“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” Hellen Keller
One of my Instagram followers told me recently that it has been a while since I have done something spontaneous and it was like a wake up call to me. The past 16 months been mostly spent working, studying and visiting the local hiking paths to make sure I have my legs trail ready.
It was getting quite repetitive so when my adventure buddy suggested a road trip, I was all in. Originally we were supposed to visit local lavender farm but the weather looked bad and we were not sure there will be any lavender ready yet (we were supposed to meet at the beginning of June).
Next suggestion was Cotswolds but if we were willing to make a 6 hour round trip why not turn it into a proper road trip and visit another country?
I have been to Wales exactly 6 years ago and remember how beautiful it was. But this time we were not concerned with the mountains, lakes and multiple hiking trails. We opted for a special experience, one that has been on my bucket list for over 4 years.
Velocity, the fastest zip lane in the world.
I suffer from vertigo but I’m not the one who will let my fears rule over me. i I tend to eliminate them one by one by simply facing them. I spent 4 months on off road adventures just to cure my motion sickness and yes, it worked!
I know vertigo isn’t an actual fear but rather a condition but I will not let it stop me from having fun either way. I needed to do something that makes me feel alive again. Fine, I wanted to scream out loud in public!
The Zip World is located in a beautiful town in North Wales, called Bethesda. About 374 km from London if you take the fast toll road.
My adventure buddy obviously didn’t want to pay the toll, so our journey took 7 hours… More time with my bestie, right? As long as we get to the Zip World on time.
The Zip World is build in a quarry with plenty of dirt roads and beautiful tranquil pond. No, I mean really. The water is so tranquil and blue that you feel like you are in a computer game or virtual reality.
There is a shop and a cafe with outdoor picnic area. You can sip your coffee and listen to the screams of the brave souls zipping above you. Very relaxing:)
Like with almost everything these days, you need to pre book your adventure through the link here
You can decide if you want a camera or not, but remember personal cameras are not permitted during the ride.
At £15 you can have a camera attached to your helmet and a video along with some pictures will be emailed to you at the end.
Mind you, the video will be an edited version which means it will not show your whole ride.
As we approached the information desk we were told they were running 20 minutes behind the schedule so our ride will happen at 4.40pm instead.
Not a big deal except the blue sky was quickly getting filled with clouds. I’m really hoping we will be able to squeeze into the sunny spot.
Of course I thought the whole experience will be us registering and getting our kit on and then straight on to the zip lane. Wrong.
The whole experience takes about 2 hours from start to finish.
1. STEP ONE
After your registration you will get a green wrist band which you need to show when collecting your gear kit. If you purchased a camera, you will also receive a yellow band with a scan code.
DO NOT put the green wrist band on just yet.
2. STEP TWO
In a separate room you will be called to step on a square platform with a cross on it and pop your green writs band on the desk. Why? The square with a cross it’s a scale and they need to put your weight on the green band, so the next member of staff knows which kit to give you.
Not enough weight and you will end up dangling midway the lane… Apparently the staff finds it funny 😁
Also that was the reason for our delay. Someone got stuck half way the zip lane… Please don’t let it happen to me…
We were in a group of about 12 people. Once everyone was weighed and had goggles and helmet, we were given a short health and safety talk. I know this is a standard and necessary procedure but isn’t there a bigger fun killer than someone telling you what can go wrong on the ride you are about to go on!?
Believe it or not but I was not nervous at this point. That changed very quickly when the lady told us that we will first go on a smaller zip lane to familiares ourselves with the process… What?? You mean I have to experience this twice??? I wasn’t prepared for that at all?
I looked at my friend: Did you know about this???
“Nope, no idea!”.
“Well shit. Now I’m scared” I say as we both laugh nervously.
3. STEP THREE
This is where you put your suit, goggles and helmet on. Everything is already lined up for you and you just have to follow the instructions of the crew. Our suits are grey and look like aprons except they have metal bar attached to them and about zillion carabiners and clips. One member will put it on for you whilst another one will double check everything has been done correctly. We look like minions and I can’t stop laughing. There is a guy in front of me and he also can’t stop laughing. He says is because he is nervous. I told him laughing is better than crying.
Once everyone in our groups is suited we march to the little zip lane.
So like I said earlier, the little zip lane is just basically a warm up. It’s not very long but still fast. There are 4 stations and you need to go to the one you have been told. Each station has a nice soft table (a bit like a massage table) and a crew member. When is your turn you are asked to lie down on your tummy and bend your legs. Next the instructor attaches your suit to the lift and places the metal bar on your feet. You then need to straighten up your legs to make sure the bar is tight enough and love your arms behind your back. Another member double checks if it’s all in place and then they lower the table leaving you suspended in the air. Yeah… I did not like this part. Not even a tiny bit. There is a reason why I am not a bird… Between me and you: if I was all by myself chances are I would have chickened out… but there is no way I will let my friend be the more adventurous one. That’s the famous Leo’s pride…
Once you are in the air, you need to wait for the remaining 3 people to be ready which can be nerve wrecking. You will know when it’s time to go because the crew will start a countdown…in Welsh! Sometimes they will even sing a song before releasing you!
Well I know I should have gone to the toilet but now it’s too late… off we go! The first few seconds are awful, not going to lie…
Have you ever had that dream that you are falling? This is what it feels like except your eyes are open. I screamed of course…just for like a second or two. By the time I felt comfortable the ride comes to an end. The stopping part hurts a little bit. You will hear a click when you reach the slowing down part and feel a sharp pull.
There will be two crew members helping you down the ride and checking if you are alright. Once you decide you liked it enough to proceed to the big one, you are hoist to a red truck. The ride to the top is 15 mins long , bumpy and very dusty.
I asked my friend: “How come you didn’t scream? Weren’t you scared?”
“I was scared which is why I had my eyes closed at the beginning”.“
Ohhh… do you were cheating!”.
Once at the top our group is told to wait our turn as there are three more groups before us. Yeah… the sun is definitely going to be covered in clouds by the time we will be zipping down…Sigh…
There are toilets we can use so finally a chance for me to empty my nervous bladder. A task that proves to be a little bit challenging but not entirely impossible with the suit on. I didn’t eat much except for some pastry and my tummy is rumbling. Or maybe is just nervous rumble. No time to figure this one out as our group is called to gather up in line where we will have another safety talk. I find it hard to concentrate as every 2 or 3 minutes another group of 4 brave souls zips down the line. Some are screaming and some are completely silent. The instructor has to call me out of my day dreaming state and to pay attention. Oops.
Apart from the safety precautions we are also told that the crew places bets on who will be the fastest down the lane. Well I can save them the time because obviously it won’t be me.
Finally our group is ushered inside the cabin where we have to stand on marked spots. Again, there are 4 stations and you have to go where you told. This is also when your camera will be attached to your helmet. Great, now we look like ants…
The procedure is exactly the same. You are called to attend to your station and lay on the table when you ready. Now, wearing helmet and being a little bit overwhelmed I almost picked up a fight with the guy at my station. I was just about to lie down when I heard “heavy” so I turned my head and said: “Sorry but what do you mean heavy!?”
“What? I said ready” but I think he can see I’m not convinced as he comes closer to where my face is and says: “Did you think I said heavy? I said when you are ready” and he puts his arm on my back in reassuring motion and smiles. Then looks at my wrist band with the weight and says: “That’s not even heavy. I weight 10 more kilos than that”.
Oh so it’s a competition now? But out loud I only say: “Yeah, but it’s all muscles”. “Sure, beer muscles” and he laughs whilst patting his tummy. He is wearing a jacket so can’t see anything but he looks like he skis for pleasure so I doubt it’s true. “So have you done it” I ask to distract myself from the fact that I’m about to be dangling 150m above the ground.
“The zip lane? Never. I would never do it.”
“Why?” I ask as I’m getting ready to get off the table and walk back to safety.
“Too dangerous” he says laughing as he can see panic in my eyes. “Just joking. I did it 20 times more or less”
“Is it the same thrill each time?”
“No, like with everything else after the 4th or 5th time it becomes less and less exciting.” After that another member comes close to check on my suit and if everything is hooked correctly. “How are you feeling?” He asks. “I don’t know … I’ve never been in this position before” I say as he lowers the table and I’m now dangling in the air… looking directly at the drop underneath me… Gosh… how did I find myself in this situation? Why not just climb Snowdon? I’m feeling a bit dizzy but no backing off now… My heart is up in my throat and I really wish I was wearing a nappy now…
I look to my left to check the progress on the 3 people that will be going down with me. My friend is just dangling there and looks pretty content…I find that super annoying..and motivating at the same time. Here comes the countdown….and with a click we are off…
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” it’s all that comes out of my mouth as fear squeezes my tummy. The drop was brutal for me… then I look up and see my friend just zooming past. Yep, told you I will be the slowest in my group…Once the line levels up all I can hear is the wind blowing in my face and I’m glad I wear face covering and goggles. I just recently got a crown and can you imagine ramaging through a quarry trying to find it? That would be an expensive ride…
Time seems to slow down and I’m desperately trying to enjoy this moment but I feel like I may throw up at any minute…it is only when I zoom above the beautiful tranquil blue water when I surrender to my situation and just make the best of it. The water is crystal clear and I see few sea gulls scattered on the surface but no fish. Very surprising. I’m always envious of birds and their freedom to roam the skies freely but I suspect they don’t suffer from vertigo.
The whole ride may last 2 minutes top but it felt much longer to me. Finally I hear screams and then the clicking sound, meaning the end of the ride is here.
IMPORTANT: you will be dangling 10ft above the ground so you need to hold on to the pole a crew member on the ground will be holding out for you. Try not to miss it and hold on with both hands as that’s how they pull you down.
And voila! You did it!! You faced your fear so now you can finally stuff your face! Or have a pint!
My legs a bit trembling but that does not stop me from skipping:)
I have to say that I was really impressed with the crew members. They will reassure and guide you at every single stage of your experience. Always smiling and joking and maki nag sure you are safe.
Oh, almost forgot. The zip lane can go over 100m/h
So find yourself a good adventure buddy like @beckytravels and go and explore your fears!
Will you do it? Let me know in the comments:)