(Continued from previous post)When you commit yourself to something your not quite sure about, the best way to make sure you don’t back down is to start verbally committing it to others. (Spread the word of your foolishness.) I confided first in my wife. She didn’t think it was a good idea. Next I shared my plans with my classes. They all thought it was a great idea. Eventually, I put some of the guys I ride with in the know. They didn’t try to persuade me one way or the other, they just made me promise to have the film rolling so they could witness the end result. Roman said “If I was going to do it, I would make sure I had at least a couple of cameras rolling to catch all the footy (cool guy talk for footage.)” I thought that was good advice. After all I did really want at least a picture to remember it by.
My plan had worked. I had committed my resolve to enough people, that the embarrassment of backing out would, at least in my mind, be worse than the possible bike wreck. I had talked myself into a corner of which there was only one way out. So over the next couple of weeks I worked on preparing myself for the jump. I found some smaller jumps to practice on. I practiced a lot of positive mental imagery, and most importantly I convinced myself a broken bone might give me a legitimate excuse to not run with my wrestlers during “Hell Week.” All in all the preparation was weighing on my mind more than I would like to admit and again I was laying awake at night because of some stupid jump.
I wanted one last look at it on my own, before I scheduled a day to recruit a camera crew. So the next Saturday at dawn I departed with my most common riding threesome: ‘me, myself and Ipod.’ Together we set out for the jump. It is about an hour ride to get to it, so I am usually mildly fatigued when I arrive. That morning I don’t know if I was more or less fatigued than usual, but for some reason the jump that normally seemed frightening to me appeared do-able. I looked at it for a while and finally decided, “Heck, I’m not going to lose another minute of sleep over this thing. I’m getting this over with today!” True there would be no footage, no photos, no proof, not a single eye witness, and no one there to ride for help if something went wrong, but hey, I like to think of myself as a risk taker. In the words of Sara Palin a “Maverick.”
During the next half hour I made a plethora of approaches, drew multiple starting lines in the dirt, said a couple of silent prayers, and finally got the vote of confidence I had been waiting for. It didn’t come from above. It came form the ipod attached to my arm. In shuffle mode, with 1200 songs to choose from, what could get me over the edge? None other than Hank Williams Jr. “A Country Boy Can Survive.” Was it a sign? It was at least a sign from my ipod and at this point that was all I needed. I committed to myself not to touch the brakes on my next approach regardless of how good or bad it felt.
I don't really remember how the approach felt. I only remember the feeling as my tires left the wood and all my muscles froze, paralyzed with fear. The smaller practice jumps I had done meant nothing now. Sure I could feel that my front wheel was falling to the ground faster than my back and that the worst case scenario of endo-ing seemed more and more likely, but there was nothing I could do. There would be no in-air corrections, I couldn't even draw a breath much less pull up on the handle bars.
The ten or fifteen feet I dropped felt like forty or fifty. Finally my front wheel hit the ground. As the shock compressed, my bike couldn't make up its' mind weather to throw me over the bars or let my rear wheel safely return to the ground.
My bike had compassion on me. My rear wheel touched down. I breathed, then I screamed. It was a holler of excitement that only my ipod would hear. I let my bike accelerate down the hill and coast up the other side. I let out another scream, this one more defiant than the last. I jumped off my bike and threw it like I had just won the X-Games. Luckily no one was with me because I must have looked pretty foolish. If the 'footy' had been captured, compared to the pros it would look pretty lame, but if you're just an average high school math teacher and father of three, then it feels a little bit like the X-Games. Is that feeling worth the risks? Heck Yes! Would I do it again? Where do you think the pictures came from?
P.S. If you read the whole thing waiting for blood and guts, sorry I bored you.