Is it bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Mark Thomas! Would I describe myself as a risk taker, probably not? However, I do have this unwavering desire to put myself into awkward and unusual situations, basically throwing myself out of my comfort zone. And nothing could be further from my comfort zone than hanging from a wire above a rocky Adriatic cliff whilst going headfirst at over 100km/h.
“The older you get the more you seem to be reliving your adolescence,” joked a friend as I retold him the story, concluding that he’d never be so brave (or stupid). So you might have already guessed what I did last weekend. I went zip-lining!
But not a simple version, rather a headfirst “Superman Style” version, although I would prefer it if you called my style the Ironman version. He’s much cooler than Superman.
The journey started with an uncomfortable question “How much do you weigh?” – “Have I come to zip-line or Život na vagi?” I said with a smile. It turns out that the maximum weight to actually go on the zip-line was 110kg. I was probably on the upper limits.
It was then a short climb to my “take-off” point. Standing at the top it looked a lot higher than I had imagined. I also realised that I would be crossing from one borough into another, well into a city, from Župa dubrovačka into Dubrovnik.
Thankfully the staff were very reassuring and safety was the main concern, so he went through the safety regulations. To be honest there wasn’t that much for me to do, I was almost completely passive in this activity. “We had a guest from Spain last week and she spent the whole ride down on the zip-line shouting a prayer,” stated one guide. I was banking more that gravity would stop me crashing into the finish line than a heavenly miracle.
I got strapped into what looked like a weird S&M costume before being strapped headfirst onto the wire. “I feel like a prsut,” I joked with the guide as I hung in the breeze. “Which speed would you like to go?” he questioned me. “Look, there is a good chance that I will only do this once in my life, so let’s go “All-In” and go the fastest I can, I want to break the speed record,” I answered. “OK, I will put this on the fastest speed, which means you’ll reach speeds of over 100KM/h,” came his answer. It was too late to turn back now.
Wearing a helmet and ski glasses I looked more suitable to slalom down a mountain piste than to speed 70 metres above over the Adriatic. “Will a helmet really help if something goes wrong,” I joked. “Not really, but it will help hold the camera that will film you,” came his answer. As it turned out the ski googles were much more useful. “1,2,3…go,” Superman was realised a within a few metres I picked up speed, quite a lot of speed.
The zip-line runs parallel to the coastal road and I was doing 100KM/h. So yes, I was overtaking cars on their way into town. And as the zip-line runs for about a kilometre it gave me the opportunity to overtake quite a few. And not only them as I whizzed past a confused looking seagull.
Is it fast? Yes, it bloody is! Is it high, again it bloody is! Was I scared, no, not at all. It makes you feel alive! The adrenaline rush will last me for a few days. What a high! You only live once so live! Or as the great actress Mae West once famously said “Positive thoughts generate positive feelings and attract positive life experiences. You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
I came to a slow stop at the finish line with a beaming smile. “How was it?” asked the guide at the bottom. “F***ing great” I shouted, adding “I want to go again.” And the crazy thing is that I would go again. And so should you! Facing your fears will only make you stronger.