• 04 . 01 . 06
  • It couldn’t last really, could it? With 13 days of riding under my belt and no injuries beyond feeling a bit sore, it was probably high time that I got something a bit more lasting. Luckily for me, it was only small, practically nothing really, but it could have been a lot worse; one of […]

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Biting The Snow

It couldn’t last really, could it? With 13 days of riding under my belt and no injuries beyond feeling a bit sore, it was probably high time that I got something a bit more lasting. Luckily for me, it was only small, practically nothing really, but it could have been a lot worse; one of the girls staying in the same place had wrecked a knee on the slopes and was stuck indoors every day.

I’m kind of ambitious, I like to challenge and improve myself, and this sometimes means I bite off more than I can chew. If that’s a character flaw, it’s one I can live with. So, fourth day on the mountain and I’m having a great time messing about on the small jumps and ramps. Not the half-pipe mind, – I couldn’t swallow that yet, let alone chew it. Anyway, I’m finally getting the nerve to commit to a jump, which of course makes it easier in the end and things are starting to come together nicely. This is where I should have been happy leaving it; a small improvement and a good basis for continuing to get better throughout the season. But that just wasn’t good enough.

I’d flicked through some magazines, seen some others try it so I thought, why not? A 180° is easy, I thought. Any fool can do it. A 180° may well be easy, but of course it’s all about balance, getting your body in the right position and, yes, committing to it fully. Of those 3 things on my attempt, I would give myself 0 stars. I can’t exactly describe what happened, because it’s a bit of a blur to me, but what I can tell you is that you definitely are not supposed to land lying face down like I did. I suppose biting the floor is the quintessential definition of biting off more than you can chew. I had pictured myself graceful and elegant like an eagle. The cold hard reality of the floor and hitting the one patch of slope that didn’t have any powder snow on it, reminded me that I was more of an emu. With broken ribs. Actually, they’re probably not even cracked, but it does hurt when I breathe in some positions, as well as cough, laugh or sneeze (it’s not so pleasant combined with the cold I have), but still, bruised ribs is about the least worst injury I could have got. I stayed home the last day because I didn’t want to risk a real injury which might jeopardise the trip to Sapporo coming up in 2 weeks. It was actually nice to just have a complete day off from everything and relax around the hostel.

Incidentally, I’d highly recommend both Traveller’s Nest and Goryu Drive Station as cheap and fun places to stay. The Backpackers is above a bar for easy access and filled with easy going riders from all over the world. One conversation had 9 different nationalities in it, which made a refreshing change to the homogenous nature of the rest of Japan. For ¥3000 a night, you get a kitchen, nicely heated common room, shower, bunk-bed and free transfers to everywhere you need to go, courtesy of Taka, the manager. Drive Station was little more than a huge room with bunk-beds in it, kind of along the lines of a capsule hotel, but the beds were very comfortable, the on-site cafe was cheap and again there was a free shuttle bus to the mountains. For ¥2500 a night, you can’t go wrong. Both of them are in the Goryu region of Hakuba, and getting to the other mountains means taking a taxi, but it’s pretty cheap if there are 4 of you, like there were for us.

So I’m back in Gifu now, having just made the 8 hour return journey. Work starts again tomorrow and already the vacation seems too short and over too soon. I guess that’s the way for everybody. It’s pretty hard to complain though, having just had the most snow in 80 years fall right when I needed it! And the fact that I’m going away again in 2 weeks makes me smile. Just as long as it doesn’t make me laugh…