When I look back on my childhood summers, I often wonder how we managed to get through them without being killed, maimed, or even seriously injured. One summer event in particular stands out in my mind.
As a kid, my family lived in a house on the corner just up the street from a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood that seemed filled with kids, and more specifically, boy kids. I don’t remember any girls, or maybe I just wasn’t interested enough to remember any girls, but there were plenty of us boys, and some of the things we did make my parental hair stand up on end.
One summer in particular, we discovered that the unfinished curb that led into Akash & Aseem’s driveway at the bottom of the cul-de-sac was a perfect bicycle ramp. You could pedal down the hill into the cul-de-sac, line up, and jump the unfinished curb into the driveway.
Now, let me be clear. This was a time before helmets were standard equipment for a bike ride. Heck, none of us even owned a BMX style bicycle. No, we were on banana-seaters, yet we were making jumps like pros. I remember that after Wayne and Dusty ran next door to grab their dad’s measuring tape that my older brother, David was getting a distance of 25 feet on the jumps, and even the youngest of us was getting 12-14 feet of distance on our jumps… but that wasn’t quite good enough.
The missing curb ramp became dull and boring. We couldn’t get any more distance than we were getting, so we decided to build a better ramp in Raider’s driveway next door. The ramp consisted of an old piece of plywood and a couple of cinder blocks. This gave our jumps more height and distance, and that was fun… for a while… but that still wasn’t quite good enough.
That’s when we realized that there was about a 3-foot drop-off at the end of Wayne and Dusty’s driveway, AND if you built the ramp at the END of the driveway, you could, in fact, get more height out of your jumps. And we did.
So, let’s recap. Down the hill, into the circular cul-de-sac (peddling all the way), down to the end of the driveway (line up properly – set your feet – coast the last 10 feet or so), off the ramp, into the air, and land in the grass of the back yard. We were getting real height and distance now – 15 feet of distance and probably 6 feet off the ground at the apex of the jump… but again, it wasn’t quite good enough, and that’s when we noticed that Wayne’s head almost touched a tree branch that over hung the apex of the jump. Sweet.
So, let’s revise. Down the hill, into the circular cul-de-sac (peddling all the way), down to the end of the driveway (line up properly – set your feet – coast the last 10 feet or so), off the ramp, into the air, TAKE ONE HAND OFF THE GRIP AND TRY TO SLAP THE TREE BRANCH AS YOU WENT BY, get both hands back on the bike and land in the grass of the back yard. Yes. Brilliant… and we did it… on banana-seaters, without helmets, and luckily, we all survived.
Summer. Gotta love it.