A Viking thrashing

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So we’re all safely back from Norway, and I’m finally getting to take 5 minutes to pause, relax, and reflect on what we’ve learnt there, and what we’ve gained in knowledge and training.  A hell of a lot is the quick answer.

We went there having had a couple of kite-surfing lessons each (without much wind, so not actually getting to actually surf…), and played around with our 3.5m Imp trainer kites from Ozone.  Despite the fact that the Imp’s are miniscule in comparison to the big brother’s we were playing with last week, I think training with them was pretty damn invaluable to this last week, it meant that we picked up the big kites with an already inbuilt feel for it.  We trained with I think all three of the top kiting systems: both bar and handle kites from Ozone, and with para-wings or sails, hand-made by a guy called Wolf Beringer in Germany.  I was prepared to be all snobbish about the latter, and be staunchly loyal to long-line kites, but actually, I don’t think I’ve had more fun with wind than when it was howling and Si and I had a couple of hours on the lake jumping a block of ice and occasionally properly taking off.  They are brilliant in really high-wind situations.

Tim and Simon using sails across the lake

Ripping it up

Fitness-wise, I’ve gained two things.  First, a goodly amount of leg-strength and endurance.  I am surprised at how much just one week of kite-skiing has done for me.  The first couple of days were agony going cross-wind (it’s like doing a really hard parallel turn downhill, but instead of changing legs and going the other way, you just have to keep holding it till you get to the other side of the lake…).  By the end of the week, I was loving every second of it, and the more I had to edge the better it felt.  I guess a fair degree of that is a skill gain, becoming more efficient, being a better skier (not hard to be better than my skiing at the start of the week!); but I also think a lot of it was about the body’s ability to adapt to the situation and change the muscles’ energy burn so that less lactic acid is produced, and thus endurance is enhanced.

Tim preparing to stand after yet another wipeout

See? Gods amongst men

The second thing I’ve gained about our fitness, is a good deal more confidence in it.  I was worried before this week that we wouldn’t be able to get to the kind of level that people like Ronny Finsaas (who kite-skis nearly every day there is snow, and some days there isn’t) are at, and that we would always be playing second best.  Now, I think that after a month in Greenland, the issue isn’t going to be about getting fit, it’s going to be about keeping the level of very specialist fitness we’ll have gained by then up over the summer.  However, I know now exactly which muscle groups we need to be focussing on, and I know just how strong and durable they need to be made.

All in all, a fantastically successful week from my perspective; we’ve gained fitness, confidence, and new friends.  We are also now kite-skiing Gods.  (…see what I mean about the confidence bit?)

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