Thursday, May 27, 2004

Alpha Frisbee Golf, part 17

Disc Golf: All You Need to Know About the Game You Want to PlayPete's blog stirred a bunch of fun memories. He published a map of the Alpha Software frisbee golf course. I had forgotten the explicit rules that made it so tough (i.e., all concrete constituted a water hazard). He even pointed out an incident involving a lost frisbee:

Another time Doug got a Frisbee stuck on the roof of the building you approach at hole 9 and had to climb a tree to get on the roof and retrieve the disk. After the experience of watching him awkwardly climbing up and down I recall telling Doug, "I think I've just seen proof that man cannot have descended from apes..".

What's bizarre is I remember that exact incident, his comment, and everything. And the shameful thing is when I was a kid, I was pretty lithe and limber and I could scale a tree lickety-split. But, at that time, maybe 1991, I weighed about 225. I could say I was ripped and that I was wearing 32" jeans ("and they're loose!"). But that wouldn't be very accurate. I do remember being pretty blocky and struggling to get up the tree. It felt like it took five minutes of grunting, painful branch burns, stubby nubbins scratching my private parts, to climb about twelve feet off the ground. Of course, Pete was very helpful. He just laughed the entire time.

I did weigh 225, but I was trying to pack on pounds to change weight classes for the first (and last) powerlifting competition I ever participated in. There were three weight classes with which I was concerned. 198 - at the time, too heavy to get down to that level. 220 - which I had no shot at winning because there were a couple of really strong dudes in that class. And 242. There were very few people who ranged from 220-241. So I carbo-loaded all of the time and got my weight over 220. At a weight of 227, I ended up totalling 1200 (405 squat, 340 bench, 455 deadlift). While this was enough to win the class, it was such a laughable total for a serious powerlifting contest that I pretty much gave up ever thinking about competing.

But I was fortunate that Richard and Selwyn agreed to let me buy a bunch of weights for the small Alpha gym. With a budget of perhaps $600, I got some great stuff: a Titan competition bench, a power-rack, and about 400 some odd pounds of Olympic weights. The small gym, used mainly by Selwyn (for bike riding), Sean and myself was also the scene of a pretty scary lifting incident.

I used to bench all of the time without a spotter. Not a problem, unless you went heavy. Well, at that time, I was always going heavy. I would routinely crank out six reps at 285. Well, except for that one day where I had the music cranked up and the door closed. I was pounding out reps and was pushing up the sixth and last one. Uh oh. Couldn't get it locked out. No safety bars on the Titan bench. Panic started to set in. Re-doubled my effort and pushed harder. Now I was seeing stars, literally, and getting close to passing out.

So the bar, weighing close to 300 pounds, was sitting right on my chest. So tapped out, I couldn't move it a millimeter. I yelled, "Help!". No one could hear - the music was cranked and you can't scream real loud with all that weight on your chest. Yelled again. Sh*t. Nothing. Now I knew I was in trouble. With a lighter weight, I could have rolled it down my body without damaging vital organs and my reproductive parcel. But not with that much weight. Not possible without warping the kitschkes.

Or I could have tilted the bar and dumped the weight... if it didn't have collars. But it did. I was locked in.

Finally, I figured out that I could slide off the bench while tucking my head in to avoid the brace. So I jettisoned to the left of the bench. One side of the bar slammed into the ground, the other side hit the bench, and I was safe and sound on the floor next to the bench. Not a hair out of place. Wow.

I popped up just as Dave Mahoney came running in. "What the heck just happened?" More onlookers piled in to see what was going on. "Nothing to see here, just go about your business." I did finally explain, sheepishly, what had happened. Mahoney just looked at me like I was an idiot, "Ross, you came very close to becoming the poster-boy for the Use a Spotter campaign." How right he was.

Anyhow, it didn't feel very healthy carrying that much weight. After my Dad had his heart attack in 1997, I changed my diet completely. I got down to 179 while continuing to lift hard. At a body weight of about 183, I benched almost (325) as much as I did weighing 40 pounds more. Weird.

Anyhow, back to frisbee golf for a moment. What Pete didn't say is that we were very addicted to the sport. It was a blast. We played it in every kind of weather, year 'round. In fact, the frozen tundra of One North Avenue became the scene of the worst frisbee golf injury ever.

The fairways were like sheets of glass. The temperature was quite nippy. And JL, a large gentleman whose dimensions were about 5'9", 300, was playing in our foursome. On the sixth hole (a long Par 4), he flung his disc with reckless abandon and somehow slipped and became airborne. He was frozen horizontally in the air for what seemed like an entire second - several feet over the icy ground. And he landed with a "whump" that was audible from many yards away. He wasn't moving.

"Jim, you okay?" We rushed over. "Jim!"

"Unhknhhh. Unnnhkkh."

If you remember what Sergeant Hulka was trying to say in the movie Stripes when he fell off the tower, you've pretty much got the picture. I think he had just had the wind knocked out of him. But I don't remember him ever playing frisbee golf again. It took true dedication and a love for the game. And only a select few were born to play the Alpha version of frisbee golf.

Alpha Frisbee Golf

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