A couple of years ago Roman and Michelle were planning a trip to visit. Roman called me to make some trip preparations.
"Hey do you know if that jump you did when you were on the podcast is still there?"
"Yeah, it's there."
"If I brought my bike down when I come, would you have time to take me over so I could do it?"
"Heck yes I would!"
I was pretty surprised by this phone call. Not that I didn't think that Roman could easily do it, he has always been the brother who has excelled in sports of the X-game variety. He is by far the best snowboarder and skateboarder in the family and at least as good of mountain biker as me, but he wasn't going to be in town for very long and this jump had taken me months to work up the confidence to finally do. Roman was only going to be in town for a couple of days so it was a pretty ambitious idea, but no one was more excited about it than me.
Roman had just purchased a new bike and I knew that had something to do with his decision but what I didn't know about at the time was a relatively knew social media called Instagram. Yes in hind sight, I think IG may have influenced his decisions at least a little bit. At the time I wondered why he wanted me to take pictures and not video but it all makes sense now.
Roman knew that having the bike on top of the car would cost him some gas mileage, and apparently it was more gas mileage than he calculated because somehow he managed to run himself out of gas somewhere in the desert. It was his third time running out of gas in the previous two weeks. We had all thought it was pretty funny when it happened the second time but this was really getting comical and any brother who really loved him was going to give him a hard time about it for at least a while. (I guess a while isn't quite over yet.)
We really only had one morning to make it happen and it was going to have to be before school at 7:30. I had a pretty good idea that Roman wasn't going to just roll up to the jump, take a look at it, and huck himself off it. I knew it was going to take some time to work up the courage. So we were at the trailhead when it was still dark and at the jump right at first light. We had a full hour for Roman to check out the landing, take a few practice runs, do a few speed checks, draw some starting lines in the dirt and convince himself that the end result would not be catastrophic.
I kind of like the feeling of being in a little over my head and getting to see how I respond but I really like seeing one of my brothers in over their heads and watching their response. I rarely get to witness it but when I do it is probably my number one form of entertainment.
Roman looked at the jump. He looked at the landing, smoothed it out a bit, did some speed checks, asked for some advice on his trajectory, picked my brain over how fast he would have to go to clear the rocks below it, etcetera, etcetera. I had done it a few times and was able to break it down pretty simple for him.
I knew he wasn't going to enjoy the ride, at least not the first time. I had been so scared the first time that there was absolutely no enjoyment until I safely landed on the ground.
Roman started to make test run after test run. After he had made fifteen or so I started urging him to go for it. We finally got down to only having about five minutes until we needed to leave for me to get to school on time. None of his test runs really made it seem like he was going to do it.
"Alright Rome this is the run."
Roman did one more half hearted run.
"I don't think I want to do it anymore. Let's get you back to school."
"No you can do. You've got to do it or you won't forgive yourself. I'll skip my first hour of work."
"Are you going to get in trouble if you're late?"
"Maybe a little, but it will be worth it if you do the jump."
I secretly had already made arangements to miss the first hour but made Roman believe I was just ditching it to put more pressure on him.
The second hour was more of the same but it definitely had a more serious feel and at least 10 times I really thought "the next run" was "the run" and he was really going to do it and every time he would hit the brakes at the last second.
"No way man! You're doing it! Think about what we have invested in this now. I missed my first hour of work, you ran your car out of gas getting your bike here. We could have gone on a really cool bike ride this morning instead we have been here for two hours drawing lines in the dirt and it will all be for nothing if you don't do this stupid jump."
"Yeah that's true."
"Not to mention you need to prove you are worthy of that new bike you got. And really the biggest reason is I know it is going to ruin your whole weekend if you don't do it."
"Yeah you're right."
"Think about it for a second. Realistically what is the worst thing that is likely to happen, you have that big fat shock and as long as it hits the ground first it is going to absorb most of the impact. If it does it's job and then you wreck you're probably only going to end up with scrapes and bruises. Broken bones are pretty unlikely and paralysis…. well….you've got a better chance of being hit by lightning."
Not that Roman was arguing with me but I was winning the argument. If only I would have known to throw in something about how bitchin' all of his Instagram followers were going to think he was, he probably would have done it ten minutes earlier.
"You're right, I've got to do it."
Roman took five more runs and every time I thought he was going to really do it, but he braked at the last second.
I knew he was going to do eventually he just needed a tiny bit more pressure to close the deal. I was forced to act the part of the annoyed older brother now. I would have waited all day if I had to, but neither of us wanted that.
I said, "That's it man, I've got to go, I really don't have one more minute I've got to get to school."
"No I'm going to do it. One more time."
"Hurry one more time."
Roman went back to our line in the dirt.
"Just take your fingers off the brakes and tell yourself that no matter what, you are not going to put your fingers back on them. You've got it this time."
The next ten seconds was one of my favorite things I have ever witnessed in the flesh. Roman finally coaxed himself into the unthinkable. He shot off the end of the jump. He went huge, definitely bigger than I ever had.
That is a pretty bitchin' picture. I'd follow him on Instagram.
The zoom in is better.
The double zoom is even better than that.
That is exactly the same way I felt the first time I did it.
The landing may have left a little to be desired, but just like I promised him that beefy shock absorbed the brunt of the force, his wrists absorbed most of what was left over ...
….and his cheeks absorbed the rest.
Roman appeared as if he was going to ride it out unharmed but the end result was Roman celebrating in some scrub oak and a large cloud of dust. It was an awesome moment and I am so glad I got to witness it.
Roman came away from the experience with some cuts and bruises but he was completely satisfied with himself and that alone is always worth some cuts and bruises. Plus he probably picked up some Instagram followers along the way. Call it a win/win.
Happy Birthday BRo-man!!