Sunday, 30 January 2011

Knowing my limit

I was marginally hopeful that the next few posts would document my rise from reluctant learner to snowboarding’s biggest fan. Starting with the first sight of the slopes, strapping on the board for the first time, even the first fall…right through to day 3 when I’ve been assured it’ll all start sinking in and moving in the direction of “fun”.

So to start the story we had the longest journey here imaginable. We’re in France – from England you might say that’s not all that far…but I’ve visited my friends in America in a shorter time than it took to get to Val Thorens!

We started with a 3:30am pick up from home. Now my boyfriend hadn’t slept, although I got about 4 hours, so he really did have the worlds longest day…Jack Bauer has nothing on him. We arrived at the airport which took a fair while to check in – 2 different baggage drops because skis and snowboards can’t cope with the corner on the conveyor belt and have to be checked in elsewhere.

After a quick bite to eat we boarded the plane, which was delayed by half an hour and then finally after 2 hours we arrived in Geneva. It took nearly 2 hours for our bags to come through…in fact mine came through with the first bags from the next flight on the carousel so I was reaching a particularly high stress level fearing my bag had been lost.

Then of course we had missed our coach to the resort so we had to be reallocated to another bus which didn’t leave for another hour. Then a speedy 3 hour bus ride across to France and finally, FINALLY we arrive in Val Thorens. At that point door to door we’d been travelling for 13 hours.

13 hours! There’s a channel separating us from France not an ocean!

So tired and grumpy we weave our way between lots of Europeans who don’t waste their energy on politeness or making way for the red faced weary travellers laden down with bags and boards and stuff and we finally get into our room. The worlds smallest room…I had a studio flat in London bigger than this room…but we’ve got to somehow fit 4 of us in it! After the coin toss which allocated us to the sofa bed in the living area we battled our way around the spar to buy teabags and milk. My boyfriend created a kettle by boiling a pan of water and pouring it into a jug to pour into tea cups. No kettle…why would there be? All the cool kids drink percolated coffee…yeah there’s one of them – completely wasted on 4 tea drinkers!

Finally the 5th member of our party arrived and we went out for some dinner…but everywhere had stopped serving food so we ended up with a kebab from the nearby takeaway…some generic meat kebab that was actually mostly onion…bleurgh!

So day 1 proper – Sunday arrives. We get up bright and early eager to get out, hire some boards and get us going, somewhere on the kiddy slope. We start walking down the slope to the flat bit – which is already intimidating me a bit…bit steep that even for walking…when suddenly Chris, the most experienced member in our party stops us and tells us to strap our boards on – what here? Are you crazy – what about waiting til we get to the flat bit? Ok when I said this part was steep I may have been slightly over exaggerating it – although it felt steep enough to me that I wanted to just sit down and slide down it. So we strap boards on. Our lovely patient boyfriends help us upright and we stand legs straight, back of the board digging into the snow and we move forward and stop and sit down a few times in the manner of a toddler learning to walk. There I am sliding forwards as my boyfriend in front of me slides backwards – just short of clapping his hands encouragingly saying “come on, that’s right, you can do it, come on come to me, well done!” while I go “woah woah woah” and sit back on my arse with a bump. So we do this a few times until finally I lose my balance, fall and in an instant I forgot about sitting and just threw my arms beneath me and landed on my wrist.

What I’ve learned since then is that Snowboarding and I go together like Mr Bean and carelessly discarded banana skins. So it’s only natural that within 20 minutes of strapping on a snowboard I’d sprained my wrist. Well I could’ve predicted that! My only regret is not putting a bet on it.

So after holding my wrist for a bit, lying back on the floor in the manner of an over acting “injured” footballer and barking “just give me a minute will you” at my boyfriend who’s tying to encourage me try again I eventually admit defeat. But because I can’t put any weight on my right wrist I can’t even unstrap the board. Eventually we walk down to the flat bit and I optimistically test whether I can put any weight on my wrist but I can’t. I sit in the snow with the board across my knees and cry. Yes I cried. Disappointment, pain and a feeling of letting down my boyfriend who loves snowboarding so much that I wanted to try it for him.

So we head back to the hotel – walking up the driest path to the hotel carrying a board in my left arm which feels like it’s getting heavier and heavier with each step. I’m feeling so miserable at this point that I forget about the icy patch at the bottom of the steps to our hotel and I again fall over flat on my back with my board landing on top of me. “I f*@king hate this holiday” I mutter practically throwing my board at my boyfriend and trying to get up without the use of my right hand. And I freely cry all the way back to the room.

My boyfriend helps me out of my snow gear sprays my wrist with deep heat, bandages it up and makes me a cup of tea. Then we take the board back to the hire shop so I don’t waste any more money and I settle on the sofa with the laptop and a pile of dvds.

But actually in hindsight maybe now I’m a little bit relieved because I’ve never been fully keen on the idea, close to petrified most of the time I thought about it and now I can just say “well I tried it, I hurt myself and I have no desire to try it again” And who would blame me?

Ok so my boyfriend currently has to fasten all my clothes for me and cut up my food so I can eat. Which makes me cry just a little bit every time, but that’s just the frustration of feeling completely useless. At least RSI was just a dull ache that made it difficult to work now I can’t use it at all.

But at the end of the day I’m on holiday. If this was a summer holiday I would spend all day sat by a pool reading a book. Lazing around sunbathing and just relaxing. So now I get to do the same thing. Lie on a sofa and read, watch movies on the laptop and more than likely hang out in the spa for a bit of pampering.

So maybe it’s not all bad. My partner in learning has picked it up really quickly and the boys learned 10 years ago when they were younger and more keen. I know my limit and I should’ve probably been a bit more honest about my general reluctance to even try it…but at least I did try it. And I can honestly say I have no desire to ever try it again.