Paddle Sport Leader vs Mountain Bike Leader • Summit and Beyond
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Paddle Sport Leader vs Mountain Bike Leader

Paddle Sport Leader vs Mountain Bike Leader

The question is, should I focus on becoming a paddle sport leader, or a Mountain Bike leader?

First of all let me give you an insight into where this random burst of motivation to learn a new skill has come from.

My Journey

I have been walking in the mountains since I was a kid and this naturally lead me to try rock climbing. I was hooked by the pure excitement and exposure, plus it felt great to be able say that I had explored areas only a few people had seen. Rock climbing was my passion for years but becoming an instructor slowly and surely chipped away at my enthusiasm and eventually I stopped all together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved instructing and coaching climbing. I left university in my 3rd year to focus 100% on a course I developed for the NHS, and we won an award. In the end, I simply couldn’t see any progression for me in the rock climbing world.



On reflection I can see why I got board. Rock climbing has some of the most involved and astonishing movements we humans will ever make. It takes years of dedicated practice and studying to even start to understand. I was hooked by the movement, but found my self standing instructing or coaching rather than climbing. Then, at the end of the day when it was my turn to get on the rock, I didn’t want to think about it any more. At this point I found a passion for running in the mountains. Fell Running became my new obsession, and in turn brought my focus back to the Mountain Leader qualification I grafted most of my life to achieve. I had, had enough of rock climbing and I simply wanted to be moving, covering distance and exploring different areas.

Where I am, and what next ?

Summit and Beyond found its true path and this summer season has been fantastic. The community is growing with like minded people reaching out and joining the adventure. I believe this is happening because I chose to make a change and refocus my energy.

With everything feeling like it is moving productively I decided to try something new. I was kindly offered two awesome oppertunities. The first was to do a day of stand up paddle boarding (SUP), and the second to complete my level 3 Bike Ability with Cycle Wise.


The SUP day was brilliant, we all had fun and learned a lot. On these hot summers days there is nothing better than paddling out to the middle of a lake and falling in, it is the most refreshing feeling I can think of. We covered different paddling techniques, games and rescues. The day reminded me that the mountains offer so much more than a hike to a summit. The valleys are full of flow and surprises, plus there is no reason to become dehydrated or burnt. Shade is easy to find on the banks of the lake and there is running water everywhere.

The paddle boards take a little bit of work to pump up, but once on the water they are easy to control and more stable then I imagined. Ultimately, I had a really, really fun day and left the course motivated to do more SUP.

As I packed my gear to leave I realised I still had that niggling urge to hike up high and catch a view. It was 4pm and the sun set at 10pm, so I met Jayne and off we hiked up to the top of England. We reached the summit of Scafell Pike and we enjoyed the view from the top. I have stood in that same place a number of times but always in cloud. It was bliss to finally catch that view and we spent a good 45 minutes soaking it all up.



Bike Ability / Mountain Biking

Bike ability was a day of riding through Carlisle and learning the safest way to navigate the roads on a bicycle. I once owned a road bike and cycled everywhere, so I wasn’t sure how relevant this course would be, given the amount of experience I already have. Well! I learned a massive amount about the high way code and the best practice while cycling on the roads. It is unbelievable how complacent I have become over the years while driving inside a warm and comfortable metal box on wheels. I recently completed my compulsory motor bike test which had a positive impact on my driving. However, doing bike ability has taken me a level deeper into my understanding of the roads and how vulnerable we are out there. I believe everyone should consider doing this course after they have started driving, it puts things into perspective.

While we were stopped for lunch in Carlisle I asked our instructor how I would go about becoming a mountain bike leader. As he started to explain my dreamy brain kicked in and I began imagining the journeys i could achieve and the speed I could feel on the mountain trails. Could mountain biking be my next adventure?

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and con I have considered so far, to do with Paddle Sport and Mountain biking. First of all I am under no illusion and understand both qualifications take dedication and persistence to achieve. It took me years of walking and navigation in the mountains to get for my Mountain Leader, so I am totally prepared to put the work in. The reason I want to work towards a qual is because it gives me clear goals to achieve which motivates me, but I have to chose 1 discipline to focus on for the following reasons.

A good quality Canoe, Kayak or SUP can cost anything from £600 to £1000+ and that is before buying all the kit to go with it. As you probably already know, the cost of a mountain bike is pretty much the same.


To go paddling I will need to travel to water. In the winter I will need a dry suit and learn to become hardy to the cold water.

In the summer I will get to spend lots of time staying cool in the water and I will remain in the valleys close to the luxuries I enjoy, like food and coffee.

Maintaining a bike is a constant job. Every time I return from the mountains I will need to give the bike a good wash and lube the working parts. In winter the trails become boggy and icey and the chances of falling off get higher.

On the up side, I am free to cycle most trails and the distance covered will be immense. A lot like walking there is a choice o go up high or explore the valleys. Also, there is the speed, I like going fast.

The Decision

I need to do full day out on the bike and then I will decide, but it would be great to know what you guys think?

Do you have experience doing SUP and Mountain Biking and what would your advise be? Should I peruse SUP or Mountain Biking?

Until next time, safe adventures, stay present and remember not to think.