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My girlfriend and I received a gift voucher for an experience day Zorbing last Christmas and as we had been rather busy year, we decided to book our Zorbing day in October (last weekend actually).
For those who don't know, Zorbing is classed as an adrenaline or thrill sport, perhaps not in the same league as Sky Diving or Microlight flying but it's generally considered to be quite an exciting sport.
Basically, the participants sit inside a large plastic ball strapped to a harness. In actual fact they're inside a plastic ball which is inside a larger one with a cushion of air in between. This ball (called a Zorb) is then allowed to roll down a hill and can reach speeds of up to 30mph whilst the occupant of the ball spins around inside. In some cases they're not in a harness and sometimes water is added to enhance the thrill. That's the key word by the way - "thrill", because it's meant to be thrilling!
Anyway, back to the gripe - which in this case was our slightly less thrilling Zorbing day. By the way, a roll down a hill will generally cost around £40 - £60 which is quite a lot of money for a minute or so of excitement. Some Zorbing places will throw in a free roll down the hill as well. I'm sure a roll down a hill lasting a minute probably be fun, but as I've never experienced that I just can't say for sure. Our Zorbing day wasn't that spectacular and fortunately for us we hadn't seen any of the videos on You Tube so we really didn't know what to expect.
To start with we were taken by Landrover across a muddy paddock to the field that was used for Zorbing. I had expected to see a reasonable hill but instead there was only a very slight incline; the run used for the Zorb wasn't particularly long either. By the way the staff (two men plus the girl that brought us up in the Landrover) were all very friendly and seemed fairly professional so no I have no issue with them. The problem was the event itself and the equipment used. The Zorb for example was a bit of a surprise, it was more egg shaped than spherical and the reason soon became quite clear. When we arrived some other people were in the middle of a run and when the Zorb was brought back to the starting ramp, the two men used a couple of modified leaf blowers to re-inflate the Zorb. It obviously had a leak and was becoming quite deflated by the end of the run. I didn't dwell on this at the time, but after checking out a few videos on You Tube have since realised that this is a Zorb right at the end of it's lifespan and it probably shouldn't have been used for paying customers.
When our turn came we were strapped into the Velcro harness and proceeded to tumble down the VERY gentle slope. It was a very unusual experience, quite exciting but also a little worrying as I was aware the Zorb was rapidly loosing air. One of the men had explained that they tend to leak around the harnesses and that it was a couple of years old hence the "small" air leaks. During the run as we spun upside down our heads were constantly being pushed by the side walls as our Zorb came into contact with the ground. Presumably this would not have been as noticeable in a fully inflated one. It was actually quite worrying towards the end of the run because I thought our heads were going to make contact!
My girlfriend's sister and her husband were there to video the event so we were able to watch it all on the laptop later that evening. You could actually see us wallowing down the field rather than rolling. Another peculiar thing was that instead of just rolling down a hill on its own, our Zorb was pushed along by the two men right to the end. Presumably this was because of a lack of proper incline and the resistance created by our 'misshaped vehicle'.
Anyway, we didn't reach much more than a brisk jogging speed and our thrilling ride lasted only about 30-35 seconds - a grand total of 25 or so revolutions by my reckoning having seen the video. As we had a voucher we hadnt paid any money for our Zorbing experience day, but how much would you be prepared to pay for what I have just described?