Rolling hills and the quiet buzz of a drag lift are, at a push, reminiscent of a cute little ski resort...
Ride The Hill is nestled in a leafy, Surrey valley (it’s nearest London-connected station is Redhill). There’s a nursery slope, instructors dotted around, a blue run and a red; you’ll find boarder-cross, ramps, boxes and rails too. You’ll possibly see kids, a lot smaller than you, making it look a lot easier than you… So exactly like a ski resort then!
However, unlike many ski resort lift-pass offices (here’s looking at you, France), Team Ongosa received a cheery, warm welcome. We were kitted out head-to-toe with protective equipment, which played a part in quelling the flash-backs of snowboard-induced broken wrists! It became obvious in our introduction to the basic techniques, how similar mountain boarding was to snowboarding: in terms of the physics of turning and the muscles and movements required. Mountain boarding however, gets extra marks for having dramatic terminology like ‘power slide!’ (stopping) and ‘speed wobble!’ (it’s all going out the window).
For good snowboarders
Experienced snowboarders will have so much fun playing about on all the kickers, rails and even moguls built into Ride the Hill. You’ll be able to train the same muscles you use on the snow and build confidence testing out new tricks in the foam pit. Of course there are differences between mountain boarding and snowboarding – but working these out will be fun, if not frustrating at times! Make sure you get hold of a board with heel-strap bindings, they’re more in line with snowboard bindings, and will give you greater control of the board.
For crap snowboarders
“It’s less painful than snowboarding…” was half of Team Ongosa’s review. Granted, we were trussed up in helmets, wrist-guards, knee and elbow pads, but combined with falling on grass, non-fixed bindings and above-freezing air temperatures, it meant that we were happy to push ourselves a little more than on a snowboard, on snow. Our instructor, Ant, was a significant part of the quick progression that makes mountain boarding an appealing activity. Interestingly, he identified the same weakness in our mountain boarding, as in our snowboarding: straightening your front leg will lock your knee, prevent any kind of control or turn, and shoot you forward – in both sports. We demanded that he shouted reminders at us as we made our descent and, like all humorous instructors and dedicated students, he obliged and we did what we were told!
For wannabe snowboarders
If you’ve never been snowboarding before (or you’re reading this and want to get your snowboard-virgin mate involved!) we urge you to try mountain boarding. You will gain a sense of the motion of sliding sideways downhill, and using your toes and heels to turn the board. Yes, you may be lulled into a slightly false sense of security due to the less painful falls, but this will ultimately help to build confidence, before you hit the ski resort! Within a day, Team Ongosa’s ‘snowboard-virgin’ was taking on a red run, which would be ambitious on the slopes, but was within reach at Ride The Hill. For this reason, we reckon it’s an excellent group activity: even those with zero experience will find their feet quickly and get the satisfaction of a clean run to the bottom of the hill.
The Team Ongosa seal of approval!
Once you’ve been to Ride The Hill once, you can go back whenever – you don’t need to book or have a lesson, just grab the equipment you need. And in rain or shine! We love this attitude, it makes adventure sports as accessible as possible, which is what Ongosa are all about. We loved the staff and instructors at Ride The Hill who are passionate, enthusiastic and good fun – also what Ongosa are about!