Only a River Surfer Understands … by Alex Mauer

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Alex Mauer owns the rivers in Colorado. He's a legendary waterman and a passionate river surfer
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River Sup athlete Alex Mauer has always been at the forefront of river paddling and riding the rapids on his BIC Sup.  In this article, Alex moves deeply into the connection that happens between paddler, board and wave when stand up paddling on the rivers in Colorado.  Read on, and be inspired.

Alex Mauer Bic Sup River surf
When Alex was 12, his dad gave him a boogie board and told him to go play in the river by his house. He’s been doing just that ever since.  Rock Island, Tennessee Photo by:  David Weihnacht

Surfing the River:  The difference between ocean swell and river waves

While talking with a surfboard shaper in a shop in Colorado recently, it became apparent that he hadn’t fully opened up to river surfing. I started to think about other surfers I have tried to share my passion for the rivers with. There is something about river surfing that ocean surfers just don’t open up to.  A river wave is different than an ocean wave.  It never breaks. You can ride it forever. We don’t judge river waves based on size in most cases. There is a different kind of connection between a sup surfer and a river wave.

“We watch the runoff like an ocean surfer would watch the swell” – Alex Mauer

We watch the runoff like an ocean surfer would watch the swell. Instead of swell reports we look at runoff graphs. Our waves usually come with the seasons instead of the swells. We pray for big rains and massive snow melt. When the flows come up, our waves come in. They never break and we could surf them forever … if our muscles would let us.

Alex Mauer Bic Sup River surfing
Choose your wave! Alex has pioneered the river sup surfing scene in Colorado. His current board favorite is his BIC SUP 7’6 Air River Surfer  Glenwood Springs, CO.  Photo by:  Paul Clark

The Connections between River and Rider

In most cases river surfers don’t judge river waves based on the size. Don’t get me wrong… the bigger the better! The river is so powerful when the water starts flowing really fast, it can make the smallest wave feel huge.

“Only a true river surfer could understand the feeling.” – Alex Mauer

There is a different kind of connection between a river wave and a paddle surfer. The wave opens up and the pocket of the wave becomes an extension of the board creating a full connection with the wave. Setting up for front side and back side hacks feels like the wave is guiding the board across the water.

This connection is special and only a true river surfer could understand the feeling. Its one of the rare moments in life where everything else melts away and all that is relevant is the feeling of your board dancing on the wave. This feeling is special and is what keeps me watching the water charts waiting for runoff.

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.