Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Great Flying Mini

“Man this road is smooth!” It didn’t seem possible given what we’d just done yet here I was thinking this to myself. We looked at each other in disbelief, trying to comprehend what we’d achieved, and indeed what lay ahead. After months of careful planning and research we’d managed to do what we thought impossible. All that hard work had come down to this moment, we had the Mini airborne.

Actually there was no planning, it was one of those stupid spur of the moment things we often did and somehow managed not to kill ourselves. Between jumping cars and our epic skateboarding adventures it’s a wonder I’m alive today. With the punishment I used to inflict on myself I was sure I was going to be in a wheelchair by the time I was 40 but I’m glad to report I’m not, in fact I still get out on the skateboard when I can. I’m a little less daring these days because the ground is a lot harder than I remember and I don’t bounce quite as well as I used to. Older skaters like me are referred to as ‘relics’, I can live with that.

As a skater you learn very quickly how to fall, if you don’t then you’re in trouble. Falling with style helps avoid a lot of injuries however there are the unavoidable ones such as the hippers which are a badge of honour. Painful but if you didn’t get the odd hipper you weren’t pushing yourself hard enough. A hipper is when you come off your board and slam into the ground hip first usually resulting in a large impact bruise and gravel rash from your hip (or sometimes bum) down your thigh. The bigger the hipper the more respect you got.

Skateboard injuries were also known as ‘beefs’ and variants thereof, the bigger the beef the more elaborate the name. If you were unfortunate enough you might experience a ‘roast beef’ or ‘rack of lamb’. I gave myself a double pork chop a few times when I broke both my wrists at once, fun times.

My younger skating days. I miss my hair the most.
So you see we weren’t averse to risk or injury but that had nothing to do with bravery or maintaining a tough guy image, it was all to do with a lack of common sense and a daring but somewhat misguided sense of adventure.

This particular day started out normally, the Mini had its customary full load and we’d been driving around to different skate spots we’d heard of. Word on the street was there was a half-pipe in someone’s backyard near Bond University so naturally we had to find it. Driving through the uni we hit a speed bump a bit faster than the recommended 20km/h which saw us all bounce around laughing like idiots drawing the attention of the hordes of uni students mulling about the place. Lucas suggested we have another go but this time we go a little bit faster and not being one to turn down a challenge I obliged.

We did this a number of times, each time a little bit faster than before, each of us hitting our heads on the roof but still we wanted more. By this time we had a bit of an audience of curious onlookers wondering what this group of yahoos was doing to the poor Mini. I can’t remember who suggested it but one of the boys came up with either the brightest or stupidest idea ever, “Let’s take a run up from the top of that hill and see if we can get some air!” Being skaters getting air was something we were always trying to do but dare we try it in a car?

We dared.

White knuckled I sat atop the hill looking down toward the speed bump. The students sensed something was happening and looked on in anticipation. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I mentally prepared myself to make history. The engine revved, the boys were cheering, the moment of truth was at hand.

I popped the clutch and took off down the hill, the engine begging for mercy I threw my trusty little Mini into fourth and gave it all it had. Time moved slowly, I became acutely aware of every bump and deviation in the road as the speed bump loomed closer. I glanced at the speedo as we passed the point of no return and realised the one flaw in our plan, we were going too fast, way too fast.

What we probably looked like beforehand
I resisted the temptation to jump on the brakes which would have been disastrous so I braced myself and pushed on. Twenty metres from the speed bump and we were barrelling along at close to 80 miles per hour, I guess that’s about 140kph, I’ll admit I felt a moment of panic but I had no time to dwell on that as the front wheels hit the speed bump.

The jolt was huge as we hit and the Mini groaned in protest but then I had that thought, “Man this road is smooth”. We didn’t realise we were sailing through the air but we did soon enough as we slammed back down to earth and the car began to slide out of control. Swerving left, then right, out of control I tried to wash speed off by going down through the gears, eventually bringing the car to a screaming stop after a 180 degree handbrake skid.

Artist's impression of the event. Many thanks to Andy MacKenzie for his illustration of the Mini!
We sat in stunned silence as the crowd stared at us. We stared back then they burst into applause and cheering and the boys all started laughing hysterically and slapping me on the back. Somehow, the Mini was still alive and running so we drove back past the crowd soaking up the adoration and driving off into the distance never looking at speed bumps the same way again.

Was this the last time this happened? It was not.

Were you daring and/or stupid when you were young?

*For the record I acknowledge the stupidity of those actions and how things could have gone horribly wrong and I don’t condone this sort of thing. I was young and stupid.

Linking up with Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF