When I was six, I had a hamster named Whiskers. She would rip around the house in her hamster ball and I always felt jealous of the fun she was having. Little did I know that human hamster balls, called zorbs, would be invented 18 years later in New Zealand.
The 2009 season of The Amazing Race (an American TV show where contestants race around the world performing exciting challenges) was the first time that I was introduced to zorbs and it looked every bit as fun as I had imagined as a six year old.
When my weekly perusing of Groupon had a deal for zorbing, I was ecstatic! I wasn’t aware there was a place in Colorado to do it. The deal was offered by a tubing company and the picture accompanying the deal was of the tubing hill. Perfect! It may not have been the rolling green hills of New Zealand, but a snowy slope of Colorado wouldn’t be too shabby either.
When we arrived, I could see the zorbs but they weren’t very close to the tubing hill. I thought that was a little weird.
“Hey, how are we supposed to get these zorbs over to that hill?” I asked the guy.
“Oh, you’re not going down that hill!” he laughed. “You’d die!” That seemed a bit melodramatic.
“What do you mean? The picture on the deal showed that hill! Where do we do it then?” I asked dejectedly.
“Right here,” he answered, gesturing towards a flat area about half the size of our backyard. “We need to change that picture. You’re not the first one to point that out.”
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, however I was determined to make the best of it. I had forgotten that the zorbs in New Zealand had been filled with water so the people inside floated as they rolled down the hill, avoiding, according to the guy I was dealing with, death.
As I entered my zorb, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be too bad, but I quickly discovered that in our limited area it felt like I was a car stuck in first gear. I wanted to run, but just as I began to pick up a bit of speed, I ran out of space.
As my family was experiencing the same issue, they decided that we would turn this into a demolition derby of sorts. Great idea. We would salvage this disappointing experience. A problem began to emerge. As hard as I try, the blows I was delivering to my amped up men did nothing, while I was getting pummeled. At one point my glassed flew off and I was knocked out of the hole in the zorb. This was definitely not what I had had in mind.
Despite this less than stellar first zorbing experience, we will try it again. I know what to look for now and questions to ask before going. Since people have different expectations, if you are looking for a mild experience that doesn’t involve any adrenaline or if you have young kids, this place would be perfect.
I will continue to look for a zorbing experience that would make Whiskers proud, which very well may mean a trip to New Zealand.