Saturday, July 16, 2005

"He floats through the air with the greatest of ease
The daring young man on the flying trapeze"
George Leybourne (1882-1884)

Another day of insane derring-do. Hong Choo's next on the hitch list so we took him to Sentosa for trapeze lessons before his big day.

It's like a Club Med set-up with suspended safety nets, but only one flying bar so solo "performances" only. There is a practice bar on which we all have to try out the tucking in of our legs into a rotation around the shoulders and finishing with a full body suspension hanging from the knees, hands free. After successfully mastering this maneuver (within tolerable parameters) we're ready for the real thing.

We climb to a narrow platform about 2 storeys high, safety belt securely around the waist. On the belt are 2 D-rings which the 2 ends of the safety rope clip onto. On the platform, the instructor talks us through the take-off procedure. He secures us by grabbing the back of the safety belt while we reach for the flying bar first with one hand then the other.

Teetering on the edge of the platform, we "step-off" while the instructor simultaneously lets go of the safety belt and we're feeling the rush of air against our faces in a moment of exhilarating freedom. Before we lose momentum, we have to think through the hang-by-the-knees maneuver and actually force our limbs to move accordingly, though poor timing, adrenaline, muscle fatigue and acrophobia make it even harder to execute than when we were still on the ground.

We learned 3 different kinds of dismounts so we went up 3 times each to try out each one. The first was a standard butt-first land-in-a-sitting-position, though most people still end up landing face-first instead. The second is a back-flip dismount: on the swing, feet together, kick forward once, kick backwards, tuck knees into chest and release bar. In theory, momentum spins the body 360° legs over head then we land again in a sitting position. In theory, anyway. Last, the flying dismount in which we remain suspended from the knees and at the apex of the "away" swing, release the knees and adopt a Superman flying position, belly landing.

Most of us -- especially the tourist kids who had joined our group -- managed to perform reasonably well. One nervous teenager landed head-first onto the safety net and bounced into an awkward somersault, which looked quite hilarious though it was probably embarrassing for her.

Group performance review: Martin: self-declared non-participant. Anthony: injured in training, sidelined. Hong Choo: set good example. Weng: credible. Luanne: lost momentum early. Ed: letting go issues. Me: form over substance.

The guys went up North for a seafood dinner. I took family (June & 2 dogs) home and gave Ed a lift back on the way. Muscles starting to hurt. Hmm... wonder who's next on the list to get married?

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