It’s amazing how peer group pressure still exists at the age of 43. You’d think you’d have confidence in your own strong opinions by now, and easily be able to turn down offers to do ill-advised things. But, no. Apparently when it comes to those continuous surf-wave machines, with the fierce, constant swell – such as can be found in the Kelowna H2O Centre – I can still be talked into giving it a go.
The Kelowna flo-rider is basically a raging hill of water, on which you must balance on a smaller-than-average skateboard, whilst a crowd of what appear to be mostly men stare at you in your swimwear. It’s set up in the most focal part of the water centre, of course, because it has such a high failure percentage and everyone loves to watch a person face-plant into shallow water. The first time my husband, Charlie, tried it, he fell so hard the windows of the water park shook and all the people on the slides did an impromptu bounce. As soon as you fall down on this thing, the water hoovers you up and sweeps you fast over the top of the hill, out of view. You’re done; the crowd waits for a new contestant, like it’s some kind of post-modern gladiatorial gameshow.
Some exits are graceful but most are not. As I sat and waited for my turn, my anxiety grew exponentially with every crashing exit. I watched the Exit By Crocodile Deathroll, the Exit As If Being Sucked Backwards Out of A Hole In a Plane (with the facial expression to match), and my personal favourite, the Exit Minus Prior Swimwear. That one happened to a 13 year old boy who was swept backwards with his shorts stuck fast to the lower section of his thighs, exposing everything above. His exit was particularly panicked, because claw as he might at his short fabric, it was not to be shifted upwards. The crowd loved that one.
I don’t know why I felt I had to step up there, given the humiliation rate, and the fact that I had just witnessed somebody losing his shorts. I think it was a blend of needing to delude my children into thinking they had a young, cool mum, coupled with an outright desperation to outperform Charlie in all things. This need to beat him is manageable in ping-pong, but I need to start to draw the line at things that require a signed waiver.
I can tell you that against all odds, I did manage to stay upright, thus avoiding the hoped-for slam and sweep. Charlie looked visibly disappointed. I like to think the spectators cheered and clapped. Or that might have been me. I was exhausted though, and two clear learning points stayed with me after the event: a) half-squatting in wet swimwear in front of a crowd does nothing for your post-baby pouch-wobble awareness levels; and b) whether you fall or not, you will still need help getting out of a chair come Wednesday.
The FloRider is free to use, but it’ll cost you a fortune in physical therapy. It’s been eight days since I stood triumphantly on the crest of that FloRider wave, my thigh fat jiggling proudly. I have spent four of those days all but in traction, and the remaining four journeying from Physio to Accupuncturist to Massage Therapist, in the hope that I will be able to turn my head in the slightest of directions again one day.
Such intense terror cannot be tolerated by my muscles these days, it seems. My shoulders and neck say no. They say stop it, you’re middle aged, behave yourself. It’s upsetting, because in my mind’s eye I still had a shot at that professional surfer lifestyle. But on the plus side, I am under strict instructions to never ride that thing again, which is both a blessed relief and a guarantee that my status as a FloRider Pro can never be revoked. That’s so worth the pain.