A barbeque with a few beers, and a reasonably enthusiastic game of back garden badminton was the ideal end to the first day of wall of death riding. Colin and Charlotte’s spare room had a very comfy bed, and I slept pretty well, but every time I rolled over in my sleep, my scraped arm, from my initial crash earlier that day, woke me up, which was slightly frustrating.
On Sunday morning we went around to Mark’s house to watch the motorcycle MotoGP from Barcelona, which had an incredibly exciting finish, as Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fought an astonishing battle for the whole of the race, and to huge cheers in the living room, Rossi snatched a well-earned victory at the final corner.
After a quick bite to eat we loaded the bikes back onto the truck, and headed out to the wall again. Once the bikes and tools were lowered back in, some repair work was carried out to the dodgier sections of the lower parts of the wall. Finally cameras were set up and fiddled with, and it was time to get back on the wall.
My idea was to make the first couple of circuits slow and steady until I got the feel for it back, but things didn’t quite work out as planned. In quite an impromptu fashion, Colin and I ended up with both bikes running, and with a nod at each other we both set off from opposite sides. I knew I had to get up the wall quickly and keep my speed up, and I was very quickly back to the transition point where the wall became vertical, aware of the noise of Colin’s bike opposite and behind me. We managed a couple of good dual efforts before going back to the safer solo rides.
Once again I tried to creep further and further up above the transition to vertical, with similarly frustrating results as the day before. I could feel myself getting better bit by bit, and my confidence was building, but I knew time was running out, and I had still not ridden around the wall in the way that I had imagined it beforehand.
One of the other guys, Lee, came down to give it a go, riding in the opposite direction to everyone else, and with a background in BMX riding, managed to quickly get the hang of doing big arcs up onto the wall, like riding a bike ramp.
Spurred on by his quick successes, I pushed myself harder on the next couple of turns, and got a couple of good rides around, and on the next try Mark, who was operating the video camera reckoned I had done a full circuit completely on the vertical section. There was a cheer from above, but Colin looked doubtful, and reviewed the video footage. “What do you think?” he asked me, and handed me the camera, and I watched through the viewfinder.
“It’s still not good enough, is it?” I said quietly to Colin.
“I thought you’d say that,” he replied.
But something in me had clicked, and Colin and I talked about pushing up with the lower handlebar, and he explained that the first time that you felt yourself actually hold the bike up on the wall when it’s weight wants to pull you down, and it stays where you want it to, everything mentally falls into place.
The next couple of times on the wall I was conscious of keeping the throttle open, and pushing on the lower bar, and made a couple of much better circuits of the wall, creeping up higher for longer, until I made what I thought was an excellent double circuit.
Colin, who had been watching from the top of the wall for a while, came back down, and I managed another good lap on the vertical. I was so pleased, and quickly gathered my spinning thoughts, and set off again. This time I could keep the bike up for a much longer period, and my confidence soared. I had cracked it! It felt absolutely awesome, and I was incredibly thrilled.
And just in time too, as Colin, who decided to have another quick go himself, found himself struggling to keep control of the bike. No wonder, we discovered as he brought it down looking very discouraged, it had a flat rear tyre. The day was over!
We packed everything away, and dragged the bikes back out of the wall and put them on the truck. There was quite a crowd now, and a lot of chatting and laughter, and I thanked everyone profusely. I couldn’t really find the words to properly express to Colin how grateful I was to him, but I think he knew, and I imagine my face said more than words ever could. He and his wonderful friends had pretty-much given up a large chunk of their weekend to help a complete stranger achieve a goal, and although I am sure they had enjoyed themselves, I was quite overwhelmed by their generousity. Thanks to all who were there. It really was one of the most outstanding weekends of the trip so far.
As I drove away I felt very proud, and very satisfied within myself, and thought a lot about what I had just achieved. I had seriously underestimated how difficult a skill it would be to learn, but was pleased that even after an early setback, scraping down the wall without the bike on my first attempt, I had not given up.
I had managed to push past the fear and the frustration, and the spinning disorientation, and stuck at it, pushing myself when it might have been easy to give up, call it a day, and say that I had given it a good try. And ultimately I had succeeded in what I had imagined doing, and the feeling was absolutely wonderful. This goal is certainly, by a long way, my proudest personal achievement so far.
Just a few days before, I had been asked in a radio interview why I chose to have some of these crazy, dangerous goals in my list of 100. As I drove away from the Wall Of Death, I thought to myself that if I could just take some of what I felt right then, and hold it out to someone as a physical thing in my hand, and give it to them, I would simply say, “There, that’s why I do these things!” What an awesome weekend!
I have a few bits of video on my camera, but not really enough to make a decent video from, so I will wait for Colin to edit the footage from the three cameras he and Mark had, and see how that looks. I will post a link to it as soon as he gets it done.
In the meantime, I will finish my notes on the weekend with the specially penned tune about the wall by local group, March To The Grave, several members of which I met over the course of the weekend. Cheers to all the Stamford Cowboys!
“The Wall”, by March To The Grave
Thanks to Lee and Mark too for several of the photos used here, and thanks to Colin for the generous provision of a “safety tie”, which all riders of the wall are required to wear! Why? “Well, you’ve got to look your best, don’t you?” was the closest that I got to an answer that made any sort of sense. But as I left at the end of the weekend I asked if Colin needed his tie back. “Keep it as a souvenir,” he said, “as long as you promise to wear it at the movie premiere if your film ever gets made!” I kept it as a souvenir, and I will keep my promise too if I ever get the chance to!
To see videos of my attempts to ride Colin’s Wall of Death, take a look at this post:
“Better late than never”
Check out more of Colin’s inspired madness on his YouTube channel here:
Colin Furze’s YouTube Channel
And watch how an expert does it. Three videos here of building the wall, first attempts and crashes, and what can be achieved after some practice: