Monday, 19 August 2013

What I wish I wore Snowboarding...and the reality

Snowboarding Heaven

Snowboarding Heaven by dustysoles featuring a gray knit sweater

Hello I am still alive.  Thought I was dead? For a couple of days while I dealt with a nasty strain of man-flu, I thought that maybe this could happen.  Slightly over dramatic? True, but this is what happens when a mean head cold leads to loss of balance and vertigo.  It was a very strange time in my life that I hope never to repeat.

But sickness can only take a small portion of the blame as to why I've been posting a little less lately.  A while a go my other half bought a technological advance home called a DVD player.  This combined with $2 rentals down the road had led to me falling off the face of the planet. And although I kid myself that re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit is a cultural activity, my lazy bones  feel the shame.

I think it all came to a head this morning, when I began talking myself out of going up the mountain for a ride.  I then took a long hard look at myself; in my pajamas, watching day time TV and my laptop perched on the couch.  I left the house and hit the slopes. It was  a great day, where I finally over came my fear of the intermediate trails.

But now I'm back what have I got to say? As I spend more and more time on the ski fields of Queenstown what am I finding?  I am finding I am jealous, not just of peoples amazing riding skills but also their gear.  There is a variety of snow sports gear that is not only functional but looks pretty darn cool.  As the collage above indicates, I've been window shopping all the great things you could have when boarding; Boots so comfy they're like slippers, a board so multi-coloured you could see it a mile away and a jacket with so many pockets (not those stupid fake pockets on cheap coat but real pockets!) you don't know what you'll put in them.  If I did another season, this would be what I'd want.

Unfortunately, being a beginner and not having a lot of money, I had to be a little bit more open and forgiving to my snow sports gear. I also didn't have a lot of time to search for online deals. So here's a brief run down of my fantasy gear next to my reality.

1. The Boots.  I would of loved to have bought a new pair of comfy, water proof boots, but for a good pair you'll talking around $200nz.  My alternative option was to head to the salvation army and pick up some boots for the bargain price of $35. Already a little on the tatty side, I'm dubious whether they will get me to October. My verdict is; Great bargain but next time I won't be such a cheap scape.

2. The Board and bindings.  In lala land my board would be an artistic masterpiece easy to spot on a board rack. The bindings would keep my feet firmly attached and yet be easy to adjust. The price of a beautiful board starts in the hundreds and leads up and up.  Looking through the second hand options at a shop in town I had to settle for something that met the basics. I found a board that was the correct length for me and included the bindings.  For the bargain price of $200, I got my first board (plus bindings) and he is still serving me well.

3. The Jacket. This is the one thing that I didn't skimp on because I knew, even if I didn't take to snowboarding, it would make a great rain coat.  And so I bought my Roxy jacket, which is doing everything it said on the label.  At $300 its one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I've ever bought and totally worth it.

4. Ski pants.  Couldn't afford the $300+ ski pants in the shops here and went for the cheapest option i could find.  They try and fall down a lot but other then that they work fine.  Note to self; always wear a belt.

5. Goggles.  Got some secondhand for $40 but would love a fresh pair, just for me!!!

6.  Gloves.  Getting a pair with in built wrist guards would be helpful, but expensive. I went for cheap $30 gloves that were two sizes too big and wearing my wrist guards underneath.

7. The thermal and jumper. That sale at Kathmandu at the beginning of the season really came in handy.  Never under estimate the effectiveness of a good thermal. Never.

8. Head gear.  I didn't buy a helmet at the start of the season. This was due to the fact I was never going fast enough to do any damage.  Now this has changed and a helmet seems a good idea.  I'd also need to ditch my bobbled hat for a slim line beanie.

So there you have it. In summary there is a lot of gear out there that makes you look way cool and feel comfortable while out in the snow.  But even when your budget a little more constrictive you can still have the time of your life.  If I'd known I was going to commit to snowboarding for a winter, I would have bought some better boots but the rest would have been just fine.

Friday, 9 August 2013

An intermediate slope

Last week I spent one of my days off up at the Remarkables Ski Field in an attempt to practice my snowboarding and improve on linking turns.   When watching the crazy kids in the 'park,' an area put aside for kamikaze style jumps, backflips and tricks, I couldn't help but feel I needed to keep pushing myself.  I found myself sticking to what was safe and secure.

And then, enter a proposition.  An experienced snowboarder friend suggested going up one of the chair lifts, taking a ten minute hike and going to a beautiful look out point. My only concern was the blue 'intermediate' trail we would have to take on the way down.  I would be leaving a beginner friendly slope for the first time.

No question, the view was amazing, even with the cloud coverage, it still took my breathe away.

After enjoying the stunning view, it was time to ride down.  I prayed I wouldn't break anything.  Taking it nice and slow worked for the majority of the trail. However, unfortunately on one part you had to be going pretty fast down one hill to be able to get up the next.  I just wasn't going fast enough and had to un-clip and walk a little bit up the hill.  Other than that and a couple of tumbles, I made it. I had survived my first intermediate slope. I still have a long way to go before I can stop calling myself a beginner, but it feels good to be trying.

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