Go Go like a Loco Yo-Yo.
edited: Monday, July 22, 2002
By Johnny Phoenix
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002
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This was my account of what goes through your mind before during and after a bungee jump.
Sunday 30 June 2002 started much like any other Sunday. I managed to sleep right through to 9:45am defying my body clock which usually wakes me at 7:30am in blatant disregard of Sundays. It was the day my girlfriend’s brother had agreed to do a bungee jump in order to raise money for a local children’s nursery. We were going to go and watch him for some moral support since the world cup final was on, they weren’t expecting a great turnout.
From the Ground
We got there around 12:15pm. The bungee crane had already been set up and we arrived just as the cage containing a man in his mid thirties began its ascent. A few gleeful children had paid to ride up with him in the cage and the bungee instructor stood smiling in the centre of the cage like some kind of bleached blonde demon who drank people’s fear. Occasionally, he would point at people in the crowd in some sort of wordless challenge to face their fear and have a go. It was almost as if he was conducting the fear he was drinking from the rising victim and releasing it through his index finger because whomever he pointed at shifted nervously from one foot to another.
Instead of what I thought was the usual method of attaching the bungee cord to the ankles, the would-be jumpers were wearing two harnesses. The harnesses were a vest and diaper set that looked like they had been made from seat belts. The vest was tight fitting around the chest and guys, the harness for your lower area was let’s say…snug. The bungee cord attached to the back of both at the base of the spine
Finally, the cage reached the top of its climb and swung gently 200ft from the ground. This was the first time I noticed that the area blocked off by barriers had no inflatable safety mattress. Looking up again, the bleached demon had reached out from the cage to lock the cage to the top of the crane to offer it some semblance of rigidity.
A seated figure stood and moved to the now open gate and listened to last minute instructions from the demon before leaning out and looking 200ft straight down. His feet were half in the cage and the top half of his body leaned out at 60 degrees his arms stretched out behind him holding the rails at each side of the open cage door. I quickly glanced over to see a woman frozen in time, her wide eyes locked on the leaning figure, her hands covering her mouth. She flinched and closed her eyes and my own eyes flicked back up to where the leaning man was at the moment that he opened his hands and let gravity pull him out of the cage. As the man plummeted towards the ground, unconsciously his legs were trying to run.
I’ve heard a theory that the body has a sense of self-preservation separate from the consciousness and common sense that are offered from the brain. His body kicked for a hundred feet, which he covered in around two seconds. Then the rope reached its natural length and as it stretched the decent was slowed. He stopped for a millisecond before the potential energy in the rope was released and it tried to return to it’s natural length firing this poor soul back up in the air and then bouncing him around for about five seconds.
To watch it from the ground, the initial return of the rope seemed to pull his torso back whilst his head and limbs wanted to continue the descent. It looked painful as his body went one way, his arms and legs fell past his body as if all four limbs were trying to clap together and his head dipped to witness the clapping. As he stopped bouncing, the crane descended and a friendlier helper than the demon of fear came to help unclasp the slightly shaken but excited looking man. A few shaky steps later, he made his way to the little kiosk to collect his certificate.
To Infinity and Beyond
A short while later my girlfriend’s brother arrived and we chatted as we watched victim after victim plummet to their doom only to be saved at the last second by a few elastic ropes. I could tell he was nervous, but what surprised me is that - so was I. Something inside me already knew that I was going to have a go.
Using the same tactic I would no doubt use standing on that ledge, I didn’t give myself time to think about it and just went for it. I strode purposefully over to the kiosk and pushed £40.00 to the attendant. The prices were;
First Jump - £40.00
Second Jump - £10.00
Cage Ride - £ 2.00
Charity Free - £50.00 sponsorship qualifies.
She marked up my hands and sent me over to the waiting area were several people were sat on plastic chairs shifting nervously. Each time the cage came down the demon of fear would cackle and point hypnotically at his next victim who would stumble toward him like a zombie, get hooked up and then enter the cage.
It wasn’t long before my turn arrived. And after they attached the three ropes to my harnesses I stepped into the cage. The cage was about seven feet high and six feet square. The walls, floor and ceiling were all made in the same criss-cross metal fashion so that the view was unrestricted in any direction. The cage began to rise, I was getting a little nervous now. We were only about 10 feet off the ground and already the open cage had become psychologically soundproof. Shouts of encouragement were muffled ambient noise. All I could hear, the sound that drowned out all others was the sound of the crane lifting the cage higher and higher. I looked all around, I could see for miles. Risking a look down that I regretted immediately, I could see tiny people far below me.
Suddenly there was silence, the cage reached the top and I had a few seconds to look around whilst the demon – who turned out to just be a great showman on the ground and very supportive 200ft above it, explained what the procedure was. I listened as he explained he was going to open the gate and then I would stand in the doorway put one hand each side of the door and lean out to the extent of my arms. He would then say “ 3-2-1 Bungee” and I would simply let go.
I looked down as I stepped to the door, common sense and instincts fought to gain purchase in my mind, I blocked them knowing that if I had a second to think about this sensibly there was a possibility that I might bottle it. It is difficult to not think about something that you are about to do and the instructor in the cage knows this so he gives you no time to think at all. By the time he has finished the briefing you are leaning out of the safety of the cage and looking out into nothing. The people below and the ground have to be eliminated from your thoughts as you concentrate on one thing only when he says “Bungee” all you have to do is open your hands. You don’t think of the consequences, the fall, the ground or the ground, you just think about your hands.
My last thoughts as I heard a voice countdown were “what a lovely view”. Like some post hypnotic suggestion, as soon as I heard the word “bungee”, my hands opened and nothing happened for a split second as if gravity hadn’t realised that I was angled at 60 degrees and at it’s mercy. As I fell I was aware of so many things all at once, they weren’t tangible thoughts if that is not too much of an oxymoron, they were slivers of feelings, fear, excitement, freedom, confidence, hope, all at the same time. The only thought that I could keep a hold of was when I noticed the air resistance on my arms and thought that I must look like a skydiver to the observer. Then I was slowing down. As I came to rest for a split second I sought out the people I knew but as I locked on to their vicinity, I was catapulted back up in the air. There was no way I could have anticipated the moment so my arms and legs stayed were they were as my body was dragged back and my arms and legs followed for a second I mused that I must have looked like a table.
After the initial bouncing had ceased, I was relieved at having done it, proud, shaky and had received a wedgie from my lower harness. I was swinging backwards and forward about 25 feet from the ground as the cage slowly descended. Once more on the ground my legs weren’t shaky at all, but I lit a cigarette straight away just to be on the safe side and went to collect my certificate.
On the ground
I would highly recommend it for anyone not scared of heights. You can’t do it if you suffer from any heart conditions or if your are pregnant obviously. I have deliberately avoided using the popular phrase of “adrenaline rush” which seems to go hand in hand with descriptions of this activity because I didn’t get an adrenaline rush, I didn’t feel pumped up or aggressive afterwards. It is exciting but my heart wasn’t thumping out of my chest and I haven’t any aspirations to now get into extreme sports to perpetuate any addiction to the thrill. I heard several people shout “what a rush” after doing it but I think that’s more to do with it being something traditional to say rather than a reflection of their true feelings.
Tricking your body into thinking that you are on your way out only to be stopped a second before impact, is definitely an experience worth having. The worst part is trying to block your natural instincts, which try to subliminally talk you out of it. The best part is the intense freedom and peace that you get for what seems like 10 seconds as you fall, it is the only experience I have had where time does seem to slow down as you feel like you are in a bubble separate from the world. It seems like 10 seconds, but the whole initial fall lasts somewhere between one and two seconds in real time.
Have a go, but remember when you get off to say something appropriate like “*!..!!” rather than simply quote from the Pepsi Max book of quotations.
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|Reviewed by Dens Dreamweaver (Reader)
|Thank you! Now, having read this.. I won't feel so bad about not doing the Bungee.. <grin> After all I rode it out with you..