Achievements Unlocked:

Tonight, with fear in my heart and sweaty feet in my boots I went back to the freestyle at Hemel. Two weeks ago the box chewed me up, spat me out, bruised my arse and made me think twice about the whole sorry sport! I actually shed a little tear and went home an hour earlier than I should have. Grumpy grumpy grump grump.

Of course I then missed the next week of freestyle by procrastinating so long that it got booked out. It is of course now sliding into “the season” so everyone’s coming out of the woodwork and getting back into practise. Oopsie. I’ve booked the next week already so I’m sorted for that.

This week I did everything I could think of to prepare for an epic evening of hard work and fun. Filled up with calories early on, and lighter food later. Stretched lots. Rested well. Then I shot off into the EPIC traffic all the way up the M1 and got there almost LATE! I could hear them calling out for the course attendees whilst I had one leg in my trouser and the other with the velcro hanging off the knee pad. I scampered out with my boots not done up and managed to catch up with the group. After ten minutes and two terrifying runs down the slope I think I got everything done up, and tightened like it should be, not like it is if you do it in a horrible rush.

Anyway, what’s the goss?
Caitlin dun a 180 of a kicker, regular into the jump and switch out the other side. Well sketchy and a few too many 90s to call it nailed, but I’m claiming the one I *did*.
She also dun some mucking about on a rocker, which is a nice feeling. You go up a ramp to a plastic pipe on the top, pause for a moment and go back the way you came, just like a quarter pipe really.
50:50s on the box feel fine and never go wrong.
A little 5:0 snuck in one time.
The bestest most awesomest thing was riding switch into the box, boardsliding through into a regular rideout. That feels *GREAT*.

So, I’m back to adoring snowboarding with all the passion I had at the start, and The two week old washout was nowt more than a “bad day”. WRITTEN OFF.

Now to do some food. I’m ravenous.

New things.

I’ve never been one for holidays really. I’m a practical kind of kid and tend to spend my downtime in either collapses recovering from excesses, doing tasks that cannot be avoided or spending the time on some activity that I consider to drive my development as a human through education or experience. Not that much of it isn’t self absorption or hedonism.

That said I’ve been to a few countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, America, Mexico, Guatemala; even places as exotic as Scotland. I’ve never been south of the equator though, which is something of note. I think however the thing about all these international visitations is that they’ve all been the result of a direct association with another person, the one or the group who was going and with that cause in place, I tagged along. I had no agenda for going other than company, or curiosity. Mostly I was instructed to go, or had no choice to stay behind. Significantly I’ve never gone alone.

So, it’s a slightly strange feeling to have just booked a couple of plane tickets and some accommodation for a solo trip to some mountains. I’ll be sharing a bunk room with three other humanoids, but I’ve never met them, don’t know their names and have no idea if I’ll get on with them other than the assumption that as the delightful person I am they’ll take me straight under their wing and we’ll be bestest friends for life before the first broken leg happens.

So there we are, the longest winded way I could find to say “I booked a holiday, GO ME!”. Also: SQUEEEEEEEE SNOWBOARDING WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Bleeding ages till January, isn’t it?

Not usually one to bang on… (hah!)

But sometimes there’s something that sticks out and makes a difference in your life that can’t really go unsung. I’ve seen other people around me get vocally excited about unexpected but interesting technologies in feminine care, camera equipment, mobile phone technologies etc.

My revelation comes in the form of clothing. You guys might have spotted that I’ve been snowboarding a little bit once in a while, and since I started I’ve had to get expensive bit of equipment after expensive bit of (beautiful) equipment. It’s been a fun process learning the limits and applications of various bits and bobs and as my skill and ability have increased the various methods of injecting snow at high speed into various crevices have multiplied. I’ve played around with snow skirts, belts, layering and all sorts but the snow was still creeping in.

When I did my snowboard course with the Maverix team I was given a discount code for UK Tall Tees who make almost offensively large DWR coated sweatshirts. I got mine through on Thursday last week, and it’s barely come off me since, much to the entertainment of my friends. It’s so thick, warm, fuzzy and well made.

I got to give it a work out at the slope at Hemel Hempstead this morning and I had the best session I’ve had in a long time, complete freedom of movement, comfortable warmth and crash after stupid crash after stupid crash, the snow simply never made it to skin! I rode regular and crashed, I rode switch and crashed, I popped some little jumps and crashed, and the snow stayed on the cold side of the clothes the whole time.

I can’t recommend this product enough. UK Tall Tees.

Debilitated.

Whims are whims.
I checked a couple of freestyle course websites on Friday as I sometimes do, wistfully wishing I was booked onto one.
Fatefully I installed the Maverix iphone app I saw advertised on the internet and clicked it to see what it did. It told me there was a single vacant slot on a day course on Saturday, the next day, the day after payday. Slightly spendy, but with a bleak outlook for the weekend I just had to have it. Of course the iphone app didn’t manage to complete the purchase properly and for some reason the phone number went to a broken answering service, but since we were in Covent Garden a quick subtle trip to the apple store to “try out” a Macbook Air was easy to do. I broke most of my personal rules by buying a thing with a credit card on an unknown and untrusted computer in a public space…. that’s how much I wanted to go boarding 😛

Skipping on, where am I now? Flat on my back in bed trying to stay awake after one of the hardest car journeys I’ve ever had. I don’t recall last time I was this shattered! Monday is the day after the day after, so I think it’s that which I’ll have to look forward to the most.

Maverix are a nicely relaxed but utterly efficient bunch and I’d recommend any idiot suicidal snowboarder should send them some pennies for their time.

I’ve spent the morning building confidence on the box, almost exclusively on 50:50s, but with a few goes at the teaser intro to the frontside boardslide. The other people on the course were way better than me, but I have to remind myself how new I am still to the sport. They were nailing, and sometimes utterly stuffing backside boardslides. I wussed out of trying them to be honest. I don’t see the point till my 50:50 is feeling solid.

A break for lunch and a look at some of the photos and videos and a giggle about some of the better falls and we went back out to warm back up and hit the kicker.

Straight airs with grabs are pretty damned fun. I have to admit that ramps are way more my kind of thing than boxes. I guess you can probably get more hurt with decent air, but the boxes just look *hard*.

I rounded off my day on the training slope working on the technique for 360s and at about 3:30 the guys headed back to the kicker on the slope to give the spins a shot, I gracefully excused myself at that point, poured my self into the car and tried to stay awake all the way home.

9:30 – 3:30 with an hour for lunch is a full day if you ask me. Maybe next time i’ll make it to 4:30 with everyone else.

I do still bloody love snowboarding!

Feels like I’m going backwards.

Luckily not in a retrograde manner.

I’ve been to that snow dome thing again, sorry. Maybe there’s some music upcoming in my life, if that kicks off I promise to make some blog noise about that to try and spread the snowboarding rubbish out a little bit.

I’ve been meaning to get round to riding “switch” for some weeks, I’d penciled the task in for Wednesday morning gone. The plan was to get onto a lesson at level 4, but not owning up to the fact that I ride level 6+ normally and do the class entirely backwards.

“switch”, for the uninitiated, is the process of riding a snowboard with the ‘wrong’ foot forwards. It’s entirely symmetrical to riding normally but carries a far higher cognitive load from using a weak limb to be the controlling force.

I was able to do a long session today, booking in from 10-5. I only used 3-3.5 hrs in the end, but rests are a “good thing™”. I set myself the target of learning to ride backwards.

I’ve done it a few times for a couple of turns at a time, and been about half successful, but in order to master it it takes some dedication. It’s certainly coming to me far more slowly than the regular way round. I adopted riding the skilifts wrong footed, I didn’t actually fall off, but wow it was as wobbly as sin. I started riding switch from the top of the slope and got on with crashing. Alot.

I wrote the task off after a few abortive runs and the narrowly averted manslaughter of a skiing toddler, but the desire to “get it” didn’t leave and after a break I gave it a go from about 20m up the slope, I got two turns. After trying that 3 or 4 times, I graduated myself to 40m up the slope, and got three turns. Rinse and repeat that until you reach the top of the slope and I was able to do a few full runs of 160m with my mind on fire, my right knee burning from the newness of the muscle work BUT without falling over!

I think the real key to the process was getting on with riding the lifts the wrong way round. I found that the lifts are WAY hard to ride with the weight in the wrong place on the board, but that you get a nice constant speed ride with a metal pole to hang on to whilst you find the most confident place to put your weight. Once I’d got the lift working right, I knew where to stand on the board, and that got the downhill stuff under way.

Of course, soon after getting it all together, the fatigue got me and I became unable to ride anything in any direction. I’m sure I’ll have to start the whole sorry process again when I next go, but although this is gritted teeth rather than giggling fun, it’s the prelude to posts about 180s with tweaked grabs so it all needs doing.

What goes up must come down…

…but if you grab and tweak in the air then you score more points from the judges.

We had a larger kicker this week than last week, which sadly there wasn’t the opportunity to video.
Last week’s was a rolled off kicker with a smooth top, to get air off it you had to ollie slightly before the crest. Much safer for those of us new to the things in that if you didn’t ollie you just rode over it and down the other side.
Today’s kicker was a bit more classic with an upramp, a blunt top, and a slight gap before the run out.
With a little more confidence than last week I was able to rip at it with a couple of chicken speed checks, but popping it fully.
The tricks I can sign off this week are:

  • Straight Air
  • Indy grab
  • Mute grab
  • The pride on this stuff keeps growing, I’m loving every single session.

    Also, I got my driving licence back. If you know of a midsized diesel engined car at the affordable end of the market becoming available, spare me a thought.

    Learning to fly

    I recently posted some fluff about getting better at snowboarding or some rubbish.
    The thing about unsubstantiated claims is that people might call you out on them.
    Have some evidences:
    [flv:http://caitlin.me.uk/Boarding4thmay.m4v 425 344]
    It looks quite leisurely, but I can assure you that from a first person perspective, that’s 8 billion miles an hour and 45 feet in the air.

    Being mostly about advancements in snowsports

    It’s been a whirlwind few weeks between living in London and regular sojourns to Hemel Hempstead.

    The passion with which I’ve fallen into snowsports can be demonstrated by my rising at 6:30am on occasion in order to reach the slope for the 10am start of a two hour lesson. It’s a 4 hour round trip to do this, but the body shattering enjoyment of the 2 hours is reward enough.

    There are no more pictures or videos since the French trip because filming is verboten at the ski slope, however if I sign up for a freestyle course with one of the major local providers, they should be taping the sessions for feedback.

    A lot’s changed since those videos just below this post, those first trepidation laden curves and bumps. In three short months I’ve got from my first slopes to riding my first freestyle obstacles. Today conquering the simple traversal of two different ‘boxes’, and making the best of two ‘kickers’. The boxes are hard objects that need sliding over, but have a square section which is harder to fall off than a rail. The kickers are exponential lifting ramps which eject you airwards. I can claim “air”, but not yet “big air”.

    I’ve finished the ‘learning to snowboard’ series of lessons, covering stages 1-5 in a single session, and completing level 6 (the last level) on Wednesday past. I’m now ‘competent’ and can get to really learning what’s what and having a lot more fun.

    My chosen board is a DC MLF 156:
    DC MLF 156
    and it fricking rocks.

    Roll on winter! I need to ride a mountain now….