Ever been in a car and felt your heart rate go up as the driver pushes the pedal to the metal? Ever narrowly avoided a fall or watched a fight erupt in front of you? Unless you’re Arnie in ‘Terminator 2’ these experiences would have given you shots of adrenaline. This is a hormone generated by your adrenal glands, and it’s your body’s way of reacting to stressful or exciting situations. Adrenaline can be scary but good (riding a roller coaster) or bad (threat of violence).
This produces what’s known as flight or fight response. According to biologists there are good evolutionary reasons for this. Back in the days when we all had beards, lived in caves and hunted for our food (and no this is not a description of Hackney hipsters) we needed to react to danger quickly. See an animal run past your cave door you had to chase it; hear an enemy tribe had invaded your area you had to fight it. You get the idea!
Where can I get me some?
Nowadays since we’ve moved out of the woods and into nice suburbs our stresses are mentally but not physically intense. We need to find safe activities that nevertheless inject some danger into the everyday. So we’re going to look at three adrenaline junky stag do activities for weekends away with the lads in Prague and Budapest.
Ironically this adrenaline charged activity has its origins in forestry, when an American paint manufacturer, Charles Nelson, wanted to create a device so that forestry workers could mark trees more easily. He later developed an oil-based pellet so that farmers could tag cows, so they’d know which were for selling or slaughtering. In the early 1980s a New York stock broker, a body builder and a ski instructor were on the lookout for a survival game for red blooded males, which could get the adrenaline going. The three men discovered Nelson’s paintball gun and in 1981 the first game was played with twelve men in the forests of New Hampshire.
The three inventors trademarked their version of paintballing, calling it the National Survival Game (NSG). Since then paintballing has grown out of that initial game to a worldwide phenomenon. Paintball fields have sprang up everywhere, and everyone from corporate groups to stag do weekends in Budapest have used it as a great way to get the blood going and to create a bond between guys. The paintballs themselves have gone from being oil based to water based biodegradable pellets. Likewise the initial NSG games which followed the everyman-for-himself Capture the Flag game have changed, and now groups can play a variety of team-based activities.
Organisers insist that there is nothing “militaristic” about this game however it’s clear that paintballing recreates the danger of war which would satisfy any adrenaline junky.
White Water Rafting
The first rubber rafts was built in 1842 by an American soldier Lt. John Freemont, who wanted to explore the Rocky Mountains. Survival of his men would have been paramount, and capsizing would have been a life or death scenario. It would take more than hundred years for rafting technology to advance so that soldiers could navigate these Rapids safely – let alone do it for fun! Rafting became a leisure activity ometime in the 1970s, when individuals began paddling in fairly tame waters with double bladed paddles.
Since then it has become classed as an extreme sport, and individuals have been replaced by groups with raft guides each armed with single-bladed paddles. As with any extreme sport there are levels of danger, places where you might literally end up on s*it creek without a paddle and lose your life. Therefore white water locations have been assessed from Class I – think a lazy river at a waterpark – to Class IV – heart in your mouth frightening.
Also these days artificial parks have been built, near cities like Kraków, so that you can experience the full-on action of white water rafting but in a controlled environment.
The first ever go-kart was made in 1951 Californian, Art Ingels, by tinkering in his garage with scrap parts and two stroke engine. However the first officially manufactured go-kart was made in the 1950s by modifying a chainsaw engine. Karts would later be divided into two classes: the 2 or the 4-stroke engine, which is adapted from a lawnmower engine. Generally in recreational karting the 4-stroke is used as it is a more cost-effective, but less powerful engine.
Although they are associated with teenagers, and as a first driving experience for future F1 champions, like Schumacher and Louis Hamilton, they are now raced by all ages. Go-karting is the world’s number 1 Motorsport, and you can see why: it is accessible and crazy fun. There are tracks just about everywhere in Europe, and some of the nicest in Prague. The traditional form of racing go-karts is the Sprint Race. This is where you “sprint”, racing at short distances and fast speeds. Most karts, especially recreational ones have no suspension and usually back breaks only – so chances are you will be spinning with the best of them.
The thrills you get from racing go-karts are second to none. And you can be sure your adrenaline won’t become too excessive and turn to fear because the environments are well secured to prevent serious incidents.