Monday, 27 January 2014

A Glorified Coffee Shop

Anyone who spends all of their spare time doing one activity will know the feeling of being at a loose end when, for whatever reason, you can't engage in that activity but haven't replaced it.

For me, that wasn't an issue in the early stages of recovering from breaking my leg- for the most part, I was taken down by painkillers, or asleep, or both. When I wasn't either of those, I was struggling to keep up with my degree, or occasionally finger-boarding.

I still find life pretty exhausting- some combination of growing bone, I assume, and not being used to walking around- because I'm certainly not doing as much as I was before. But today was the first day of term, post exams, I've no plans to fingerboard this week and I'm utterly dependent on someone to put a rope up for me- and then belay me- if I want to top rope. I was feeling pretty bored, so I went to my favourite bouldering centre.

Unfortunately, of course, if you can't boulder, then a bouldering wall is little more than a glorified coffee shop. You can drink coffee, socialise a bit... and that's it. And when the people you're socialising with are all climbing- or working- it doesn't take long before you find yourself standing sort of awkwardly in the no man's land that is "not-climbing-at-a-climbing-wall".

Fortunately for me, the bouldering wall in question does have an excellent coffee machine. Unfortunately, by their nature, climbing walls tend to be considerably less warm than coffee shops. This means you can't really have a read... or a snooze...

Looking at the wall, I couldn't help feeling frustrated by this middle stage of recovery. Here I was, able to walk into the centre, but not to use it for it's intended purpose. This was annoying because I knew full well that had I been able to boulder I would have enjoyed the setting. I could SEE specific routes that I would have enjoyed. Yet, though I can top rope, bouldering is out of the question until approximately May because (and my leg and brain are in agreement on this one) impact is not desirable. I suspect that even when my leg is happy with impact my brain will take some serious persuading.

Of course, come may, bouldering will be irrelevant. I realise that I broke my leg at a fairly appropriate time. By the time I am deemed fully recovered, it will be time for the route season. I'm unlikely to be confronted with a 'need' to boulder until almost a year after the accident. I see this as a nice margin for not rushing into bouldering.

On a similar vein to the irritation of not being able to boulder because of the falling aspect, I find that not being able to cycle (even though I would technically be able to use an exercise bike- in fact a fracture clinic doctor suggested it at about two months) is really annoying, because it's not the cycling that's a problem- it's the not being able to fall off. Obviously, you'd hope with cycling that you'd fall off less than 20 times an hour, but you still can't guarantee that you won't fall off at all.

They're minor complaints, when top roping is now possible, I realise. But I'm only human, and I can't help wanting what I haven't got.

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