This is a follow up lesson(Snow and your car) for all those of who live without snow in the south and how to deal with it.
The images the media portrays of people swooping along mountain sides on snowboards is very intriguing. Sure there are those images of skiers also but I come from a skateboarding background. And I understand snowboarding takes some effort in the beginning to learn.
Now I am not a complete fool I understand the images are of people who are actually very good at snowboarding and have been doing it for a while. So I will at 40 years old take my first snowboarding lesson. A lesson geared toward "never evers." Now I had some discussion with some of the local people I have been working with I also did a small bit of reading up on the subject. Let's say a lot can get left out in the details.
The first thing that was recommended to me was the resort called Brighton. This is a snow ski resort. It is located on a mountain side. Now I understand that basic level of skiing and resorts but I had never been to one since I was a younger kid on a sled. Brighton and Solitude are area's where the locals go. Yes, there are tourists but the locals have a strong presence at these places. So it isn't a total tourist trap.
The second thing recommended was prepare to be sore. I cannot emphasis this enough. Be prepared on that first day to use muscles you either havent used or used in a different manner. You will hurt. You will be stiff. And you will also fall down and hurt that way too.
The resort is basically a full day activity even if the lesson is only part of the day. Arrive early.
Some notes on snow again. Snow isn't cold sitting on your car. Snow is not cold on the mountainside. Snow is cold when you come in contact with it and it starts to melt on you. Wind is cold. Wind will blow snow on you. Now you have cold wind and snow that is melting on you. Very cold. If it is cold enough the snow will start to melt on your face and refreeze into icicles. This is darn cold.
The best way to stay warm is protect your extremities. Hands, feet, ears all need protection. You can have on thermal underwear and if you have no gloves life will suck. If these items get wet remove them and replace them with dry ones are run them under the hand warmer. Wet gloves and shoes equal you not enjoying the snow.
Now some important accesories.
There are these garments know as snow pants and snow jackets. Now when you are about town in winter you really don't need these items. When you are at the resort you will freeze without them. They cost a little but warmth is worth it. Wearing a sweater as outer protection with jeans doesn't cut it. Even with thermal underwear. Snow gloves are also good as standard gloves will get wet and your hands will be cold. Of course wearing these garments means you will look like the Michelin Man. They make items that will protect you and are thinner but they cost lots. Also Sunglasses are vital not as a fashion item but as a way to protect your eyes. Cheap ones are fine as long as they block UV.
Some notes on the resort.
Brighton is pretty large for a ski resort. I was very worried about getting there signing up for the lessons and not being able to get rental equipment from them. This is really not an issue. They have tons of rental equipment. I did ask though and there have been occasions where they have rented out all of a certain size. Today that would not be a problem. Getting there early however does make things easier. Janel and I signed up for a rental package with a lesson and an all day learner lift pass.
The lift pass is a sticker that lets you ride a chair life to the upper area of a slope or mountain since walking isn't a fesible idea. According to my wife the chair lifts are scarier than some of the rides at the fair. Lift passes are about the only thing you need if you have your own equipment and knowledge on how to ski. Lift passes at Brighton are issued in three levels 1 being the lowest and 3 for the most advanced skiers. You generally buy a full day lift pass. You are suppose to only ski area that you have the ablity to ski. These differences can be based on steepness, terrain, and accesiblity. There can be other factors.
The rental package gets us a snowboard, shoes, a 2 hour lesson and an all day learner lift pass. When you pay for it ask for a few dollars in quarters. You will need these for the locker will you will store your shoes, purse wallet, cell phones, etc.. Don't be a dork and take your cell phone to the learner's class. Yes, I am talking about you the blonde snow bunny who had to wear more makeup than a revlon ad.
If you fall and you will you will break or lose these items. And I will laugh at you.
The snowboarder's "never ever" class had a wide array of people in it of all ages. Children and adults have seperate groups but I was surprised by how many people around my age were there for their first time. There were even some that were older.
The never ever class was just what I needed. How do I put my feet in this thing and how do I walk across the place with this snowboard on my feet. How do I fall down without breaking myself into little pieces. And of course, how do I stop. The class also covers how to get on the lift and how to get off of it. This is important so that you don't end up getting knocked over by the thing. Getting off the lift is also important because if you don't do it right you will get mowed over by everyone behind you.
My skateboarding background was a help and a hinderance for snowboarding. And the aspect of skating with your snowboard is very different that with a skateboard. Having my lead foot at a perpendicular to the board when pushing forward to the lift line was wierd. Twisting my feet in opposite angles to turn was also wierd. Also the body angle is a bit different so is the weight distribution on the snowboard. Certain manuvers are just like on a skateboard. Those I could catch onto real quick then I would go with my flow into another manuver which works on a skateboard and fails on a snowboard. Did I mention snow has taste?
After the two hour lesson I was sore and hungry. Fortunatly the resort has a nice cafeteria. It is very crowded and finding a seat can be a bit of an issue. The food was good. But more importantly is the need to drink. Becoming dehydrated is way to easy out here. These people just don't know what humidity is. Come to the swamp with me and I will show you what humidity is. Drink lots. Just remember if you have to go to the restroom it is a twenty minute ordeal to get unzipped from all the stuff that is keeping you warm.
During my lesson I did okay but I could feel the pain begin. I knew at the end I was going to be a hurting puppy. Does that stop me from spending the next four hours practicing? Hell no.
Does that stop me from finding new ways to inflict pain on my body. Hell no.
The lessons helped me with the basics. I could take an intermediate lesson if I wanted to dish out more money but I wanted to take what I had learned and practice learning some stuff on my own. Now my wife had done really well but after the lesson and lunch she took one good spill and declared she had enough.
Now I have been called soft. And the snowbirds are right, when it comes to the cold I am soft. However my wife is an absolute wimp when it comes to this stuff. You could give her a million dollars and if you told she had to live somewhere cold to collect it. Forget it she would leave it behind in order to stay in a warm place. She is a native Floridian. Snow is just not in her blood. And she will whine about the cold to anyone who will listen.
So with my lessons behind me and my lift pass on me. I went forth and braved the learners slope on my own. My first two runs were an exercise in fall practice. However the third run was flawless. I made it all the way down with out a spill. This made me cocky. I thought I had it. My next two runs where spills that would have made America's Funniest Home Videos. I also managed to screw up a leave from the lift and take out three skiers in one fell swoop. After that however things started to click. And my last run of the day was pretty darn good. For a beginner.
After that we headed home. Now that my pace had slowed down and my mindset was returning to normal. Which meant pain was now allowed to set in. And boy did it ever.
I was in the tub with hot water barely able to keep myself awake except for the pain.
I bruised two or three ribs and my legs feel like someone wacked on them with a sledgehammer for several hours. My stomach muscles hurt and I managed to get a nice headache along the way. Was it worth it?
You bet it was. My wife might disagree but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Now this is a christmas memory.
PS. My wife is convinced that skiers don't fall as often or as bad as snow boarders. Maybe none of the skiers fell as dramatically as I did. I think that may be the issue for her.