In the course of human events, there comes a time when you just have to do things without any prior reasoning. Or as some folks would say you have to do what you have to do. Well, yesterday was one of those days. I had just finished moving some office furniture into my garage. To get into our garage, you must drive up an incline of about 30 feet at a 20 degree or so angle. While I was taking a break, I was sitting in one of the high back swivel chairs and it hit me. What if I was to sit in the chair and roll down the drive’ Well, of course you know that I did, and it was a hoot.
About two hours go by and one of my neighbors calls over and asks to buy one of these chairs. Now, we live at the end of a cul-de-sac with a street separating us. The street going to our houses is about 150 yards long and is at about a 20-degree angle again. Now, if you cant figure out what is about to happen, you need to leave the room. As you may have guessed, once I am on the way over to deliver the chair I hit upon this bright idea of riding the chair down the hill. I sit in the chair, give myself a good kick to get going, and going’ I get… At a high rate of speed. In fact considerably faster than I would have thought possible. The first major discovery I make is that when you put my body in a swivel chair and propel it downhill at a rapid clip, the heavy part (my rear) naturally swings to the downhill side. Thus, in the first 10 feet or so of travel I found myself looking backward, not to the front as I had first anticipated.
This presented me with a series of options, none of which looked really great at the time. One, I could stay in the chair and do nothing. If I elected to choose option #1, then I would most likely cross the intersection (busy with construction traffic) backward in a high backed office swivel chair at a fairly high rate of speed. Obviously I was sans seat belt in this mode. This meant that an oncoming concrete truck might fail to believe I was real and not try to stop OR attempt to swerve and injure or kill us all. I quickly discarded option #1. Option #2, was to rock the chair over immediately and take my chances on just falling on the asphalt at about 15 miles an hour. Since I had not thought this action through completely before I undertook such a hazardous sport, I was not wearing any protective equipment. In retrospect, a helmet, kneepads, elbow pads, and gloves should be required minimum equipment, if this sport catches on. So, option #2 was ruled out as well. Since time was running out very quickly and I was picking up more speed, I opted to go for pure animal instinct and brake the thing with my feet. This produced the following effect…
Since pressure was applied on one foot more than the other, I started turning toward the front, and then I drug my right foot harder than my left, causing me to pull to the right side of the road. Now, follow me on this, when you are moving on an asphalt surface and are about to hit terminal velocity, moving into the grass will cause you to do something very quickly. You will stop. Which I did. This stopping motion propelled me out of the chair and onto the ground. Quickly feeling around I discovered that nothing was broken or badly injured. In fact I wasn’t even bleeding. Other than a big strawberry hickey on my right shoulder where I hit the ground, I wasn’t injured. Needless to say, I thought it was funny and haven’t stopped laughing.
My wife doesn’t share my humor on this matter and thinks I have finally lost it. She questions the sanity of a 56-year man engaging in chair racing down the side of a mountain, backward. Well, let me tell you something, I have had several people express real interest in this as a future sporting event. We envision it as a sort of downhill swivel chair luge type of thing. When you think of it in that manner, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. In fact it may become more popular than bob sledding or the luge. I mean, look at these races, first off, they get to SEE where they are going. Secondly, the swivel effect gives a whole new dimension of risk and danger to the participants. In this form of the sport, the unknown factor of which way you swivel while headed downhill will require dedicated athletics to practice for many hours before achieving any level of proficiency. In short, if this catches on as I imagine, then I expect to see higher speeds achieved with better wheels and stronger frames. If this occurs, then can advertising be far behind’ Imagine the possibilities of having all of that space on the backs of the chairs available to major companies. This could be the start of an entire new industry and sporting event. It really isn’t too wild to think that this could ultimately be headed for the Olympics. Just remember that you heard it first here. Peary Perry, the pioneer of high-backed swivel chair downhill racing.