Monday, June 29, 2009

"Injured by a Mongoose," or "Gravity Works."

It was a feat of engineering exquisite in it's simplicity. A 6' x 1' board, leaned against an old trunk which we'd drug from Peter Alvarez's garage.

The location: The alley behind Peter's house on Glennox Lane, which ran parallel to and just south of Lover's Lane in Dallas, TX.

The cast of characters: Myself, my friend Peter Alvarez, and John Sawyer, who lived about midway between Peter and I on Glennox.

The launch vehicles: Peter and I both rode the BMX Mongoose, and I don't remember what kind John had. Perhaps a Red Line?

It was a calm morning. The sun was out, and the breeze was scented with Mimosa blossoms. There was certainly nothing to indicate any imminent disaster, but it soon became a day I would never forget.

We had all built the classic "board leaning on a cinderblock" ramp before, but we were no longer satisfied. When Peter proposed the trunk, we all were for it. Or pretended to be. It takes courage to be a ramp builder, and the courage of many a ramp tester has been left behind in pavement and asphalt all across this great land in the form of scraped epidermis.

Was it ethical to go from a one-foot cinderblock to a three-foot trunk? Just because we could, did that mean we should? History will decide.

The ramp was ready, and (by means which I do not recall) John was picked to go first. He was about fifty feet away when he started pedaling. The ramp held, and John achieved an altitude of about four feet, landing seven or eight feet from the end of the ramp. Good form, landed on his rear tire, a successful trial.

After checking and re-setting the ramp, it was my turn. I started from about the same spot John had. As I looked at the ramp ahead, my thoughts could be summed up thusly, "Bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea..." However, the die was cast and I was committed. Could I endure losing face in the eyes of peers such as Peter Alvarez and John Sawyer? I submit to you that I could not.

I started. I was pedaling much faster than John had, perhaps from adrenaline. The ramp approached. I hit the board and felt myself going airborne. Something was wrong. The bike and I began pitching forward. I landed on my front tire and my body, which wanted to stay in motion - did so. The momentum carried me forward over my handlebars, the ends of which (due to worn handgrips which had slid up the bars a couple inches) were exposed metal tubes. My chest raked over the end of my left handlebar (I believe), ripping my shirt and giving me a nasty deep scratch from mid-sternum to about three inches above my belly-button. The Mongoose had landed.

I lay there with my eyes squeezed shut, my body completely clinched as it tried to comprehend the incredible pain and shame it was feeling. My paramedics (Peter and John) ran over, Peter exclaiming, "Dude, you went FAR!!" A tiny node deep inside the recesses of my brain took some small, momentary satisfaction from that. Other than that I was using all my will to shrug it off, convince Peter and John that I was in no pain, and above all to not start crying.

They each took an arm and hustled me inside Peter's house (somehow avoiding his parents) for "medical treatment," i.e. - dumping me on the couch in his upstairs game room. I lay there for about an hour trying to recover and get myself to a mental state where I could nonchalantly enter my own house without provoking any questions. I don't remember how I concealed the rip in my shirt.

Peter and I rode those BMX Mongeese all over our part of Dallas, one saturday riding nearly out to Love Field to visit an acquaintance. But I never built a ramp again