5 Manliest Hobbies You've Never Heard of
When people get tired of their meaningless, monotonous lives, they can find excitement in a variety of ways. Some find religion, some earn a degree, and still others take the metaphorical defibrillator to their life and shock the everliving fuck out of it -- and probably die in the process.
These five hobbies are probably for the latter.
What do you think of when you hear the word "Alaska?" Snow-capped mountains? Palins everywhere? Meth?
If you said, "Gigantic chunks of glacier crashing headlong into the sea, funneling the energy down an icy tunnel in the form of a monolithic Michael Bay mega wave," well -- good job. You're crazy and you probably already know about glacier surfing. And you're crazy.
Yet, the wettest thing in this picture is the urine-drenched crotch of his pants.
In 1995, while filming for IMAX, cameraman and avid surfer Ryan Casey noticed that when hunks of glacier broke into the water below, even the smallest waves were powerful enough to carry a surfer for a good 200 feet. So 12 years later, he went back to Alaska, and this time he took his surfboard. Before you knew it, Casey and whole slew of danger seekers found themselves freezing their asses off waiting hours on end for glaciers to break just to surf the resulting waves.
Those are pieces of solid ice as big as houses crashing down around that guy.
But these were just the smaller waves. What about the big ones? Maybe you could ask Garrett MacNamara, a man whose face alone is terrifying enough to make our chest hair commit suicide.
Seriously. Look at this guy. This legendary surfer and his partner, Kealii Mamala, headed up to Alaska to find the biggest, most teeth-chatteringly massive waves to surf (warning: You should probably watch this with the sound off if you or those around you find the phrase "HOLY SHIT! HOLYYYY SHIIIIIT" yelled over and over again offensive):
By the time they were done, Kealli and Stone Cold rode tsunami-sized 25-foot waves. But before you pack up the heated wetsuit and book that flight to The Last Frontier, you should know that that this award winning competitive team of professional big wave surfers were so pants-crappingly traumatized by the whole ordeal that they're never going back.
Still, we should at least be grateful someone discovered a silver lining behind the global warming cloud.
Imagine someone gave you a bright yellow outfit that made you look like a starfish that crapped its pants. Would you wear it? Of course not. But what if they told you that the starshitsuit could let you fly? Out of a plane. Not so judgmental now, are we?
It's a death buffet, and it's all you can eat, baby!
Wingsuit flying is a lot like skydiving, if skydiving was actually called skycrossing, and was conducted with pillows in your crotch and under your arms. Both require you to jump off a very high place, and both deploy a parachute before hitting the ground. The difference is that the wingsuit will give you extra surface area that gives your body life, which allows you to move two and a half feet forward for every foot you fall. So, for $175 and a little training, you can be a your own mash-up of Superman and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But once you do, the effect is spectacular:
If it looks simple, it's not. Unlike like airborne hookers, wingsuiters can't just jump out of an airplane and spread 'em; they have to calculate wind velocity and maneuver themselves to avoid slamming back onto the plane or getting sucked into a jet engine. Usually the plane itself gives them enough of a kick to get them going forward, but jumping out of a helicopter or out of a hot air balloon is a whole other ball of danger -- it requires a vertical drop, followed by a spread eagle once the flyer has enough speed to get lift. It may sound like a simple maneuver, but doing any kind of noticeable body motion while you're constantly getting punched by supersonic pockets of air is trickier than it sounds.
Of course, once you're ready to land, all you need to do is deploy your parachute and try to avoid church steeples and stampedes of rabid buffalo. If your chute fails to open, however, you can just use the newly acquired wrecking balls in your nut sack to decrease your altitude.
Combine Demolition Derby
This is a combine wheat harvester:
Yes, we know: It does look like a Transformer right before it morphs into a gigantic robot with spinning razor-studded death claws where its hands should be. But this machine doesn't need to transform into shit to do damage -- it's perfectly deadly the way it is. And in the northwestern corner of America, people have taken these metal beasts and made a game out of smashing them together.
Sort of like Kevin Bacon's chicken scene from Footloose, except less girly.
Washington's Combine Demolition Derby is exactly what it sounds like. It's the sport of using machines to beat the shit out of other machines -- but with 10,000 pound farming equipment designed to reap, thresh and winnow grain crops. It's just like when you and your friends play weed whacker wars with each other -- same thing.
Like other demolition derbies, combine drivers give their vehicles intimidating names, like "Jaws" and "Hillbilly Daycare" and, uh, "Shortbus" and -- sigh -- "Tater Salad." But don't let the names that sound like they were christened by backwoods bullies with self-esteem issues fool you -- these are dangerous machines that are at least 25-years old, ripping into each other on a mud soaked track in 15-minute heats for the amusement of people who are really into that sort of thing. The rules are simple: Drivers have three minutes to smash the bahookey out of someone, or they're disqualified. At the same time, they also have to stay within barriers of the track, not run away like a little bitch, and not be bad sportsmen, because all of those things will get them disqualified as well.
The last not-broke combine is the winner. Or, in the case of a tie, the one that judges determined was the most aggressive and had the prettiest mouth is the winner. Seriously -- we don't know what their winning criteria is. So, if you're a guy (or girl) with a vintage combine, a lot of time and a love of concussions, this might be your next sport.
Volcano boarding is a sport so extreme that we're legally obligated to mention Monster Energy Drinks and the word "stoked" every time we bring it up. It was invented by Australian (of course) tour guide Darryn Webb who'd spent a good deal of his childhood learning to sandboard in the dunes of Queensland. So, while vacationing in Central America, he took one look at the Cerro Negro, a volcano so dangerous that it's erupted no fewer than 23 times in its 159 years of existence and said, "Same thing."
In his spare time, he shits continents.
Excited to try out his new idea, Webb attempted to ride down first on a mattress, and then, because he's apparently living his life in a Mentos commercial, on a minibar fridge (seriously, what the hell?).
"Mentos. 'We'll just watch from here.' "
Finally, he crafted the current design for the volcano board -- a hunk of plywood, because apparently, the best protection against a molten-spewing mountain is a flammable sled. But don't worry -- riders are also equipped with an orange jumpsuit and goggles, which will at least keep their vision from blurring when they're swept away by a river of magma.
If the prospect of getting decapitated by a tunnel or living the rest of your life with a scab for a scalp sounds appealing, have we got the game for you!
Train surfing picks up where train hoboing left off. But instead of operating out of a sense of desperation and hunger, train surfers do their best work under the influence if idiocy and alcohol.
And hoodies, apparently.
The idea is simple: jump on a train, literally, and ride it with nothing but the occasional windshield wiper or air to hang onto. "S-Bahn" surfing, as it was known in its homeland of Germany, originated in the 1980s and swiftly grew into an epidemic by the next decade, thanks in part to constant media coverage. After a temporary relapse, the hardest core of hardcore train-related activities reemerged in 2005, when a mysterious man named the "Trainrider" climbed aboard Deutschland's fastest express and rode the bastard all the way down. In 2008, 40 kids died trying to do the same.
But don't make the mistake of thinking Germans have a monopoly on stupid. South African surfers hang off the train itself, running their feet in the gravel like Wile E. Coyotes, only without a definitive goal in mind.
The incredibly difficult "kiss your shoulder before you fucking die" maneuver.
And that's when they're not using the speeding train roofs as their personal dance floors. And as one YouTube commenter pointed out, riders all seem to be a variation of the Cosby shuffle:
So we should probably give South African train surfers the trophy for most undignified way to die of all time: getting electrocuted while shimmying like Bill Cosby on top of a moving train. Good job, guys.