruce Heidlauf, owner of Mill Race Cycerly, which also rents bicycles and kayaks. “They all come back with a smile and say they’re going to do it again.”

Just plain good for you.

Balancing on a SUP board engages your core, and paddling works your arms. But it’s also relatively low impact. “It’s a sport where you can decide how relaxing or strenuous you want it to be,” Sarah says. “You’re toning and strengthening, but there’s also that quality of detaching and being out in nature.”

 

The Traven family; a little girl joins the bunch in August (Photo courtesy of Kelly Vanderploeg Photography)

The Traven family; a little girl joins the bunch in August (Photo courtesy of Kelly Vanderploeg Photography)

Article in the Kane County Chronicle!

There was a great article in the Kane County Chronicle this morning!  They did a profile on our business and attempts to grow the sport of paddle boarding on the Fox River!  So excited for people to try it out this summer!  Rentals starting Memorial Day weekend and SUP Yoga classes start July 4th weekend!

You can read the article here:

http://www.kcchronicle.com/2016/05/12/paddle-board-company-partners-with-mill-race-cyclery-in-geneva/aaxc5a2/

 

Paddle board company partners with Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva

Bruce Heidlauf (from left), Bridgett Syzdek and Sarah Traven stand with a paddle board. Traven started a new business, SJ Paddle Boards, selling the boards. Heidlauf, who owns Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva, will begin offering Traven's paddle boards for sale or rent Memorial Day weekend. In addition, Syzdek will teach a yoga class to people who are standing on the paddle boards July 4 at Island Park in Geneva.

Bruce Heidlauf (from left), Bridgett Syzdek and Sarah Traven stand with a paddle board. Traven started a new business, SJ Paddle Boards, selling the boards. Heidlauf, who owns Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva, will begin offering Traven's paddle boards for sale or rent Memorial Day weekend. In addition, Syzdek will teach a yoga class to people who are standing on the paddle boards July 4 at Island Park in Geneva.

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 5:30 a.m. CD

By BRENDA SCHORY - bschory@shawmedia.com

GENEVA – For the athletically inclined, standing on a paddle board atop lakes or rivers might be a perfect combination of fun and exercise.

Sara J. Traven of Geneva said she has watched people use paddle boards on Lake Michigan, Lake Geneva, Crystal Lake and on rivers.

“It’s geared more toward flat water,” Traven said of paddle boarding. “But people can still do it when it’s choppy – it’s just a little bit harder.”

Traven started her company, SJ Paddle Boards, in the fall and sells the boards through her website, www.sjpaddleboards.com.

Starting Memorial Day weekend, the paddle boards will be available both for sale and as rentals at the Mill Race Cyclery, 11 E. State St., Geneva.

Traven, 35, said she has a finance degree and previously worked in that field until deciding to start her first company.

“We would go out to visit our friends in California and we loved doing [paddle boats] on the ocean,” Traven said. “When we were living in downtown Chicago, we wondered why isn’t this big in the Midwest?”

In her research, Traven said she found the technology for inflatable paddle boards improved, making it more feasible for sales and rentals.

“You do not want to store an 11-foot board in your garage or tiny little condo when you can only use it for six months of the year,” Traven said.

Her inflatable paddle boards weigh 30 pounds deflated and roll up in a bag. The paddle breaks down into three pieces that also fits into the bag, Traven said.

“The inflatables are as hard as a car tire,” Traven said. “To puncture them, you’d need to take a knife and stab them.”

Paddle boards cost $900 to buy, but Traven said through her partnership with the Mill Race Cyclery, a prospective buyer can rent them and try them out on the Fox River.

Cyclery owner Bruce Heidlauf said he tried out one of the paddle boards on the river.

“It’s really fun and very good exercise,” Heidlauf said. “You have to use your core strength while paddling. … I started above the dam and went to St. Charles and back. The water does not have a lot of current; it’s pretty still. It was fun.”

Traven said on July 4 she will be offering yoga classes on paddle boards at Island Park in Geneva, but with the boards tethered so they don’t flow down river. Participants can sign up on the Mill Race Cyclery website, millrace.com, she said. Bridgett Syzdek of St. Charles is scheduled to teach yoga on the paddle boards, Traven said.

 

 

 

New Videos for your Oscar 10'6"

We wanted to update our videos to offer some helpful tips for using your Oscar 10'6" ISUP.

We hope they are helpful and let us know if you would like to see demonstrations of anything else!

~SJ

Paddle Board the Fox River in Illinois

During these cold gray February days, it’s important to look towards the future and get excited for brighter spring days. SJ Paddle Boards is a Midwest based company located in Geneva, Illinois, but we are also heavily influenced by years spent living in Chicago. In future blog posts we will profile the multiple SUP locations around Chicago and throughout the Midwest, but this post will focus on paddle boarding the Fox River in the Tri-Cities area. 

The Fox River is typically a fairly calm river but parts of the Fox have been dammed so you will want to research your trip before dropping your SJ Paddle Board in the water. Inexperienced paddlers will also want to monitor the currents and wind conditions to make sure they conditions match ability. 

  • Fabyan and 31 (Geneva): The Fabyan Forest Preserve offers a popular put in spot for SUP, kayaks, and canoes and there is a good sized parking lot located near the northeast corner of the Fabyan and 31 intersection. Once you put in you can either paddle a short trip south towards downtown Geneva or north towards Batavia. The put in can be pretty shallow and is good for people new to SUP who are getting familiar with paddle boarding.   http://www.kaneforest.com/fp/fabyan.aspx
  • Old Mill Park (Geneva): Ramp is located just north of State Street (route 38) behind Mill Race Cyclery (http://millrace.com/). The dam is just south of this ramp, so this ramp can only be used for trips towards in the north direction up the Fox River.
  • Boy Scout Island: Operating by St Charles Park District (http://www.stcparks.org/VW-Systems/Map/map-details.asp?varID=672) this is a full boat launch ramp and is actually located across the river from Pottawtomie Park launch (below). You will likely want to travel north on the Fox River to avoid the dammed area in Geneva.
  • Pottawatomie Park: This is a large park with many activities but, most importantly, it offers a put in spot for your paddle board needs. Similar to Boy Scout Island, you will likely want to travel north to avoid the dammed area in Geneva. http://www.stcparks.org/VW-Systems/Map/map-details.asp?varID=669
  • Batavia Riverwalk/Depot Museum: The depot museum provides a scenic backdrop and you can drop in here before taking a SUP tour around Depot Pond before heading north on the Fox River towards Geneva. https://www.bataviaparks.org/batavia-depot-museum-riverwalk   
  • Laurelwood Park: Operated by the Batavia Park District this park is located at 800 N River St. and the paddle board launch site is located adjacent to the running path.  https://www.bataviaparks.org/laurelwood-park
  • Batavia Boat House: Located very close to downtown Batavia and adjacent to a bike path.