Looking for something different? Try tubing! Located on the Sugar Mountain Golf Course; it's 700 ft of a tubing run that has its own lifts, snowmaking, lights for night tubing and is groomed regularly. For more info about tubing in Sugar Mountain, click here.
Tubing, also known as inner tubing, is the recreational activity of riding an inner tube, either on water, snow, or more recently, through the air. The tubes themselves are also known as "donuts" or "biscuits" due to their shape.
Tubing on snow is a wintertime activity that is similar to sledding. This kind of tubing is almost always performed on a hill or slope, using gravity to propel the rider to the bottom of the grade. The rider will then often return to the top of the slope with his or her tube and repeat the process. The low amount of friction between most tubes and snow allows tubers to reach considerable speeds while riding, especially on steep slopes. Because of the circular shape of snow tubes, controlling the course and speed of a tube while riding on snow is
extremely difficult. While a sled rider can drag his or her arms on the snow to brake or steer to a degree, attempting this on a tube will often simply cause the tube to spin. This lack of control has led to injuries, some serious, when riders have struck obstacles such as trees while tubing on snow.
Some ski resorts offer courses devoted solely to tubing. Such courses often have slopes or barriers on the periphery to guide the tubes along a safe course. Motorized pulley towlines are often used to tow riders and their tube back to the top of the course after riding to the bottom.
Additionally, it is possible to tow a tube through the snow behind a snowmobile. This is similar to towed tubing on water, only the watercraft is replaced by a snowmobile and the water with snow-covered ground.
Photo courtesy of Mountain Creek
Tubing on water generally consists of two forms: towed and free-floating.
Towed tubing usually takes place on a large body of water such as a lake or river reportedly began in 1967 on Lake Mohawk, south-east of Canton Ohio. One or more tube riders (often called "tubers") tether their tubes to a powered watercraft such as a motor boat or a personal watercraft. The riders are then towed through the water by the watercraft. The speed and manner in which this occurs is usually dictated by the riders. Children are generally given a slow, tame ride while thrill-seeking teenagers will usually opt to be towed faster, even seeking to be pulled through choppy water or across wakes.
In free-floating tubing, the tube riders are untethered and often conveyed by the current of a waterway. Because of this, free-floating tubing often takes place on rivers and streams (natural or artificial). This form of tubing is rarely, if ever, attempted in fast moving currents, and as a result is a very casual and laid back activity. Tubers often socialize and even consume beer or other beverages while tubing down a river. Major water parks often have specially designed courses for tubing. These may consist of a circular, artificial river on which riders are conveyed or a linear course such as a water slide.
A variant of tubing dubbed "kite tubing" has begun to emerge.
When tubes being towed on water achieve high speeds, they may begin to experience a tendency to take flight. This owes to the body of the tube acting as an airfoil and creating lift. In this manner, the tube becomes a kite. A tube's ability to achieve and maintain flight depends on a number of factors including the speed at which it is traveling, the shape and size of the tube, the weight of the rider, and how the tube itself is oriented. As most tubes are not designed for flight, the rider often has little or no control over a tube after it takes to the air. This can lead to a violent crash as the rider, with or without the tube, falls back to the surface of the water.
To address the meager flight characterists of most tubes and to target thrill seekers, tubes specially designed for kite tubing have been introduced. Such tubes may feature channels to allow air to flow through the tube's body, a transparent "window" for the rider to signal the boat operator, as well as more streamlined, aerodynamic designs.
As of July 2006, 39 injuries and two deaths from kite tubing have been reported. Injuries have included a broken neck, punctured lung, cracked ribs, a concussion and injuries to the chest, back and face. Some accidents have been linked to gusts of wind that unexpectedly altered the flight characteristics and ejected the riders. Sportsstuff Inc., which manufactures the Wego kite tube, has recalled 19,000 kite tubes in lieu of such injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has asked consumers not to use kite tubes.