By Kelly Bastone - For riverboarders, the
gnarliest water in the West is right here in our own backyard.
belly-down on a riverboard, I'm accelerating face-first into a wall of whitewater.
There's none of that above-it-all sensation you feel on a raft, where an inflated
rubber buffer smooths out the aquatic turbulence beneath you like a magic carpet.
Instead, I'm swimming in the current, gripping what amounts to a kid's snow sled
that dives under the wave and leaves my head to slice through the rapid. Bin an
instan I'm on the flip sied, noggin perfectly in tact.
an up-and-coming whitewater sport, a niche activity with a following in places
where the water is plentiful and wild like Washington, North Carolina, South Africa,
New Zealnad-and Golden, Colorado. The allure of riverboarding is that you're immersed-instead
of riding on the surface, as in a kayak, you're down where the water is frothy
and fun. And unlike kayaking, which demands some degree of technical skill even
in class II rapids, riverboarding requires a few techniques beyond a simple flutter-kick
Shane Bolling, a scruffy thirtysomething guy with brown hair and broad swimmer's
shoulders, introduces riverboarding to newbies like me on the the class II and
III rapids of Clear Creek in Golden. He discovered the sport while on vacation
in New Zealand, where it's called "sledging" and in 1998 he started importing
the 2-foot by 3-foot river craft into the United States. Now Bolling's Golden-based
company, RipBoard, manufactures three models of riverboards in Commerce City.
Bolling says sales double every year.