Extremes

 



 

David Whitley stands up for the cowards who don’t want to jump, and asks whether the likes of bungy, rafting and skydiving are worth it 

 

 

 

I have no plans to do a bungy jump again. Once was more than enough for me. That I ended up doing it twice can only be written off as a bewildering mental aberration. The truth is that bungy jumping is in no way enjoyable. It’s terrifying from start to finish. You walk jelly-legged up the steps to the platform, have to wait for seemingly an eternity while other people jump and they get ready for you to take your turn. All the while, you’re looking out at the horrendous distance you’ll cover while you’re falling. It’s not pretty.

 

Then, when you finally get to go, it’s all about will power. The whooping chaps who work there, with wacky Spin Doctors beards and caps saying: “The Greatest Rush!!!”, aren’t allowed to push you off. You have to make the conscious decision to jump. Or, in my case, lean forward in cowardice until you lose balance and fall off the edge. Now this is where some people start bandying around words like “awesome” and “gnarly”. It is not awesome or gnarly. It is horrible. You feel like you’re going to die. And then you bounce back up. And down. And up. This merciless flinging around feels a bit like being a defenceless child in the mouth of an ogre who’s showing inbred villagers just how evil he can be if they don’t keep bringing him sacrifices. Then someone catches you and pulls you down. Or, if you’re really unlucky, you’re winched back up to the top by your ankles, wanting to do a big cry.

 

A skydive, however, I probably would do again. That’s actually rather good fun. It’s in two stages – the freefall where you plummet through the clouds, cheeks flapping around like a shaken hamster, and then the float. Once the canopy has opened, it becomes genuinely pleasant – a scenic meander towards the ground. I’d also have another bash at canyoning, although preferably a slightly less hardcore version than the trip that left me a quivering wreck in the Scottish Highlands. I’m also well up for a bit more white water rafting and river tubing, while I’d love a go at the luge. So what does this prove? Well, absolutely nothing. And that is surely the point. Travel isn’t about ticking off a list of ways you can discolour your underwear. It’s not a competition to see who can leap from the highest height, stay aboard over the roughest rapid or tolerate the most G force.

 

Yet travel around for long enough – particularly in Australia and New Zealand – and you’re likely to get swept into a big bout of peer pressure. You’ve got to tackle some sort of adrenalin activity while you’re here; it’s just what you do; you’re not scared are you? Well of course you’re scared. That’s the point. But not all fears have to be conquered. I’m scared of putting my head in a Bengal tiger’s mouth. I’m not about to do it just to show a bunch of strangers that I’m not scared. Only one thing should come into consideration when weighing up these opportunities to imperil yourself. And that’s whether you want to do it. You don’t have to try everything once when all the evidence points to it being a thoroughly awful and unenjoyable experience. And if that’s the case, save the bungy jump money for something you’re more passionate about.

 

 

 

What’s the best/ worst adrenalin activity you’ve done, and what would you like to have a go at? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.