Monthly Archives: November 2011
My friend Nikki’s 30th birthday was approaching. Myself and four girlfriends were trying to come up with a special way for her to celebrate it. Nikki had always wanted to go skydiving, so we decided that we were going to kidnap her the day of and surprise her with pushing her out of a plane. As we discussed the plans more and more, we decided it may be best to share our “gift” with her beforehand, just in case.
She was in love with the idea and so were we, well most of us. Nikki and I were excited, the other girls, while enthusiastic, weren’t the same level of excited as we were. Since Nikki was on board, it was time to start making the arrangements! We called and made our reservations.
With the reservations set, there was no backing out. This thing was on! Oh lord, were we really doing this?!
Before we knew it, the day had arrived! We woke up early and made our way to Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL. Zephyrhills also happens to be my hometown so the thought of getting to see the city from a perspective of 13,500 feet was exciting. My mom wanted to come watch but I told her not to. For some reason I had it in my head that if my mom was there, then something was going to go wrong. I told her that I loved her and I would call her afterward but she could not come down and watch.
As we arrive, I can feel the butterflies in my stomach. They weren’t the scared butterflies, they were the “Hell Yeah, Let’s Do This” kind. We walked into the office and checked in. The woman gave us all the waivers to sign. It was a beautiful day so we decided to take the waivers outside and review them. Anything and everything that you would picture a waiver for skydiving saying, this one said. About one or two paragraphs into reading it, I decided that this was happening no matter what so there really wasn’t a point in reading the entire thing. So we signed our forms and turned them in.
We had a bit of time before our jump time, so we watched the group before us take off, jump and return safely to the ground. We also ran into a guy that works there. He gave us a tour of the “Wing Suit Room”. If you are not familiar with wingsuits, you must check them out. You Tube has some great videos of wingsuits! This is something I would never say I wouldn’t try but not something that I would actually try.
After we were done talking with the wingsuit guy, they called us to meet our instructors. This was the part where they got us suited up and went over all the safety stuff. My instructor was Tom. Tom was a jokster and I liked that about him. He had me laughing so much I don’t think I heard most of what he said. Hopefully I got all the important parts!
The plane was something you see in the movies. The kind that crashes in the jungle and the survivors have to plan their escape and hope to be rescued. Perhaps better stated, You would rather jump out of it, then try to land in it. I’m not trying to be funny here, well maybe just a tad funny, but it is the truth! They use planes like that on purpose, encourage you to jump! I was on to their game!
Time to take off!! Once we were in the plane, our instructors attached themselves to each of us. Not tightly attached, just attached. I kept asking if we were attached all the way. He kept giving me the same answer, “you will know when we are”. He was not joking there, when he full on attached I could barely breathe. For the next 10 minutes, Tom was my new best friend!
There was a group of us doing tandem and there was a group that was doing jumps with no free falls. We reached somewhere around 9,000 or 10,000 feet and dropped off the group before us. After they jumped, we continued out climb to 13,500 feet.
During the ascent to our jumping altitude, the instructors were having a grand time with us. Nothing like having the guy strapped to your back telling you he forgot one of the safely straps!! Just for the record, I wasn’t buying it at first. Him and the other instructors kept playing it up. I told him to quit bleeping messing with me. He said that he wasn’t. The look in his eyes when he made that comment, I broke down and asked if he was serious. He started laughing! He got me, but it took a while!
Before we knew it the moment of truth had arrived, time to jump! My instructor and I were last of the bunch to go. By the time it was our turn we had missed the jump window. So we had to wait while they turned the plane around. Once the plane was back in the jump zone, it was go time! We shuffled our way to the door on our knees and peeked out heads out the door. I did a happy wave at the camera guy then looked down at the earth below us. I will be honest, this was the one moment that I had the thought, “what the f&^% am I doing”. I remember my handing reaching back toward the plane but before it could get there, we were out the door!!!
This was the ride of a lifetime!! 60 seconds of free fall felt like an eternity and the fastest minute of my life. How could it be the fasted and slowest moment of my life, have no idea!! If you have been skydiving before, you know the feeling.
People always ask me, did you have the feeling you get when you ride a roller coaster and your stomach gets that feeling in it, you know the one, where your stomach flies up to your heart. Didn’t have that sensation once. It was a gliding feeling. Truly amazing!
You are flying through the air at 120 mph. The wind in your face, your thoughts running wild and a camera guy capturing it all on film (always get the video, its worth the extra money). During the free fall you can’t hear anything, so in the training session they go over hand signals so you can communicate to one another during that time frame.
I found myself wondering when are we pulling the parachute, is it time yet? Then I saw the camera guy pull his and I knew that we would be right behind him. All of a sudden, Tom pulled the chute and there was a big jerk! Success, chute opened (BIG sigh of relief, whew) and we begin to fall back to earth. First thing he says to me, “Welcome to my Office”. Have to say, that was by far the coolest thing he could have said in that moment.
Now here is where my story takes a turn from the “ideal jump”. And don’t worry, Ill tell you the end now, I make it! So as we are enjoying of glide back down to the ground, he starts to spin us in circles. Started out great but my stomach had other thoughts. Mainly, stop doing it or I’m going to make you stop. So I let my instructor know that I felt like I was going to be sick. He promptly stopped spinning us, ahh, relief.
That was short-lived, unfortunately. My legs and arms started to tingle all while I was starting to get tunnel vision. Anyone who has ever passed out before knows what was about to happen next wasn’t a good thing, especially as we weren’t on the ground yet. Since I knew that in the next few seconds I would be, as you would refer to as passed out, I warned my instructor. It went something like this:
Me: Hey I’m not going to get sick anymore
Him: That’s great!
Me: Not really because I’m going to pass out
Him: NO, we will be on the ground in 30 seconds
Yep, with only 30 seconds from touching down I passed out. All my friends were already on the ground and were able to watch me stone cold out as we landed! Special thanks to my instructor as he kicked my legs out as we landed so I didn’t break them.
I am sure you are wondering, “How did you pass out?” I wish I could tell you or have a really cool explanation as to why that happened but I have no idea. There was a lot of talk once we got on the ground as to what happened. Nobody really knows though. What I do know is when he pulled the chute, he wanted to loosen my legs straps and I told him I was good and not to do it. This is the only thing I can think of that would cause it. Note to anyone who wants to try skydiving, let the guy loosen your leg straps.
So there you have it, my first skydiving experience! Definitely one for the books, or dare I say blog.
So my mind was made up, I was going to take the motorcycle class!! I figured, if I liked the course and it liked me back (I didn’t crash too badly or embarrass myself), then I would continue on my journey and buy a bike. If for some reason, I didn’t like the class, then I would get use to the like of a backseat rider.
I went online and signed up for the MRA Basic Rider Course. My class was Sunday afternoon then on Monday and Tuesday from 6pm to 10pm. As the first class was approaching, the butterflies in my stomach were growing.
How would the class be? Would I crash the bike? How did shifting gears work?! Just a few of the many questions that were buzzing around in my head. That last question really puzzled me though. It wasn’t so much the concept of shifting as I have driven manual cars my entire life. It was more of how did shifting up and down work and how the heck did you know what gear you were in. In a car it was easy, you just look down at the shifter and you knew whether you were in first gear or fifth gear. On a motorcycle, how would you know?!
The first day arrived!! Soon all those questions would be answered. As I walked into the room, there were a few guys already there sitting at their desks. So I went ahead and picked a desk and sat down. Sitting on the desk was my “Rider Handbook”.
As we sat there waiting for the remaining people to show up, I flipped through the book to see what awaited us. Before I knew it, the last few people showed up and the class was beginning.
We did the usual go around the room and introduce yourself, why are you there. There was the 21 year old who just got his first street bike, the experienced rider who loved his Harley, and then there was me. Everyone in the class had been riding for sometime but they all had to come take the Basic Rider Course that was required for all motorcycle endorsements.
The first day we spent looking over the handbook and reviewing. At the end of the day, we took the test. 100%!! You read that right, I got 100%!!! There was one question that asked what you would do if a dog ran into your path. I am completely serious when I say one of the choices was “Kick the Dog”. For such a serious course, this question/answer cracked me up.
Now that we had the test out of the way, the next two nights would be spent out in the parking lot on the motorcycles.
As we all arrived the next night, we prepared to get on our bikes. Now we had a choice if we wanted a dual sport (street legal dirt bike) or a road bike. I choose the road bike. Once we had our bikes picked out, they lined us in the parking lot.
We began our exercises. They started out with us sitting on the motorcycles and walking them across the parking lot with the motors off. The next exercise, we turned on the motors and walked the motorcycle across and back. Then we put the bike into first gear and slowly drove it across. Each exercise gradually built upon the previous one.
Before I knew it, we were at shifting. Finally, the question that perplexed me the most would be answered. We started out shifting first to second across the parking lot and back. We gradually built up to third and forth gear. It was finally starting to make sense how it worked. The thoughts that I had regarding shifting seems silly. Same essential concept of shifting a car.
We spent the two days doing different exercises to get us used to the bikes. On the last day, we had our actual driving test. The test involved going over all the exercises we had been practicing the last two days. If you laid the bike down during the test, you failed. No pressure though!
One by one, we did each of the requirements for the test. The most challenging requirement was the figure eight test. There was a spray painted box in the parking lot. Within that box, there were two cones set up at the end of each box. You had to do a figure eight within the lines of the box and around the cones. Hopefully that doesn’t sound easy, because it wasn’t.
However, we all did it without laying the bikes down!
And with that, we all passed! I was so excited! 100% on the written test and I passed the driving test!! Within 24 hours the information would be in the system and I could go get my new Driver’s License with my motorcycle endorsement!!!!!!
When people find out that I am into riding motorcycles they usually ask, “What got you into riding?”.
The honest answer, Guys.
The first guy that started it all was my first serious boyfriend (referred to here as “The Ex”). He was into motorcycles and thus my interest with bikes began. I can’t even remember the kind of bike he got first, but it was white with purple markings. As you can see, this is before my passion for bikes kicked in, back then it was “Oooh, I really like the color“.
The Ex crashed the white bike and got a Kawasaki Ninja. Again, can’t remember anything about that bike except it was bright green and went really fast. I only got on the back of it once or twice. Back then my interest was only beginning so the details didn’t matter too much to me as long as it looked pretty.
After the Ex, I started hanging out with some guy friends that liked to ride. I would go jump on the back of their bikes from time to time as they cruised around. I liked speed but not too much. Zooming 140 mph down the interstate was not my idea of fun!! Anything past 100 mph and I would start to feel my heart jump out of my chest. At that point in my life, I was definitely a sport bike girl or as most people refer to them, Crotch Rockets. I loved looking at them, riding on them and watching videos of guys doing wheelies while zipping down the road.
Now the next guy was my dad. As I was beginning my love affair with motorcycles, my dad was continuing his. He has been into riding since before I was born. Ok, not sure if that is entirely true, but he has ridden for as long as I can remember.
They always say as a rider, it’s not if you will crash but when. Luckily when my dad had his moment, he wasn’t hurt too badly. A woman going to pull out of her street didn’t look both ways and pulled out right into my dad’s path. He only suffered some bumps and bruises. Unfortunately for the bike, it wasn’t so lucky.
After my dad’s accident, I vowed that I would never get on a motorcycles again. When my friends would call and invite me to go riding with them, I would always say no. My dad was back up and riding again in no time. It definitely took me a lot longer to get over the accident then it took him!
Then I met my boyfriend, Colin. Colin is working on his Ph.D. so from here on out, he will be referred to as The Doctor. The Doctor has been into motorcycles his entire life. He got his first bike when he was 3 and started racing them when he was 5. Needless to say, a lot of our dates and trips are on two wheels.
The more serious our relationship became and the more and more we rode, I realized a couple of things. The first realization was I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life riding on the back of a bike, What fun would that be? Then came the realization it was time for motorcycle school.
Check out my Blog, “Motorcycle School” to see how it went!
And so starts my adventure as a blogger! Blogging about my trips and adventures is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time now. I started one early last year while we were preparing for our 8-day Dual Sport Motorcycle Tour of Costa Rica (and yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. I’ll share more about that trip later). That particular blog was a team effort between the three of us that were embarking on that trip. Sadly, we posted a few times and never did again.
So here is my Blogging Part Duex! I am sitting here looking through old photographs of past adventures I have done and getting ready to write about them. I have to admit, I am fully enjoying the trip down memory lane. I can’t wait to get caught up and share all my past adventures with you as well as let you in on my future ones!