Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stuntman Training #1

After my last post about how my brothers and I wanted to be stuntmen when we were kids, I thought I would share one of our less than spectacular moments. While it was very true that we were very daring and willing to push the limits of safety and sanity, things did not always pan out the way they looked in our heads. In our heads, the stunts were fantastic and always without flaws.

There is only one reason I never attempted this.
We didn't have one!
Many of our stunts involved the use of bicycles. We never really got into the BMX freestyling that was becoming popular at the time, but we did like to jump things. It was because of this love for big air that I got to see a back flip for the first time.

In Waltonville, where we grew up, there is a street (Knob St.) that has been closed and re-opened at least a dozen times that I can remember. The street goes down Knob Hill, which is supposedly the highest point in the county, and the street is fairly steep.

One weekend, we were out on our bikes with some friends and noticed that Knob Street had been closed off again. Being the curious types, we went around the barriers and discovered that there was a large dirt pile in the middle of the road about halfway down the hill. This pile was about four feet tall with plenty of road left on the other side for an easy landing.

The side facing the top of the hill had a perfect smooth side that was destined for jumping. Since some thoughtful road crew person had taken the time to build this wonderful toy for us, it would have been rude to not take advantage of it.

I was the first to take a run at it. The steep grade of the hill made it very easy to gain speed quickly. Lined up for a beautiful shot, I rapidly approached the jump. As I neared the top, I noticed how drastic the drop off on the other side would be. I locked up the brakes and rode smoothly over the mound. Everyone ran up to see what the issue was. I showed them my concerns.

This type of landing is much more difficult.
I was not scared of heights or crashes (I had experienced enough of them), but realized we needed a strategy. The problem was the grade of the hill. Had this mound been on flat ground it would have a different dynamic to the jump. The landing area would have been at the same elevation as the jumping point. However, on a steep grade, much more speed is gained and as the jumper is going up through the air, the ground is dropping away at an alarming rate. We were not intimidated by this type of jump. After all, we had jumped our bikes off the neighbor's roof. You just want to know what you are getting into since the landing will be rougher.

While we were scanning the road for possible hazards (holes, unusual bumps, extra gravel, dead bodies from previous attempts, etc.), my younger brother Kyle, decides to just go for it. He yells from the top of the hill for everyone to clear out of the way. Knowing that he wouldn't warn us again, we scattered to the edges of the road.

These are not exactly built for leaving the ground.
As he comes flying down the hill, I mentally question why he didn't trade bikes with someone. Kyle was on a ten-speed. However, he did something I had never seen before and still have not seen done on a ten-speed.

Using my best guess, he approached the ramp at approximately the speed of sound and shot off into the sky with the gap between him and the ground growing at an exponential rate.

Kyle was very aware that the bike he was using was not ideal for jumping, so as he approached the top he pulled up hard on the handlebars to ensure he didn't land on his front wheel. It was immediately evident that he had overcompensated.

As he sailed past me, I could tell he was flipping backwards. Kyle, never wanting to be accused of not seeing something through to the end refused to leave the bike and stayed in the seat. It was an amazing thing to see as the bike and rider continued to spin until he was right side up again. It would have been more amazing had he landed at that point, but he didn't. He kept rotating until the tires were skyward again. That was when he met the pavement.

At his current velocity, he did not just land. He skidded. Much like a rock skipping across water, but without the skipping part. Toppling and rolling over his bike, taking hits from the pedals and going through the spokes, he came to a bloody, grinding stop. He made a generous skin contribution to the road commissioner that day. He wouldn't donate that much skin at one time again until he hits a dog 15 years later while riding his motorcycle.

We packed his wounds with dirt to stop the bleeding, pulled out the most mangled spokes and attempted to straighten the front wheel (unsuccessfully). We then drug him to the ditch to clear the road so we could try to do better than him. Because Kyle's left side bike was out of commission, he watched from the sidelines as we each took our turns on the now-acclaimed ramp of potential death. Since Kyle has demonstrated what not to do so successfully, our attempts were much more productive.

Once we all had our share of excitement, we decided to venture home. It then occurred to us that the sun was quickly setting, we were about 5 miles from home, short one bike and Kyle could barely move. It was going to be a looooong trek home.

36 comments:

  1. i remember stuntman was killed and another injured in an accident during filming of "The Expendables 2" in Bulgaria

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    1. I didn't hear about that. In the 80's there was a stuntman killed in a Chuck Norris movie. The studio used the footage anyway and there was a big lawsuit from the family.

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  2. Oh the countless scars that I incurred thanks to bikes and "Ramps"

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    1. I couldn't get my mother to understand that's what bikes are for.

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  3. Boys. Only boys would drag the wounded over to a ditch so they could try to out do one another. It's a miracle he didn't break anything!

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    1. He knew the protocol. He even offered helpful commentary.

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    2. Incredible lol I really need to know how badly he was injured!

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  4. Wow. Makes me think of the time I went bike riding with my hubby and his army buddies and ended up having an asthma attack, lol. You guys are adventurous.

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    1. Most the time we would get home without incident, but occasionally things didn't go as planned.

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  5. I demand a reenactment. Complete with youtube video, por favor.

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    1. I wish YouTube had been around then. We would have had some fun with it. Cell phones would have been nice too, for these far from home mishaps.

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  6. I was hoping that story would end with, "And then he landed rightside up and rode away with a smile." It was looking pretty good there until he passed 360.

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    1. Yeah. He never did pull off a successful one.

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    2. It wasn't for not trying though.
      Kyle (THE BROTHER)

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  7. Augh! But THEN WHAT!!! How did you get home...what did your poor mother say...did Kyle need to go to the hospital to get all the dirt cleaned out of his gaping wounds? (I'm envisioning deep gashes and bloody holes in his body.)

    dude...I am dying of anticipation...don't leave me hanging!

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  8. Blogger won't let me directly reply again.

    @Red We got home. I really don't remember the rest very well, but I will make up the parts I don't remember. When we got home, my mother rolled her eyes at us (she was quite used to this scenario). We then got grounded for being out so late. At that age, we were to be home before the sun went down. We did not go to the hospital. We rarely went to doctors. We felt that we were more than capable of cleaning up wounds. In fact, one time my uncle cut off the end of his thumb while chopping wood. My grandmother liberally covered it with salt and sewed it back on. What cost her less than a dime would have been hundreds at the hospital. We picked the gravel out of his skin and cleaned him up the rest of the way.

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    1. I just love it that Red asked the same questions which were running through my head!

      So this wasn't the time when one of your brothers ended up in a wheelchair for six months... that event is still a mystery.

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    2. No. The wheelchair story will come out eventually.

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  9. Oh no. I have two baby boys. Is this our future?

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    1. If they are lucky.

      There is a balance. Boys HAVE TO be allowed to be boys. Don't restrict that. Keep them safe, but rough housing, wrestling, fighting is just part of learning to be a man.

      We, for some reason, sought out danger despite our mother's warnings. She eventually gave up and just bought a stock pile of band-aids, alcohol, crutches.

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  10. Oh bless Kyle... a 10 speed! Jesus!

    A 10 Speed Jesus. Good name for a band.

    Great story!! :)

    Funny how you rarely hear of girls this age getting into such foolishness :)

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    1. My son is in a metal band. I will suggest the name to him.

      10 Speed Jesus

      Yeah, we didn't have many girls hanging around.

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  11. Ahhhhh! Bike injuries are gross. It was very nice of Kyle to take the bullet and be the test case hehe

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    1. A role he was more than willing to play on many occasions.

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  12. Oh gosh!! That reminds me of the time when I thought I had hit puberty but I really just had a rough time on my bike. Yikes!
    The funnier thing to me is that your brother just sat and watched for (seemingly) hours before y'all went home!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Also... I started in 1998, so 14 years for the BS for me as well ;)

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    1. Glad to know it is not just me. Some of us just take a while to finish.

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  13. Ah, the recklessness of youth. How I miss those days. I don't miss the pain, however. I am enjoying your blog. I will follow along.

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  14. It looks like you had a beautiful childhood with loads of fun!

    However,after reading this, I'm terrified to have baby boys some day...

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    1. Yes, I come from a very nondysfunctional family. I had a great childhood.

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  15. Hi Brett...Thanks for finding my blog. I'm glad you did because after reading this story I'm a follower. Great writing. My son is now 30 but boy do I remember these days. Always had peroxide, bandages and neosporin in stock in the house. And the thanks I get is he went and had 2 girls.

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    1. Life just isn't fair sometimes. My kids were nowhere near as adventurous as my brothers and I. I am thankful for that, but I am sure my mother would have loved for me to go through the heartache she did.

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  16. i think you and kyle wouldn't have any accidents if you just attach a bell to your bicycles... ;)

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    1. Yes. We should use those big cow bells.

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  17. These stories are so entertaining to read. You're really good at telling them - and you seem to have such an abundance of material to work with.

    I've already said this - but I'll say it again... I would love to read all these stories in a book! The thing is, I would require an autographed copy of course.

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    1. These stories have been told for years at dinner parties and various other functions. There are a lot of them and I had tossed around the idea of compiling them once before. I am considering it much more seriously now.

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