Q&A with Joe Stembridge
You were one of our Wiggle Staff in the Bike Bungee test team, how would you describe your role at Wiggle?
My official job title is Technical Team Junior Team Leader, which basically means that between me and my boss, we handle a team of 10 bike nuts who answer all of the technical questions that get asked of our customer services team. From basic sizing advice to really nerdy questions, my team has the knowledge to get them answered.
What kind of cyclist are you – do you ride a lot?
I’m mostly a roadie and I try and ride every day. Although my commute is only around 25 minutes, I can make this much longer heading off into the Meon Valley to suffer on some hills!
You went to the French Alps to hurl yourself off a ramp – how did this come about?
It’s still quiet surreal, truth be told. I only found out about the jump about a week before we flew, but it all started with a storyboard. One of our marketing guys showed me the concept drawings and I was hooked!
How long was your trip to France? What was the highlight?
We were only actually in France for about a day and a half. We left first thing one morning and returned the evening of the next day, flying in and out of Geneva and driving down into France. It was a proper whirlwind visit punctuated with some amazing riding in the Alps and…oh yeah…jumping off a ramp. I think for me, although the jump was good, it was the Alps that were the highlight. Being up in the Alpine passes in full kit on a carbon road bike – just blissful and beautiful.
Bungee jumping looks quite scary at the best of times – doing it with a bike looks even worse?! How did it feel to be flying off the ramp?
It was almost all of the worst bits of a bike crash – just without the splat at the end! The initial run down isn’t so bad once you get used to the steepness, but I spent so much time making sure I was straight and level, pedalling like mad, that the bottom of the ramp almost came as a bit of a surprise. It’s only when the bike starts to pitch that it gets a bit hairy, and combined with the sudden realisation that there is a 50 meter drop into a ravine and nothing to stop you. There’s a good few second of falling before the bungee pulls but when it does you stop pretty quick to say the least! The harnesses were pretty impressive but I ended up looking a bit battered – who knew Lycra wasn’t very protective!?
In your opinion, which Wiggler had the best bike bungee jump style (marks out of 10 for each rider)?
I think for me, the most stylish rider has to be Doug. He was the only one who managed the backflip, though it must be said that Ben has to come a close second. Both of the boys had jumping experience with Doug riding MTB and Ben on BMX, but I think a solid 9 out of 10 for both would be fair. Frankie did really well too and was almost totally unphased by the jump; not quite a slick but still a strong 7.5 out of 10.
Would you do the Bike Bungee again if the opportunity arose?
Definitely. The worst part of the jumps was the waiting between them as you almost psych yourself out of it. It’s a really odd experience but the first time you have no idea what to expect. Once you know what’s coming, the waiting is a killer!
With the Bike Bungee ticked off your bucket list, any more extreme bike riding on the horizon?
I’m not sure I’m meant to fly so I don’t think I have a career ahead of me in downhill or enduro, but one thing I would like to do more of is cyclocross. Riding the Verenti through the ravine around the jump was amazing but the 23c’s were a bit out of their depths in the mud and rocks. Something strong with some fatter tyres sounds like a right laugh to me.