The scent of cut wood and a cloud of sawdust fill the air at Lyons’ Carve Industries, where owner Ryan Witbeck sands a surfboard inlaid with red cedar. Three years ago, people might have justifiably called the now-38-year-old foolish for moving his custom surfboard shop from the U.S. Virgin Islands to oceanless Colorado. But, Witbeck says, “Coming to Lyons has worked out great; we’re back-ordered for six months on boards.” He’s not talking about surfboards, though, which now make up only about 20 percent of Carve’s business. Instead, Witbeck spends most of his time crafting highly stylized, eco-friendly stand-up paddleboards (95 percent of each board is made from natural fibers such as beetle-kill pine or paulownia, a fast-growing tree) for a sport that has exploded in popularity. Despite a hefty price tag ($4,000) and long wait time—they take nearly three months to build, after Witbeck gets to your name on Carve’s wait list—don’t be surprised to see more of these wooden beauties floating on Colorado’s lakes and rivers this summer.
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