#13 – Go Zorbing
For the uninitiated Zorbing is basically rolling down a hill inside a HUGE inflatable ball. (I’m surprised at how many people have asked me this question since I published The List. I thought most people would know what Zorbing was, but apparently not…) It got onto The List because it’s an adventure sport that I haven’t tried yet that I fancied trying. (For info, I haven’t done a bungee jump either but I have no intention of doing one of those. I have done two skydives and they were awesome. Highly recommended.) But, I digress. Back to Zorbing. Here’s what it looks like:
Zorbing, perhaps understandably, originated in New Zealand. I say this because as far as I can work out, most adventure sports originated in New Zealand. Or maybe the Kiwis just claim this is the case. Certainly the zorb ball we were using proudly proclaimed that it was Made in New Zealand. As NZ is my second and in some ways, spiritual, home, I figured I ought to give it a try, especially since I have failed to try bungee jumping; their other key contribution to adventure sports.
In the small south coast town of Dorchester, not too far away from my proper home, the fantastic guys at Zorbing South have a zorb run so in view of The List I booked myself in and persuaded a friend to come along with me. On arrival, despite both saying in the car on the way down that we might chicken out, I had no serious misgivings. The car park area is at the top of the zorb run, so you walk down the length of the run to the Reception at the bottom. It’s a bit steep but doesn’t actually seem that long. Until you start rolling down it in a huge inflatable ball, that is.
After being checked in, weighed (fortunately both of us on the same scale and we couldn’t see the results), briefed, de-shoe-ed and sent round to the pick up area we found ourselves inside a battered Land Rover riding to the top of the run. It seemed I had inadvertently booked the more extreme of the two Zorb options – harness zorb, where you sit on a hanging chair attached to the zorb by a harness, so when the zorb goes upside down, so do you. The alternative is a hydrozorb, where you sloosh about in the bottom if the zorb ball in a big pool of water. Fun, apparently, but no going upside down. Being strapped into the harness was (I imagine, I’ve never tried it of course) a bit like the electric chair: ankle restraints, lap belt, shoulder harness tightened two ways and make sure you hold on. Something like this:
I was a bit distracted on the first run by the fact that my companion screamed the whole way down but I do remember the weird feeling of being suspended by the harness as I went head first upside down and realising that those straps were all that were stopping me from serious injury. On the second run, I banned screaming (she squeaked through clenched teeth instead), so I was able to concentrate on the experience. Rolling over and over as the zorb gathered momentum down the hill, spinning over and over. I imagine it may be a bit like going round and round and round and round in a washing machine.
After the second run, if I’m honest, I felt a tiny bit sick but at least I had done it. Third challenge on my 40 before 40 list – COMPLETE! There was just time to retrieve my shoes and write about the experience on their whiteboard before it was all over and we were heading back to the real world.
If you fancy a go, here’s the link to their website (they really were lovely blokes):
Go on, dare you!