Week 16 – Slacklining

Total Cost – 42.99 on Amazon

Total Time – 2+ hours

Before I jump into this week’s article I have to apologize for delivering this challenge a week late. I had originally decided to do a hot-wing eating challenge at a local restaurant to round out “things I had been too nervous to do” month, but while doing some last-minute research on the challenge I discovered that several past competitors had shit blood after eating the super spicy wings. No thanks! With no time left to spare and a three day trip to the San Juan islands just a day away, I took a suggestion from my girlfriend for this week’s challenge and had a slackline one-day shipped to arrive in time for my vacation.

Slacklining is a strange, yet strangely popular hobby where I live in the Pacific Northwest. When the sun is out in Seattle nearly every park in the city will have a group of slackliners doing their thing. Slacklining had always seemed like fun to me, but each time I had tried to do it in the past I was unable to even get on the line and got quickly frustrated.

The slackline kit I ordered came with a second line, which can be mounted above the main line and held on to to prevent beginners like myself from falling off. This second line was a massive help to me and all my friends who were also trying out slacklining for the first time. In the past, slacklining had been incredibly frustrating to me because I couldn’t even step onto the line to take my first steps. With the assistance of the guide line I was able to get a feel for the line and where my center of gravity should be on it without having to go through the hours of trial and error which would have normally been required to take my first steps on the line. The guideline made slacklining incredibly approachable for me and all my friends and provided us with hours of entertainment over the weekend instead of hours of frustration as it had in the past.

It took me only an hour of practice with the guideline before I was able to get all the way across the slackline without needing any assistance, and another hour before I was able to comfortably walk to the middle of the line and stay balanced there for more than a minute. Though I’m still far from an expert at slacklining, I did not expect to be nearly as adapt at it after my five hours were up as I turned out to be after only two hours of practice. I’m now able to mount the line, walk it back and forth, and catch a beer while balancing on the middle of it, which is much better than I had originally hoped to achieve.

Note the blue bar with the orange arrow at the top of the screen.

Other than using a guideline to maximize the amount of time you can practice actually walking on the slackline, the biggest tip I have for learning slacklining is to be able to find and constantly be aware of where your center of gravity is. My tactic on the slackline was to pretend I was playing a skating video game, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, where you need to keep an arrow within a certain window to keep your character from falling off the rail. Slacklining is surprisingly similar to these games – if your center of mass doesn’t stray too far to either side of the line then you should be able to stay balanced on the line with one foot in the air.

Slacklining is a hobby I’m very happy to have picked up. Though its not exactly the most practical skill in the world, I eagerly look forward to gathering many weird looks from passing pedestrians at the park as I practice new tricks on sunny days.

I’ll see you all very soon for next week’s challenge,

Aleco Pors

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