Bungee Jumping – The Joy of Falling

Stepping aside to allow the quaint Vélorail of the Larzac open train to pass I glance over the edge of the bridge. Immediately the heady rush of adrenalin that always accompanies a view from height follows. It’s time to take the bungee jumping plunge.

Bungee Jumping off a bridge in the French Aveyron of the Midi-Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

We have lift-off

I had already been up here several hours, taking countless images of others jumping off the small platform that seemed especially designed for the purpose and it was time to join the fun.

The bridge near St Eulalie de Cernon in the Aveyron is not especially high but still provides sufficient excitement for most, especially those bungee jumping for the first time.

Signalling my intention to go next I step forward fitting the harness and allowing the supervisors to fit the ankle restraints. The senior supervisor called Louis gestures for me to come close and hands me the surprisingly heavy bungee cord to hold whilst he does some last minute preparations.

Reverse bungee jumping in St Eulalie de Cernon in the French Aveyron on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Testing the laws of physics

“In this manner I indicate my intention to go backwards”

Using a simple hand signal I am ushered onto the platform and manoeuvred into a position where he can attach and adjust the fittings to my ankles.

Louis speaks very little English and my French is not much better so we communicate through a series of hand signals and gestures. In this manner I indicate my intention to go backwards, initially Louis looks doubtful, only one other had gone backwards and that had been his third time today.

Preparing to attempt to explain this was not my first jump while Louis eyes me up and down making a quick assessment, suddenly he relents nodding his head vigorously.

Stepping to the edge with my back to the ‘abyss’ and attempting to listen to what my supervisor is telling me, but almost all of his safety brief delivered in stacatto English  is going over my head.

These last few moments seem to take an eternity, leaving me with plenty of time to to get a little lost in my own thoughts.

“terminal condition I can relate to”

I have never really had a fear of heights, a natural and healthy respect certainly, but with quite a few bungee and countless parachute jumps under my belt this was well within my comfort zone. However even with my initial experiences there had never been any feelings of doubt. Years of climbing have given me plenty of confidence in the equipment provided. It did not seem strange at all to trust my life to an over-sized elastic band.

Freefall bungee jumping of a French bridge in the Aveyron near Millau on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Having that falling feeling

There is apparently a condition where people at height feel an urge to jump, and some even needing to be physically restrained. Whilst fortunately not suffering from this undoubtedly terminal condition I can relate, as jumping off always seems more natural than just standing there.

I become aware momentarily of the buzz of a microlight overhead. It reminds me of a giant insect hovering whilst deciding whether to sting or not before it moves off to find a sunflower field or something.

The only real piece of information I manage to glean from Louis’s well rehearsed but lost in translation brief is that I need to keep looking at him when I jump. This is to ensure that I do not somersault, just as the thought this might be fun enters my head and I consider suggesting it he is counting down for me to go.

“Plunging towards the ground like a ripe peach”

Immediately all other thoughts leave my mind, my jump trainers conditioned me too well. Launching myself from the platform as far our as possible I can at once feel the rushing air all around me.

Bungee jumping in St Eulalie de Cernon in the French Aveyron on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Dropping in on a few friends

The sensation of falling is all too brief however, just a few short moments of feeling the ground rush towards me, even on this still day the wind whistles tunelessly to me. Plunging towards the ground like a ripe peach, watching it get ever closer.

Abruptly the heavy duty elastic takes effect and my downward momentum is halted, the laws of physics coming into play. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, like a slingshot I am immediately heading skywards back towards the platform.

Spending several moments feeling like a yo-yo in the hands of a skilled but hyperactive child I am bounced until the energy of my fall is dissipated by the band and they are able to lower me to the mat below.

All the while the professional photographer Mick Avery has been talking to me, snapping away and working me like a catwalk model to get the best images. His thick Scottish brogue seems a little out of place in the middle of this very French countryside but at least he is understandable; most of the time.

brothers in the elastic”

Soon back on the ground and unhitched from my elastic umbilical cord, my pack is lowered to me. Taking a moment to pause and gaze upwards. I watch the next two jumpers wondering what thoughts they have just prior to taking their personal leaps of faith.

Thanking my ‘brothers in the elastic’ I pick up my pack, turn on my heel thoughtfully and stroll away without looking back, still subconsciously  hanging weightless in mid-air. It always takes some time to come down properly from an adrenaline high.

Bungee jumping and bouncing around off the viaduct near Ste Eulalie de Cernon in the French Aveyron on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography

Just hanging around in the Averyon

This activity was provided courtesy of Antipodes, an adventure activity company based in Millau.

*All images of me ‘Lost in Space’ are courtesy of Mick Avery Photography

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13 Responses to “Bungee Jumping – The Joy of Falling”

  1. MM3 Greenberg January 21, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Where is there to jump in the U.S.? I tried calling the “Bridge to Nowhere” company in L.A. area and it was disconnected, and it’s banned at the Royal Gorge Bridge.

  2. kittenesque kitty October 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    would love to try this but also a bit nervous..would be just my luck it would go snappppppppppppppp

    great post!

    • Iain October 31, 2011 at 12:46 am #

      Snapping bungee cord is not really a reality, you would be safe.

  3. Raf Kiss October 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Wow Lain, great post.

    I have been wanting to do a bungee jump for ages… and I’m sure I’m going to do it one of these days.
    The way you describe the feelings involved make me even more curious.
    The only thing I’m afraid of, is that I will like it so much that I will want to do it again and again :)

    Thanks for posting
    Raf
    Raf Kiss recently posted..Brazil – Historical heritage in decay – 19th century Coffee Fazenda closed for visitors

    • Iain October 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

      Thank you Raf, not sure what the issue with wanting to keep repeating the jumping experience is, sure you will love it and will indeed want to keep jumping.

  4. Sherry September 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I don’t know if I could actually do something like this and be a human yo-yo. I think I’d love the feeling of the free fall but the bouncing back business is what I think I will hate. I assume it would hurt, even a little. Bungee jumping requires some guts – and you’re quite gutsy to do this; impressive is an understatement. Wow!
    Sherry recently posted..“Venetian Mirage in China”

    • Iain September 3, 2011 at 6:57 am #

      I have jumped a few times Sherry, this one was actually quite low but when you do your jump I will come and hold your hand ;) sure you will be fine!

  5. Sophie September 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Looks fun, yet scary. Standing there, I’m not sure I would have dared jump…
    Sophie recently posted..Flirting with Fate in the Faroe Islands

    • Iain September 3, 2011 at 6:39 am #

      Depends how you feel about heights I guess Sophie, I also think that a lot of people that are quite scared often just jump because they are even more scared of feeling embarrassed if they refuse once on the platform, peer pressure is often extremely powerful.

  6. Merav | AllWays Christchurch Rental Cars August 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I have a confession. I’m way too scared to bungy jump. I did skydive but for some odd reason that felt more safe (ha!). Perhaps the fear of throwing myself or the lack of ability to trust the oversized elastic band.
    Merav | AllWays Christchurch Rental Cars recently posted..Photo Friday: Fairy Tales Come to Life

  7. Simon August 31, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    You…Are…Crazy! :-) And that’s why I like you!
    By the way… I wouldn’t jump even for a 1.000.000 dollars :-)
    Simon recently posted..A Rush of Adrenaline… Skydiving in the World Largest Wind Tunnel

    • Iain August 31, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

      hmmm you like me just because I am crazy Simon? Tell you what if somebody offers you a million dollars accept and I will wear a dress and jump in your place, we’ll split the cash ;)

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Bungee Jumping – The Joy of Falling