Whilst in Sochi I decided to do my first bungee jump…
This is a lie. I actually decided not to do the jump because it was a hundred quid and I couldn’t really afford it… I also harboured the romantic notion that if I was going to do a bungee jump then I’d really like to do one with a head dip into water at the bottom… but my friend Lena was doing it so I went along to watch.
Then I saw it!
You jump from the middle of this skybridge, which at 439 metres is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world.
Forget the head-dip, forget the money. I’d already paid a tenner to watch Lena jump, but this was an opportunity not to be missed.
The views from the bridge were stunning and the drop seemed to go on forever. I ran back to the cash desk and got my ticket.
There was some delay whilst waiting for a photographer, but I wasn’t interested in photos so volunteered myself to jump the queue. The very friendly Kiwi guy who was in charge of jumping (not queue jumping, although I suppose that too) half-joked that the photographer was necessary in case of accidents, but I’d done what I needed to. We got chatting about what I was doing in Russia and my jump was expedited as much as possible.
After being harnessed up by an Aussie guy (there were some Russians working there too), and hearing more banter about safety records (flawless, but of course given an Englishman who’d never bungeed before to talk to they weren’t going to take that line with me), I was given back to the Kiwi and attached to the elastic.
“If you complete the jump then you’ll be the first Englishman to do it”
“If I complete the jump!” I scoffed. I was genuinely completely relaxed and had no fear.
Then they shuffled me to the edge of the platform…
They say that babies are born with only two natural fears. A fear that Kanye West will get up on stage and make a tit of himself when you collect your first Grammy award, and a fear of falling.
I don’t know if you get the same feeling when doing a more modest bungee (because of course I’ve never done one of those), but when you are standing 207 metres above a valley floor knowing that you are expected to jump, there is a moment when this most basic of survival instincts kicks in.
“Why on earth would I jump down there? That’s craziness!”
The words never escaped the confines of my mind, but the ridiculousness of what I was about to do left me laughing inside. 207 metres really is one hell of a long way to fall.
And for me that was the most exciting part. Looking down and feeling that perfectly natural fear, then pushing it to one side (because of course, there isn’t really anything to be scared of, I’m all harnessed up and attached to an elastic rope) and performing a perfect swallow dive into the abyss.
The jump (fall?) itself was okay (a good few seconds of freefall followed by a swift deceleration and a bit of bouncing around), but that moment just before I jumped… That was priceless…ish.
Worth a hundred quid?… Oh goodness, No.
But I’m glad I did it, and if I’d passed up on the opportunity I would be really regretting it now.
Here’s an idea of what it was like: