You might wonder what makes someone want to strap themselves to something that is most definitely about to move in a violent and unpredictable manner, and then accompany it on a gee-force-attaining, vomit-inducing ride. I certainly wonder that. But then, that’s exactly what I did on Saturday, and it was really good fun.
Zorbing, also sometimes known as sphering or orbing, the art of rolling down a hill inside a ball, has been around since the mid-90s, and has enjoyed a reasonable amount of popularity ever since. I remember seeing it in the news ages ago, and thinking it was crazy, but that I’d also like to try it.
And it’s fun!
We went through a company called orb360, who have a team running orbing most weekends at Devil’s Dyke near Brighton. It was a little difficult to find the exact hill where they’d set up camp, but once you find the Devil’s Dyke pub, you can set out and just look for the highest crest in a hill ahead of you – they won’t be far from that.
We got there for our 3pm appointment and were greeted by friendly staffers. We were surprised at how busy it was, actually, with two other big groups waiting for their rolls. Thankfully they let us go first, rather than having to wait for all of them to finish. We literally signed away our lives on the most cover-all waiver I’ve ever seen, and then plodded towards the huge plastic orbs.
It was quite wet and rainy on Saturday, and we had to take our shoes off to enter the orb: so I was faced with two options. Keep my socks on, but get them wet on the grass, or take them off and endure cold (wet) water on my bare feet. I started to take them off, then remembered other people would have done the same. The years of my Mum warning me about verucas kicked in, and a paranoid voice in my head told me to keep them on. So I waddled over in my ever-increasingly-sodden socks, and got ready to enter the orb.
I went first, and took a dive to get into the orb, head-first. Apparently it was a good effort, and I didn’t need any burly men to push my behind, from behind, to assist my entrance. There were a lot of straps, but I got myself attached securely and waited for Sarah to get in. They rolled the ball slightly so I was perched, almost hanging from the top of the inner sphere while she got in. That was probably the worst part, just waiting, and mostly dangling from the straps. My mind flashed back to when a friend-of-a-friend told me her ex-boyfriend (a tentative link, I know) was really “into suspension”. Having not had much experience with this particular sexual debauchery, I indulged my mind into thinking it must be something like my current predicament. Regardless, Sarah got attached fairly quickly, and after a quick “Ready?”, we were off!
In my mind, I had imagined we’d be flung to the far edges of the inner sphere, much like a fairground ride where you’re kept in place by the centripedal force. But the straps were doing a lot of work, and I got shaken up and down quite a few times. I felt myself going upside down, but very quickly lost track of where the ground actually was. It was exhiliarating. Every so often a flash of green went past my vision to remind me I was tumbling around, although the world may just have been tumbling around me, it was hard to tell.
And then it was over, way too soon. We unstrapped ourselves and slid out of the orb, in a dizzy stupour. Sarah sensibly went feet-first out of the orb and landed upright, but I just dived out as I had gone in. I didn’t want to end up like Pooh, with the inside of the ball as Owl’s house, the pursuit of adrenaline my metaphorical honey.
The staff were kind enough to let us get a jeep ride back to the top of the hill where we re-wrapped our soaking perambulators. And thanking most of the people around us, we trudged back to the car.
I’d definitely go again, but if you get sick from movement-type rides, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. This is like the mother of all shake-you-up experiences. And we both had splitting headaches the next day, like all the bumpiness bruised our brains. That’s my current theory, anyway.