Thursday, January 31, 2019

Day 31: we slide

Remember that day we went rock-climbing and met friends at the pub after? These same friends had many great ideas for Tryanuary, one of which was trampolining, one of the biggest wins of this month of new things. The other idea I did today: the AcelorMittal Orbit slide. It seemed fitting when I booked it: the whole metaphor of ending a month of blogging on a rush, sliding into home, etc., etc. [insert fitting clichés here].

Plus as a local, I got a whole pound off the ticket price! Bonus.

I must confess in advance that I thought I knew what part of this hot-mess-of-an-Olympic-viewing-platform was the slide. It's obviously the wide silver bit, right?

That looks fun!

But as I'm approaching, far closer than I've ever been before, I clock something: some sort of HVAC tube slinking down the back? What IS that? 

I get closer. My heart sinks as I realise: THAT'S THE MOTHER FLIPPING SLIDE: 

Yes, that thing held up by cables, that looks like the back of my computer station.


It's not improved by the lift up, peppered full of delightful facts like 'The ArcelorMittal Orbit is taller than the Statue of Liberty!' and 'The slide is the longest and tallest tunnel slide in the world'. That's when I tried to stop the elevator. This isn't happening.

When we get to the top, I see this pic they've got on display. My early, flopping fear crystallises:


You don't understand what all this communicates to me in the course of the three seconds it took me to digest it. Unfathomable speed. Speed that would burn bare arms if they touched the side. And most importantly: UNCONTROLLABLE speed. 

Y'all, I purposefully wore my boots with the rubber soles this morning thinking I could use my heels to slow my descent. 


I'm in a state of panic as the helmet gets strapped on and the arm pads get pulled on over my wool coat. OVER MY WOOL COAT. You know, because NO PART OF YOU CAN TOUCH THE SLIDE ON THE WAY DOWN, NOT EVEN YOUR COAT.

Then they lay you down on a giant, body-length pad with the pouch at the bottom (to conveniently collect your organs?) and give you a rope to hold onto that's attached to the foot pouch, and show you how to position your head (lifted, so as to see your death coming more clearly). This (not my pic, they wouldn't allow mobile phones on the slide, another red flag) is what it looks like:

'Don't let go the handle!' they say. 'Just relax your shoulders!' they say. 'Why are you crying?' they say. 

As they pried my fingers off the top of the slide, they reassured me: the drop you see ahead of you, that looks so vertical you can't see the bottom of it, that's the steepest one and then it's just straight relaxation all the way to the bottom. 15mph of sheer relaxation. THEY ARE LYING TO YOU. There were MANY drops that left my stomach behind and not a few instances in which I was whipped so far around the sides that I thought I'd do a full circuit around the top. The tunnel itself alternated between having a clear plastic top -  in theory to see the view, but in reality to see the blur - or being entrenched in total darkness. I preferred the dark every time. The void is the safe place. The windows always seemed to coincide with a mad drop-spin combo. When you see the light growing ahead, BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID. 

I should've seen it all coming when I saw this quote by the slide's designer in the ticket lobby:
Madness, Carsten. Just madness.

Oh, but the views from the top! Not at all too high! 
 I'm lying to you as much as an Orbit Operator lies to its sliders. 

Review: I survived. I didn't wet myself. And there was a moment, about halfway through, where I stopped swearing, and did indeed relax my shoulders. And then I sailed.

However, this is the future distance between me and the Orbit.

Mije, the jerk who suggested this, at least had the integrity to do it with me. The nail in the coffin of our friendship occurred when, while waiting for him at the bottom, I heard him inside, WHOOPING. 

It's been a wild ride, trying something new for 31 straight days. Lessons learned: new things can be AWESOME. Also terrible. And next year, we're doing this in February instead. 

Thanks to all who read along, and if I do any other firsts this year (the list of things to try has only grown), I'll definitely share it here. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

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