Today’s Music: ZZTop – Double Back
Note on Today’s Music: The song fits, and yeah, I guess there was a rock n roll soundtrack kicked in as soon as I jumped.
Bungee jumping is an exercise in insanity whereby a moron tosses themselves off a bridge to bounce at the end of hyperelastic cords.
My name is El Guapo. And I’m a moron.
From a technical point of view, the sport is quite simple. The jumper is strapped into a harness (in this case, a waist harness and auxilliary chest harness). The bungee cord was in fact five cords held together, with fittings at either end connecting them to the jumper via two carabiners – one at the waist and one at the chest.
And the view was magnificent.
So at this particular site, the process was
- Fill out the questionnaire (my favorite question: Do you prefer an open or closed casket?)
- Get weighed. This is important. They ask your weight on the questionnaire, then confirm it on a scale. (And mock you if it’s different.)
They have several bundles of cords, color coded, with different elasticities depending on the weight of the jumper.
After the weigh-in, they give you a color coded bracelet and you wait until they’re up to your weight class for jumping.
- Wait, watch other jumpers, admire how much your hand is shaking (seriously, I couldn’t hold it steady), ask the staff questions.
-When asking the staff questions, be prepared for at least two answers that will make you question the wisdom of jumping before you get a straight answer:
Guap: How often do you change the cords?
Jumpmaster: When they break…
Guap: How often do you guys jump?
JM: Are you out of your mind? This is dangerous!
The only question I asked that they didn’t have a one liner prepared for:
Guap: At what point should I throw up so I can bounce through it the most times?
JM: *blink* *grin* Oh yeah, you’re one of us!
The answer, by the way, is at the top of the first bounce. 2 to 3 splashes!
So after watching several others jump, including a girl that held on to the Jumpmaster for a few minutes before going (and shrieked through the whole thing) and a 14 year old boy who didn’t even hesitate, it’s your turn.
They strap you in.
You climb over a 4 foot rail onto a 2′x3′ platform.
They count to 3.
You hesitate. Swallow. Take a deep breath.
They start to count to 3 again.
You think “Well, this is what I came for”.
And in my case, with all the grace (and much of the appearance) of a spastic gazelle,
n o t h i n g…
I was really surprised. Leaving the platform was easy. And the drop (191′ from bridge deck to stream) was fast!
And then comes the part everyone knows about – the bouncing.
In all honesty, this was the part that got me.
Going off the bridge wasn’t bad – acceleration kicks in, you’re whipping down astounded at what you’ve just done. Maybe you’re screaming something inane.
But then the slack is gone, the cord stretches and you’re catapulted back up. You come closer and closer to the top of the arc, all your movement slows down, and that’s when your brain turns back on.
And as every single one of my internal organs prepare to crowd their way into my throat, I realize that I’m going to go back down again.
So to brace myself, I grab onto the nearest thing.
Which is the cushion at the end of the cord.
WHICH DOESN’T STOP ME FROM DROPPING!!!
Truly, the scenery around me was spectacular!
And now that I had a death grip, I could bounce…happily(?) through it.
Looking through the pictures, I see the advantage of having long hair is that I can tell whether I was going up or down in any picture.
Until finally, it came to an end.
At this point, they lower another line, you clip in, and they pull you back up. Nice and easy.
It takes a few minutes to climb back over the rail onto the safety of the bridge, partly because all your limbs are jelly, and partly because your brain is too, and you don’t realize the Jumpmaster is talking to you.
Oh, and the inane thing you might scream while you’re jumping?
Well, you’ll just have to listen and find out yourselves.
*No pants were pooped in the completion of this jump.
With extreme thanks to the photographer perched under the bridge for the photos, and The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe for the video.
And when in the greater Portland/Seattle area, check out http://www.bungee.com for your own chance to joing the ranks of the courageously foolish!