I voluntarily had a mouthful of Charles River water for breakfast, all in the name of journalism.
Ahead of this weekend’s Red Bull Flugtag event, in which groups of five build themed vehicles of their choosing, and then launch one of their teammates off a roughly 22-foot platform into the brownish water, I decided to take the plunge myself.
Saturday’s event marks the first time in the energy drink company’s 25-year history of hosting the Flugtag that they’re bringing it to Boston. People are excited, and organizers are expecting tens of thousands of spectators to line the Esplanade to watch the daylong affair.
As might be expected, I was a bit nervous leading up to Friday morning’s test run. I’m not afraid of heights, but letting strangers roll you off of a hulking, two-story structure is bound to make your hands a bit shaky.
Once I had my helmet and life vest strapped on, I walked up a long ramp to the top of the launching pad. The platform offered sweeping views of both Cambridge and Boston that were akin to those you see while riding the MBTA’s Red Line train across the Longfellow Bridge.
After getting the rundown on how to properly dismount, I made myself comfortable atop the vehicle I would be riding, which was called the “Somerville Sluggers,” and consisted of a giant foam baseball bat with wings and wheels.
Then, I was quickly propelled from the towering barge.
I had expected to execute a graceful dismount, do a backflip, and slip into the water with a minimal splash, like a gold-medal-winning Olympic diver.
Instead, I found myself instinctively leaping away from the foam bat, well before its back wheels even left the platform. Looking back, I wish I had asked them to give me a bigger running start so I could have a longer flight, but at the time my nerves got the best of me, I suppose.
The “Somerville Sluggers” sailed to my right, down like a rock off of a cliff. I drifted to the left. I landed with a relatively painless flop, took in a bit of river water (and spit it out immediately) and came up for air. I noticed instantly that my bottom teeth felt numb, and I had a small cut on my nose. I later learned that there was a tiny — and almost unnoticeable — chip in my tooth. Oops.
The trip down into the water, which was surprisingly refreshing and not too cold, lasted but a second, and I was on the shore before I could wipe away the droplets of water from my eyes and nose.
Not a bad way to start your morning — although a coffee would have been a better beverage.