Adrenalin moments

Posted on: 6th Nov 2009

Quite often, we’re asked if the adrenaline gets pumping on the track. My answer has always been “When you’re 10 metres above the surface in a 10 G turn with an air-gate coming your way at around 100 metres/second, you do not want any adrenaline involved”. Adrenaline is for those unwelcome moments when things are going wrong.So, I’ve always wondered why some people seek it with deliberate intent. Deep down, I do understand though. Take last week and picture the moment... an open top Land Rover; five fully grown lions in close proximity with some kind of friction going on between a pair of lionesses and the other three. One large lioness (ok, not as big a male but do remember, it’s their job to prepare the dinner!) changes heading 90 degrees and comes straight towards us, head down, padding slowly. There is no time for us to re-position. When she’s about 4 metres away, she suddenly looks up directly at the last row of seats in our vehicle, has a significant change of expression, breaks into a trot and disappears round the back. On the back seats are our three boys .. obvious lion bait? The moment passes in a second but adrenaline only needs a millisecond to kick in and lasts a while. Unwelcome, but what a rush! Luckily, Max, Dan and Ben had the presence of mind to stay statue still and dead quiet. Better dead quiet than dead! The lioness must have been a bit thick because we were there for ages and it seems she was simply startled to see us at the last moment. No harm done.The point of the story is this: thanks to our great friends over in South Africa, we had two weeks of action packed adventure. No-one could possibly have wished for more. We rode motor bikes; saw countless animals in 7 days of game driving; got close-up to humpback whales, went snorkelling; hand-fed Rhinos and had fun water skiing. It was dawn to dusk action and excitement. Ask our lads what the two week trip highlight was... you guessed it; the ‘lion moment’ is at the top or high on each one’s list; that fleeting moment in time when the adrenaline pumped hard and crystallised a memory for life. Sweet.I admit it worked for me too but Im trying to keep it for safari type moments. Pre-contest nerves are an important part of any high-pressure competitive environment and, like everyone else Im sure, I get them at every Red Bull Air Race.However, I’ve enjoyed 5 years of adrenaline-free racing so far and I plan to keep it that way.