Austin Church Gap
February 5, 2011 3:33 PM   Subscribe

This guy nearly made the St. Mary's Church gap in downtown Austin, Texas. You could say this guy technically landed it, but he didn't ride away. As far as we know, only Jimmy Levan has ever cleared it clean.

Here's a Google street view of the gap.

Apologies if the third link makes you watch an ad before the video plays.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints (48 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
.

(for the tree)
posted by sacrifix at 3:37 PM on February 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


That bouncing bike in the first one was cool, he should have waited for the wind to die down a bit though.
posted by soy bean at 3:42 PM on February 5, 2011


Looking at the first two videos, I hope they have filled out organ donor cards.

Doing things like that without a helmet is incredibly stupid and irresponsible. They could do exactly the same thing with a helmet and dramatically reduce the risk of being a cripple or moron or dead.

I primarily hope they don't get hurt at all, but, I hate to say it, as a taxpayer in the US, if either is seriously injured I hope they're killed dead and not left a 20-something *-plegic who needs to be supported by my tax dollars for the next half century or so.

If you know either of them, please, please tell them to wear a helmet!

Overall, I hate this post - we shouldn't encourage people to do such things without rationally reducing their risk.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


second video - wow, i've never seen a wheelbuild fail that totally before.
posted by entropone at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2011


If you want to see Jimmy Levan's pull, fast forward the third link to 2:00 to see the last moments of setup and him doing it. It was pretty incredible.

Also? Man, I remember when street riders actually ran seatposts like Levan there.
posted by mathowie at 3:48 PM on February 5, 2011


What a bunch of pussies. Sister Mary Margaret from that parish has been BMX-ing over that gap and raiding away for years!!
posted by Skygazer at 3:49 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, boy can sprint.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:50 PM on February 5, 2011


Riding NOT raiding...
posted by Skygazer at 3:50 PM on February 5, 2011


Actually that second dude comes down with unbelieveable force to destroy his back tire like that, he's pretty nimble to jump off the way he did...

Also, seems like life in Austin is blissfully simple, in that you're either stoked or you're hosed.
posted by Skygazer at 3:53 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the various riders who have failed to jump the gap will help pay for rebuilding the quite damaged steps on the landing side of the gap.
posted by jedicus at 4:03 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mystery meat labelling: youtube videos of people trying to do bmx bike jumps off a set of stairs.
posted by zamboni at 4:15 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I jumped over a 3 foot wide puddle yesterday. As far as I know, I'm the only person that ever cleared it clean.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:39 PM on February 5, 2011


Mind the gap.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2011


The last guy is clearly the only one of the three that knows how to jump a bike. The other two apparently thought the best approach was just to ride real fast off the edge and hope for the best.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2011


Doing things like that without a helmet is incredibly stupid and irresponsible. They could do exactly the same thing with a helmet and dramatically reduce the risk of being a cripple or moron or dead.

Overall, I hate this post - we shouldn't encourage people to do such things without rationally reducing their risk.


You do realize kids have been doing stupid, dangerous shit since the beginning of time right? Youtube and the internets isn't encouraging people to do anything more than what they've already been doing.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:51 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


The pre-action talking in the third clip completely encapsulates my love/hate relationship with Austin.
posted by cmoj at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2011


Jimmy Levan Age 36 years old, 5'10" tall, 168 pounds. 2007 -- head trauma requiring drug induced coma, 2008 hit by a car, broken femur with metal plates. He did the Church Gap in 1998 according to a website. So that's saying something if no one has managed to do this trick helmet or no in 13 years. Counting stairs and doing very poor photo analysis I estimate that he cleared about 30-35' in the jump, which is a pretty long distance.

More research lead me to this article on the 5 Craziest Things Attemped on BMX bike, this only got honorable mention along with this other one from a rider named Jim Bauer, The Death Gap.
posted by humanfont at 4:58 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Due to recent construction, the gap can no longer be jumped.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:08 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of failing to clear the Gap...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:52 PM on February 5, 2011


The street BMX riders in Austin are nuts. Like suicidally nuts. Street BMX seems to have taken hold there more than skateboarding because the streets and sidewalks are too crappy to skateboard on, while BMX bikes have no problems chewing up broken up asphalt and cracked concrete, and there's lots of interesting banks, stairs and other terrain for street BMX that's simply not rideable for skaters.

And street BMXers are a special breed of reckless. I think they're more insane than mountain bike downhill freeriders. Mountain bike freeriders generally wear armor and a helmet. Street BMXers huck themselves off of buildings and rooftops in no more than jeans and a t-shirt.

They don't really care about your advice about helmets. Yeah, pros wear them, but it's really rare that I see amateurs on the street wearing a helmet. They seem to subscribe to the "Well, don't hit your head on the ground, then" school of thought, however erroneous it may be.

And that's a hell of a busted rim in the second video. I've never seen a rear hub break all the spokes before. That rear wheel was worth something like $100-200 bucks just on it's own. A solid, modern street BMX bike can run well above $1000 these days, because they hand-build them out of ultra strong, thick walled steel tubing.
posted by loquacious at 6:02 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


4130 chromoly mostly
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:54 PM on February 5, 2011


So now that surfers have become respectable, hauling water purification systems to third-world disaster zones, and policing their ranks for improved safety in the water, it would appear that the mantle of incredibly stupid sportsman has been passed seamlessly.
posted by docpops at 7:02 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Doing things like that without a helmet is incredibly stupid and irresponsible. They could do exactly the same thing with a helmet and dramatically reduce the risk of being a cripple or moron or dead.

Absolutely, but it's not part of their culture. In the bicycling world, BMXers are not exactly known for their mental acuity. Not sure whether their refusal to wear protective gear is selecting for this or not, but anyone who lands hard on concrete more than once without getting protective gear is probably running their chain a link or two short.

His adviser's strategy in that clip is especially illuminating, " You could almost just ... haul ass, and drop ... drop the back". Really? Wow! That makes it perfectly clear. Thanks so much for your input!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:06 PM on February 5, 2011


You do realize kids have been doing stupid, dangerous shit since the beginning of time right?

Yup, for certain definitions of the word "kid".
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This just makes me miss Pao's Mandarin House.
posted by cobra libre at 7:25 PM on February 5, 2011


Keep Austin weird!!
posted by Senator at 7:41 PM on February 5, 2011


Back in the day I would walk on that very sidewalk daily. One day a bird attacked me from one of those trees.

I walked down the steps successfully multiple times other than that.
posted by djduckie at 7:41 PM on February 5, 2011


Doing things like that without a helmet is incredibly stupid and irresponsible. They could do exactly the same thing with a helmet and dramatically reduce the risk of being a cripple or moron or dead.

Your safety consciousness is admirable but you won't get totally stoked of you can't risk being completely hosed.
posted by humanfont at 8:02 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


It took me a minute to figure out where that was and then my mouth was hanging open that people were trying to jump it. My bones ached just watching the second guy land. Ouch.
posted by immlass at 8:54 PM on February 5, 2011


Gravity plays favourites.
posted by doublehappy at 10:04 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This makes me want to get a motorcycle and fuck that gap so hard it has baby kittens.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:28 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


When I was a kid, I knew that if I fell, I would bounce.

I started skiing at two years old, had the training wheels off of my bike a few years later, and was big into climbing whatever I could possibly climb. I've never had a fear of heights, like, almost at all. I will still occasionally scare the shit out of others by my fearlessness with standing several stories up on precarious places just because I enjoy it and I know enough about myself to keep safe. But when I was a kid, shit. That was my life.

Growing up my siblings (all older) would make me into a test monkey for their experiments in heights. They'd build ramshackle towers of whatever they could find and place me on top as a baby (I got my first concussion when one of these collapsed and my head struck the side of the piano on the way down.) They'd make insane sledding-hill tracks and try them out by throwing me down them first, and then almost never tried them themselves.

Skiing, I'd try the most dangerous things my tiny weight would allow me to pull off. Biking, I can't count all of the times I flipped over my handlebars. As a normal athlete, I was always a joke, but I was fast, nimble, very light, and fearless, and so I'd be the kid climbing seventy-five feet into the air on a tree when no one else would dare follow.

At fourteen, on a dare, I tried to do a flip off of my friend's roof, and failed, landing on my side. Not to be defeated, once I'd gotten the wind back in my lungs, I tried again, landing on my feet that time. At twenty, in Ravenna, Italy, in what must be the stupidest thing I've ever done, I surprised my friends by jumping out of one third-story window and into another, just to shock them.

A few years ago, when I was taking a new snowboard out, my parents begged me to get a helmet first, which seemed like anathema to me. I'd always just felt really sorry for the kids who had to bike with helmets on, and didn't love the idea, but they were buying, and paying for the lift-tickets besides, so I relented, picking up a matte-black, perfectly spherical model that looked like something you'd wear if you were going to be shot out of a canon.

Let me tell you now, I'd never go out without that thing again. Having that assurance just backs up what I want to be doing anyway. It takes away from nothing.

These guys are all damn good, even the one in the first video. But they should be wearing fucking helmets.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:57 AM on February 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


No wonder that looked instantly familiar - I worked at 7th and Brazos and used to come out of the parking garage directly across the street from the "Gap" every day.
posted by mrbill at 1:38 AM on February 6, 2011


This will sound mean and cranky, but as a facility manager, the second that guy cuts that tree, all I can root for is severe injuries and a gentle spiritual awakening in his hospital bed to the reality that he is a complete and total dick, with a corresponding discovery of a desire to actually do something in the unlimited playground of reality.

Once we aspired to things like landing humans on the moon.

Now we're stoked to ride an undersized child's bicycle across a gap in the sidewalk.

What a challenging and dynamic species we've become. Go-getters, even.
posted by sonascope at 4:56 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, great post, the 'whoa' tag's appropriate.

There is little cooler to me than seeing people find an odd conjunction of elements in the city, an arrangement that was not planned or designed to be exciting or an event and is actually quite shitty as a configuration, and it's appropriated as a significant place in their world or lore. I think the longer I spend in architecture and studying the built environment, the more some Dead Man's Curve or St. Mary's Church Gap or whatever thrills me, especially when deterring skaters/BMXers has become literally inbuilt in so many surfaces in the cities.
posted by carbide at 5:22 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


as a facility manager, the second that guy cuts that tree, all I can root for is severe injuries and a gentle spiritual awakening in his hospital bed to the reality that he is a complete and total dick, with a corresponding discovery of a desire to actually do something in the unlimited playground of reality.

I absolutely see where you're coming from, but at the same time -- as a non-facility manager, the second I see that tree branch across the sidewalk, I think "what a lazy fucking facility manager". That branch is in the way of people walking, it's not a bike thing...
posted by inigo2 at 6:48 AM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your response to somebody cutting part of a sapling is to wish severe injuries on them? Have some perspective. And humanity. Jeez.
posted by entropone at 7:36 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, I want to give the guy a medal for cutting down the no parking sign. Take that, pedestrian safety.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on February 6, 2011


@entropone/inigo2 - I just don't know how I failed to notice this young man's selfless act of public service. I guess it's because the video cut off before I saw him do the rest of the valiant vigilante landscaping work that stands between glory and every pedestrian in the city dying in a massive trampling crush behind the mighty oaken timber that had so unjustly blocked the sidewalk there. I mean, someone in a wheelchair might have been trying to get through there, and been stopped in their stead, unable to push aside that iron-like obstruction in the way of the steps they'd been hoping to hurtle down! It's just an outrage, and having to step into the church office to mention that there's a branch there and correct the situation is just too much for any one man to tolerate! An outrage, I tell you!

You know what else is an outrage? Sanctimonious know-it-alls thinking that they're just ever so terribly clever in pointing out someone's presumed lack of moral fiber and human decency in response to what is, to even the most tiresome and literal observer, a bit of dramatic hyperbole employed in service of a point of criticism. But hey—whatever floats your boat. Viva la spoiled little slacker kids! Don't we awful people who maintain public spaces understand that the whole of the city is actually meant to be a playground for skater/bmxer hijinks?

My bad—carry on with your brilliance and I'll just stick to my wicked inhuman desires.
posted by sonascope at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2011


Usually when you write a lot of stuff I like it. Sometimes I don't.

There was a branch across the sidewalk. Now there isn't. Why would he continue cutting stuff? That seems silly.
posted by inigo2 at 10:14 AM on February 6, 2011


I thought it was good that they had enough foresight to bring a saw so that they could prune the limb cleanly. The ignorant idiot approach would have been to just twist and snap it out of their way, causing a lot more damage to the plant.
posted by CaseyB at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2011


Why did he cut the sign on video...and post the video for all to see.

That seems really stupid to me.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:30 PM on February 6, 2011


Because he's a rebel, hal_c_on. He stuck it to the man!
posted by Nelson at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2011


He didn't cut the sign, he cut down the tree branch people were talking about RIGHT BEFORE YOUR COMMENT, you know, the tree branch he CARRIED AWAY IN THE VIDEO RIGHT AFTER SAWING IT aaaaaaaa were you even watching the video or did you just stop right there
posted by mendel at 3:43 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fucking love this post, spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints, and all the comments in it. Thanks much.

For the past half hour, my feet and hands have been cold-sweating from watching BMX video. Bad asses all.
posted by mistersquid at 3:51 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Glad you're stoked.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:56 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


an arrangement that was not planned or designed to be exciting or an event and is actually quite shitty as a configuration, and it's appropriated as a significant place in their world or lore

My experience with kids like this tells me that I shouldn't judge intelligence by speech patterns. Like carbide (above) I think, consciously or not, they're making art out of city-scapes that are too often mindless, banal places. They take a lot of time to set up the stunts and the shots and they really care about how things look.

I find it brave, admirable, and artistic, and I wish I could ride like that. But I'm 45 and it ain't gonna happen. When I see kids doing stuff like that though I'm transported back to a time when I converted my banana seat purple Sprinter into a bmx bike and hopped off curbs - and they were no bike helmets to buy in the local bike shop. We were terribly timid compared to these guys, and I live a more timid life because of it.

Frankly, shame on us who are a part of the establishment for worrying about taxes when these kids are living like we never will. Life is about quality not quantity!

(Yeah, I know he could paralyze himself ... blahblahblah ... obviously so could I, slipping on the ice as I walk up the concrete stairs to teach in my high school.)

We're getting all weird about the wrong stuff these days.
posted by kneecapped at 10:05 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow.

What I really want to see (or don't want to see, actually) are the videos of the first intrepid lunatics who gave this a try. Because, sure, it's a big jump with no ramp and a fair drop, and it isn't great conditions on the approach, but the really bugger is how there is NO MARGIN FOR ERROR. If you come in any shorter than the guy in the first video, who is hurtin' for certain anyway, you are just destroyed.

I'm not a BMX or skateboard person, or any of that sort of thing, but I like the fact that someone, or a lot of someones, see the same piece of happenstance architecture that I walk past regularly as an obvious challenge, and then they meet it. I like that there are people who are viewing my world completely differently because they are viewing it through a different set of overlays. It reminds me that MY overlay is arbitrary and fungible and that the world is what you perceive it to be. I'm serious.

Also: I wonder what became of guy #1's bike. When it exits the frame it is at least 8 feet off the ground and still rising.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:15 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


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