Friday, November 5, 2010

IF: Afterwards

Greg Zdepski jumping his bike over the Nellie, Paul Zdepski


Legend states: In 1963, my oldest brother Greg took an old woman's bike from 1938 down our hill, hit a dirt jump called "The Nellie" and proceeded to fly 30 feet into the air like a wounded pelican...

He hit the ramp with such force that the bike's front forks sheared off. upon impact with the ground, Greg's family jewels were driven into the now stationary framework...

He lay motionless on the ground... his junk crammed so deep into his abdomen, the by-standers thought he was dead.

...they scattered to the wind.

zdepski's pencil drawing of brother Greg's bike breaking while in the air.

The next in line, older brother Mark recounts after my posting:
It was a Sears bike that Mom had gotten w/ S&H green stamps just before the war. The jump was called "The Nellie", it was at the edge of Pete Schiable's lawn, at the intersection of the drive and the road. It was a steep dirt incline only about 12-15” high at about a 45 degree angle, but it could launch you to get air. The name probably derived from the first kid saying "Whoa Nellie" as he went over it in the dawn of kiddom. We (the observers in Pete’s lawn) used to exclaim "and he hits the Nellie!!", as the rider launched into the air, then we’d measure the distance, in a form of competition.

We’d reconstituted this bike from weather-beaten rust, got new tires from Clyde’s bike shop in Milford, and brush painted it red & black. On the maiden trip down the hill, Greg took charge and decided to go faster than ever before, starting in front of Mr. Curtis’ house (1/4 mile up the hill from Schiable's ramp). Pete & I waited in the lawn off to the side near the front stoop, it was a warm summer evening and I was laying down in the grass, light was failing. When Greg came into sight he was laid down, feet trailing behind, not even on the pedals, head down to eliminate drag, chest over the handlebars. At the moment that we exclaimed "and he hits the Nellie!!", the goose neck that holds the handlebar to the frame broke and Greg and the bike began to separate into slightly different trajectories. My distinct mental "snap shot" has Greg 6 or 8 feet in the air (probably exaggerated as I was small and was laying down), still climbing in a sitting position and holding the handle bars as the bike was falling away beneath him (kind of like 2001 space odyssey docking maneuvers). He and the bike were in silhouette (just like that scene in ET , he seemed to just keep climbing and traveling). After he hit on top of the bike he didn’t start groaning until after Pete & I had made our way over to him. Pete and I judged that he’d broken the record, but at a significant personal cost, because he’d broken his balls on the bike frame.

I think we repaired the bike, but only after months of searching for a replacement goose neck. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried in the embellished retelling of this story (I only chuckle when I type it).

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preliminary sketch for Greg Zdepski jumping his bike
pencil in my canson, scanned and reworked in SketchbookPro and Cintiq - Full color illustration in the Corporal Punishment Series.

Click to enlarge the pain.

6 comments:

Katie L. White said...

Ouch. I feel his pain in your drawing. Great action work.

psychopooch said...

Great start. Looking forward to seeing the finished piece. Love the action work too.

Juan said...

Great stuff!

Ray Ferguson said...

Great illustration! and an even better story.

Jennifer Bower said...

*at work with tears streaming down face laughing so hard* Holy hell - that is funny! Great illo depiction!

Jeff G said...

I've always enjoyed illustrated maps, but you've brought it to a new level. Nice!