He is there, all brave on his bike at the end of 194th street. The run up to the ramp is, in retrospect, a bit long for the legs of a 8-year old. They will surely tire before he reaches the ramp, falling short of the maximum velocity necessary to complete the jump successfully.
But he is brave.
He is invincible
He is Evel Knievel.
Well, not really. He is me, George, circa 1974 or so. Like many kids with Huffy bikes, no PlayStation, and impressionable psyches, I am reenacting one of the many jumps of the iconic daredevil. This time, I really intend to jump far, not fake a crash like so many times before. I will touch the sky as I leap my bicycle over a ramp of plywood and milk crate, the world will slow down and Angie Dickinson will film me in all my glory.
And therein lies the problem.
Angie Dickinson, the buxom blonde bombshell of 1970s “Police Woman” fame, was there in 1967 when the real Evel bounced like a rag doll at the base of his landing ramp in the parking lot of Caesar’s Palace. She actually ran the camera. That famous footage of the real Evel breaking every bone in his body – that was her shaky camera work. A curse, the woman. She must of been there that day on 194th Street, because I developed one hell of a case of road rash in the ensuing moments.
One second, a ramp in front of me. Then sky. Then road. Then pain.
My dad cursed Evel that day as he bandaged my wounds. Thereafter, I was out of the daredevil business. I did however beg for (and receive) an Evel Kinevel Stunt Van for Christmas that year. My best Christmas present ever. Yes, EVER.
So thanks for the memories, Robert Craig Knievel. The 8-year old in me will always find you a hero, and the adult will always have a scarred knee to remember you by…