30 before 30 - progress · Sports

30. Try five new sports

3. Go Karting, London Docklands, December 2016

I booked Go Karting for my work’s Christmas party and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. I can’t drive, I’m so cautious by nature, and I work with some serious adrenaline junkies. But it was fun – really good fun! The venue is hidden on an ugly industrial estate between North Greenwich and Woolwich, but once you walk through the doors it’s super swish and very well organised.

The track we used is an 800m track, with speedy 270cc carts that can get up to 40mph. After wriggling into our racewear (including very classy disposable balaclavas) and watching a safety video we were ready to race!

We did two track sessions – the first was a 15 minute ‘warm-up’ to get used to the track and its many, many corners, and also to rank us in terms of speed. Out of 12, I came… 12th. Pretty embarrassing! I’m blaming this on how many times I got pulled over though – my helmet turned all the way round on a corner, the brakes on my kart stopped working properly, one of my colleagues knocked me into the barriers. Definitely some sneaky tactics in play!

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The second session was a race to see who could do the most laps in 15 minutes and this was fantastic – we were put in qualifying positions based on the previous session, had the track to ourselves and had a podium finish/presentation at the end which was so funny. Yet again I came last (still got stopped a few times!!) but by a much smaller margin than before.

All in all it was a great experience, a good adrenaline rush and confidence builder, well organised and something you’ll definitely be discussing with your teammates in the pub for hours afterwards!

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*Funnily enough, taking pictures whilst in a Go Kart is not encouraged, so photos are from Team Sport’s website

 

2. Track Cycling – VeloPark, August 2016

Track cycling is the kind of event that I watch on the TV and think: “that looks terrifying – I would be so scared of doing that”! In the interests of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I booked a track taster session at the Olympic velodrome, and persuaded my aunt and cousins (Sha, Jake and Ryan) to come along with me. And do you know what? It was terrifying, but it was so much fun!

Track taster sessions are an hour long, and the fee includes bike and helmet hire – the bikes are seriously snazzy! If there had been an open door I would definitely have tried to cycle off with mine!! The track bikes are super-light, fixed-gear, and just gorgeous. We got kitted up and after a very detailed safety briefing we were allowed to start cycling on the track.

There are a few different areas to the track, and the idea is that you move up the sides of the track to go faster and overtake. I stayed on the light blue band at the bottom (it’s called the ‘Cote’ as in Cote d’Azur), but ventured up to the black and red lines once I got my confidence up.The track is at a terrifying 42 degree angle, so you really have to just hold your nerve and trust in the bike to keep you upright!

Sha, Jake and Ryan were all without a doubt better than me – Ryan was right up at the very top at one point! But it was great fun, a great adrenaline rush, and such an awesome thing to do with some of my very favourite family members!! Thank you SO much for coming along with me guys, you’re the best! 🙂

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1. Hydrospeeding – Lee Valley, May 2016

Hydrospeeding is a sport that I wasn’t aware of until recently. In case you are as clueless as I was, you essentially cling on to a large foam float very tightly as you throw yourself into white water rapids and get flung down the course. Here’s a video that does no justice at all to quite how bonkers it is:

I took the gorgeous Gareth along with me and both of us found it absolutely hilarious! We were pretty much the only adults – I think we might have hijacked a kid’s birthday party… Getting kitted out took ages (wetsuit, socks, flippers, buoyancy vest), and after a quick swimming test we were ready to go. Well, almost – Gareth is a strong swimmer, until you give him a pair of flippers!

We then spent about 1 1/2 hours repeatedly launching ourselves off the bank and racing down the rapids. I’d totally forgotten how fearless kids can be and they seemed intent on being as murderous towards each other as possible, which was slightly terrifying. At the end of the session we were both absolutely knackered and felt like we’d used loads of muscles we wouldn’t normally use. We’re relatively sporty people and this completely destroyed us both!!

So in summary: amazing fun, a surprisingly good workout, and very good value for money (only £25 inc all equipment on a Sunday afternoon)

I didn’t have my phone on me (unsurprisingly – phones and rapids isn’t a good idea!) but we took some quick wetsuit snaps, which in retrospect are not the most flattering photos. Never mind. Go hydrospeeding, it’s great!

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