All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Norway 08/09 - Skiing/Boarding

The 26th December started at 04:45 and a trip to the infamous Heathrow Terminal 5, Nik, Claire and I met Tim at Terminal. Checked in for our flight to Oslo and then chilled and bought alcohol for consumption in Norway (if ever traveling to Norway and you plan to drink do this). We boarded our flight and settled in.

We arrived at a very snowy and cold Oslo airport. We collected our car, but not without a few interesting moments in a completely frozen car park. Loaded up, we set off bound for Hemsedal, located north of Olso, in the south of Norway. The drive for us all was something quite new. From the moment we landed in Oslo, until we arrived back at the airport 10days later, any driving was done through winter scenery. The drive to Hemsedal proved to be extremely pretty for the most.

Arriving at Hemsedal, we quickly sorted our skis and accommodation, checked our ski passes and then had something to eat. Then at 6pm, the night ski session started, we would attend 3 of these sessions and they were just great. There were several floodlit ski runs, from Green through to Black and the snow park (this would see a lot and action and two crashes from our group).

None, of us had skied for a while and Nik only once on snow before, so it was a chance for us all to find our feet again and for me to see if I managed to tune my skis well. We tried to stay together skiing as much as possible, but by the time we hit the nearest entry on to a Red run, my skis kind of pointed down that way. At the end of the session we had all either progressed back to where we had left off skiing or were at least on the way. Nik, had certainly charged back to the level she had skied at before and was now driven to refine her style. Maybe I should have done this also. Tim and I had rolled through the Blue snow park as well and weren't as bad as expected.

Our legs hurt, but we were fired up for the next day already.

Over the next few days and nights of skiing, everyone would either improve drastically or try something new that they had not done before. For Tim and I it was getting to know the snow park better. To the point of playing on the Red snow park and actually doing alright. We weren't awesome or anything and watched kids fly around doing all sorts of 360 with tail grabs, back and forward somersaults, etc...

The best I could do was a few spread eagles, 180's on the pipe and only 1 or 2 of those and an unplanned spread eagle into a back scratcher, which I some how managed to land. I think the key was decent air and having no real idea what was going on.

Tim was doing front and back side grabs, and even one or two tail grabs I think and looking pretty good. He also proved to ski every bit as good as he boards on most things. Although he is pretty bloody good on the board on the steep or in the deep.

Tim also convinced me to go off piste in the trees and powder on my carver skis. In this terrain, Tim was at home. He cruised the gaps in the trees in complete control, whilst I tried not to hit anything at speed, carrying the speed in powder with carvers is the only way. In trees there are some limiting factors, the main one being survival. Tim had already proved he was pretty damn good on the board on steep black runs, now he all but toyed with me.

Whilst all this was going on. Claire was getting on with skiing precisely and nicely, Nik was getting sore feet from ill fitting boots and this was not helping her progress. This was resolved and voila! Nik's skiing improved immediately and she bounded off the Green and Blues and straight on to the Reds and was extremely happy with this.

We went a few times to the highest point of the open lifts (photo below) to enjoy some sun and the view. We did this a few times, the only drag being how cold the lift was for a long uplift. But it was worth it and gave us some nice long runs to the bottom, which we all enjoyed. (photo below)

The highlight of my skiing was attempting my first Triple Black and only having a couple of crashes, on a very technical, tight and steep in parts run.

It was great to see Nik get on so well with the new boots and start cruising the Red runs with ease. It was good to ski with Tim and Claire for the first time and it is always nice to ski with a relaxed group.

Tim's never say die attitude and my willing to give anything ago. Proved to be a bit of a downfall once for us both. Both happened in the snow park.

Tim managed to catch a front side edge, I think he said, as he left the ramp on a jump. He flew sides and landed quite heavily thigh first followed by his face, thankfully he had his helmet on. This looked pretty bad from where I was stood. He certainly had knocked himself a bit silly, but after a little while he felt he could ski back to the bottom and call it a night. We inspected his injuries and expected some bad bruising, he got off very lightly, which was a good thing.

My turn came on the last night ski session. I dropped off the big jump, headed for the corner jump, a safe distance behind a kid. The kid decided to ignore all the big orange signs saying "Do not stop on this jump", he just mad it to the top of the jump, I thought he was going to roll off the edge but he stopped. By this time I had no time to stop, I lipped the jump, lifted my skis over his head. In doing so I over rotated, coming down awkwardly on my side, but fortunately on the down side of the jump. This kid then laughed and skied off. I was less than impressed, so I caught up with him and let him know that he had done wrong.

Suffice to say, I had to have another run, to finish on a high note, a Black was selected and dispatched.

It had been a great weeks skiing and now our eyes would turn towards ice climbing. The only wish that we would have welcomed coming true was for some fresh snow. Hemsedal is a good ski area with great facilities, but does not seem to be overbearing like some of the large French resorts. I highly recommend heading there sometime, I'll head back sometime.

We also went dog sledding and ice climbing in Gol, posts to come.

The Rjukan.

Space Hopper Warning

Being in to things that challenge and sometimes scare me a little, I was quite excited as a 36 year old child to receive an adult sized Space Hopper as part of my birthday present from Nik. Not that I can remember ever owning one of these as child, I certainly can remember riding a few of them as a child and how much fun something so simple can be.

What I had forgotten is that they are no Porche or Caterham when it comes to handling and responsiveness. This memory lapse would prove to be my downfall and I expect it will incur more bumps, bashes, bruises and crashes, and my eventual eviction by Nik.

I quickly pump the Space Hopper up, well I had to work out how to maintain the reliability of a clearly pig headed pump, or was the pumps resistance to work a warning.

After about 30 minutes, it stood in front of me 80cm's in height, the highly tuned and explosive Space Hopper. It was time to saddle up, tentatively I climbed aboard and took my first few bounces, these ended abruptly with the clang of my head against a radiator and much laughter from Nik and Jon, Jon who only heard it, but had seen the comical site of a 36 year old man, bouncing around on a kids retro toy.

As the day progressed, I got braver and like most kids, more experimental with my new toy. Increasing the bounce, only lead to an extremely powerful upwards collision with a my left arm and a door handle, and a slumped position against the wall still sat a top the SH. However the pain, only induced silence.

You can't keep a good man or fool down.

A little later with regained vigor and a usable left arm, it was time to try to bounce across the gap at the top of the stairs between the two landing. With Nik fielding at the bottom of the stairs (I suspect she would have just run, wisely). I lined up the gap, I got a couple of bouncing in, caught the edge of the lift off step. The SH fired me direct at speed and completely airborne over the opposite landing and into the study landing on my feet narrowly missing the closed window. I decided to not try going down the stairs after this exercise.

The fool is still up and the SH is primed, I suspect that I may be writing on here again about this and associated injuries. But for now I can safely say that a Space Hoppers as an adult are more dangerous then I recall as a child.

The site of a supposed adult bouncing around the house with a grin like a loon on his face on a kids retro toy such as a Space Hopper is nothing else than............a bit special! I might post pic, I might not.

Yours in bouncing.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Happy New Year

Once again I have been rubbish.

Not much has happened in the last few months.

Our first chalk climbing exercise ended with no fatalities.
We signed up for a few stupidly long bike rides. The Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge being the most significant, more of on that later.

We acquired a new road bike for Nik, which now has pride of place in the house and if it were a little cuddlier I would be in the spare bed.

We also spent 10 awesome days in Norway with a couple of good friends, skiing and ice climbing, not to mention dog sledding. Pics are up on flickr already follow the link.

My next post will be about this trip and how motivated it has left us and what a way to start the new year with a new interest, nay a new passion.

It's a pity my toes don't share the love at present.

Watch this space.