Snowboarding without snow
Six years ago I bought myself a snowboard. Carving nice ‘S’ shapes down the side of a mountain and getting some air-time from the half-pipe were the in things to do. So, I flew to the Alps with a friend and a load of his buddies and we stopped in a chalet. They turned out to be top dudes, and we had a great time, so we did it all again the next year. There are however two most major massive problems with snowboarding or skiing as a sport. Flights, gear, accommodation, ski-passes, insurance, food: you come back completely broke. Lack of snow in the UK: you can’t decide on a whim to go and do it for a day at the weekend.
Do not worry though! I’ve found an alternative that has all the thrills, doesn’t break the bank, can be done at the weekend, doesn’t kill the planet with nasty aeroplane fumes, helps keep the UK tourism industry going, and keeps you fit.
The way forward is mountain biking! Yes. Get on one! I picked up a basic one, it’s a hard-tail, meaning front suspension only. And, it cost less than the snowboard; quite impressive considering it’s full of moving parts and the snowboard is just a glorified plank of wood.
I haven’t cycled properly for years. As a teenager I used to cycle everywhere, my bike was my main way of getting around. Cycling off to places with school mates was fun too, but that was more about getting the feeling of independence from getting somewhere under our own steam than it was about the fun of off-roading. Getting a car caused me to forget there was more to biking than just getting from A to Z. Early this year, when I went to a proper mountain bike centre for the first time, I was surprised at how much investment and thought has been put into designing and building the trails. I wasn’t prepared for how challenging they are and for just how much fun there is to be had. You can find plenty of stuff to push your limits on, and can explore the edge of your comfort zone - that place where the adrenalin begins to flow and the thrills start. I’ve always got a grin on my face after a trail, and discussing the tribulations of the day’s biking over a big meal feels really rewarding. I feel like I’ve discovered something radically new, and I should have been doing it all along.
It’s a no-brainer: stuff snowboaring, mountain biking is in, big time.